Everyone looks forward to Spring Point to Point season every year. It doesn’t matter if you’re an owner, rider, trainer, groom, or fan. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunny day with the perfect temperature so it’s not too hot or not too cold. Point to Points in the spring season happen during the months of March, April, and even some in May. Most of them are based in Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. It’s the perfect time for young horses and riders to gain more experience, as well as the older ones to help them gear up for a big sanctioned race.
On March 26th I went to my first Point to Point of the season at Peidmont in Upperville, Virginia. It was a perfect day with seven good races on the card. I wasn’t riding, but instead I was helping some of my friends run their horses. I love jump racing, whether I’m riding or not. I get the same joy out of watching and cheering on my friends, so I don’t mind helping on the ground. Somebody has to do it, and it is a fun responsibility to have at the races. Peidmont is one of my favorite courses. They only have timber and flat races there. The timber is mostly run over stonewalls. Riding around that course is almost like you’re out foxhunting and you’re on a very good run. It’s a course full of twists and turns which keeps it exciting and makes it even more of a challenge.
My first year riding races when I was 16, I rode my own horse, Orpington, in the foxhunters timber race at Peidmont. Orpington had been over many of the fences in the course before just from foxhunting. We set out on the course and went out away from the crowd to the countryside where the course led us. By the time we came back through the crowd we had already lost a couple of horses and riders when they had missed turns and gone off course. We went back out to the country going a different way for the last part of the race. I realized that there were only three of us left in the race. I was sitting behind the other two when all of a sudden they took off very quickly in the wrong direction and jumped a fence backwards. I was very confused because I knew I was supposed to turn. So I stuck with my gut and turned the other way anyways, all on my own. A few fences later I saw the other riders pulled up and walking home. It became clear to me what had happened, so Oprington and I kicked on for home. All I had to do was get over the last two fences and cross the finish line and we would become the foxhunters timber series champion. Of course Orpington handled it perfectly and we galloped home with a big smile getting cheered by the crowd. Below is a photo of Orpington and I galloping home on our own to win.
Many of the other point to points have very unique and fun qualities as well. They all offer something different that caters to different horses. Even if you’re not there for the horses and the racing, going to the point to points can be a very fun social event. Tail gates at point to points are very popular and everyone has a fun day. It’s a fun way to experience jump racing in a close community and pick out horses and riders you think will do well later on in the year in the bigger sanctioned races.