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July 25, 2012

Tyson Rementer Makes Cross-Country Art With His Chainsaw

“My responsibility is to make good horse jumps,” said Tyson Rementer. “First and foremost it has to be a good cross-country fence.”

A truck, a dog and a chainsaw. For Tyson Rementer, a career as a cross-country jump carver has a lot of appeal. He recalled watching his first chain-saw carving demonstration at the Radnor Three-Day Event (Pa.) more than a decade ago,

“I thought, ‘I could do that,’ ” he said, and he set about changing his career from event rider to cross-country fence artist. Since then he’s created whimsical jumps in every form, from out-sized fungus—as in mushrooms—to giant waterfowl, and everything in between.

Rementer grew up in southern New Jersey and rode horses as a child. He did team roping, cow-penning, barrel racing and other western-style competitions. He began eventing in college, and building courses became a way to work off his lessons.

“After a while I was spending more time at the barn and less time at college,” he said. Rementer had several horses at the preliminary level, but he decided “it was easier to make a living building fences than jumping over them.”

Rementer has developed a solid business as a jump builder and carver up and down the East Coast, working from a home base in Mt. Airy, N.C., where he lives with his wife, Samantha, and their 1-year-old son, Jonah. Always artistic, he taught himself how to carve jumps. His latest work can be seen at the upcoming Millbrook Horse Trials, which runs from Aug. 2-5 in Millbrook, N.Y. and is the only event in the Northeast that runs an advanced division.

Quality Before Creativity

“My responsibility is to make good horse jumps,” said Rementer, whose business is called The Woodhorse Studio. “First and foremost it has to be a good cross-country fence.”

This means that it needs to meet the specifications for the level and the safety standards. “You can’t just pop a fox into any old log,” he noted.

But once he has a good cross-country jump, Rementer lets his imagination run wild. “I want to put a log to the best possible use and then add some whimsy, some creativity to it,” he said.

Whether he’s carving a giant goose or a delicate owl, most of the carving is done with a chainsaw. Once the object is highly defined, Rementer switches to finer power tools like grinders and sanders.

When it comes to appreciating his work, it’s usually the spectators who get the best view, since Rementer’s work is always displayed on the landing side of the jump.

“A cross-country fence should remain a real cross-country fence, part of the course. So we don’t want to present something to the horse that looks out of place,” he said. “With a big log you get a good jumping effort, but I’m adding something for spectators to make it fun for them, too.”

Over the past two years Rementer has worked with course designer Tremaine Cooper to carve most of the jumps in the newly redesigned water complex at the Millbrook Horse Trials. The complex boasts a woodland creature theme, with jumps featuring a hedgehog, a fox, and, just recently completed, a hound chasing a fox as an homage to the area’s foxhunting community.

“This is one of the most decorative and interesting water complexes I’ve been a part of,” Rementer said. “An equestrian community like Millbrook is one of a kind. The water complex is a real showpiece. So we wanted to create something that’s not just good in terms of adding new elements for the horses to jump, but also for spectators.”

Millbrook Horse Trials President and international event rider Louise Meryman called the upgraded water complex “a real addition to all our courses, from beginner novice through advanced. Everyone will appreciate all the work that’s gone into making it a real showpiece.”

For Rementer, it’s all in a day’s work. “Every day my job is something different. From plumbing the water jump to understanding soil compaction to making a giant goose. That’s why I like it,” he said.

Other premier events that feature Rementer’s work include the Red Hills International (Fla.), the Maryland Horse Trials, Poplar Place Farm (Ga.) and the Virginia Horse Trials.

 
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