For the past seven years, Nina Fout has stood up to the challenge of being Middleburg Horse Trials cross-country coordinator. She managed to organize another stellar competition last weekend at Glenwood Park, with 250 horses at this popular event--and she says it was her last.

Next year, Fout is looking forward to doing some traveling. She has been operating her Middleburg-based Gallery of Country Sport, a custom framing and art gallery, for 16 years. "Sixteen years is a lot of time to do anything, and I feel that it's time for a change," she said.

She will be missed: Not only did Fout organize the trials but she also competed. And because of Fout's appreciative network of friends, the volunteer base for the trials has been great. From flagging, decorating and numbering jumps to roping off parking areas, friends and neighbors pitched in to make the event happen. Fout's enthusiasm kept people working well after dark, trying to get the details right before competitors arrived on the show grounds.

Through Fout's careful attention to and friendly communication with local landowners, the horse trials were allowed to use neighboring fields for the event. Cow pastures were cleared of animals for expansion of the cross-country course, and horse paddocks were opened up for more galloping area. The dressage warmup actually was held on the front lawn of a generous neighbor's.

Glenwood Park was an outstanding facility at which to hold the event--with three sand dressage arenas, stabling on the grounds and a view that allows spectators to see most of the cross-country course--but the fact that it is to host the Middleburg Fall Races this weekend made things a bit difficult.

Horses galloping at racing speed could afford to stumble over tire tracks or divots. No vehicles were allowed on any part of the racecourse, so using golf carts was a slow but handy way for Fout to get much of the work completed. The galloping track was so carefully maintained for the races that mandatory flags at the event were required to keep horses and their riders from leaving any hoof prints on the turf.

Add to this the fact that she is a top-class international-level competitor, just returning home from competing in Europe. She was recently the highest-placed American rider at the prestigious Burghley Horse Trials in England, on her horse "Three Magic Beans."

If all goes very well, she may be heading overseas again next year, for the Olympic Games in Sydney--with her horse in tow. At this point, she is a top contender for a spot on the U.S. team and a serious threat to fellow competitors in the world of three-day eventing. The Middleburg Horse Trials won't be the same without Fout, but thanks to her careful planning and preparation for the future of the event, things should run as smoothly as ever.