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X-C Course Feedback: Rank 'em Here!

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  • X-C Course Feedback: Rank 'em Here!

    The 2007 season is over. Anyone care to give feedback on their area's courses? Please state the area, the level, and which ones you'd recommend as "move-ups," "average to get your mileage," or "max/challenging."

    There is a lot of talk on the training issues thread, as well as elsewhere, about "ranking" courses. I thought it would be interesting to see, if we took a stab at it here, whether there would be much concensus on courses or not. Could be an educationa discussion, I'll go first.

    Area IV: Prelim
    Move-ups: Briar Fox, Heritage Park, Hill n' Hound
    Average: Wayne (July tougher than August), Longview, Trott Brook
    Max: Otter Creek

    (I haven't run all of these, but this is my opinion based on my experience and that of friends I've talked to.)
    Hindsight bad, foresight good.

  • #2
    Awesome thread... anyone care to share some possible Prelim move-ups in Area II... preferably close to NoVa? If not, what about some great, challenging Trainings to get ready for a possible Prelim move-up? Thanks!
    Cady O' Daly Farm
    Connemara Sport Horses & Field Hunters

    Bright Horse Communications - PR & Marketing


    • #3
      Originally posted by GreyDun View Post
      Awesome thread... anyone care to share some possible Prelim move-ups in Area II... preferably close to NoVa? If not, what about some great, challenging Trainings to get ready for a possible Prelim move-up? Thanks!
      There was just a thread on this a couple days ago.
      Amwrider: May the fleas of a thousand camels infest their genitalia and may their arms be too short to scratch.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Badger View Post
        The 2007 season is over. Anyone care to give feedback on their area's courses? Please state the area, the level, and which ones you'd recommend as "move-ups," "average to get your mileage," or "max/challenging."

        There is a lot of talk on the training issues thread, as well as elsewhere, about "ranking" courses. I thought it would be interesting to see, if we took a stab at it here, whether there would be much concensus on courses or not. Could be an educationa discussion, I'll go first.

        Area IV: Prelim
        Move-ups: Briar Fox, Heritage Park, Hill n' Hound, Queeny Park
        Average: Wayne (July tougher than August), Longview, Trott Brook
        Max: Otter Creek, Dunnabeck

        (I haven't run all of these, but this is my opinion based on my experience and that of friends I've talked to.)
        I've added my ratings


        • #5
          Area 3: Training
          Average: Middle Tennessee Pony Club, Fort Rucker- the terrain is fairly challenging, hills, blind turns and then 2 strides to a jump, 2 4.5 ft drops into water plus a 2 stride bank with a 4.5 drop again! But not a Prelim prep course.

          Founder of the *Barefoot Eventers Clique*

          Happiness is a state of mind according to how you look at things.. and whether or not you have a sound horse!


          • #6
            Area II:

            I don't wait to be overly critical or offence anyone in any way... but the XC at Green Hill Park was not very good. First, the terrain was HORRIBLY hilly. The worst I have ever seen. It makes VHT look as flat as a pancake, and I am not kidding. Second, the ground was horrible. I was stupid and ran my horse on it, I figured Novice, what the heck. But he went lame from it. I know September in VA is hard and dry but they could have done a better job. CDCTA did a GREAT job aerevating on concrete ground. So did VHT. Third, the course was badly designed. My first jump for novice was a straightforward hay bale/long, then a canter through woods on a narrow gravel road where people were and I almost ran over them. The 2nd jump was 2 strides out of the woods, on a left turn, on the side of a hill, going down hill. Jump 3 was an awkward little trekhener, then a SHARP roll back to 4, an easy square log, then up a STEEP hill [steep to the point of cantering really fast but going nowhere] then at the apex of the hill was a max house, land on a down hill, then sharp left turn, canter across said steep hill, then SLOW down because you had to wiggle in to do the 2nd step on the stairs. The dressage and SJ were very nice though.


            Average or move up: all levels CDCTA

            Hard for level but fair: all levels @ VHT


            • #7
              I'm very familiar with the lovely terrain at Green Hill Park... Ugh, the number I've times I've dragged my butt up the hill when I was walking the course...

              On a brighter note, I think they may have the entire course at the top next year, instead of starting it at the bottom and ending on that really rocky path. We'll see... The BREA meeting is coming up, maybe they'll decide something then.
              Cady O' Daly Farm
              Connemara Sport Horses & Field Hunters

              Bright Horse Communications - PR & Marketing


              • #8
                Area X.
                We have 4 locations for HTs

                1. Cocconino
                All courses are average to solid, BN and N are easy. Prelim and Intermediat are very tough time wise, narrow forest trails slow down the pace
                Cocconino runs in the summer a Training 3D, lovely race track ( real race track )

                2. St Johns HTs, is in the stage of a complet rebuilt, at the present easy to average but will be for Training and Prelim at the upper range of average. New Sunken Road and new Water are planed for 2008. I promise some very unique jump designs.

                3. Las Cruces, old fashioned and very solidly built courses, traditional, average but with very good questions

                4 Grass Ridge, I call all courses pritty much maxed out. Especialy Prelim and Training.
                Prelim course is a textbook course design. It has technical questions that can be found at the Intermediat level, each of those realy tough combinations are precedet by an easier example, and than have recovery jumps. Prelim has no let up at the end. Very gallopy courses.
                That I have no use for them, does not mean, that I don't know them and don't know how to use them.
                Caveman extraordinair


                • #9
                  I'll do Area IV/VIII preliminary level also. I haven't been to the events Badger posted as having good move up courses, so I'll have to pick my own:

                  Good move up course: Wayne DuPage (not always, but definitely this year)

                  Average: Maui Jim, River Glen, Indiana (June)

                  Max: Otter Creek (technical), AECs (technical and fairly big), Midsouth (October)


                  • #10
                    Area V:

                    Move-up: Pine Hill (BN-T)

                    Average: Greenwood (all levels), Holly Hill (all levels)

                    Tough: Meadowcreek (the fences themselves arent particularly difficult, but the course is a tough ride because the flow is all out of wack);
                    Pine Hill (Prelim)


                    • #11
                      Area V111

                      Jumpstart was an AWESOME move up.
                      Team Awesome fo sho!


                      • #12
                        Area II:

                        It's hard to find an appropriate elementary course. Some have suitably sized and various obstacles, but not very much real estate, so one doesn't get much of a feel for what the sport is supposed to be like.

                        That said, I think the elementary XC course at Fair Hill is wonderful. Open, welcoming, and feels safe to get moving between obstacles. I think that for a less experienced rider, it offers a great ride and experience. If you've schooled XC but are timid about doing anything very big and want to test drive the idea, it is very suitable and fun.
                        I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
                        I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09


                        • #13
                          Area III

                          Rocking Horse- big and gallopy. Very open and inviting. Has a very large and airy training trakehner with a deep ditch and small log. May include corner, bounce bank up, drop into the water with some sort of combo, up bank one stride down bank.

                          Ocala- also big and gallopy. Has a very electric energy in the air, so atmosphere may phase some newbies. Very well decorated to the point of occasionally being spooky. First fence is a picture frame jump, but training jumps a log stack connected to the frame but not in. Water usually has some sort of turning question.

                          Note: Stop by the crepe people. You will eat many crepes and die of overeating, but at least you will die very happy!

                          Area II

                          Southern Pines- Hilly. Was the AEC course, so walks slightly imposingly. Has two stride early in course, long gallop down the hill to a bullfinch right in front of the water. Big brush, airy trakehner, hedge, sunken road off a hill, can be twisty. Two waters, the second can be an eye opener for green horses and riders.

                          Fair Hill- Some fences maxed out, but very good early course. Has a turning question, drop into the water, small trakehner, half coffin, up bank one uphill stride to a coop. Very good course to learn about pace and rythm early in the season.

                          MCTA- Has some "rider fences" but not too many combinations. Has one very large hill to gallop down (if you can make it up the hill to the warmup without needing a nap in the first place!). Most imposing fence is a max table set on a very steep hill off a turn, but as long as you don't interfere with your horse they are fine. Has a trakehner with deep ditch, but the log is set very low so there isn't much ditch showing. Watch out for the horse- eating pony racers.

                          Plantation- Very hilly. Has some old, some new, some crumbling, and some big fences. Has a trakehner, a big hedge off a tight turn and a full coffin, but a nice course is you have a plan. Try to find the shortcut (there is one!) or plan on booking, time can be tight. Need to get Triple Fresh to cater again.

                          Waredaca- Slightly hilly. Later courses can ask a lot of questions for the level. May include S turn tables, corner, half or full coffin, sunken road, trakehner, one stride steps, two waters with jumps in and out. VERY fun event. Smoothie lady attends.

                          ESDCTA- Great venue. Nice footing. Gallopy and open, good confidence course. Some fences big, but not all. May include related banks, full coffin, two waters.

                          Olde Hope (Unrec'ny)- THE BEST unrecognized event! Beautiful venue and jumps. Stadium can be turny, especially for the green combo's. Can be very spooky from all the decoration, but is twice as gorgeous as some recognized events. Would reccoment this for anyone, but sadly only goes to Novice.

                          Rubicon- Big and gallopy. May include full coffin, water with an island bank, and some other things I can't remember right now. Stadium has a dip in the middle so you go up a hill and jump and oxer, down the hill, etc..., but the parts with the jumps are flat. Very cool. Smoothie lady attends.

                          Radnor- small and twisty. Water is VERY trappy. Has a spooky downhill 1/2 coffin and big trakehner.

                          Loudon- Good move- up course. Gallopy. Has some elements that require actual steering, but everything is very manageable and inviting. Has corner option (you can jump it as a big table), bank out of water, turning question off a mound with a related distance, and half coffing with about ten turning strides between the elements.

                          LoriB, St. Augustine has a very nice elementary course. It is very similar in feel to Fair Hill, with slightly more hills. They also have intro.

                          That's all I can manage for now. Hope this helps!
                          Last edited by justasmidge; Nov. 30, 2007, 10:08 AM.
                          Duct tape is like The Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together. -Carl Zwanzig


                          • #14
                            May be next year!
                            Duct tape is like The Force. It has a light side, a dark side, and it holds the universe together. -Carl Zwanzig


                            • Original Poster

                              Great review, justasmidge.

                              Anyone else have input?
                              Hindsight bad, foresight good.


                              • #16
                                Areas III, IV, VIII:

                                Novice (spring events):
                                Fort Rucker - Twisty, hilly course predominately in the woods. Difficult to get rhythm going. Fences average difficulty.

                                River Glen - Straightforward start in large field, overall average difficulty with 1 or 2 combos and 2 run-thru waters. Some galloping on the side of hill and terrain features.

                                Poplar Place - Galloping, inviting, forward. Good moveup for novice, though there can be a lot to look at in places.

                                Training (summer events):
                                Hill N Hound - Great moveup. Inviting course with interesting questions built to not overface greener horses. Hilly terrain, time slightly challenging.

                                Gemwood - Also good moveup course. Straightforward terrain and fences. Terrain is generally flat and open, course is galloping.

                                River Glen - Average fence size and difficulty with several fair combinations and some terrain questions. Water jump straightforward, has half-coffin and turning questions. Can be challenging to make time.

                                Dunnabeck - Fences close to max size. Terrain very hilly and challenging. Course well built with good questions but overall tough- a good "get ready for prelim" course. 2 serious skinnies, 2 serious water jumps. In and out of the woods and fields.

                                Pine Top - Open, galloping. Interspersed combinations designed to be ridden forward. Fences close to max size throughout, but a confidence-building course. Time fairly easy to make. Highly recommend.

                                Prelim (fall events):
                                Hill N Hound - Overall, a fair course. Several combinations which were about average for the level. Chose it for my horse's moveup based on walking it in June. However, water jump was substantially more difficult and very early in course (fence 5)- probably one of the most challenging waters I have seen at prelim, largely b/c of position on course. Caused many eliminations. My horse jumped it well with mucho encouragement, but I can see difficulties for greener riders. Finished with 10 time faults and moved up from 9th to 3rd in OP due to lots of problems with the water and time penalities throughout the division (one ride under the time in OP.) But would still recommend it overall.

                                River Glen - 2 waters (one water-to-water, one fairly tough turning question), 2 fairly easy bank combinations, large trakener, skinny with option, corner, table angled line. Generally about average for prelim. Terrain features make it difficult to make time- but doable- we did as did 2 others out of about 20 in OP.

                                Poplar Place - Generally galloping with a few technical questions requiring a very accurate and precise ride. No options. Fence sizes average for prelim. Time easy to make for prelim as there is lots of room to gallop. 2 substantial water jumps, 2 very technical lines. Demands a fast horse who is also rideable, but also forgiving of greener horses (built to allow run-outs rather than falls.) Highly recommend.


                                • #17
                                  just got back from my first training three phase, so...

                                  Area 3:
                                  Jumping Branch Training Level:
                                  XC: Very inviting move up course!! The maxed out stuff was big open gallopy fences - roll tops, tables, etc. The technical stuff wasn't maxed out and was good questions. Great to get the horses AND riders thinking without being Horridly crazy. Definately a great move up course. A few terrain questions, but mostly flat gallops. Lots of stretches to make up time or delay or take a breather. Great Footing!! it's aiken!
                                  Stadium: great course, super fun. Not maxed out (in my opinion) in height, but has some tricky questions. a downhill jump that alot of people pull rails on cause they get sucked under it, lots of fun turns, ends on a triple!! which rode fantastic!!! in sand and a big open ring. More of a gallopy forward out of stride type course then the tight collected stadium jump type course... in my opinion.
                                  Dressage: grass footing. Great, but can be a touch slippery in the dewy mornings.

                                  Great facilities, but not much stabling. But...plenty of fantastic places to stable nearby.
                                  Definately a thumbs up move up course . but plenty of fun to not be boring as a not move up course 0000000


                                  • #18
                                    I have competed at a bunch of venues this year at all levels

                                    Area V:
                                    Holly Hill:
                                    SUPER well organized, Marty is the bestest. Footing is always awesome on XC but dressage can gt bad if lots of rain, stabling ok. SJ courses have been good for me. XC changes often which is good. The Prelim was challenging but asked fair questions and the Training and Novice are fairly easy but fantastically fun. My favorite Area V event.

                                    Very close to me so I haul in. Training course challenging but fun, Novice course fairly easy. I am not a huge fan of the SJ in the trees especially on a baby But my second favorite Area V event.

                                    Pine Hill:
                                    Fairly easy in my opinion, one day format nice if you only have one, but riding two in the same level was hard. Kinda far away from me so I didn't do the fall.

                                    My least favorite event in Area V. Beautiful setting. Prelim was easy, no corner, no coffin, no real skinnys. Championships course looked very hard though. Footing was rock hard. Training and novice are fairly easy but fun. I am not a huge fan of SJ on grass, but I like the area where they do it. I probably won't be back there next year at least with upper level horse because of the footing.

                                    Area X:
                                    Coconino: I was there for the summer series. I am not gonna lie... I am IN LOVE with that event. Ultra well organized, great stabling, great weather, great footing, nice people. The courses at Novice and Training were fair and fun. The only complaint I might have would be that the courses didn't really change between the two weeks. I would recommend this event highly to everyone.

                                    Area VII (?)
                                    The American Eventing Championships: Lived up to my expectations, electric atmosphere, fun challenging XC (training). The only thing I didn't like was that the SJ was quite easy. Deep cups, small jumps, etc.

                                    Area VI
                                    Galway: Prelim course was amazing, very different than what we see in Area V, perfect footing, the organizers are not very forgiving of conflicts (ie I was grooming for a CCI** rider and they wouldn't accomodate the time conflicts) but that was my only complaint. Fun, tough SJ. Cool event.
                                    For all your dog needs visit:


                                    • #19
                                      What a wonderful thread!

                                      Area II:
                                      Novice and BN

                                      Carolina Horse Park - good BN course for a horse that's pretty brave - fences are close to max height, but all very inviting. Lots of room for galloping up and down the hills at all levels, which really gives you the feeling of the sport if you're first starting out. At first, they appear to wheel the courses tight time-wise, but due to the rolling nature of the course it rides very, very well and I've always come in about 30-50 seconds faster than optimum time, even on my draft cross who was WORK to gallop. Novice has a Trakehner but it rides pretty well, a nice bank up - one stride - log drop down. All courses have two waters, the second water can catch the unwary off guard if you take it for granted (the Duck Pond). They do a GREAT job of mixing the fences around (most are portables) so that you have a different course for each season - this year, they ran the BN, Novice, and Training backwards (sort of). Very well-organized show (Dana, you rock!) and tons of fun - well worth the entry fee.

                                      The Fork - Novice and BN
                                      NOT a move-up course at any level. Max fences, most are inviting, a few tough questions. The BN is particularly spooky - the first fence gets people all the time, and there are always people getting eliminated on course. Great rolling, galloping course - footing is usually very, very good. Half-ditch at BN, half-coffin at Novice. Novice has a couple of tough questions - the Hollow, which is a steep hanging log drop into a shady hollow, bending line galloping out, a bending line red cedar set of benches set on the side of a slight slope, and the half-coffin, which is very looky as they're galloping downhill to it. Another well-run event, although I'd advice bringing some sort of wheeled transportation as the stabling/trailer parking is about a mile downhill from the stadium/dressage arenas, and the xc is further yet - that's a lot of walking! They do run shuttles, though, which is quite nice if you don't mind waiting around for one.

                                      The Ark
                                      Novice and BN - Good move-up for both levels. Fences are all pretty inviting, solidly built, and interesting. Novice has some good-sized, maxed out jumps (the cordwood pile), and they took the ditch off the Novice so that you have a drop/bending line jump instead. The water usually rides very well, and they're constantly improving the track so that it gallops much better than it used to. One thing I don't like - the footing. This year, due to the drought, the xc footing was very dry and hard and there was manure everywhere as they use the course for pasture, which made it rather unappealing to spectators and course-walking.

                                      Unrecognized, but still good:
                                      Tamarack - Novice and BN
                                      Good move-ups, or great for those just starting out. Some max height jumps, but most are on the smaller side and interesting, but not spooky. Some terrain challenges, as it's hilly, and it can get quite wet and slippery in some areas. Water is deep (if there's been rain) and rather uninviting at first glance, but rides very well. Nice, easy bank up, one stride across, drop down for Novice. GREAT for BN and Maiden for those who are a bit timid or have a green-bean. The only quibble I have with it is that if you're not paying very close attention, you can get yourself mixed up on course as it sometimes circles back on itself, which can lead to confusion. I'm definitely taking my green-bean there this year.
                                      "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

                                      So, the Zen Buddhist says to the hotdog vendor, "Make me one with everything."


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by eventer_mi View Post
                                        Unrecognized, but still good:
                                        Tamarack - Novice and BN...
                                        Actually, they run recognized Pinehurst at Tamarack!

                                        Agree with everything Eventer_MI said. How are you doing, Kim?

                                        Would add Fancy Hill to that list:
                                        BN/N is very inviting, a good first-time event or move-up. consists of log-log-log-coop type fence progression. The course is hilly, and some of the fences are set on angles on a hill, making the approach/landing less straight-forward than it might look. The water is puddle-sized, and it's easy to get a run-out there if you're not steering. There is a ditch and small up-bank on the BN course.
                                        "Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom" Barack Obama