Heart of the Carolinas Three-Day Event and Horse Trials Discontinued, Organizers Reflect On Beautiful Memories

After ten fabulous years celebrating the traditional eventing long-format, The Heart of the Carolinas Three-Day Event and Horse Trials is sorry to announce that the competition is cancelled for the foreseeable future.

We are going out on a high note. Our entries for the 2018 event were our highest to date and exceeded our goal. We successfully ran our first Preliminary divisions and maintained the high standards we’d set in the past.

We would like to thank the officials, vendors, sponsors, and clinicians for everything they have done for this event as well as Southern 8ths Farm’s Brad Turley and Pati Martin for being gracious hosts.

Most importantly we would like to thank our volunteers. They were the key to our success and were the reason every competitor, spectator, clinician, and official left the event raving about HOTC. We appreciate every minute they gave to us.

Although we are deeply saddened, we will remember the experience fondly and celebrate the incredible impact HOTC had on its competitors, community, volunteers, and staff. Thank you for an incredible ride. Long live the long format!

Brad Turley, Owner, Southern 8ths Farm: Southern 8ths has over 200 years of equestrian history and the HOTC was our way to burnish what had come before. We hope that in the future we’ll be able to keep those memories alive. We have a great appreciation for those who made it happen over the past ten years and are heartfelt in our thanks.

Cindy Deporter, Co-Organizer: I am proud to have been associated with HOTC. It was a unique event and had a unique character. I was blessed with extraordinary people who were dedicated and believed in the event as I did. I thought we got it right in all ways. Here is to the competitors, volunteers, and the sponsors who helped to make it happen.

Leslie Threlkeld, Co-Organizer: There was a very special energy about HOTC. From the lovely people who helped to put on the event, to the serenity and beauty of the farm, to the generations old spirit of the horse that enveloped the property. Thank you to everyone who shared this incredible space with us over the years and supported the competition. We are sorry to see it go.

Erin Kimmer, Co-Organizer: I have attended the event as volunteer, competitor, and organizer. This event was truly one of the nicest events I have ever attended. The organizers and staff over the years have gone above and beyond to make this such a lovely event. I feel very lucky to have been able to ride and compete here. As a volunteer, this event’s hospitality and appreciation was the highest I have ever experienced. Thank you so much to Brad and Pati for their passion for the long format and hosting the event at their beautiful farm for many years. I am truly grateful to Cindy and Leslie for letting me join on board as an organizer and their help and insight with the technical delegate licensing process. I have gained so much from everyone and all of my experiences at HOTC.

Erica Pawlak, Sponsorship Coordinator: I’ve been working HOTC since the 2015 event and it really helped cement my love for eventing. Being new to the area, it’s introduced me to a whole host of wonderful Area II and III people and given me a fabulous education in between stuffing prize bags. My favorite position to work (besides giving out loads of swag on Sunday) was the vet box coming off Phase D. Getting to be one of the first to greet everyone after they’d completed endurance day and congratulate them on their accomplishment was an absolute privilege. I’m so honored I got to be a part of it.

Melissa Beasley-Rundt, Hospitality/Volunteer Coordinator: Southern 8th’s Farm is a magical place. My best memories of Heart of the Carolinas are the people that I’ve met over the past few years. I’ll take those friendships with me forever. 

Gammon Castellvi, Volunteer Coordinator: I have seen this event from every angle. First as a technical delegate, I felt it was an incredible educational event I was proud to have had a part in. Then as the volunteer coordinator, it was a privilege to work with an organizing committee that was doing all the right things for all the right reasons. Everyone put in all this amazing effort to provide our riders with an opportunity that we lost many years ago when the long format disappeared from the FEI levels. An event like this, for a rider, was the culmination of months of work. Just the look on each rider’s face as they came through the finish brought back the unbelievable feelings of accomplishment that only an event like this can bring. Too few of our riders will ever experience that or learn so much about themselves and their horse partners. The last few years, my own daughter has brought several young horses to this event. Watching her and her young partners come through the finish line, sharper, fitter, more educated, and much more confident each time is priceless, the level of horsemanship and sportsmanship it promotes is unequaled.

Kim Keeton, DVM, Veterinarian: What Brad brought at Southern 8ths was truly unique! I first participated in 2015 as a competitor at the Training Level in the three-day with my young warmblood. She grew leaps and bounds over the weekend as we danced in front of the mirrors at Brad’s main barn, then trotted on manicured roads and tracks through the woods traversing streams and nature paths, and galloped on the perfectly maintained steeplechase and cross country turf, and then triumphantly finished over a unique and atmospheric show jumping. Winning that weekend was icing on the cake, but it reignited in me the need for an amateur accessible long format event. Since then, I’ve been back each year, in 2016 and 2017 volunteering my time to assist Dr. Debbie Williamson in the veterinary aspects of the event, and then in 2018 as the official event veterinarian. As with any event, it’s not only a stunning purpose-built facility, but also the people and their passion that makes an event special. Each day at Southern 8ths was packed from sun up to sun down with a unique competitor camaraderie, educational clinics, and nature’s beauty. HOTC should be heralded for what it brought to the sport and paving the path for future lower level long format events. Farewell HOTC – thanks for the memories, education, and most of all horsemanship and fun! 

Cindy Wood, Stabling Manager: We all loved ‘Brad-minton’, the beautiful farm, stabling, grounds, cross country courses, and the Southern Eighths crew.

Ed and Annie Madden, Safety Officer and Volunteer: Every year that we have been a part of this incredible event has been special. We have gained new friends, experienced camaraderie that is rare, were introduced to the culture of horses and eventing, and gained an appreciation for what is possible when people are able to work toward a common goal.  For Annie and I it has added to the richness of our lives.

Charles Pinnell, Announcer: Farewell HOTC! There was nothing quite like that annual trip to Brad Turley’s Southern 8th’s Farm. The buildup, the excitement, the professionalism at all levels, while working with a top notch team, every member passionate about eventing and the advancement of our great sport. People will talk about this horse trials for generations.

John Michael Durr, Cross Country Course Designer: It was a pleasure being part of the HOTC team. As both a designer and a competitor at Southern 8ths, it was a joy working with the dynamic landscape and helping to bring the vision to life along with course builder, Dylan Barry.

Tony Astmann, Jack of All Trades: HOTC was a very special experience for me. It was a pleasure and honor to be part of such a first-class event. It gave me an opportunity to meet and become friends with many fantastic and accomplished people, learn a lot, and even ride some special horses too. My memories begin with Brad and his dedication, desire, and vision in creating his beautiful Southern 8ths Farm and the world-class event, Heart Of The Carolinas. I remember years ago visiting Brad’s home when there was little else other than the natural, raw, South Carolina land. Through the years it was incredible to witness how the terrain was shaped, fences created, and structures were built to the make facility we now know. What truly made the HOTC memorable and special were the people – show personnel, farm staff, clinicians, competitors, everyone. It was pleasure being a part of Cindy’s team. She was generous in making this Yankee feel welcome. She was incredible in uniting and directing us all in making something special and unique happen. It was exciting working with the best and a wonderful synergy ensued. Though the hours were long, the positive atmosphere made the work a pleasure and laughs would come often and easy. I am thankful for the opportunity to have helped contribute to the sport and to have made some very special friends and memories, too.

Carol Kozlowski, Lead Clinician: The team Cindy and Leslie put together, combined with a truly beautiful site and the best of volunteers made for a really special competition. The riders that were lucky enough to be a part of the Southern 8ths experience and the classic long format that Brad Turley so strongly supported made memories for a lifetime. It was a magical week of fun, friendship, education and bucket list achievements. I was so honored to be a part of this journey for the riders and want to thank Cindy and Leslie for their efforts and Brad and Pati for their generous support and enthusiasm keeping the  Classic 3-Day experience an opportunity for so many at their beautiful farm.