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.
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.
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.