Course building in 2020: An Unusual Summer

For a spring that started out slow, summer has really gotten some energy behind it. The lack of competitions due to Covid-19 shutting things down has allowed us to do more schooling courses than we might usually build, and we’ve had fun developing these projects for people.

Clasing Equestrian in Lovettsville, VA did a nice water jump, some steps and ditches, and he had a handful of logs around the property that we turned them into nice fences of different shapes and sizes. We also made a number of portables so that they can change things up.

We did another nice schooling course, fortunately for me located on the beach in Maryland. My son Henry and I learned to surf (pictured above) in addition to building a fantastic set of steps, some ditches and a truckload of nice portables. I’m certain that this particular course is going to need a lot of regular maintenance visits so that I can jump in the ocean after work!

We’ve also built about 12 or 15 MIM tables now, thanks to the Gofundme started by Jon Holling, Emily Holmes and Andy Bowles and their partnership with the USEA Frangible Fence Fund.

Stable View ran a really big, full June horse trials with close to 300 horses on what was a really a fantastic week in Aiken. Summers there can be brutal, and it was hot leading up to it but the week of the event it was cool and low humidity, it was probably the nicest weekend of the year.

Canceling the Maryland 5* in its maiden year was a huge disappointment, but like everything in life when a door closes a window of opportunity opens. I think it’ll give the grass more time to grow, and we can do two treatments of mushroom compost and fertilizer over the winter. We will just mow the grass methodically every week over the summer and I think in two or three years we’ll look back on it as agood thing that we had an extra year to work on the footing and have a really fantastic five-star event. It was well in hand to happen this fall, but it by next year it’ll be that much better

They’re still running the test event this weekend, which is a 3*-S over a smaller  section of the course. It’s not as much about testing the track as it is the administration and organization and safety protocols. The group will now have more than a year to come up with solutions to the invariable problems we’ll uncover at the test event. Once the mandatory test event is behind us, FHI as an organization can either run another event in the spring and do more testing of the facility, or they can choose not to, whichever works best for them.

As we prepare for the event, Hurricane Isaias was a bit of a blessing: all of the water jumps filled up with 5” of rain overnight with the hurricane blowing through. Often the summers in Maryland are hot and the ground gets dry and hard, but with that good soaking nearly a week out from the event the footing should be as good as October.  We’ll have to spend some time today picking up sticks and cleaning up storm damage but overall I think we’ll have a fantastic competition.

After that we’ll start looking forward to the fall events that are still running at Plantation Field and Stable View.

The other interesting twist of Covid is the Europeans and Brits aren’t able to come to the US, so we don’t have course designer Ian Stark here for the test event and we won’t have Mike E-S over for Plantation. John Williams has been filling in for them and we’ve done some Facetime trying to keep them in the loop on the final project – it’s just a year that isn’t what it usually is. I don’t know when they’ll be able to come to the US but I know Ian is hopeful and optimistic about October because there’s still work to do.