ETB is Ready for 2017 Fair Hill International

Boyd Martin and Master Frisky at Fair Hill 2015. Photo Steve Berkowitz

We got a ton of good rain Monday and Tuesday and after a few weeks of sunshine it’s now green, cold and wet – it’s Fair Hill weather after all!

This year the two and three-star cross country courses are going the same direction and there’s new stuff the whole way around: new combinations and handful of new portables. It’s very similar to last year – it’s very typical of Derek’s course design, a steady, calculated step forward rather than something radical that might not work. He always provides a good reliable test of the horses and riders.

From our end, all the brush is in and the decorations are great. We have maybe 80 fences and each one is decorated individually, plus all the other decorations on the grounds. It looks spectacular.

The Young Event Horse competition is huge this year – their courses are on the Sawmill side, where all the spring and summer horse trials courses are. They do their dressage today in the main arena, next to the two-star, so it’s a big experience for the young horses will the flags flying and all the atmosphere. Normally the YEH is almost an afterthought, set up on the side of a hill somewhere, but here it’s really front and center; it’s a true championship. We lend them a handful of jumps to help make the cross country course different each year, and with some changes from the usual horse trials it has that championship feel.

We’ve been pretty squared away here all week. A couple of the guys are at Boyd’s farm today doing a little work. We really needed to be finished Monday and did a little tweaking Tuesday. Yesterday we were really finished with all the final touches. Ideally you should spend Wednesday drinking coffee!

We really dodged a bullet with the footing because before the rain the footing was hard as a rock, which would have been too bad because the footing was perfect in the Mid-Atlantic for the past year or so. All summer it rained and everything was green and perfect. It really stopped raining the week before Plantation, and it hadn’t rained a drop in five weeks. This rain was perfect; a little rain helps quite a bit. It wasn’t like we had a bottomless summer drought, we really just needed a top-up. There was plenty of moisture in the ground and just the top was dry. There’s no irrigation here, but even with serious irrigation you can’t replicate Mother Nature. Conditions now are perfect and we are looking forward to the weekend.