It’s fair to say that Teresa Condon knows every inch of Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Condon is the director of operations at the 500-acre facility, home to the Great Meadow International, which will host the only FEI Nations Cup™ Eventing series competition outside of Europe for the second time this year, July 7-9. But Condon first got to know the gently rolling terrain exactly the way the Nations Cup competitors will experience it: on horseback.
A three-day event rider herself, Condon got her start in the sport in New England, riding with Mike Plumb and Karen Stives, members of the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. She moved to Virginia in 1991 to ride with Torrance Watkins, another 1984 eventing team gold medalist. Soon afterwards, she started working for the Great Meadow Foundation and Great Meadow’s founder, Nick Arundel. Condon once kept her event horses on the site and galloped them on what is now the Nations Cup cross-country course. For a time she also lived in Meadow House, which now serves as the media and officials’ headquarters for the Great Meadow International event.
“It was fabulous,” Condon recalled. “I had the best footing in the world to train on.”
Condon was Great Meadow’s executive director in 1994 and also served as race director of the important Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase there between 1996 and 1999. She returned to Great Meadow last year as director of operations to run the first Great Meadow Nations Cup event. But she’s still an equestrian, too: she currently competes the Hanoverian El Paso at Training level.
Lessons she learned from her earliest days as an equestrian still stand her in good stead today as an organizer, Condon says.
“Mike and Karen instilled in me right away the importance of being organized as a serious competitor,” she explained. “That extends in my work now very easily. And, as a very competitive stable, they showed me that winning is good, but working hard to be consistently successful really brings greatness. And that’s what I want, is for this event to be great. That’s what inspires me when I come to work every morning: to be consistently successful so we can make this event amazing.”
Condon, who now lives in nearby Upperville with her husband Britton and their two children, has seen many recent positive developments at Great Meadow—including its status as a finalist, along with Fair Hill in Maryland, for a proposed new CCI4* event in North America. In the meantime, this year’s Nations Cup event will showcase some new features, Condon pointed out.
“This year, we’ve really expanded our vendor village, called the Meadow Market, with 75-plus vendors,” she said. The Meadow Market overlooks another recent development: Great Meadow’s new $1 million all-weather outdoor arena. “As a guest, you can come in and shop, and turn around and watch some of the dressage competition, for example, and then turn back around and shop for a new saddle,” Condon said.
In addition, she added, “We’ve acquired more land just in the last couple of years through an incredible group of donors who are huge supporters of eventing and of preserving open space in Virginia. We’re now bringing it up to par with the racecourse.”
The focus on excellence and safety haven’t changed, says Condon. “Ultimately, the wellbeing and safety of the horses comes first,” she said. “Footing is so important to us. It was important to me as a competitor, and it’s incredibly important to me now as an organizer. The footing at Great Meadow has been a priority at Great Meadow before I started here over 25 years ago. We have a grounds manager, Bobby Hilton, who has been here since day one, in 1982. He has groomed it, aerated it, and taken care of every blade of grass for 32 years or so.
“Irrigation is huge to us here. We have numerous ponds here for irrigation, and we have a new one here for our new property to irrigate the cross-country track in the back. And we’re getting a new irrigation system that’s on its way to us this week.”
The most challenging aspect of Condon’s job? “Keeping all the balls in the air!” she said. In the weeks before the Nations Cup event, Condon could be found meeting with Meadow Market vendors, checking the condition of newly laid sod, speaking with sponsors, and general logistics work.
“I do so much pre-planning and have such an incredible team behind me—they make my life much easier,” she said. “We want every detail taken care of, and we want people to come out here and enjoy themselves.”
They’ll have the opportunity to do that for years to come, thanks to Arundel and the Great Meadow Foundation’s action to put valuable land into conservation decades ago.
“This property will last certainly far beyond my lifetime, which is inspiring,” Condon said. “It will stand the way it is for lifetimes. My grandchildren will be able to come here and watch horses compete at the high-performance level over a beautiful open space preserved just for this use.”
Want articles like this delivered to your inbox every week? Sign up to receive the Equestrian Weekly newsletter here.
This article is original content produced by US Equestrian and may only be shared via social media. It is not to be repurposed or used on any other website than USequestrian.org.