Welcome To Woodside | “The Silicon Valley Horse Trials”

Woodside Horse Trials – San Francisco CA

Just hours before I was due to depart for good old Blighty, my trip to Silicon Valley got extended by 12 days,  which I have to be honest I half expected, but I was beginning to feel stranded and in danger of seeing no horses for a fortnight, until I realised Woodside Horse Park was just a few miles away and was running an event this weekend.

This is California, albeit northern CA, so not exactly the lush green galloping lanes of Bramham Horse Trials I remember seeing pictures of earlier today in their build up to the most anticipated event of the UK calendar, since the demised of Badminton & Chatsworth, but it was a welcome site nevertheless after the concrete jungle that is Silicon Valley.

Woodside is a compact site, very similar to Tweseldown in the UK, with several ‘all weather’ tracks twisting and turning across each other, and two small water complexes, plus a variety of drops, steps, and deceptive undulations.

With some time on my hands this afternoon, in between skyping my son, who is “this many today” he tells me holding up 4 fingers to the screen – 4th Birthday!, and a late afternoon meeting I decided to wind my way across the hills of the peninsula, through the one part of SV I could see myself living – Los Altos, and on to Woodside to get my bearings for the weekend’s activities.

They are running everything from training level up to advanced this weekend, including the Woodside Preliminary (that’s Novice) Challenge with $30K in prizemoney, plus a host of other prizes on offer in what is staged as something of a gala evening on Saturday night in the main arena, with the most magnificent backdrop of the San Francisco hills.

Dressage In The Main Arena

Every horse I happened upon looked the picture of health, and I just wish I had the right camera lens with me – their coats were glistening in the sunshine, and the gentle breeze was keeping everything cool and relaxed.

I spent a little time watching the Open Intermediate dressage, in the main arena, and have to confess I could not report on the competition from this event as I only recognised one face, Californian based Brit, James Allison.

Watching dressage is hard enough at times, but when you have no idea who you are watching it can become frustrating, so I went off to walk the advanced cross country course before my meeting.

Derek Di Grazia designed these courses, and I think the Advanced course looks like a very good introduction to advanced level, nothing trappy, plenty of related distances, but nothing in a  ‘quick fire’, catch you out kind of way. I’d say there might be two or three significant fences but nothing that you thought “whoa, that’s strong”. It all tight and twisty due to the compact site, but the fences are well spread, and that could leave little opportunity to make up time if needed.

Fence 20ABC (Rail, Coffin, Triple Brush) | Advanced Track

I took pictures of most of the course, but for some unknown reason I seem to have missed a few fences out or lost the pictures. Here’s what I did manage to snap:

Woodside Advanced XC Course Pictures

Interestingly, due I assume to the climate, most of the fence decor and brush, is artificial:

I’ll try and post some more interesting pictures tomorrow! It promises to be a great day of eventing.

In the mean time here’s the event’s website & scoreboard:



Amateur event rider, aspiring photographer. Technologist by day.

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