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Help, please? Friends wants to develop facility for eventing!

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  • Help, please? Friends wants to develop facility for eventing!

    A horsey friend of mine with a lot of land in a location where unrecognized events attract more than 250 entries has decided to cut back on her horses and focus on developing (xc) courses and offering events and schooling shows. She already has trainers who come over to school over the jumps she has built and she has done a lot of the preliminary research already, but having been only tangentially (but enthusiastically) involved in the sport, she doesn't know what resources are available for her to learn from: publications, articles, websites, people.

    Anyone around who can point me to helpful information and other stuff? For example, should she get in touch with a course designer right now? She isn't planning to offer recognized events, but she is conscious of the need for safety. She has shown a lot, so she has already checked the insurance, EMT, etc. stuff. But there's got to be a lot more to it, right?

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    BTW, she has also already checked out the market and thinks her location would attract a lot of people seeking to avoid major highways and major tolls. (She is less than one hour from Philly, but on the other side of the river.)
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.

  • #2
    Get a course designer involved NOW. The greatest courses always have a variety of options, loads of fun things, and all of it makes sense to a rider, a trainer, and most of all, to the horse. A course designer has the knowledge to walk a piece of raw land and site water jumps, banks, and other permanent fixtures in a way that will complement future creations and courses. While that is done, together they can work on where complexes or multiple fence sites should be, parking, access, dressage arenas.
    The sooner you plan for that stuff, the better for the galloping tracks and footing. A course designer is cheap at the price, in my opinion, and I would definitely utilize a recognized CD if possible -- it's worth it. PM me if you would like a couple of good people I know personally to help -- I do know a few in the area.
    I don't think you can plan too much for such things! As you set it up for the schooling and unrecognized your friend will have her reputation grow and then there's another set of concerns that go with that, but for now, I would get the property walked with someone who has a license. (NOT a rider -- a licensed designer. Their knowledge goes way beyond the riders'.)
    Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
    Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


    • #3
      Originally posted by retreadeventer View Post
      I don't think you can plan too much for such things! As you set it up for the schooling and unrecognized your friend will have her reputation grow and then there's another set of concerns that go with that, but for now, I would get the property walked with someone who has a license. (NOT a rider -- a licensed designer. Their knowledge goes way beyond the riders'.)
      Presumably a good course designer can understand about doing things in stages, also, and design with that in mind. (I.e. This year, we can afford to do X, Y, and Z, so doing that will give us this course, but also set things up so that next year you can add A and B without having to redo or remove any significant previous work.)


      • #4
        Yes, I think a good one knows it can't all be done at once -- I don't know any CD that gets a blank check.

        I know that in working with the few that I have, in just helping on pre-event things, that a tremendous amount of planning and thought goes into the approaches and landings. The real beauty of lower level designs today are the great portable XC jumps that are being made and utilized. Portables make creative, sensible courses a real possibility for those on a budget.
        Proud & Permanent Student Of The Long Road
        Read me: EN (http://eventingnation.com/author/annemarch/) and HJU (http://horsejunkiesunited.com/author/holly-covey/)


        • Original Poster

          I was also thinking about accomodations, like maybe a shedrow for stalls--and wash racks. She has a nice, double-aisled barn, but I don't think it's for public use.

          Surely, she'll have to have more water lines brought out and stuff like that.

          Other than a CD, what about inviting a rider in? Wouldn't that get her a closer connection to the sport? What is she gave an active rider a few stalls in exchange for....whatever good an active rider could do?
          Sportponies Unlimited
          Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.


          • #6
            First, how many riders per division, how many horses per rider, and how many divisions are you aiming at? Start there. Your "target group" so to speak.

            How many trucks, trailers and cars that will be accompanying all of the above?


            • #7
              Geology and terrain and how will it handle weather?

              Be nice if it gets rainy that that is planned into the whole thing.

              Rain or shine the horses are high and dry.

              Course designed for rains or hard baked ground?


              • #8
                I would call Glenn & Janet Wilson (Pine Top Farm) and probably a couple other landowners of similar places. Pine Top is an active cattle farm along with the eventing, but I think the combination of horse activities, stabling, and agriculture makes for a workable blend for them.

                Also, they got into eventing well after they had the land (understatement there ) rather than being either trainers looking to build a facility or businessmen looking to spend money earned elsewhere....



                • #9
                  Does she have a good community base on which to draw for the volunteer support she'll need? Ideally she'll have at least a few experienced hands to help out.

                  Can she maybe host a few clinics to get her farm name more recognition? Work with a handful of the trainers she's already got coming over and offer them some future free entries/schooling fees in return for "seeding" the event and talking it up?
                  life + horses


                  • #10
                    Planning is everything. Even if the landowner thinks she will only offer unrecognized events, she would be well advised to design a course that meets recognized requirements. It is so much easier building the course right from the get-go than trying to retro-fit things. There are plenty of good course designers and jump builders out there that should be a good resource.

                    As others have noted, the farm layout is going to matter -- parking is a major issue. If she is going to offer one-day events, then stabling will be less important. I wouldn't build lots of permanent stabling unless I knew I was running horse shows with great frequency.

                    I would certainly talk with other local organizers about horse trails they run and the challenges they face. Eventing is a pretty welcoming group and I expect most organizers would be helpful. There are a million and one organizational details to running a successful horse trial, recognized or unrecognized.

                    And I agree about the importance o the volunteer base. Perhaps an alliance with the local DCTA for something unrecognized will be helpful. They key is to develop a list of volunteers as no horse trial can run without them.

                    I hope this all works out as we can always use another venue for eventing!
                    Last edited by IronwoodFarm; Oct. 10, 2012, 08:38 PM.
                    Where Fjeral Norwegian Fjords Rule


                    • #11
                      Definitely get in touch with a course designer. Morgan Rowsell http://www.rowselldesign.com/morgan-rowsell and Jeff Kibbie http://jeffkibbie.com/Equi-Sport_Services/Home.html are both based near Philly and could easily be hired for a consultation. Both also build, so that is helpful as they will be able to give you good estimates of building time and material costs for your property and plans. Definitely talk with other local organizers including Denis Glacum at Plantation and some of the folks who have schooling facilities (or have helped with them), such as Pam Wiedmann who has done a lot of work with Carousel

                      Most courses, even at recognized venues get built in a stepwise fashion, so there should be no problem making a multi-year plan, but it is good to start with a designer so you are not spending time and money fixing things later that would have been just as easy to do right the first time.
                      Last edited by scubed; Oct. 10, 2012, 09:13 AM.
                      OTTBs rule, but spots are good too!


                      • #12
                        Since she is near Philly, there are a lot of resources. The CD listed above. Denis Glaccum probably knows more about building up a course/event than anyone. I would pick his brains.

                        Honestly, schooling facilities are more profitable than shows. Or shows like a jump derby. But regardless, you need a good designer involved from the beginning. Then hooking up with a group like FCDA (http://www.frenchcreekdressage.org/) or DVCTA could help with running some of her initial shows.

                        And I agree with connecting with a few local riders. She has a large choice there.

                        As for additions.... Bathrooms are really useful!

                        She could come to some of our local events as well and talk to the landowners and organizers.
                        Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Oct. 10, 2012, 12:36 PM.
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                        • #13
                          By other side of the river, do you mean NJ? Just being hopeful here! One thing to consider is that the ground is pretty darn flat in South Jersey. We have to go to MD or PA to ride on hills!


                          • #14
                            Definitely contact Denis Glacuum as he has so much experience in all facets of Eventing. The Wilson's will be able to provide plenty of information regarding their personal experiences.

                            Your friend might benefit by coming south this spring to see the various events on private and multi-use 'public' land - so many so close together:
                            Pine Top
                            Aiken - Paradise Farm, Full Gallop, Sporting Days
                            The Fork
                            Chattahoochee Hills
                            Poplar Place
                            new event near Tryon - Windridge
                            also multi-use 'public' land such as
                            Southern Pines
                            FENCE HT

                            Wonderful that she is interested in providing a place for us to play
                            "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                            Courtesy my cousin Tim


                            • #15
                              She should contact Carolyn @ the Maryland Horse Trials. MDHT is now in it's 7th (I think) year and it has been built up from scratch. The very first year everything was held on grass with no arenas with footing. Go out to the facility now and you wouldn't recognize it from the first year - now has 4 arenas, 2 water jumps etc.

                              Since she is looking into hosting unrecognized events and schooling shows (and is in Area II) she should hold off on stabling. Not many people around here stable for those shows.

                              The next upcoming months would be a great time for her to contact local organizers to pick their brains as our show schedule winds down in November.


                              • #16
                                Maybe talk to the local pony clubs to see if they would want a place to do camps.


                                • #17
                                  Here's hoping for the aesthetic of natural jumps and no Disneyland stuff. I know, "If Wishes Were Horses, ..... ".


                                  • #18
                                    Echoing the advice of all of the above! Contacting other organizers will be helpful, and a good CD should probably have good advice about more than just the xc course, since they travel to so many shows and know what works and what doesn't in terms of facilities etc. Jeff (whom scubed mentioned) is my DH and we are very close to you. He has helped Pam at Carousel and just started working at Radnor, if you need local references. And- obviously I'm biased- I think he does a great job! He does work for a couple facilities that don't offer recognized events right now, and he (or any good CD) should be able to help lay out an appropriate schooling facility, with an eye towards developing a competition venue. Sounds like an exciting venture!
                                    Balanced Care Equine


                                    • Original Poster

                                      Wow, these are such excellent ideas! Thank you all so much. Obviously, I will now direct her to this thread!

                                      BTW, the one part of her business plan that hasn't really been addressed (because I didn't emphasize it much) was to be a schooling facility, too. I did mention that she already has trainers who come over to school, but she thinks she is in an area that has a real need for what she can offer, specifically because she is EAST of Philly, which means there's a river and highways and tolls in the way for a lot of folks with a hankering for cross country. That's who she's targeting--and the lower levels, to start off, for sure. I don't get the feeling that her plans are huge or particularly ambitious. Just to fill a niche that can provide some rewards, too.

                                      Anyway, thanks again.
                                      Sportponies Unlimited
                                      Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.


                                      • #20
                                        Pwynn, how nice of you to help a friend, and what a fun project she's considering. You've gotten great suggestions and I'm going to add one more related to your schooling comment.

                                        If the site will be used for clinics, check with some potential clinicians about what works for them. Buck Davidson, Allison Springer, the O'Connors, Jimmy Wofford, Lucinda Green and so many others I'm not naming here all know what is useful and works, and I'm sure enjoy having a facility address these needs.

                                        Looking forward to hearing about th edvelopment of what will surely be a fabulous place.
                                        They don't call me frugal for nothing.
                                        Proud and achy member of the Eventing Grannies clique.