After hearing the announcement that November would mark the last horse trials at Ram Tap, the local equestrian community expressed shock and sadness. But one eventer from the Fresno area decided to take matters into his own hands. John Marshall, a commercial real estate broker who events at the novice level, will take over the operation of the facility starting in early December.
“I think it’s great,” said Ram Tap organizer Bill Burton. “I’ve known [Marshall] for a couple years, and I guess he decided to get a group together.”
Though Marshall’s original plan was to gather a group of investors to run the facility together, he ended up going all in by himself. He is recruiting a group of knowledgeable volunteers to help run the facility, and he brought on Megan McGee as the new executive director.
The first competition, a U.S. Eventing Association-recognized combined test, under the new name of the Fresno County Horse Park will be held on Jan. 26-27, followed by the first horse trials on Feb. 15-17, with Burton designing the cross country course.
“We want to try to use [the facility] more. We want to expand what goes one there,” said Marshall, explaining he would like to see the facility used for dressage and hunter/jumper shows too.
Although Burton had previously thought the high speed rail would run directly through the current stabling area, a closer look at the maps of the plans reveal that the rail would not affect the property. If the stables do need to be moved for a ponding basin, as the Fresno Bee reported, Marshall said he already has contingency plans to move the stabling.
“They have plans to have a basin where the stables are now,” confirmed Marshall. “There’s a possibility we will need to move the barns, and we will if we need to.”
However, Marshall added that the basin, which would aid in flood control in the area, may never become a reality.
In the meantime, he is focusing on moving the competition facility forward. “We want to be more user-friendly. We want to make the experience for the competitors better,” he said. “We’re going to be making some improvements to the facilities. We want people to have a good time.”
The last event under the Ram Tap name will be run Nov. 16-18, and there will also be a farewell dinner. Visit the Ram Tap website [http://www.ramtap1.com/] for more information and tickets to the dinner.