Where Spirits – and Horses – Fly

170th Year of Upperville Colt & Horse Show Launches Capital Campaign

Article by Melinda Gipson

Photography by Dillon Keen Photography,

Originally published in Leesburg Lifestyle

Sensory overload is the only way to describe the week-long celebration of horses and horse culture in Upperville. We can’t do it all justice in print, so we invite you to browse our expanded Facebook coverage.

For the second year, First Lady of Virginia, Suzanne S. Youngkin, presented the “Spirit of the Horse Award, this year to Barbara Riggs, who has rided and whipped in for multiple hunts in the region, served on the Piedmont Fox Hounds and the Upperville Horse Show boards, and is a former Upperville Horse Show competitor, volunteer and fundraiser. Barbara embraced horses as a much-needed respite from her demanding job in the Secret Service. She was one of the first 10 women to join the U.S. Secret Service as a special agent, and also the first woman deputy director of the agency. She plans on donating her $1,000 award to the UCHS “Jump In!” Capital campaign, which aims to raise a total of $7.5 million to care for and improve the iconic show grounds.

Already, $4.3 million has been raised and much of it invested to update the entire electrical and water systems, dig two new wells, construct a new equipment shed and horse show office and plant nearly 100 new trees. Upcoming improvements include renovating the historic Grandstand at Grafton and refreshing the footing in the jumper rings at Salem. Funds also will support new exercise/schooling/lunging rings; upgraded sound, signage and spectator facilities; a new food stand; a potential headquarters/visitors center and permanent bathrooms. To donate, please visit or contact the Show Office at 540-687-5740.

As for whether horses themselves can fly in Upperville, you be the judge. The height of the jumps in the $226,000 Jumper Classic is 5’1” and photos of this year’s historic finish show this year’s Pegasus look-alikes clearing that by ample margins.

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