2016 Fair Hill International

Last weekend we wrapped up the Fair Hill International CCI3* and CCI2*. To start with, it was probably the most amazing Fair Hill weather week possible! In fact it was probably the nicest weather of the year – it’s rare you go outside seven days in a row and don’t wish it was 3 degrees warmer or cooler, and since we work outdoors we’re always complaining about the weather, but it was perfect. Start with that and have a great course design and it all goes up from there.

It was probably the easiest and best FHI I’ve been involved with in 18 years. That’s not because we didn’t have a lot of work to do, because the courses had huge changes: we constructed eighteen new fences, and the 2* changed direction, so every two star jump was manipulated in some way. Whenever you have different levels you start borrowing from one for the other, so from the design and build standpoint there was a lot to do and that all came together extraordinarily well.

Thanks to some fantastic work from the crew this weekend, things also worked well from our standpoint. Dylan, Jamie and Chris are all really good at what they do and they are able to do a phenomenal amount of work. Derek is a very consistently good designer, too. He and I meet the same day every year, spring and fall, like clockwork. It’s very reliable and it produces good results.

The competition results were also impressive, for 150 horses to have virtually no injuries – no people or horses were transported by the emergency services all day. I don’t know the percentage of horses that jogged the next morning was better or worse than normal but there was not a lot of complaining about unhappy horses on Sunday morning.

You’d have a tough time duplicating that footing, even if you had control of the elements. On Monday it was too wet but by Saturday it was perfect. Jamie Hicks has renovated the Aggrovator back to its original 5” long tines – they had worn down to about 2” – so the footing is in much better condition than the past couple years. The top couple of inches are really just roots and “clutter”. That aggrovator is owned by Lorney Forbes, who’s Sam Slater’s wife, and is borrowed by Jersey Fresh, Plantation Field, and Fair Hill, so it’s an important piece of equipment. She bought it to support good footing in eventing and it’s been an amazing contribution to the sport, so it’s good to have it back in excellent condition. Jamie was doing the footing at Plantation, realized the tines were short, and did some much-needed maintenance at the time.

We spent this weekend in Tryon going over plans to move the Advanced course into White Oak Plantation, which is an absolutely gorgeous property and has a very different look and feel to the property where the course currently is. It’s an abandoned 18-hole Arnold Palmer golf course that’s part of an old, failed housing development, and we have a lot of interesting and beautiful terrain to work with.

It’s been a great year, everything has worked out really well. It’s been nonstop, traveling from one course to another: in eight weeks we did the AEC’s, Loudon, the new Advanced event at Stable View Aiken, Plantation Field, and Fair Hill. There were two more events before that too, so it’s been pretty intense. We will also be working on Full Moon, a new event in Maryland, and will have updates from there later in the year.