Southern Pines Marathon and Cones

Leslie Berndl and Travis - USEF National Singles Champion

Leslie Berndl and Travis – USEF National Singles Champions

A collective sigh of relief by the organizers and officials when the marathon ended on Saturday with no accidents.  However a few competitors tried valiantly to have their penalties overturned.

It was a beautiful day, and spectators were able to find some shade under the trees near the two water obstacles.  Golf carts shuttled spectators out to the obstacles, but not before they walked past the vendors and had a chance to shop.  Trailers, carriages, harness, jewelry, soap, whips and many other things were on display.

The officials were vigilant to make sure no one was over-using their whips.

The massage therapy students were set up again all day to relieve the competitors of their tight muscles before and after their marathons.

The competitors’ party was held at Claire Reid’s Big Sky Farm in Southern Pines with a endless salad bar, beef tenderloin  (all you could eat) desserts ensured to put any pounds lost during the weekend back on.

The cones course ran on schedule or even a little ahead.  Using the Stone Henge element built for the CCI+++ event a couple of weeks earlier, the course looked beautiful.  The sponsors were served a lovely brunch as the watched the Preliminary class go first, followed by the Advanced.  The USEF Single Horse Championship class was very exciting.  Leslie Berndl made it back-to-back championships

Some pictures from Southern Pines CDE

I will get on my soapbox in a later post or in Driving  Digest, but not today.  It is sunny, warm, and beautiful here at the Carolina Horse Park.  Marathon is underway, the USEF Single Horse Championship drivers are almost finished with their marathon.  Here are some pictures from yesterday and today.

This was Tina Sully's first Advanced competition.

This was Tina Sully’s first Advanced competition.

Kate Shields warms up for dressage

Kate Shields warms up for dressage

Cheryl Rivers attacked the big water hazard with her Morgan Redspur's Red Rowl.

Cheryl Rivers attacked the big water hazard with her Morgan Redspur’s Red Rowl.

On the way to the Gum Tree Wheel.

On the way to the Gum Tree Wheel.

Southern Pines CDE is underway.

The 8th Southern Pines CDE started off Thursday with the Horse Inspection for the Advanced Division.  All passed. We have 11 entries for the USEF Single Horse Championship, 2 horse pairs, 2 pony pairs, and 2 single ponies in the Advanced division. The Preliminary single pony class is the largest with 14 entries.

The event really kicked off at the briefing which was followed by a ‘draw’ for dressage times for the Championship class.  The drivers all came forward and drew numbers out of a box.  That number was the order for them to come forward and choose a bottle of champagne that had a number on the bottom which indicated the order in which they would drive their dressage.  Sara Schmitt drew the number one slot.

USEF Singles Championship class ready to draw for dressage starting order

USEF Singles Championship class ready to draw for dressage starting order

Following the briefing and draw, a southern style dinner of barbecued ribs, cole slaw, baked beans and other dishes was served.  With the sponsors’ tent set between the two dressage rings, competitors could eat, walk their tests and come back for a beverage, or even seconds!

Awards and champagne!

Awards and champagne!

The weather is picture perfect – perhaps a little on the warm side after a colder than normal winter and spring here in Southern Pines.  The dogwood, azaleas, wisteria are in full bloom, as is the pine pollen.

Cheers from Leslie Berndl and Scott Monroe

Cheers from Leslie Berndl and Scott Monroe

Dressage started on time, and has stayed on time.  Dave Wright, our announcer, is keeping everyone up to date.  Two rings are running simultaneously, with the Preliminary entries judged by Boots Wright and Marcie Quist.  The Intermediate and USEF Advanced entries are judged by Anne-Marie Turbe, Peter Bonhof and Martha Hanks Nicoll.  Richard Nicoll is the course designer, but has been helpful in so many ways from filling water tanks, to touching up some painting, and moving trash cans!

Mike Arnold is here not only to watch Jacob drive but to make sure that Live Scoring goes off without a hitch.

Everyone is struggling to get used to all the new rules!

Southern Pines CDE – the 8th

Thought I would write a short post today, as I know people are anxious to see something on Driving News about Southern Pines – like dressage schedules, etc.  Richard Pringle is busy building and marking the course and so getting the schedule posted has taken a back seat.  This should be remedied shortly as the course is finished.  The TD, Ian Douglas, has made his inspection. Course Designer Richard Nicoll has tweaked some of his obstacle gating.  The jury is due to inspect tomorrow morning.  However, the President of the Jury, Anne-Marie Turbe’s flight was delayed for 3 hours in Paris, so she won’t be here tonight.

The dressage schedule is posted on the board at the Carolina Horse Park office.  And actually, the Advanced Single Horses won’t know exactly when they will drive their tests and we are doing an actual ‘draw’ like they did in the dark ages.  But it is fun (for us anyway) and they get a bottle of champagne for being patient.  Their tests will start mid afternoon.  We have 11 vying for the National Championship title, with Leslie Berndl very keen to win back-to-back championships.

The weather is going to be fantastic. No chance of rain, high 70s.  The Horse Park looks beautiful.

In the morning, the students from the local college will come and do chair massage – a very popular tradition here at Southern Pines CDE.  And they are returning on Saturday so can get the kinks out of the drivers and navigators after the marathon.

Congratulations Suzy Stafford

We just finished watching the Advanced Single Horse cones at Live Oak via Live Feed.  Suzy Stafford has brought yet another horse to the top.  We look forward to seeing her at the USEF Single Horse Championship in Southern Pines in a couple of weeks.

If you were watching  the cones, you might have noticed two sets of cones that were white instead of orange. The new rules allow a maximum of two sets on a course that can be set at a narrower clearance than the others, but they have to be designated by a different color.  Always something new!

Always something new to learn as well, with the prize giving.  I noticed that they gave out the ribbons in the warm-up area instead of presenting them one at a time when they were in the ring.  I’m assuming this was to save time, as they have to get cones over with quickly so that the jumping classes can start on time.

Another advantage of watching the action via computer, especially for the marathon, we can see drivers in several obstacles without breaking a sweat!

Unless something extremely unusual happens, Chester Weber will win yet another USEF National Four-in-Hand Championship in just a few minutes!


Missing Live Oak – corrected

This is the first time in 22 years that I have not been to Live Oak.  Years ago, a phone call to a competitor or other friend would be the best way to find out what’s going on.  Today a variety of websites are reporting on the competition so it isn’t too hard to keep up. Facebook is filled with photos and comments.  And of course our friend Mike Arnold of Driving News is helping to enable Live Scoring to happen.  So, while working at my desk, I can check at and go to the Live Oak link and then click on Live Scoring and already I know that Suzy Stafford is ahead of Leslie Berndl in dressage by a very close margin.  And Mike’s son Jacob is standing 3rd (not 4th as  I said before correction) with his new horse.  This is why I should just send you to the Driving News website instead of trying to summarize here!

It’s 2014

In some ways, having the holiday’s behind me is a relief.  I find myself anxiously awaiting January 2 so that I can get back to work.  The January/February issue always seems to be delayed because everyone has several days off for Christmas and New Years. The January issue will be worth waiting for however.

My thoughts recently have been about the fragility of life.  We’ve lost several very prominent driving people recently, and I know of  others who are suffering with injuries and illness.  We need to make every moment count when we are with our friends, and let them know that we care.

The driving calendars look very full for 2014 and I hope that the economy has improved enough that drivers feel confident about doing some traveling again to shows, clinics, and fun drives.

Here’s to a great year of carriage driving!