Wow! What a beautiful day today was! I worked as a volunteer at the 2016 Red Hills International Horse Trials which are held on some of the most scenic woodlands in Tallahassee. I have volunteered for this event for the past several years and it’s always fun, but today’s weather was absolutely spectacular and tomorrow promises more of the same.
Ancient magnolias, massive tulip poplars, and meandering streams are all part of the delights of Phipps Park, the city of Tallahassee’s most expansive and wild urban park which is the site of the Red Hills Horse Trials, an annual United States Eventing Association Area III event. With 670 acres along the shores of Lake Jackson, Phipps Park provides recreation for all, with separate hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trail systems. Entries from across the United States and other countries compete in the Red Hills CIC (Concours International Combine) event with top-level, CIC***(3 stars) competitors vying for inclusion in the US Equestrian Team which competes in international competitions.
Since its inception in 1998, Red Hills has catapulted to the top of the eventing world and now serves as a model for other horse trials across the country. In 2014, Red Hills introduced a new cross-country course that rivals any in the nation. The 3,611 meter, state-of-the-art course includes 32 unique obstacles that challenge both rider and horse and offers breathtaking views for spectators.
Eventing is one of the fastest growing equestrian pursuits in the world. Riders of all ages and abilities can compete. Developed from cavalry competitions during the early 1900s, it is the ultimate challenge for horse and rider. It tests their partnership and athletic prowess in three disciplines: the grace and harmony of dressage; the rigors and thrills of cross-country jumping and the power and pageantry of stadium jumping.
You may be wondering, what is a horse trial? A Horse Trial takes place over one, two or three days, and involves three distinct phases or tests with varying degrees of difficulty, depending on the competitive level. Taken as a whole, these phases portray the ability, versatility, and preparedness of horse and rider. Penalty points are recorded and then totaled for the three tests, resulting in a combined score for the whole trial thus Eventing’s synonym—Combined Training. The lowest score wins.
The tests are: Dressage, Cross-Country and Stadium Jumping
The first test of horse and rider involves a series of prescribed classical movements performed on the flat in an enclosed arena. The dressage event took place today and was breathtaking to watch. The judges look for a supple, balanced, and lively yet relaxed ride. As in figure skating, both precision of individual movements and overall impression enter into the scoring formula.
This second test, cross-country which will be held on Saturday is the heart of the sport. Horse and rider gallop over natural terrain, jumping a variety of fixed obstacles along the way.
On Sunday, the stadium jumping event will be held and horses and riders jump a series of painted fences in an enclosed arena. Stadium jumping tests the obedience and suppleness of the horse and demonstrates that sufficient stamina and fitness still remain after the strenuous demands of cross-country.
If you have never been, grab your hat, sunscreen, and sunglasses and come on out. If you have been before, I shouldn’t have to convince you. I can promise you that you will never see more breathtaking scenery or more beautiful horses.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with Oatmeal Muffins? Well, as a volunteer, we have to report at 7:30 am, and once everything gets started, there is little chance to grab something to eat. So, I made these nutritious Oatmeal Muffins, to take to my fellow volunteers so we will have something healthy and delicious to snack on.
To make the Oatmeal Muffins, gather your ingredients which include: oats, flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, butter, milk, eggs, toasted pecans, and cinnamon.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, add the oats and butter and toast for approximately 8 minutes until the oats are golden brown. Stir frequently while the oats are toasting.
Add the toasted oats to your food processor fitted with a metal blade and process for approximately 30 seconds or until the oats are ground up and resemble course meal.
Add flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda to the oats in the food processor and pulse until everything is mixed well.
In a large bowl, add brown sugar and melted butter and mix well. Add milk and 2 large eggs and using a whisk, gently mix everything together. Add the flour and again gently whisk until everything is mixed well. Set aside for 20 minutes for the oat flour to absorb the liquid ingredients.
In the meantime, make the muffin topping by combining oats, flour, toasted pecans, cinnamon, butter, brown sugar and a pinch of salt.
Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non-stick baking spray containing flour. Using an extra large 1/2 cup ice-cream scoop, fill the muffin cups to the brim. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the topping on top of the batter in each muffin cup.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until done.
Remove from the oven and cool on a metal cake rack for about 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool for approximately another 20-30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
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