When I was in my early twenties, I took a break from the traditional “office life” and ventured out east to groom for a show jumper in Maryland. This was during the summer (and there was no COVID-19 yet), so the horse show game was strong. This was the first time, though, that I had EVER set foot on ANY horse show grounds. I never had a “Junior career” and couldn’t afford to even shareboard my own horse until my mid-twenties…it was quite a few years later until I actually competed in my first show. I was mindblown by how big the venue was…and even the fact that there were multiple rings.
Competing at a HITS venue: Lamplight Equestrian Center. Photo by Emma Miller/Phelps Media Group.
The venue we attended was HITS Saugerties. I knew that HITS (Horse Shows In The Sun) was a big horse show management company. It’s one of the biggest and most successful horse show management companies in the nation, thanks to its strategy of producing horse shows run over multiple weeks, for multiple ages and skill levels at a variety of desirable destinations. However, the ultimate confusion set in when my boss later said that we were going back to HITS again, but this time in Virginia. Then, he called it HITS Culpeper, and later referred to it as Commonwealth. I thought there was only one HITS…and what was with the multiple names?
Since that time many years ago (okay, I’m dating myself), HITS has been consistent about improving every facility it owns, and it even ventured out to the midwest (since this summer, HITS Chicago is now at newly purchased Lamplight Equestrian Center). If you’ve ever been confused like me about the different locations and what they’re all about, here’s the “who-what-where” of current HITS facilities:
- Horse park’s official name is “HITS-on-the-Hudson”
- Located by the Catskill Mountains in Saugerties, NY
- Runs events with some of the biggest prize money out of all the HITS venues
- HITS has been operating here since 2004
- Hosts the HITS Championship each fall (Finals + AIG $500,000 Grand Prix)
- Hosts some dressage events
- Shady trees for days
- Heads up: Barns are a bit far from the rings. Bring a golf cart if you have one
- Amazing food!
- Horse park’s official name is “HITS Commonwealth Park”
- Located in Culpeper, VA one hour from Washington, DC
- Culpeper is a horsey town with a 120+ year tradition of loving equestrian sport
- Has a ton of permanent stalls! 500 permanent stalls and six rings
- Has hosted the L.M. Gerald Junior Equitation Championships for 13 years
- Plenty of shade
- I thought some of the stall doors were a little tight the last time I was there many years ago, but this likely has changed since then
- Horse park’s official name is “Lamplight Equestrian Center” (HITS purchased this facility in 2020)
- HITS Chicago is NOT at Balmoral Park in Crete, IL anymore
- Lamplight is located in equestrian-oriented Wayne, IL, approximately one hour from Chicago, IL
- Picturesque facility with lots of horse-only paths
- Mix of both permanent stalls (close to Grand Prix ring) and tent stalls
- Heads up: Tent stalls are a bit far from the rings and show office
- All footing has been completely improved since purchase of the facility
- Additional parking has been added (parking was an issue in the past and has since improved)
- Arrive at the show early if you want to park close to your barn
- Hosts some dressage events
- Excellent taco truck (very important)
- Horse park’s official name is “Post Time Farm”
- Circuit runs during the winter
- HITS has been operating in Ocala since 1985 and purchased Post Time Farm in 2002
- Upcoming winter circuit (January 19 – March 28, 2021) will mark the 40th Annual HITS Ocala Winter Circuit — congratulations!
- Weather is advantageous compared to Wellington — being further north in Florida, it’s typically less humid and hot
- Enormous amount of prize money: Sunday Grand Prix has been doubled and tripled
- Crown Jewel of Ocala Circuit caps off the season with AIG $1 Million Grand Prix!
Each venue uses the Show Management System website so you can view approximately class start times, order of go (if applicable), and class results. Note: Class start times and order of go (if any changes are made) are not updated in real time, so you will still need to check on the ring occasionally.
Classes and Divisions:
Each venue offers a wide variety of divisions and classes, from Small Pony Hunters to Junior Equitation to High A/O Jumpers and more (plus, of course, the big Grand Prix)! There is a bit of something for everyone.
Learn more and enter:
To learn more about HITS, view prize lists, and enter in an upcoming show, click here. See you at the shows!