We all go from show to show, jumping tens to hundreds of different courses throughout the year. BUT, have you ever really thought about who designed your course and the thought process behind it? I know I certainly have! In honor of CSIO 4* week down at the Winter Equestrian Festival, we chatted with last year’s Course Designer this week, Nick Granat, for the rundown on what goes into designing and how course designers themselves measure success from their side of the sport.
How long have you been Course Designing?
Nick: I began course designing full time in 2014 but it has always been a passion of mine. As young as 7 years old I would be in the basement designing courses with the set of model jumps my grandfather made for me.
What are your goals when designing a course?
Nick: When I design a course my main focus is the horse. I believe that a course should have tests but the tests should not take away from the confidence of the horse. I am looking to invite the horse and riders to make mistakes, not defeat them.
“I am looking to invite the horse and riders to make mistakes, not defeat them.”
How do you go about learning how to design a course that will only have the optimal amount of people jump clear?
Nick: You need a crystal ball to know how many horses will jump clear in a given competition but over time you develop a feeling for what you need to build as far as dimensions of the fences and technicality of the course.
I like to see a course that has a nice flow and Rythem. I like a course with good suspense, not one difficult spot, I want to see faults spread throughout the course. I want to see every horse finish the course a better horse, maybe they had a few faults, but that’s the sport. I don’t want to take their confidence away.
Have you ever designed a course that you regretted?
Nick: I’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years but I try to continually learn from all of them.
Do you have any secret weapons you throw out for a big class?
Nick: They wouldn’t be a secret if I told you!
What has been your favorite moment of your career so far?
Nick: I think building CSIO week in Wellington last year with Steve Stephens was really a highlight of my career. Steve is a great mentor and friend and I was honored when he asked me to co course design such a big competition with him.
Where do you dream of course designing?
Nick: Ultimately, I would love to design a championship completion I.e. World Cup, World Championship or the Olympics.
Did you know you can keep track of your courses on PonyApp? When posting competition videos post your course as well so you can save a full picture of the day to look back on for reference when training!