New Water Complex at Windurra

Our latest project at Boyd and Silva Martin’s Windurra in Cochranville, PA is a big, cool water complex. It’s really been a luxury to build it because we flagged what we wanted in the field, then cut into the ground, then ordered the liner to fit that. Normally you work it out on paper and then order the liner, and then you’re less flexible in changing the design. This approach gave us the opportunity to make some changes during the digging process. It’s a big complex: there are mounds, drops, a sort of sheer wall face that’s like something he saw in France, a couple steep slopes, a couple soft slopes. I think it’s around 200 feet from its longest point, but it’s rambling – it’s not a 200’ square box or circle. It’s quite cool.

We also finished the big mound we’ve been working on for the past couple years. Boyd has been getting dirt hauled in for a couple years and it is a MASSIVE pile of dirt. A local excavator did a lot of the initial work, and also helped us with some other things on course like the initial cutting of the water jump. When our crew had some extra time before the Fair Hill International started we were able to get over there and finish up the project.

Boyd says he’s done with the course now, but we’ll see about that – I’d say he’s a full-blown addict! He’s seeing events from all over the world and trying to take that and reinvent it as a useful schooling package. I think he said he had 170 jumps and we delivered more than ten this fall, so he’s up to nearly 200 jumps. That’s on par with any facilities: Tryon, Stable View…that’s a lot of jumps. Boyd’s fun to work for and knows what he wants, and his course is always interesting and always new, and it’s fun to work for someone whose focus is always on quality, not scrimping.

The course is a great model, and in watching it develop we see the traffic coming in, from kids on ponies to four-star riders, and that really encouraged us to do the new schooling course at Stable View in Aiken. It’s a good business model. Note that the Windurra course is closed for the winter, but if you’re planning to head south for the winter, be sure to check out the new schooling field at Stable View when it opens.

-Eric

 

 

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ETB Equine Construction Fall Schedule

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Last week during a break from the preparation for Fair Hill International, we finished building a monster-sized mound complex for Boyd Martin, which we’ve probably been working on for a year and a half, and started a new water complex that will probably be finished this spring. The schooling course at Windurra is really second to none: it has already become a prime destination for eventers and Boyd is adding to it all the time.

Next we’ll go to Bruce’s Field in Aiken the first week of November to do the water and banks for their Eventing Showcase, (20 fences over 2,000 meters with three-star questions, plus dressage and a show jumping round), which will be held the same weekend as Sporting Days in Aiken Horse Trials in early in March. At Bruce’s Field we’ll be building jumps to reflect iconic Aiken landmarks, and it’s running on a schedule that will complement Sporting Days so people can compete in the horse trials and watch the showcase. If you’re going to spend a weekend in Aiken, that’s the weekend to go! You can ride your low-level horse and still watch upper-level sport. That’s also a pretty time of year to go to Aiken.

After that we’ll be hard at work building the new ETB/Boyd Martin course at Stable View.

The Eventing Showcase in Wellington is also on the calendar for this winter; when we cleaned up after the WEG we put some jumps in a pile of stuff that will be heading to Wellington.

We’ve got Full Moon Farm Horse Trials, near Baltimore, in three weeks; we built a sunken road there in early spring, and put it where the land fit a sunken road, but we need to move some other things around to work the new feature into the course, which will make it a significantly different track. It’s a fun farm, owned by four-star rider Woodge Fulton’s family. They’re a great family and she’s worked seriously hard to make it as an upper-level rider.

As usual when we are not on the road we are hard at work in our shop in Virginia. If you’re thinking about ordering portable cross country jumps or a new set of show jumps, get your orders in – they make great holiday gifts!

-Eric

 

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Upcoming Boyd Martin/ETB Jump Schooling Cross Country Course at Stable View Aiken

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We have an exciting project in the works: a new schooling cross country course at Stable View Farm in Aiken. I’m building it, Boyd is designing it and it’s on Stable View property – it’ll be open for schooling on January first. It will have an emphasis on high performance, with a big water complex and a lot of the stuff people like at Boyd’s place in Pennsylvania: the corners, the brush, all the things people really appreciate about schooling at Windurra.

It’ll also have the advantage, also like Windurra, that Boyd moves things around often, which people really like if they go back often. That’s really what portables are for really, to move around and do different things with them. Too many schooling courses get stuck in one spot, but he’s good about moving things around and creating different, modern questions. The course will include lower level jumps as well, but its emphasis in its first build will be on high performance and then we will build out the lower levels.

The existing courses at Stable View are only open for schooling the day after events, for volunteers, so that is very limited; this is a new concept for them. The footing is excellent, with a sandy base and established Bermuda grass that is watered with irrigation guns every day. The course features water, a sunken road, numerous ditches and a couple trailer loads of portables: corners, triple brushes, tables, offset brushes, cabins to make combinations with. I wouldn’t call it generic, but it will consist of pretty simple, straightforward jumps.

Stable View is providing the land but I’m funding the jumps, which will all be for sale – if you want to buy one and take it home, we’ll just ship more down there after you throw it on a truck! We also offer delivery to your farm. It’s sort of a new concept and one that I think will benefit everyone.

-Eric

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WEG 2018 Photos

Thanks to our nephew Nate who shared these photos from the WEG:

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Another Magical Weekend for Cross Country at 2018 Dutta Corp Fair Hill International

I think we fell into another magical spot with the weather at the Fair Hill International, just like at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon last month. Even Sunday was wet at Fair Hill with rain overnight, and it’s good to get lucky. I wish we’d gotten that lucky at Plantation Field a few weeks ago! Fair Hill is a consistently known, guaranteed product that the venue and Derek are able to deliver again and again. It’s got good ground with well established turf, it’s always good course design, the competition is always fair and the best horse and rider win. The cross country is never a giveaway, but you never have huge numbers of eliminations or anything out of the ordinary. It’s slow to change and that’s not a bad thing, it delivers the sport a consistent result.

The USEF live streaming was great to have this year, it let people all over the world see the event and hopefully new people saw it and were impressed and will come see it in person one day.

We’re looking forward to adding the new five-star (current four-star) course. The course will start and finish behind the current racecourse grandstands, which event riders may know as being near the horse trials stabling. It’s a really nice piece of property.

They are busy trying to hire a course designer, which is taking some time because it’s state-funded and they are currently going through the bidding process. Once they’ve hired someone, they will complete the design and then I can bid on the building project. I’ll do everything I possibly can to continue to work there and build the five-star. I’ve crossed the WEG off my bucket list, now building a four (five) star and an Olympic Games are on my list!

I hope the process gets worked through this winter because ideally construction will start in the spring. Obviously the amount of funding will need to be determined as well: are we keeping the turf or improving it? Are we building bridges or crossing streams? All of those design elements will help determine the costs and the amount available to build out the horse jumps with. I really keep my yearly calendar by Fair Hill, it determines my sense of time, my compass, it’s really an integral part of my year. Every year it’s a lot of fun.

-Eric

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All Set for 2018 Fair Hill International

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Buck Davidson at the 2017 Fair Hill International Three-Day Event

This is my 20th year building the cross country course at Fair Hill, and it is the 30th anniversary of the event. Course designer Derek diGrazia and I started working there at the same time. This year we have all new courses, on the same tracks as last year, but we’ve built a ton of new permanent jumps. There are a couple of permanent-looking corners on the three-star course and a big new table to a big brush corner, on part of the property, out back of the start box area, that they’ve been using more over the past couple of year. It’s the first difficult combination on course.

The course has really been moving that direction over the past few years, and they even have a popular “owners tent” down there – even if you don’t pay to go in, it’s a good area to spectate from. The three-star has a new turning question of big logs near that tent that should be exciting for people to watch. The middle of the course, near the ditch and walls, also has a few tailgating spots; there’s a new triple bar over a ditch that should be fun to watch from that area. Near the trade fair the two-star will do the same thing as last year, and you see the water jumps down the hill from there. The big horseshoe is in that area as well – it’s always a crowd favorite and makes for nice photo opportunities.

It’s the traditional Fair Hill evolution; you just keep changing things maybe 15 or 20 degrees each year. But it’s fun to have been there for 20 years, to see how it’s changed and how it’s stayed the same. There are new people involved of course, but a lot of people have been there for a long time – it’s like once you become involved in Fair Hill, you’re in it for life. It’s a fun event because it’s a real landmark for me, I count the years Fair Hill to Fair Hill, not by birthdays or holidays! It’s the start of my calendar really. Dylan and Jamie are both back this year and both have been here several years – Dylan for five or six years and Jamie for maybe 8 years – so it’s kind of a homecoming for them too by now. It’s always nice to work with a team you’re familiar with who are also familiar with the facilities, the people, and with Derek. It’s not hard to make the course better with them on my side.

I’m here all week: the TD is here and the Ground Jury walks the course today, but we’re way ahead on building so our crew will probably tinker around with the schooling course at Boyd’s place before the event starts. We were a bit behind after all the other stuff going on, like the WEG and Stable View, so it’s good to be ahead of schedule – we can go fix a few broken portables and build some new ones at Boyd’s, and it’s nice that we’re nearby to deal with things that might come up at Fair Hill, but in a calm way, with plenty of time to solve any problems.

The ground is wet – it’s been an impossible year for weather – but it’s a good piece of land and takes lots of water on. We are looking for a great day of cross country on Saturday!

-Eric

 

 

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With Eventing Wrapped Up, ETB Crew Preparing for Driving Marathon at 2018 FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon

After all of our work preparing for the World Equestrian Games, experiencing the eventing championship last weekend was awesome, it was so much fun to watch. There was never a dull moment on cross-country. It was as hard of a project as I’ve ever worked on, for any number of reasons. It’s always hard to work on a complicated venue; we had the constant storm threat hanging over us, we had all the elements of TV, and the Endurance failure added to the stress of cross country needing to be a success. The pressure was on to produce a good result and that cross country experience put the world games back on the map. I’ve been part of Tryon for a long time, and wanted it to be successful, so the pressure really increased after endurance but I think it met and exceeded expectations tenfold.

The footing was amazing, it held up really well, and I think that turf will be good for the driving as well. What you have here is more sun than many places on earth; you also have a lot of water. If you have those, and you add fertilizer, the grass will grow.

Now all the eventing jumps have been removed and the driving course is ready to go. Early on, we had course designers Richard Nicholl (driving) and Mark Phillips (eventing) here at the same time so that they could coordinate: for example Mark had done the lighthouse water and modified his drawings in a way that worked better for him, and then Richard had planned the Longines water and Mark made some modifications that worked better for eventing – everybody stood in the same field, and sat at the same table and worked together to create a cohesive plan.

The pylons that Richard is using in his Lighthouse water were also used in the eventing lake water; they are driving around the sailboats, and they’re using the fountains in the Longines water in a technical way: they will drive through the spray for their fast route.

Putting together all the pieces has been incredible; we even switched a lot of the driving stuff over Saturday night after cross country, while the ground was still dry. There were two days we couldn’t run the loader and do the heavy work so that kept us on schedule.

Our crew will be on course throughout the competition, and Saturday night we will clean up. I’ve been here for a few weeks and it has been an incredible experience. Having that storm blow through in the middle made it even more epic and memorable!

I don’t know if there’s anything on the calendar, but the idea is to have driving competitions here in the future. The Fork will use the course for eventing, and we’re working on a storage container for all the decorative pieces like the seagulls, the turtles and so on – all that stuff was a lot of work so we want to preserve it. They’ll also use some of the decorative pieces like the mushrooms on the show jumping course this weekend.

I talked to Mark Phillips on the way out about what The Fork might look like. While we have all this great stuff here, I think we’ll do the one, two and three-star down at the White Oak location and there’s a bit of work involved to turn a World Games course into a regular event. We’ll take all the good stuff, change things around and make it work. We’ll have world-class eventing here for a long time if we keep the momentum going.

 

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