“Not Your Average Horse Show!”
Horseback riding tends to have a somewhat sissified reputation — perfectly coiffed men and women in top hats and tails perched prettily on top of overpriced hayburners. That is so not the case with the Olympic sport of eventing, an equestrian triathlon that is a test of skill, strength, partnership, and just plain guts — definitely not your average horse show. These riders have grit, their horses have more heart than a Disney movie, and more than 500 of them from every corner of the country will descend on Bouckaert Farm at Chattahoochee Hills in Fairburn, September 8-11, for the Nutrena USEA American Eventing Championships (AEC), presented by Bit of Britain, which is slated to rank as one of the biggest competition in the sport’s nearly 100-year U.S. history.
Eventing has its roots in the cavalry, so we’re talking white knuckle, take-your-breath-away feats of athleticism on the part of both horses and riders, who participate in three different phases over several days. Unlike almost all other sports, men and women compete on equal terms, in the same divisions. The horse is the equalizing factor, and these horses are unlike any you will see in competition. At the top levels during the sport’s signature phase of cross-country, expect to see them leap off banks almost as high as a refrigerator, jump some fences practically as narrow as a doorway, and bound across ditches as wide as your average car. If you were to compare them to other athletes, think extreme – snow boarders or BMX riders. Think Olympic Games meets X Games.
At the Nutrena AEC, top horses and riders at every level, from juniors and adult amateurs to Olympic veterans, will battle for more than $70,000 in prize money and nearly $100,000 in prizes — not to mention bragging rights, with close to a dozen past Olympic, World and Pan American medalists on hand.