Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Water Complex is Born

The final product (just add water)!
Last week was a big one for us at Course Brook. It’s times like these when everyone stands back and appreciates how far we’ve come and we realize that some of the hard work is really paying off! 

On Wednesday and Thursday, jump builder Eric Bull (of ETB Equine Construction)—who you will recall from earlier posts as the man behind our twelve beautiful new training and prelim cross country fences—and Olympic eventer and course designer John Williams descended on CBF to build a fabulous new water complex in the upper jump field. These two wasted no time getting started and with all hands on deck—including our best equipment and operators and some excellent volunteers—the hole was dug, the liners and gravel put down on the base, and four new banks were installed, all within the span of 48 hours!

John and Eric (with some help from Tyler) unload one of the pieces of liner for the base of the water jump

Incredible teamwork unrolling the liner!

Powered by Course Brook (and John and Eric)

Brief break for a photo op...

Then straight back to work, spreading the liner

Eric and John made sure that the liner was perfectly aligned on all sides

John and Eric have worked on courses together on a number of occasions and from talking to them it sounds as though one is always roping the other into one of those projects that starts like this:

“It was 10 days before [insert name of major CCI somewhere in South/Central America] and there were literally no jumps built yet.” Enter Eric and John, a lot of sweat (and probably tears), and miracles apparently happen. John regaled us with a story of one particular course that required a tree to be cut down. Instead of a chainsaw, a guy showed up with a machete and spent the best part of two days trying to saw the limbs off of the tree. You name it, John and Eric have seen it. They collaborated on the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara and John in particular has been working a lot in Mexico and South/Central America, designing new courses in some unlikely locations.

Matt and John talk shop

The guys lean while the ladies do the heavy lifting!

You’ll note from the photos above that Matt spent some time picking John’s brain about the course at CBF. John is designing our prelim course, which we plan to debut in 2014. His vision for the property is to make it as spectator-friendly as possible. That means trimming some of the lower branches of the trees in the back woods (although Matt assures me not too many) and situating our water jump where it is now: right smack in the middle of the upper jump field and next to an ideal spot for spectators. We want to be sure that the course rides well and that people can see as much of it from one place as possible, and John’s plan is to do just that.
Still smiling

CBF General Manager Sharon with CBF's very own volunteer/mother/person extaordinaire, Sara!

Meanwhile, Eric was doing a lovely job of mobilizing our volunteer force of teenagers to unroll the liners and spread them evenly across the floor of the water jump… Not as easy as it looks! Everyone was very impressed with the girls’ efforts, with Eric remarking that he’d never had anyone in riding boots come out and help with the installation of a water jump... And he’s built almost 200 of them.


John's car. Amazing.

Installing the banks on Thursday
Of the design of the complex, John said that the far ramp was specifically built to be very gently sloping to make it extra inviting to young and green horses. The banks are of varying heights to accommodate different levels. The future plan is to add a mound on one side to create some interesting upper level questions. Of course we'll be adding portables as needed for various events and schooling opportunities. I asked about a Rolex-style duck for a water-to-water, but so far no dice.

Another excuse to include a photo of John's tiny car

Needless to say, we are beyond thrilled with the new water complex and the steady improvement of our cross country course, from upgrading the footing in the softer areas, to our new jumps. It’s truly inspiring to get to meet people like Eric and John, to hear their insights (and war stories); their energy is infectious. Many thanks to them for all their hard work.

So, it’s only up from here! Now we just need the grass around the water complex to grow… And a little water!

-- Casy