Y’all can’t keep me away from a fun blog hop just because I’m not an eventer! Out of the shows I’ve gotten to attend there is such a clear favorite in my mind that I just have to share.
If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you already know that I’m talking about Upperville. (And to a similar extent Loudoun Benefit, which is held on the same showgrounds the following week).
In my world, Upperville is basically an immovable holiday. I change flights, I take time off of work, I have my dude move me out of apartments for me, all for the sake of Upperville.
Of course I love it for a lot of the technical aspects: the footing is absolutely fantastic and meticulously maintained, the course design is always fair but challenging, and the staff is friendly and professional.
It also has old tent stalls with very few outlets, insanely chaotic warmup rings, and takes place during the heat of the Virginia summer.
I’ll never say that it’s perfect.
But there’s just something so special about it. By unspoken agreement, everyone pulls out all the stops for their aisle-fronts: gleaming wooden tack trunks, coordinating banners, fresh mulch, piles of flowers, wrought-iron fences, bubbling fountains (yes, really). The jumps are full of lush greenery in the hunter rings and beautiful shapes and colors in the jumper ring.
There are the side-saddle and hunt classes with so much tradition on display. The hunters are some of the most beautiful animals I’ve had the pleasure of seeing go around – and watching them along with the commentary of my trainer (a hunter R judge) turns it into a learning experience. The classic lime ices are perfect on a humid morning. I can ride a track in the same ring as McLain, on the very same day.
Add to this that Upperville is about 30 minutes from our home stable, and there’s definitely a sense of hometown pride to it. The rolling fields adjacent to the showgrounds are perfect for cooling out in view of the rolling hills.
And they make a perfect backdrop for photos.
Upperville isn’t my favorite because it’s objectively the best show. WEC has nicer stalls, Swan Lake has great footing too, McDonogh is super accessible, Culpeper has more step-up classes, Lake Placid has the most stunning vistas, Ocala has better weather. There’s been plenty to love at all of these shows and we’ve had great experiences at all of them.
For me, Upperville is different. It’s where Frankie and I tackled our first 1.15m class as a team, where he beat ML in a 1.20m class, and where I felt truly competitive for the first time despite being out of the ribbons.
Whenever non-horsey friends and family ask if they can come watch me ride, the only one I suggest they attend is Upperville. Other facilities host competitions. Upperville is truly a horse show that’s a blast for competitors and spectators alike.
My show season is very light this year due to classes starting up in the spring, but there’s no way Frankie and I could miss our 4th opportunity to get back on that showground.