Longleaf is in April at the Carolina Horse Park and should be fairly soft. Lumber River is in the fall and was a pretty maxed out course last year.
If you wanted to come to the CHP (which is a great venue!) you might consider doing one of the schooling trials there in the summer then do BN there in the fall. You would be pretty well prepared if you did that. Good luck!
VA horse trials is great! I love the course and it was pretty good even in the heavy rain a few years ago. The indoor stadium can be daunting to some horses, but others are not bothered. Depends on what you have. I was at VA horse trials around halloween. Some dressage judges dressed up and my horse was a bit nervous when trotting down center line to see the judge with a witches hat. Fun times.
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I have not xc any place yet that has a recognized trial, but I am taking my mare to the VA Starter Trial next weekend. and The VA horse center seems like a good choice since we will have already competed there, but I just wanted to see what everyone's thoughts were on some of the other area II events since I haven't been to any of them.
I have heard that Waredaca and Rubicon are very well run but probably not appropriate for first timers.
At VAHT-they have the schooling jumper show the night before and I think its pretty cheap-you could enter that to acclimate your horse
VAHT also hosts schooling days and a HT the day after. CHP has xc schooling days.
If you are looking to school xc jumps and arent to far from the Horse Center-Caroline Atherholt at Red Fox Hill Farm in Eagle Rock has xc jumps of all levels and allows schooling.
My mare is actually pretty good indoors, a couple of snorts, one hairy eyeball and then she gets to work. And I'm not too worried about xc either. It's the dressage that is our nemesis. I see formal dressage lessons in our future.