Rebecca Farm is truly the Disney World of cross country courses. Each jump is a work of art in and of itself, no theme too farfetched, and stringing them together must feel like a thrill ride roller-coaster of color and shape.
From jumps inspired by Montana’s spectacular landscape and wildlife …
… or playing homage to western frontier life …
… to a few random odds and ends …
… Rebecca Farm is a wonderland among cross country courses.
Playing the role of Walt Disney is designer Ian Stark, with mad genius builder Bert Wood and his dream factory working in tandem to bring Ian’s imaginings to fruition. I caught up with Bert yesterday for a grand tour of his favorite complex, the far water, on this year’s course.
The complex is Louisiana themed, a nod to the late Rebecca and Jerome Broussard’s home in the deep south before they relocated to Montana in the mid-’80s. Included is an assortment of bayou creatures ranging from benign (crawfish, beavers) to deadly (water moccasins, alligators and, in an adjacent pond, Canada’s own Loch Ness monster Ogopogo).
The 2016 crowd favorite seems to be a jump in the Louisiana water complex affectionately dubbed “Gator Bait.”
The story behind the jump: “This used to be a duck but the head rotted off,” Bert explains. They thought about making it into a goose, but that didn’t make sense — nothing about a goose screams Louisiana. A headless chicken on a fishing pole being used as gator bait, though? Brilliant.
Luckily, this Training/Prelim fence doubles as a gator patrol vehicle.
Both Ian and Rebecca Farm allow Bert plenty of loose rein with it comes to creativity. “Ian is pretty creative on his own,” Bert says. “A lot of the time he says, ‘I want a shape here,’ instead of a boring log you throw a gator on top or a snake or make it a crawdad or a chicken.”
This year’s three-star track is similar to last year’s but with a few tweaks and, as Ian puts it in his course preview, a couple new fences that are “quite exciting and sort of scary.”
There are significant differences between the CCI3* track and the shorter, less technically gruelling CIC3* track. “I like to make the CIC a stepping stone to the CCI,” Ian explains.
In this cross country preview from Ride on Video Ian takes us on a tour of the CCI3* course:
“I love coming to Montana,” Ian says, gesturing at his surroundings. “What wouldn’t you love about this? The sunshine, perfect temperature … it’s not quite like Scotland is it? Apart from the weather and beauty it’s a fantastic event — it’s got a little bit of everything.”
Cross country gets underway today with the CCI2* from 8 to 9 a.m. MT, CIC3* from 9:20 to 10:35 MT, CCI3* from 11 to 11:40 a.m. MT, and CCI1* from 12 to 1:40 p.m. MT. Saturday also sees the conclusion of Novice and Training Three-Day show jumping as well as the continuation of the horse trials divisions.
Much more to come. Go Eventing!