For a fun outdoor weekend, it’s hard to beat watching great horses and riders compete in a beautiful setting. Like the famous Carolina Cup, the So8ths/Nikon Three-Day Event in the “Heart of the Carolinas” offers spectators a chance to see top-notch horses in thrilling competition.
But Southern 8ths offers several things not available at The Cup: spectators can get a lot closer to the horses, stroll around the beautiful grounds, mingle with the riders afterwards, and…it’s free! The format is different too—since riders compete one after another, there’s very little down time. Competition is spread over three days—May 3, 4, and 5—so folks can choose which day they want to come.
On Friday the riders will compete in Dressage, a classical form of riding that is akin to ballet on horseback.
Saturday will see the most action, with an endurance phase which tests the horses’ fitness, and then a series of challenging cross-country obstacles. One of the most beautiful—and exciting—is a series of jumps at the water obstacle. Horses actually jump into a lovely pond, canter through the water, and jump out on the other side. A series of banks and drop jumps are also thrilling to watch.
On Sunday the horses put in a round of Show Jumping, with the jumps varying in height depending on the division. At the end of all three phases, the scores are tallied and the winners announced.
Farm owner Brad Turley is hosting the third annual So8ths/Nikon HOTC Three-Day at his Southern 8ths Farm in Chesterfield, SC. Brad moved from Connecticut several years ago in search of warm winters, and he liked the area so much that he designed his farm around his love of competition. Specifically, he promotes the Long Format in Eventing.
“Few people compete in the Long Format anymore, because it requires a lot more preparation for horse and rider, it’s time consuming, and it’s tougher,” he said. The Long Format includes a Roads & Tracks portion that stresses endurance and fitness. It adds miles and another phase to the already challenging cross-country day. The jumps are all different, all challenging, and all thrilling. Horses jump not at a sedate canter, but at a full gallop. Every second counts!
The farm, located on the South Carolina-North Carolina border, is beautifully designed. The rolling hills offer a great view, and spectators can watch Dressage and the always exciting Show Jumping from a prime location. Strategically placed around the farm are a number of unusual wood carvings. Originally designed as jumps, they are stunning works of art.
This unique competition attracts top amateur riders from up and down the East coast. Food is available on site, but spectators should bring chairs. There is still time to volunteer for behind the scenes action, too. For more information visit www.so8ths.com or call 843-623-5005.