The numbers are in, and the Carroll County Equestrian Council figures it needs just about $12,000 to undertake the first installment of its horse show facility.
This project is planned for the Gillis Falls area near Woodbine and encompasses about 200 acres of county-owned property. Immediate plans call for two show rings -- 150 feet by 200 feet each -- with stone dust footing, car and trailer parking, a 33-foot-wide stone driveway and handicapped access to the rings.
The $11,555 bid just received from a local contractor will cover the initial site preparation. Bids are being solicited for the footing that needs to be put down in the two rings.
The council will also solicit bids for the necessary plumbing, electrical and water facilities to support the project. A local company has donated the posts for the fences around the rings, but the rails for the fences need to be procured.
All in all, it ain't hay.
"Our biggest fund-raiser so far is the raffle we are having on Sept. 26 for an Australian stock saddle," says CCEC Vice President Carolyn Garber. "And we are also begging and pleading for money and other donations."
The council is soliciting help from businesses, individuals and equestrian organizations in the county. Everyone in the organization is selling raffle tickets, and the group is maintaining high profile on the carnival and fair circuit.
"The raffle tickets have been selling well at the carnivals where we have booths with the CCEC banner," Garber explains. "There has been great interest in our equestrian calendar of events, also. We plan to take part in the Leisure Expo at Cranberry Mall in September and have the most recent, updated version of the calendar, which will go through the end of 1992."
On the drawing board for the future at the show ring site are cross-country schooling fences, a cross-country course, carriage driving trails and expanded trail access in the Gillis Falls watershed area. The multi-use facility will be a specially designed and built venue for many types of equestrian activities.
The horse show facility will be administered by the council and the Department of Recreation and Parks. It will be available for rent to any equestrian club or organization.
Plans for the show ring facility have been a long time in the making and the proposed site has changed more than once. But this is the final site, according to Garber.
"Yes, this is the permanent site now. We are committed," she declares with a laugh.
The council planned the show facility as part of its overall Carroll County Equestrian Master Plan.
This is not the first major project to be undertaken by the group, and let's hope it is as successful as its trail-building endeavors. So far the council has been instrumental in building bridle trails at the Union Mills Watershed and at Piney Run.
CCEC meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at East Middle School on Longwell Avenue in Westminster. Plan on attending a meeting if you would like to find out more about this or other council projects.
I know that the show facility planning committee has to work with the realities of the land at the proposed site, but there is one thing I hope they look at seriously.
The current plans show the two rings located within 50 feet of each other. As someone who has shown at, announced at and broadcast from many, many horse shows over the years, I can tell you that having two show rings so close together leads to chaos.
It is not too bad having a warm-up ring this close, but scheduling classes in these two rings at the same time will cause nightmares for announcers, show secretaries, judges, stewards and competitors.