Horse club's tough hurdle
By GREG WHITE
WALK around Nana Glen Equestrian Centre and you're enjoying the prettiest sporting venue on the North Coast.
But the lush, green grass, gently rolling slopes and trees by the creek side hide the secret, hidden fears of those who have worked so hard and for so long to make the venue such an attraction.
The Equine Influenza crisis played its unavoidable part but the floods which inundated the Centre last year did considerable damage and unless major repairs and rebuilding soon takes place, the pace of deterioration will pick up as nature takes its course.
Operating authority Coffs Harbour Horse Trials Inc will hold their annual general meeting on February 11, and secretary Mandy Baston suggests the first item of business will be getting restoration work under way.
"Some fixtures and jumps have disappeared completely," she said, "others have gone, then come back as if by magic.
"We saw one jump taken 80 metres away by flood water before coming back to where it started and another log, at least 12 metres long, became stuck at the top of a gum tree and that's where it stayed after the waters dropped.
"As for the water jump, I'm not trying to be funny when I say it was washed completely away."
Less than a year ago Nana Glen was hosting Olympic representative horses and riders but yesterday when the Coffs Coast Advocate made an inspection, the only four-legged animal in sight was a goat chewing on the carpet of green shoots left by the rain.
"There is no chance of holding the International One Day Event this year as EI and the floods have seen to that," Baston said.
"The next major booking is for the Police Games in October and there will have to be a massive working bee called before that has any chance of happening in the form they are planning."
Despite the setbacks, Baston said some good should come out of a difficult situation.
"Thankfully, we have managed to keep our major sponsor for the International which will give everybody confidence to continue," she said.
"As soon as the situation became obvious I spoke to Geoff King to explain what we were facing, and he said 'that's cool, I'll be back the following year,' so maybe that will inspire the committee when they begin putting together the 2009 event."
And the EI scare has helped in one unforseen way with pony club activities.
"With horses confined to the property some of the kids have been limited in what they can ride," Baston said.
"Some of them have taken on the harder ponies and have managed to master them and be further ahead than they would have been in normal circumstances.
"Once things are back to normal these youngsters will be so far advanced and it will show when they compete."
But whatever is decided to bring the Cross Country Course back to its former glory, the job will be missing one important ingredient.
Large sections were constructed over a 10-year period by Baston's husband, Zeno, but soon the couple will be spending an extended period overseas.