Originally created 02/05/06

Equestrian event offers sporting challenges for horses and riders

A Sporting Days Weekend in Aiken is a two-day equestrian showcase that will test the competitive mettle of its 245 entrants.

The event, to be held Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 12, features three disciplines: dressage, cross country and show jumping, said Joannah Glass, the owner of Sporting Days Farm and coordinator of the event.

Dressage requires changes of speed, tempo and direction at specified markers. The cross country event is a test of endurance and bravery, where the horses must travel a mile or more at a minimum speed, Ms. Glass said.

"You can see how it was originally a military test when they have such a variety of things you would encounter," she said.

The horses also must negotiate 10 to 15 obstacles at a minimum speed in the show jumping event.

"It takes a combination of the three things to make a horse trial," Ms. Glass said. "It demonstrates the most all-round useful horse."

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Aiken County chapter of the American Red Cross.

"Anybody who has ever received help from them realizes what a vital role they play in our community," Ms. Glass said.

She said her aunt, Marjorie McKaig, of Radnor, Pa., worked for the Red Cross during World War II. Her uniform will be on display at the event.

Ms. Glass said the Red Cross has another tie to Aiken's equine community.

"Mrs. Hitchcock, who is so famous for creating the equestrian world in Aiken, started the Red Cross here," she said.

An equine art contest for Aiken County pupils in grades 6 through 12 will be held in conjunction with the horse show.

The entries will be judged by local artists who will select 14 high school and 10 middle school finalists, said Cecil Atchley, the equestrian art committee chairman.

The 24 entries will be displayed at the Palmetto Pavilion at Sporting Days Farm during the horse trials. Red Cross representatives will award prize money Sunday to the top three entries in each category. Four pupils - two in each age group - will receive honorable mention ribbons.

The horse trials will include a trade show with vendors and a display of 15 antique cars.

"There's a little something for everybody," Ms. Glass said.

Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or betsy.gilliland@augustachronicle.com.

If you go

WHAT: A Sporting Days Weekend

WHERE: 3549 Charleston Highway, Aiken

WHEN: Dressage and cross country events 8:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. Saturday

COST: $5 per vehicle parking fee, $35 for parking and luncheon (reservations required)

WHEN: Stadium horse show jumping, 12:30-2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12; art contest awards 2:30 p.m.

COST: $5 per vehicle parking fee

PHONE: American Red Cross for ticket information and luncheon reservations (credit cards accepted), 641-4152; Sporting Days Farm, 648-0100; Cecil Atchley for information about the art contest, 648-1732


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