Video: New Schooling Course Open at Stable View

We are thrilled that the new Boyd Martin/ETB Schooling Cross Country Course at Stable View is now open! Boyd took a group of horses out over the weekend, and here’s a video of 5* rider Lillian Heard schooling today:

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Winter Catch-Up with ETB

STABLE VIEW

The “Soft opening” for the new schooling course at Stable View was Friday.  We have been taking it a bit slow with opening this course to make sure the footing holds up, because there’s only one growing season on most of the footing. The ground is sewn with “Celebration” Bermuda grass, which knits together better than the standard variety. Bermuda is sort of a ground creeper but it doesn’t get tight roots – it’s a rhizome and sort of runs along the ground. This puts down more roots and gets thicker. You can tell the difference when you walk across the new grass, even with your eyes closed; it’s remarkably cushier and thicker than the previously existing turf.

A lot of people schooled the first day it was open. Aiken has lots of offerings for schooling, but not all designed for upper levels horses. This is a hard training and above.

BRUCE’S FIELD

We have also been working on the course for the Eventing Grand Prix at Bruce’s Field.  I met with course designer Mark Phillips there last Tuesday and he laid out his track, and we brought down the second tractor trailer of jumps. All the jumps are local Aiken landmarks: the old Post Office, the Wilcox Hotel, St. Mary’s Church. There’s an owl hole, which is their logo, a fox squirrel – it’s a type of squirrel – and a Revolutionary War cannon, the passenger platform for the original train station, the Palmetto Golf Clubhouse, and we’re still trying to work out how to do a nuclear jump, since the Savannah River Plant is a big part of Aiken history. It’s really just a rolltop that we’ll dress up, maybe like a rocket or something.

The painters that we worked with for the WEG are at Bruce’s Field now, just getting started, so we know those jumps are going to look really beautiful.

TIEC

On my way home to Virginia I stopped at the Tryon International Equestrian Center to do some planning for The Fork Three-Day Event, coming up in April. This year’s Fork will look a lot like the World Equestrian Games course, it’s on the same track and uses a lot of the same jumps. We also built a lot of 2* jumps that were used as options at the WEG.

So to clarify, since the levels can be confusing, much of the 4* (old 3* level) will run on the WEG track with many of the same fences, in similar combinations, appropriate for that level; the 3* (old 2*) will run next to that, and many of those fences were built as options for WEG and will have a similar look and feel. There will also be a 2* (old one*) course. We have to build ditches for the 2* and 3* and make a few minor modifications. The TIEC side (as opposed to the golf course side of the facilities) will be BN through Modified. There is no one-star, so Modified isn’t running under FEI rules.

There’s really not much for us to do: they have fantastic grass footing, and a massive inventory of good fences. There’s not a jump there that’s more than three years old, and we have BN through Advanced portables plus the WEG course, so you can easily build out really good courses without doing a ton of work this year.

I’m home in Virginia for the next couple of weeks, doing some building in the shop. We have a couple schooling things to build and we have a few things to finish for Bruce’s Field and Stable View’s new Modified course, which will be used starting in March for their mid-week events.

-Eric

 

 

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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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