The weather might be heading for the triple digits this weekend. Some people will head for the river, others for the coast, and some of us will head to Philomath (just outside Corvallis) for three days of watching riders ask large hooved mammals to prance like equine ballet dancers one day, then run balls-to-the-wall over ditches, logs and oddly shaped immobile obstacles the next. It’s time for the 18th annual Inavale Farm Horse Trials.
The event runs over three days, starting Friday, June 26 with dressage. That would be what Stephen Colbert famously (among dressage riders anyway) called “competitive horse prancing.” In eventing the goal is to get the lowest score in dressage possible and not accrue any more points.
(Trying to demonstrate some stretch at the trot during dressage)
After that more subjective portion of the event wraps up, the horse trials moves on to cross-country day on Saturday June 27. This is the most spectator-friendly day (and the hottest in the forecast) with horses galloping at speed over logs, brush, ditches, water and more. Horse watchers can (carefully and out of the way of 1,000 lbs of horses running at 20 mph) wander out on to the course to watch up close. Horses can get points added if the rider goes too fast or too slow. Twenty points are added if the horse refuses a fence and the score increases with each refusal. There will also be some stadium, aka show jumping that day.
(Big jump over a small cross country fence)
The majority of the show jumping will be on Sunday — as Inavale explains, this is the part of the weekend that involves “exact riding” over obstables that fall down and incur “jumping faults” — four per knockdown or if the horse refuses the fences. Lower levels eventers but some of the competing eventers, as riders in horse trials are called, will also do some cross country on Sunday, so if you come watch on the day the weather is cooler, you can still see some of the faster, bolder action.
The winners finish on the lowest score.
The event is free to watch, roughly 8 am – 5 pm June 26-28 at 31786 Horse Farm Lane, Philomath, Oregon.