Why the Morven Park International & Fall H.T. Needs to Be On Your Fall Calendar

Galloping through Autumn leaves, touring a luxurious mansion, watching Olympic-level competition from a VIP tent…the Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials has a lot to offer. We get it, the Fall season is a

Why the Morven Park International & Fall H.T. Needs to Be On Your Fall Calendar

Will Coleman will return to Morven Park aboard last year’s CCI4*-S winner, Chin Tonic HS. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Galloping through Autumn leaves, touring a luxurious mansion, watching Olympic-level competition from a VIP tent…the Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials has a lot to offer. We get it, the Fall season is a busy time of year. But when we say you need to make space on your calendar for Morven Park, we mean it.

Here’s why the Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials needs to be on your eventing bucket list: 

Autumn Leaves… Need We Say More? 

Fall colors peak in the Leesburg area between October 15th and 25th. The Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials fall just before the peak of leaf peeping season, on October 12th through 15th. If you’ve ever wanted to enjoy the thrill of eventing against a background of russet hues, this competition is for you.  

Caitlin Silliman and Ally KGO. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Competition for Everyone 

The Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials offer National levels, Novice through Preliminary, as well as CCI2* through CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L. Thanks to the wide range of divisions offered, this event attracts local competitors at the lower levels, as well as top riders from across the country.

EN’s upper-level rider-in-residence Ema Klugman describes the cross country here as, “nice and open, like cross-country should be,” up to standard for each level but not overwhelmingly technical. It’s a great event to aim for as a Fall season highlight! 

Intense Sport, Welcoming Atmosphere 

Morven Park is one of only six venues across the United States hosting a CCI4*-L. While you may think a venue hosting Olympic-level competition would feel exclusive, Morven Park really feels welcoming to everyone.

Test Yourself Against the Best 

The Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials always draws in some of the best riders from across the nation. The 2022 field included number six and number eight on the world ranking’s list, Tamie Smith and Will Coleman, as well as Ema Klugman, Buck Davidson, Mia Farley, Allie Knowles, Doug Payne, and more. So far the 2023 field is shaping up to be similarly star-studded across the divisions, with World Championship Team member Ariel Grald, and Olympians Stephen Bradley and Lauren Nicholson, entered so far.  

Ema Klugman and Bronte Beach Z. Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

Defeat the Iconic Leaf Pit 

The Leaf Pit is perhaps the most well-known question on the Morven Park cross-country course.  Regarded as one of the most difficult fences on course, the Leaf Pit is an homage to late course designer Tremaine Cooper who originally designed the combination. This formidable four-fence combination involves a steep drop. Fence A is a large brush fence that offers horses a few strides afterwards to prepare for the drop. In 2022, Sharon White called it an “icon of Morven Park.” 

Tackle Challenging Terrain 

Home to eight mountain ranges, Virginia as a whole is a mountainous state and Morven Park is no exception. The terrain at the park presents the biggest challenge to riders who choose to tackle the course. The course was designed by Derek di Grazia, who also designed the cross-country course at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.  

When EN asked Derek what he wanted riders to learn after riding last year’s course in Morven Park, he responded, “To be better prepared for championships and Olympic Games. And also to keep competing, whether it’s to go abroad and do a four-star or five-star, but you always want to have these events, be able to give them the experience that they need to be able to compete in those different situations.” 

Free Spectator Admission

The International & Fall Horse Trials at Morven Park aren’t just about the competitors. It’s also an extremely spectator-friendly event, thanks to free admission and free parking. Spectators can expect to enjoy watching Olympic-level eventing, as well as a small vendor village and a variety of food trucks. There is no better way to enjoy a beautiful Fall weekend in Loudoun County’s 1,000-acre playground. 

Tailgating & VIP Tent 

Last year Morven Park introduced tailgating, which will be coming back this year. Tailgate spaces are in the center of the cross-country course, awarding spectators prime viewing of main combinations on course against the backdrop of the Davis Mansion. Each pass includes parking for one vehicle on the course and up to 12 people. You may bring your own food and beverage, have a picnic catered, or visit the fantastic food vendors on site.

New this year, Morven Park will have a VIP tent. The VIP Hospitality Tent will allow for prime viewing of the 4*-S and 4*-L dressage and show jumping, and will be stocked with refreshments in a lovely, comfortable setting. One ticket allows access to the tent for all three days of the competition.  

[See all Spectator offerings here]

Photo by Erin Gilmore Photography.

More Than Just a Horse Park

Home to the Davis Mansion, Morven Park is more than just another equestrian center. Over the last 240 years, the Davis Mansion has transformed from a modest fieldstone house into the impressive Greek Revival building it is today. Once the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis and his wife, Marguerite, the couple filled the mansion with eclectic antiques from around the world, many of which are still in the mansion today.

Also avid equestrians, their love of equestrian sports inspired the creation of the renowned Morven Park International Equestrian Institute. One of the world’s most prestigious riding academies from 1963 until 1991, it was built around training equestrians to become top riding instructors. The academy later became the Morven Park International Equestrian Center.

This year, Morven Park is celebrating 50 years of eventing at the historic venue. Eventing competitions were first held at the 1,000-acre park in 1973 under the direction of cavalry Major John Lynch. When you compete at Morven Park, you’re retracing the hoofprints of all the equestrian legends who came before you.

Where will you be October 12th through the 15th? Whether you’re spectating or competing, learn more about the Morven Park International & Fall Horse Trials here. Sign up to compete on evententries.com before the closing date of September 26.