The development of Muriwai
Back in June 2007 we bought 20 ha (50 acres) of rolling farmland and bush near Muriwai, a seaside community about 30 minutes northwest of Auckland.
Click on an image for a larger photograph in a new window.
At the time we bought it Muriwai was running 40 head of cattle three-wire fencing, on land that had not had much management for many years. One of the best decisions we made was to engage the services of Terry McFetridge, a chap with over 100 arenas to his name and as straight as the day is long.
The first task was to create the 70x42 metre arena (230' x 140') that we'd use for both show jumping and dressage, as well as basic flatwork and schooling. This involved moving 15,000 cubic metres of soil and rock, for which we required Resource Management Consent from Rodney District Council, which took much longer than anticipated.
After three weeks the flat area required for the area began to take shape and then it was a matter of fine-tuning the shape with a digger. The next task was to cut a new 350 metre (1,200') driveway from the road entrance.
We required the arena have an all-weather surface that could take the pounding 12 hours a day, 365 days a year from horses doing dressage and jump training. We had to truck in well over 1,000 cubic metres of base material for the sand and rubber surface. The whole base was compacted with a 30 tonne vibrating roller.
Our biggest challenge was getting Building Consent from Rodney District Council. It took far longer than expected. However, construction of the day yard block was started by Kerry Willetts of Smart Barns in August 2008. Because Kerry is a show jumper himself he has a great understanding of the specific requirements of a barn for horses.
The horses moved into the day yards in mid-October 2008.We originally had planed to build a second barn to house a lunch-room, workshop and feed room as well as store 1,500 bales of hay and the truck. However, this part of the project did not go ahead, as we identified other, more pressing priorities.
The day yards have four tie-up stalls plus a large hot water wash-down bay fed by an overhead hose, with eight 4x5 metre pens and two 4x7 metre stables, the latter which can be used for injured or 'quarantined' horses. We use sawdust over compacted rock on the floors of the pens, thus minimising smells and providing a softer surface. The whole space is very light and airy and the horses seem to love it.
Each day yard has fresh running water and the horses are always able to see everything that's going on around them, whether it is in the stable block or the adjacent arena. This means they are always close to their friends and stimulated, thus minimising boredom problems. Visitors to our yard regularly comment on how calm and well-adjusted all our horses are, and we put most of this down to our fabulous team and the building design.
We have about 35 holding paddocks, each 50x25 or 25x25 metres, plus larger paddocks for spelling and injured horses. All the fencing on the property uses Gallagher's EquiFence Conductive, a safe, effective electric fence due to its large diameter, high visibility and smooth surface. Every horse has its own paddock and out-riggers on both sides prevent any silly arguments.
Three or four horses can happily work in the arena at the same time.
Gateways use special three-rail gates, so nothing low that could tangle feet, and crushed limestone to minimise mud and stone bruises. The grass is free of summer rye grass staggers, our conclusion after several horses that previously showed they were prone to the condition proved able to graze without problems.
Our six-horse Magnum Horse Walker ensures that the horses are exercised with an emphasis on safety.
Mr John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and MP for the local electorate of Helensville, opened the facility on 16 October. This is him with Clifton Promise and Jonathan Paget.
The recently completed water jump, part of our cross country course designed by international course designer Tich Massey.
Summer Phillips rides Clifton Grovachi over the cross country schooling course at Muriwai.