Sallie Ausley and Sylvia Ochs, the women who\’ve made the Red Hills Horse Trials, in Tallahassee, Fla., into one of the country\’s premier events in less than a decade, announced this week that they won\’t continue as organizers after the event in March.
They\’re stepping down even though they haven\’t been able to find anyone who\’ll continue to run the event as an international horse trial. The 2006 event, on March 9-12, offers a World Cup-qualifying CIC*** and a CIC**, as well as advanced and intermediate divisions that are qualifying events for the U.S. Eventing Association\’s Gold Cup Series and a preliminary division. It\’s been a World Cup qualifier since 2003.
But the event will continue, on a smaller scale. Colin Phipps, the event\’s benefactor, has agreed to assume the role of chairman if the event doesn\’t include the international divisions.
Red Hills has drawn about 40,000 spectators a year, using about 600 volunteers, who put in about 12,000 hours of work, to draw the community and keep things flowing. The event has raised more than $300,000 for the Elinor Klapp Phipps Park in Tallahassee and for the Tall Timbers Foundation, a local land- and wildlife-preservation organization.
“When the idea of Red Hills Horse Trials was created, we never imagined it growing to where it is today,” Ausley said.
Ausley and Ochs initially envisioned Red Hills to be a small- or medium-sized event for the equestrian community, but its popularity mushroomed as it quickly attracted competitors from all over the country.
“It was a great ride,” said Ochs. “Red Hills introduced Tallahassee to many people who otherwise might not have visited the city. We provided three fantastic days of family entertainment to spectators each year, and made a viable contribution to the local economy. We could not ask for more.”