Stable View’s Advanced Oktoberfest Horse Trials is fast approaching on Oct. 1 and 2, and we’re bringing you a bit of a sneak peek at this expansive multi-discipline facility and brand new Advanced cross country course located in Aiken, South Carolina.
Barry and Cyndy Olliff, the owners of Stable View, purchased the facility in 2010 and since then have steadily created one of the most preeminent international equestrian facilities in the United States. The property is the winter base for Will Coleman, as well as Boyd and Silva Martin, and hosts year-round clinics, events and horse shows for dressage, eventing and show jumping.
There have been numerous infrastructure improvements to the property since the Olliffs purchased it, include lodging and apartments (click here to see photos), barns, outbuildings, arenas and the newly constructed Advanced cross country track. If you haven’t already visited Stable View, the Oktoberfest event is an ideal time to tour the grounds.
You’ll find four different barn areas on the property, which allow independent trainers to operate side-by-side but with their own distinctly separate space. The Main Barn has 15 stalls, with six stalls in the Kennels, 11 stalls in the Work Shed and 12 stalls in the East Barn.
A 300-by-250-foot covered arena is one of the largest in Aiken and features Attwood Equestrian Surface’s “Pinnacle” dust-free footing. The 300-by-250-foot outdoor arena, which has Attwood GGT sand blend footing, enables Stable View to host large shows featuring different disciplines. The new dressage arena also has Attwood GGT sand blend footing.
The expanse of the rings and the layout of the entire facility is definitely impressive, with the footing in particular making the rings some of the best you’ll find throughout the region and the country. These rings are used for regular training and schooling, as well as numerous dressage and jumper shows that Stable View hosts throughout the year. Click here for more photos of the facilities.
The Birth of Aiken’s First Advanced Cross Country Course
The Olliffs’ vision for the property always included an Advanced cross country course, and Capt. Mark Phillips has collaborated with Stable View as the course designer and strategic advisor from its inception. His input and invaluable experience in the international sport of eventing, coupled with Eric Bull’s expertise in jump building, has brought Aiken’s first Advanced cross country course to fruition.
“In 2011 we started construction of our cross country course,” Barry Olliff said. “From the beginning we were advised by Mark Phillips that we should provide irrigation. As a result, we drilled five wells, which collectively produce 250 gallons per minute distributed by over a mile of underground pipes, which run a K-Line portable irrigation system.”
The initial design and layout of the course had to take into account the area’s topography, as well as the need to ultimately expand the track to the Advanced length of 3,500 meters. It was necessary to consider the footing and the topography years before the Advanced level fences were ready to be built, and the Olliffs listened closely to what Capt. Phillips advised.
Not only did the Olliffs make an investment in the irrigation system, but they also extended the course behind the main barn, connecting the cross country schooling field to the original cross country course with permanent Advanced level jumps like ditches and banks.
Capt. Phillips describes the the new Advanced course as crossing three major sections of topography: the Derby Field; the Pine Barons with portable jumps; and the Alley Way with new open grass galloping lanes and fixed fences, ditches and a water complex.
Richard Jeffery, who designed the Derby Field, was also instrumental in determining the positioning of the outdoor dressage ring, as well as how the Derby Field was integrated into the cross country course. Capt. Phillips and Richard closely collaborated on the overall course build, which culminated in a track with an excellent variety of fences and flow.
In addition, Stable View promises that all of the newly added technical questions on the Advanced level course will be challenging yet fair for a competition at this level.
Course Overview with Jump Builder Eric Bull
Eric Bull of ETB Construction has also been on board from the start, building out the lower level course to suit the longterm strategy of Capt. Phillips. Eric is quick to point out the Capt. Phillip’s main objective in his course design is to produce horses to the top level of the sport, with the ultimate goal of getting horses to major events like Rolex and Burghley.
“The lower level courses at Stable View were designed as part of a system to get horses to that next level,” Eric said. “That is Captain Mark’s ultimate goal.”
Additionally, all the portable jumps are built to complement the permanent fences. “This is a really diverse cross country course with all the traditional elements of a big cross country course, but being built in a modern way so that the permanent fences are built in a way to play off the portables,” Eric said.
Each segment of the course — the Derby Field, the Alley Way and the Pine Barons — has a different variation in the topography, as well as permanent features: mounds, banks, ditches, sunken roads, three water complexes, a dry river bed and a grob (or Devil’s Dyke) that funnels down into a coffin.
The portable jumps will be altered to offer new questions at each horse trials and include a variety of tables, logs, corners and skinnies. EN will divulge more details on the Advanced course as we get closer to the event, so stay tuned!
Stable View Building ‘A Gathering Place’
Stable View’s longterm plan for further expansion will allow the facility to host an even greater variety of clinics and shows in the near future. Thus far Stable View has focused on USEA recognized horse trials and a series of dressage and jumper schooling shows, and the plan is to add more hunter competitions and host hunter derbies on the grass field as well.
All of these events will soon be viewed and enjoyed from within the new pavilion, which is slated to be finished in 2017 and will accommodate up to 300 spectators. The pavilion will feature three levels, with a ground floor area for spectators that will include offices and restrooms; a second floor VIP observation area, owners club house and conference center; and a third floor level with a media center.
The center of the new pavilion will also feature a tunnel with a glass roof, allowing spectators in the observation area to watch horses travel back and forth between the outdoor arena and the Derby Field.
The future expansion of the equestrian facility and the construction of the new pavilion is part of a larger strategy centered on the Aiken community. The enthusiastic response from riders, sponsors and local vendors for the first Advanced Oktoberfest horse trials has enforced the Olliffs’ vision to build Stable View as “A Gathering Place” for locals, tourists and seasonal residents alike.
Equestrian sport is clearly the focal point of the upcoming Oktoberfest horse trials, but there are so many other activities this year to draw in spectators, which EN previewed here. Aiken Horsepower will host a car show, prize money will be offered in a Giant Jenga competition, and the vendor list keeps expanding with a slew of equestrian and non-equestrian based local businesses.
Keep it locked on EN as we continue to bring you the back story on Stable View, reflections from Capt. Mark Phillips and Barry Olliff, and how Stable View plans to play a key role in equestrian sport in the community of Aiken.