In March, Dressage Daily reported on issues faced by Green Mountain Horse Association (GMHA, 501(c)(3)), especially their struggle to replace old, sub-standard footing on nearly 5 acres of arenas. At the time of the last article, Vermont’s Green Mountains were still covered in snow and the first show was scheduled for early May; the projected cost of the project was $180,000 and there was no money in the bank! Yet, against overwhelming odds, the project got completed on time. This is a heart-warming story of how, when a horse community works together, the extra-ordinary becomes possible. Judy Westlake, a long-time GMHA competitor started the ball rolling.
As luck would have it her husband is Brian McNeil (e = mc Equestrian Arenas), an expert footing consultant, Judy ‘persuaded’ Brian to offer his expertise. A European-style geotextile/silica sand mix was identified as being the ‘dream’ footing. The estimated cost of over $300,000 was unthinkable so the team went to work to make it happen for less. First the geotextile fiber importers, Joachim M. Längle of ProEquus Equestrian Surfaces in Austria, generously reduced the cost of the fiber; however, ProEquus did not have enough US stock but Karen Leeming and Lawton Adams of Footing First in New York stepped up to match the ProEquus price and supply the balance. Next St. Pierre Sand and Gravel of Charlestown, NH offered to work with Brian to blend a high quality sand mix at a discount price, and to donate their time in mixing the sand with the fiber. The support of these companies meant we now had a project estimate of $180,000...but GMHA had no money!
The first reaction of the Footing Committee was to start with pure sand for the 2103 season, then add fiber as the funds were raised. This would have meant a smaller initial outlay and allowed time to raise money, but would have 2 major drawbacks: riders would begin the season on less-than-perfect footing (with all the associated risks to the horses), and the ultimate costs would be higher. So, based on our confidence that GMHA members, competitors and supporters would come through once they saw our commitment, we took the plunge! The help given over and above the call of duty by Brian, local contractors Randy Perry and Richard Sargent, GMHA board members, staff and member volunteers saw us come through on time and $30,000 under budget! To date we have raised nearly $100,000 and donations still keep coming www.gnhainc.org. GMHA, already a special place, is now extra-special: thank you all!