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.