Practice makes perfect, and Aiken area riders now have a new venue at which to perfect their game. The Boyd Martin/ETB Equine Construction Schooling Cross Country Course at Stable View opened at the beginning of February 2019, and is now open from dawn until dusk Monday through Friday and on Saturday/Sunday by appointment.
The schooling field consists of 10 acres located on Springfield Church Road and is fully irrigated with water cannons. The sandy soil has been seeded with the Celebration variety of Bermuda grass as well as winter rye. The course is geared to horses competing at Preliminary and up; because some of the turf is new, this will spare some traffic, and after the footing is more established, more lower level jumps will be added for next winter.
Eric Bull explains that the Celebration Bermuda grass puts down more roots and gets thicker than the usual variety of Bermuda grass: “You can tell the difference when you walk across the new grass, even with your eyes closed; it’s remarkably cushier and thicker than the previously existing turf.”
The course features water, a sunken road, numerous ditches and portable jumps including corners, triple brushes, tables, offset brushes, cabins and more. Boyd will move the jumps around each week, creating new combinations for riders to school. Most of the jumps themselves are simple and straightforward, so the challenges will change with the setup.
Boyd says, “I’ve been around the world competing over some of the toughest modern eventing courses. To be competitive in eventing these days you really need to school combinations typical of these courses, and that is what we are aiming to bring to the Aiken horse community.”
All of the portable jumps are offered for sale by ETB Equine Construction. You can either order an identical jump to be delivered to the farm, or arrange payment and take home a jump directly off the course (and then ETB will bring in a replacement for schooling).
Riders can just drop in, no reservation required. The course will be monitored by closed circuit video camera for safety. The schooling fee is $60, which can be paid by the honor system with a mailbox on-site which will also contain Emergency Release forms.
Watch Phillip Dutton and Lillian Heard schooling the course via these videos courtesy of Boyd Martin and Amber Heintzberger: