On the afternoon of Thursday, February 6, an EF-1 tornado touched down at Stable View Farm in Aiken, South Carolina. The tornado ripped through the property, destroying 100 temporary stalls and 70 mature longleaf pine trees. No people or horses were harmed by the storm.
“The winds were measured to be 105 miles per hour,” shared Barry Olliff, who owns Stable View along with his wife, Cyndy. “No humans, horses, or animals were in any way affected, but in terms of the cost to equipment and facilities, it’s huge – 100 stalls, 70 longleaf pines, some of which were 150 years old. It was devastating, but fortunately it only affected half the property.”
The 50 people and 75 horses currently resident at Stable View were entirely unaffected by the tornado. “There’s a whole group of dressage and eventing people here, and you could almost say they didn’t know anything was going on if it hadn’t been for our guys running around saying there was a tornado on its way because we got notification from the National Weather Service.”
“Cyndy and I have been out there with friends and you try to point out to them what was, but we’ve got a totally different skyline now. You can see through to the sky now whereas before you could never see through the trees – it was solid.”
In the wake of the storm, the community has risen up to support Stable View as they work to clear debris and get things back to normal so that the rebuilding process can begin. People began arriving at Stable View the very next morning to help with the cleanup process. “We’ve had neighbors, people we didn’t know, come by,” Barry said. “We’ve had Pony Club come by. Friends have come by. Volunteers from our volunteer group have come by. We’ve had sponsors out. We’ve had people paying for professionals to come out and help us . . . we’ve had at least 100 people out here to help us.” Barry was quick to point out that the facility has been thankful for every person that has stepped up to help and they will continue to happily accept as much support as the community is willing to supply.
Plans are for competitions at Stable View to continue as scheduled, including their upcoming Stable View Eventing Academy Schooling Horse Trials in February and the Designer Builders Spring CCI-S 1/2/3/4* at the end of March. “We’ve obviously got this big event coming up in March, but prior to that we have the Eventing Academy, recognized dressage, and recognized hunter/jumper events,” Barry said. “They’re in good shape because all of the arenas are fine.”
“This is a community facility – it’s known as “A Gathering Place” – it’s right there in the name, and we have really held by that . . . This is an eventing place, but we also do hunter/jumpers and dressage. We’ve got a recognized hunter/jumper event in two weeks’ time and we had a recognized dressage event with 150 horses last weekend.”
“We’re in the process of getting temporary stalls in – we’re negotiating with FEI Stabling with regard to the LH Woodhouse stalls that we had bought. We had 200 until last Thursday, now we have 100. LH Woodhouse / FEI Stabling are providing us with 100 stalls at cost. This is a very generous arrangement and we are very grateful for their generosity . . . The concrete pads are fine and the rubber mats were all salvageable – they were sort of spread around but they did rather well, actually, so they can be reused.”
The old section of the cross-country course, which Barry defines as “technically demanding” because of the wooded nature of the property, will have a different look to it with 70 less trees. “It was known as being a tough course . . . Mark Phillips used to use the trees to maximum advantage because he felt that they were a really good training thing for horses to have to deal with and for riders to have to think quickly about. Half those trees are gone now – they’ll be filled in, flat grass patches. But the main course, which is what we would use for March, will be in great condition.”
Barry and Cyndy are taking this all in stride, even adopting a tornado theme for some aspects of the March event. “We’re going to have a tornado cross-country jump, we’re going to have a tornado prize for the rider with the fastest show jumping time in each division, and were going to introduce a tornado cup – it’s not going to be a piece of silverware, it’s going to be an alcoholic beverage – and we’re going to introduce that in March.”
“We have a much greater respect for Mother Nature, and we have a much greater respect for our longleaf pines,” Barry said. “They’re so majestic and to lose half of them is a bit soul-destroying. The good thing is we’ve got enough logs for upwards of 50 new cross-country jumps. The 1/2/3/4* will proceed according to plan and we have no reason to believe that anything will stop it from being business as usual.”
If you interested in lending a helping hand, please contact Barry Olliff at (215) 313-3774. For the full list of upcoming competitions, check out Stable View’s website.
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