Heart of the Carolinas Announces New Design and Build Team for Cross Country and Show Jumping

The Heart of the Carolinas (HOTC) Three-Day Event and Horse Trials is pleased to welcome a new design and build team for the May 4-7, 2017 competition at Southern 8ths Farm in Chesterfield, SC.

We welcome Chris Barnard as the show jumping course designer, John Michael Durr as the cross-country course designer, and Dylan Barry as builder. Rob Mobley will also return as co-builder and to help with repair and maintenance during the competition.

Durr has mapped out brand new cross country tracks for the Beginner Novice, Novice and Training long-format three-day divisions and the Beginner Novice through Modified horse trials. Durr will also set fences for the 4 and 5-year-old Young Event Horse classes.

New jump over an existing ditch.

This log was milled right on the farm!

“I’m excited to be the new course designer at HOTC. It’s a fun event and it’s nice to have a venue that’s set out to be something special and not just a spoke in the wheel. We want to be a destination event and offer courses reflecting that goal,” Durr said.

Durr is a licensed USEF “r” Course Designer who also designs at Woodland Stallion Station in California and is the horse trials and one-star assistant designer at Virginia Horse Trials. He brings knowledge and experience as an active upper-level event rider to the table as well.

For HOTC 2017, Durr is utilizing additional areas of previously unused land for a fresh, new experience. The long-format divisions and the Modified track will also jump through the show jumping arena before crossing the finish line.

“The tracks are very much changed. They are much more open and galloping. We’ve opened up probably another ten acres for cross country, and we go through the show jumping arena to get the horses out and galloping and to keep that classic feel,” Durr said.

The front side of the bank complex with the newly added logs on top.

The back side of the bank complex. Don’t look down!

Working with HOTC’s new jump builder Dylan Barry, Durr has designed a host of new portable cross country fences and permanent complexes for each level. Based in Canada, Barry is an experienced builder who has also worked at events such as the Bromont Three-Day Event in Quebec and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

“There is a big change in the HOTC track which will affect how it rides and the flow of the course,” Barry said. “John Michael is doing some cool things and going places the course hasn’t been before. It’s good to do different things and work outside the old framework.”

Some of the new fences include a post and rail complex built over existing hedges with a variety of different routes, and elevated logs have been added on the edge of each section of the bank complex. HOTC has also acquired several portables previously used at The Fork Horse Trials in Norwood, NC.

New log jumps over an existing hedge.

The beginnings of another new jump!

As members of the HOTC team, Durr and Barry have the honor of being only the second designer and builder in the country to develop a track for the new USEA recognized Modified (3’5”) level, which was created to be a natural stepping stone between Training and Preliminary.

“It’s a new division and an interesting challenge being part of the new Modified level in this country. I’m glad to see there are venues starting to take up the new division,” Barry said.

Durr revealed that while he was initially wary of the Modified level, it has grown on him as he worked on the course at HOTC. He said, “I will admit I was not the biggest fan of Modified at first, but as I put it together I found a place for questions at heights and obstacle introductions that were too much for Training level and not quite enough for Preliminary. Putting the Modified track together has very much changed my opinion of the level and I think it will be a great experience for horses and riders.”

Becky Holder and Lipstick Jungle on the Preliminary Derby course last year. Photo by Brant Gamma.

HOTC is also thrilled to have international show jumping course designer Chris Barnard on board. A USEF “r” Show Jumping course designer, Barnard designs at several prestigious competitions around the country including Plantation Field, Pine Top, Virginia Horse Trials, Red Hills, and The Fork to name a few. He is also the show jumping designer for the 2017 North American Junior and Young Riders Championships.

“I have heard such great things about the event and I’m looking forward to carrying on the great job that Marc Donovan has done with the show jumping courses in previous years,” Barnard said. “The arena is very large and undulating so this gives me many options for all the tracks at various levels.”

The shape of the grass arena will be slightly different than in previous years because Durr will place some cross country fences in the ring. This will be useful for Barnard as he considers a track for the Preliminary Combined Test, which includes a derby style jumping phase featuring both stadium and cross country fences. For instance, he plans to have the Preliminary competitors jump out and back into the ring during the round.

“After my visit I am very much looking forward to this event and encourage all eventers to come and have a fun at HOTC,” Barnard said. “You and the horses will have a great experience and a lot of fun!”

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