Monday 25 May 2015

Derby Field Design

We’re lucky to have a lovely natural site for a jumping field. It’s in the valley near the barn, pretty flat-looking as it is, with lush grass on rich topsoil, framed by an old stone wall. The site needs drainage and grading/smoothing, but the amount of earth moving would be minimal compared to what these projects usually require in this part of the country.

There’s a hollow at the north end where we’d build a grob (a.k.a. Devil’s Dyke, a sunken obstacle in which horses jump a fence, take a couple of downward-sloping strides to a dry ditch, then a couple strides up to another fence). We’d place a water jump somewhere in the middle, and on the sides where the field slopes up, a bank (a steep mound of earth that you ride up and down) and table (a bank with retaining walls that you jump onto and off of).

Bank jump by Lawton Adams

Bank jump by Lawton Adams

As part of this project, we would clean up the stream and make a couple of land bridges across it. (The town responded well to this idea, since we’ll be improving the health of the waterway). On the other side of the stream, there’s room for a nice little extension of the riding field—a good spot for one of the bank jumps.

Beyond that picturesque stone wall is the meadow we use for hill work (i.e., we ride the horses up and down the slope for fitness.) It’s the most beautiful field on the farm, and we plan to leave it open for riding. So from the jumping field, you could ride on up the hill and connect to our new trail that loops through the woods. We love the idea of this, because working horses outside the ring helps them stay fit and fresh and happy.

The future derby field

The future derby field

Derby field on left, hill-work meadow at upper right

Derby field on left, hill-work meadow at upper right

W/2-foot contours: derby field has a nice, gentle pitch—flattish but good for drainage

W/2-foot contours: derby field has a nice, gentle pitch—flattish but good for drainage

I love these hand-drawn property plans by Nelson Byrd Woltz.

I love these hand-drawn property plans by Nelson Byrd Woltz.

View across the overgrown pond/stream, from future field annex, across to hilly meadow

View across the overgrown pond/stream, from future field annex, across to hilly meadow

We definitely have some cleanup ahead:

At the edge of what will be a nice little pool, southwest corner of main field

At the edge of what will be a nice little pool, southwest corner of main field

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Nice shade trees; need to tackle those vine-tangles

Nice shade trees; need to tackle those vine-tangles

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