Fair Hill vs Great Meadow, Part 1

If you're not into eventing, you probably haven't been on the edge of your seat as the powers that be discuss adding another four star event to the world. The last four star added was Adelaide, which officially became a CCI**** in 2011.

My top two choices made it to the second round and frankly, I'd be happy with either of them being chosen. I was lucky enough (or bored enough) to bugger off to Great Meadow for the Nations Cup and experience the venue for the first time last summer. Meanwhile Fair Hill's fall CCI is my freakin' Andromeda Goal and my favorite event ever.

I'm sure you're wondering how they stack up in my opinion, but even if you're not I'm going to tell you anyway. This entry I'll take a look at Great Meadow!

Of course... Welcome Shadow.
Pros: Location
The venue is in the middle of Virginia horse country. It was extremely easy to get to, a pretty straight shot down a highway where the speed limits hover around 70mph.  The place is absolutely gorgeous. The terrain and footing are wonderful, consisting of lovely rolling fields and beautiful water complexes.

I also stayed at quite possibly the nicest budget hotel I've ever stayed at (shout out to the La Quinta off 66). Pet friendly, twenty or so minutes from the event. It had a pool, hot tub, folded the toilet paper into fancy little origami's, and there was a Cracker Barrel across the street. You know, the important things.

Pros: Stadium
The footing in the stadium ring is this crazy space age super-footing that I'm going to call Cloud-Fluff. I walked across a Cloud-Fluff path and let me tell you, I wish my whole apartment floor was made of it. I think we should invest in turning the sidewalks into Cloud-Fluff. It can handle a deluge without a single puddle. I have no idea what devil invented it but one day I will have my own farm and there shall be Cloud-Fluff everywhere.

Cloud Fluff in action.
They already have lots of flagpoles installed that can be strung up with flags to represent the many countries that will travel here to show off. And hopefully not beat us on our own home turf.

Pros: Cross Country
Great Meadow has one huge advantage on cross country; you can view huge swathes of the course from each vantage point. At one spot on the hill you could see six fences well enough to tell what horse and rider combination was jumping them. It's hard to find cross country courses that wind all over and are still spectator friendly. You could also cross easily between jumps without actually crossing the track a lot, which is great if you're trying to catch every jump and moving around a lot.

It's not as great if you're trying to get your steps in for the day (amirite, Emma? :P)

Cons: Stadium
The spectating for stadium does need some work before its 4* ready. There isn't any grandstand seating right now, although the way it is currently set up made it very easy to spectate, no matter where you sat. I'm not sure how good temporary grandstands are but I'm sure they'll do something fantastic. I mean Christ, the ring has Cloud-Fluff installed.

They also really need to get a scoreboard. That should maybe be #1 priority. I'll pitch in. Like, a dollar. But still.

Cons: Stabling
I don't know anything about stabling at these big events, or what's the norm. But the stabling at Great Meadow is just tents. Freakin' nice tents, but still. I think Welcome Shadow should have a 18x18 stall deeply bedded with four feet of shavings before she fancy prances or dominates on the cross country. But that is just me.

Cons: Shopping
The shopping at Great Meadow was crap. There's not really an area to set up a tent or large indoor venue for shopping. There weren't that many choices as far as vendors either; most of them were saddlers which was fun for me to sit on a bunch of saddles and cry myself to sleep because I want a new jump saddle but I didn't get to do fun souvenir shopping or buy unnecessary crap for my horse. Where's the fun in that??

So that's what I think. I really had to reach for the cons, I loved Great Meadow so much when I went there. I can't stress enough how much fun I had watching the cross country here, I think it's one of the real standout strengths of this venue.

Next up: Fair Hill!


  1. I mean. Great Meadow is also much closer to me. So. You know... add that to the "pro" list. ;)

  2. Yea I'm gonna need a 4* that makes 15k steps a breeze haha. Also I would be curious how they can get an 11 or 12 minute course out of Great Meadows, tho presumably they already have a plan for that. Honestly tho I loved great meadow and would happily go back for any event and esp a 4*.

  3. I can help answer your question as to what devil invented your beloved "cloud-fluff! The footing was formulated and installed by Attwood Equestrian Surfaces. They are an international arena designer, builder, and footing provider, who also just happen to be headquartered right down the road from Great Meadow in Middleburg, VA. They do spectacular work and their footing is scientifically formulated to optimize the performance for horses.


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