Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Cross Country (Kind of) Preview

I had a couple hours of time today, while my little one was at preschool.  Things have been happening the past few days at The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International.  Important things, like galloping lanes, and bleachers.  See?

A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on


A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on

 So I wanted to go check it out, and see if Eric and his guys from ETB Jumps were on the grounds yet, stuffing brush in to fences and making everything safe and pretty.  And also I wanted to exercise.  So I brought my bike.  My plan?  Ride my bike around the cross country course and take pictures for you where I could.  Always following the "What Would Judy Do?" mantra in my head.  I can't show you WHERE fences are.  I can't show you the question being asked.  And I can't show you the decorations yet.  Which is not an issue right now, as there are still none.  But I can still ride my bike around, and show you some stuff.

Come.  Ride with me.  Let's see how far we get.

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Right off the bat, before I even got the bike off the car, it didn't look like things were going well for our friends at ETB Jumps.  Missing a couple tires there, boys!



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"All the fancy people" in the tent placement meeting, including Executive Director Carla, A&M Tent Director Faith, Head of Admissions Denise, Head of Decorations Kathie, Head of Special Events Martha, Head of Country Shops Ruth and Sharyn, and Head of Everything Else Rupert.  And Pip!  Yay, Pip!  Pip is Rupert's sister, and she visits us every year for a few weeks during the event.  Pip comes, FROM ENGLAND, to do fun stuff like put out trash cans and recycling bins, and move mulch.  Bless Pip - BEST.  Volunteer.  EVER.


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ETB wasn't ready to stuff fences yet, as they still had their huge flat bed of brush parked on the side of the road.  I forgot to ask Eric how many cedar trees he brings with him.  Remind me - I'll ask him.  Any guesses?



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I found Bodgie, who does EVERYTHING in the Universe.  Seriously.  EVERYTHING.  So Bodgie makes all these signs.  And then she puts them all out, at all the cross country fences, for our sponsors to get some recognition.



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This year Bodgie had some help from Jane at Olde Hope Farms.  THANKS, Jane!!

On my drive down to the Start Box I ran in to Eric, busy putting in frangible pins at an oxer.  Eric said there are 18 fences with frangible pins on course this year, intended to keep our competitors as safe as we can.



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Finally I made it down to the Start area.  Or, at least what has always been the Start area.  And....  no Start Box.  It's not up yet.  No flags for Fence 1 anywhere.  Hmmmmmm.




Hopped on my bike and rode in the most likely direction, toward fences that looked NOTHING like our traditional first fence looks with all the mums, and the osage oranges on the back spelling out FHI 2016.  Success!  First fence found.  I'm not going to show it to you (cuz what fun would THAT be?), but yes - totally different from years past.  You'll have to come to our FREE course walk on Friday Oct 14 at 4:00, hosted by Allie Blyskal-Sacksen, to see what the new Fence 1 looks like!



A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on




A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on

 Irish Horse Gateway is a new sponsor this year.  Thanks for your support!  You get your name on our pretty purple potting shed

!And look who I found painting!  Sue, and Charlotte!  Charlotte is one of our more recognizable and popular volunteers.  She rides Piney the mule on Saturday as an outrider.  And she "mans the gate" on Friday for the road crossing to the Dressage arena.  Sue is a frequent painting helper - last year I found her in the Chesapeake Water staining a fence.  THANK YOU for helping, ladies!  Your fences look beautiful!



Shall we talk about hurricanes real quick?  We don't really WANT to talk about hurricanes, but the reality is that there's a Category 4 hurricane that has a real possibility of impacting our area this weekend.  And while the path is unpredictable, we need to prepare ourselves a bit for the fact that our biggest prep weekend may well get washed out.


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 Also, thanks to The Cecil Whig for always supporting The Dutta Corp Fair Hill International.  This year The Whig is providing some tee shirts to volunteers - stay tuned for more details!

Here we are, standing in the middle of a (thankfully dry) water complex:


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Really you need to come to our course walk on Friday Oct 14th at 4PM and see this stuff for yourself.  Pictures don't do it justice.  I realize this fence isn't meant to be jumped straight-on, in the middle of the fence.  But if you DID jump it that way?  Just be prepared for a mouth full of leaves.

So at this point I was dying (everything going away from the water is all uphill).  And also, apparently, LOST:


A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on



A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on

Not lost for long - just a little lost because the course took a dip in to some unchartered territory.  It's always fun, year after year, to see how Derek can make this course just enough different to keep everyone interested.




That really is one of my favorite fences - I love seeing pictures of it after the event.  So who is going to take some for me there this year?


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Ahhhh, The Sunburst.  You know The Sunburst is always going to be a part of the course.  Last year it was a tribute to our long-time volunteer, Seema.  You'll have to come look for yourself this year to see who claims The Sunburst!

Oh - since we're looking at bikes up there...



Gore Bike Wear and Gore Running Wear are the Presenting Sponsors of our NEW Outdoor Sports Expo.  So I figured I'd better wear the proper attire while out riding my bike today...

I can't remember if I told you guys this.  Did I tell you guys this?


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I found Chris, who works for Eric and ETB Jumps:


A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on

Please to be going back up and looking again at Chris's arms.  JACKED.

So.  My watch said it was almost time to get in the car to pick up my little one.  My legs and lungs begged me to stop.  My eyes said a REALLY BIG HILL was right in front of me.  My Map My Ride app said my average MPH was 5.4.  Which, doing the math, gives me....  1,257 time penalties on cross country.  Approximately.  So I put up my hand and called it a day.  I finished approximately one third of the course.

But before I left I rode by this guy, and it TOTALLY made my day:

A photo posted by Fair Hill International (@fairhillint) on

It's our Frank!  Frank was rushed to the hospital a few weeks ago, and had emergency heart surgery to remove some blockages from his arteries.  He said he's feeling better every day.  And he also passed on his appreciation to all those on our FaceBook page who left messages for him, and those who sent him cards.  Our Frank is THE BEST.  So glad he's feeling better now!

Stay tuned this week - I'll try to get out again on Thursday to usher you around the rest of the course!

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