A Nice Note

Our September-October issue features an article about young drivers. They are the future of our sport, and not only do we need to recognize them, we need to encourage them and encourage older drivers to take them under their wings.

This was in my email inbox today: “I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed your last edition. I especially loved the article about all the youngsters who are driving. The driving community is definitely shrinking out here in Oregon with fewer venues to compete and an older population winding down. It was such a nice upbeat article. Thanks!!”

From a reader

We love it when we hear from our readers when a particular article resonates with them.  In this case, we didn’t like hearing about the reader’s accident, but glad if it helps with the recovery

“Dear Ann—thank you for publishing the article on driving accidents.  My sister brought the new Driving Digest to me when she visited me in the hospital the day after my driving accident.  We had to  smile at the timing!

I am full of gratitude that my horse suffered only some scrapes and swelling, and is recovered already, my passenger, who was celebrating her 85th birthday, was safely off the carriage, and my prognosis is for a full recovery from a broken hip and full hip replacement.  God is good!
Your article was very helpful and encouraging—many thanks to you and the author!
Dorothy Edwards”

Surviving Southern Pines

The Southern Pines Combined Driving Event took place last weekend – April 11-14.  Those dates are misleading.  Competitors arrive 1-3 days earlier, and often don’t leave until Monday morning.  Some officials arrive as early as the Sunday before and depart on Monday.  Organizers are working full time the week before, during, and after the event.

This year, in my role as secretary, I did not see one competitor drive. That’s part of the job. Some years it works out that I can zip around the course and watch some of the dressage, marathon, and cones, but this year I was constantly busy and the schedule didn’t allow for the office to close for even an hour during the day.

Being an FEI sanctioned event adds significantly to the amount of work.  Drivers need to enter through the FEI online system as well as send paper entries.  If they aren’t in the system one hour before the competition starts (in this case 2 pm on Thursday – an hours before the horse inspection – they can’t compete.

New this year as well, all drivers, owners, officials, and organizers had to complete the Safe Sport training through the USEF.

The greatest challenge we had to overcome was when not one but two of our FEI officials could not come.  The first occurred on Sunday when our course designer had to cancel.  Fortunately one of only two FEI course designers in the US was able to come, but not until Tuesday night.  The second was a judge coming from Germany – his passport was stolen and there was no way he could get a replacement in time to come.  Under this extenuating circumstance, the FEI allowed the President of the Jury to also serve as the Foreign Judge.  Whew!

The weather forecast called for rain, but lucky for us, we only had one brief shower on dressage day.  It wasn’t very pleasant for the competitor in the dressage ring, and those who were warming up, but it could have been worse.  We got through the marathon and cones without getting wet.  However, because this area has had so much rain in the last 6 months, the water table is very high, so the normally well-draining sandy soil does not drain as well.  With some of the highest temperatures we’ve seen so far this spring, and anticipation of deep going, the officials made adjustments to the length of Section A, and removed one of the obstacles for the  FEI classes.  There was a lot of scrambling to make these changes known to all concerned, especially the competitors, but it all got done.

Southern Pines CDE is well-known for its hospitality.  No one goes hungry here.  The venue was lush and green, the stabling area one of the best, and an extra perk – the local massage therapy students from the Sandhills Community College were came all four days to give free massage to anyone who wanted one!

Safe Sport

I recently completed the Safe Sport program that the USEF requires its members to take.  It took a while, and I didn’t realize that it was in three parts, and thought I had completed the whole thing after I downloaded my certificate after taking the first part.  This program is required for all US Olympic sports, of which equestrian is one.  We’ve heard of sexual abuse between coaches and athletes at some very high levels, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  It happens more than we can imagine.  The course goes beyond sexual abuse, and included bullying and emotional abuse.  While we know it happens, I think taking the course clarifies many things, including how to respond if we suspect any kind of abuse, how to recognize signs, and just making us aware of abuse in general.

The courses were well done, including video and short scenarios that ask multiple choice questions.  I had to answer some scenarios “not sure” until they were explained in the next segment.

It was well worth an hour of my time.


It has been a while…..

Recently several people pointed out to me that I hadn’t posted anything to the Driving Digest blog lately.  Honestly, I haven’t thought about blogging for some time, obviously!  I guess that Facebook has somewhat taken over my social media thoughts.

Today the November-December issue was mailed.  This issue usually contains reports on whatever World Championships were held in the fall, and this issue is no exception.  There were three Championships: four-in-hand (WEG), single horse, and para-driving. I didn’t attend any in person, but thanks to our great reporters and FEI TV, I feel like I was there, and I hope you will too when you read about them.

We will be reaching out to carriage drivers across the country, Canada, and Europe soon to help us improve Driving Digest.  We want to know what you’d like to see both in the print publication and on the website.

Happy 2015

Driving on the carriage roads at Acadia National Park

Driving on the carriage roads at Acadia National Park

It’s a brand new year.  Resolutions are made, some will be kept, some not, but all indications are that 2015 will be a better year than 2014, economically speaking. I am hoping that the lower gas prices and general optimism will encourage traveling to shows and driving activities.

In the two years that the Driving Digest has been owned by Pringle Publications, we have received many, many positive comments.  We are committed to continuing to improve the magazine and website.  And we are always interested in knowing what you would like to read about.  If you know of an activity, person, company, that you think others would like to read about, please let us know so we can arrange to cover it.

The January/February issue will be in the mail this week.  The cover is beautiful.  Kathi Peters of Maine is the artist and it depicts a pair driving on the carriage roads at Acadia National Park.  I hope you’ll enjoy this issue.

Getting ready for Metamora CDE XXX (30th year)

Monday Richard and I drove back to Michigan after Elk Creek.  I dropped him off at Larry and Norma Wheeler’s in Oxford (spent the night) and Tuesday drove up north to check the mail, repack some cloths, water the garden, and drive back down on Wednesday.  I picked Lisa Singer up at the Flint airport on the way.

Upon arrival I found out that the golf carts hadn’t arrived because their delivery truck broke down, so they wouldn’t be arriving until this morning. Very nicely, they were here very early with the first load.

We had a nice dinner last night at the High Street Eatery in Metamora.  Boots Wright arrived, as did TD Ian Moller.  The White Horse Inn, which many who have been to Metamora will remember, is undergoing massive restoration and will reopen later in the summer.

Because of the change in date, I feel like I’m not as well-organized as I would like to be. I got up very early so that I could get the office organized and start to work on packets.  At 6:15 I arrived at Windrush Farm only to find that I couldn’t get to the barn because gates were closed across the driveway because horses were turned out there.  Fortunately, Richard came along a couple of minutes later, and led me out back on the track of the course and we came in behind the barn!  And fortunately Barb has a Keurig so I could get my second cup of coffee. I am handing out packets with as much information as we have.  The judges and TD looked things over this morning, and some changes to the course are in the works.  Mostly shortening Section A.

The secretary’s office and scoring is set up in Barb Chapman’s big barn this year.  It is nice to be out of the elements and have plenty of room, but it is also removed from the rest of the competition.  However, I’ve seen so many events, I don’t feel I’m missing too much.  I will get out a little bit throughout the weekend.

The 30th Anniversary Program is a real keeper.  It is loaded with color photos of Metamora’s past, histories of the event and of the Metamora Carriage and Driving Association.

A briefing is going to be held at 4:30 this afternoon, to be followed by the traditional welcome reception on the Windrush Farm terrace with that outstanding view of the Metamora countryside.  Hopefully the rain and clouds will be gone tomorrow. The forecast says we will have a lovely weekend.