The Kentucky CDE ‘test’ event is over. It was a beautiful fall day, cool, mostly sunny and breezy. The cones course was difficult – up to international standards but still there were a few who managed to go double clear. Lisa Stroud, however, was the only one in the FEI division to do it – and with a four-in-hand of ponies! There were two multiples and one was at #20 – very difficult. A lot of tight turning and only one place to gallop to make up time.
National Champions were crowned: Fritz Grupe is the Singles Champion, Larry Poulin is the Pair Champion, and Chester Weber is the Four-in-Hand Champion – for an unprecendented 7 consective times. Of course I just learned that Tracey Morgan has been National Pony Pair Champion for 8 consecutive times! Suzy Stafford is the Single Pony Champion and Lisa Stroud is the Four-in-Hand Pony Champion. At this ‘test’ event, they have daily press conferences with the winners, so all the press is gathered in the press center and the winners sit at a table in front with microphones while we grill them. Not really grill – we just have a really nice opportunity to hear what they were thinking about as they competed and hear from them what went right and what went wrong. Of course, with these winners, things mostly went right!
Probably the most memorable event of the day was the retirement ceremony. First for Courage to Lead, the Morgan pony owned by Bev Lesher and driven by Suzy Stafford. As Geoff Morgan the announcer read ‘Katy’s’ biography, and Bev, as groom stood at Katy’s head, Lisa Singer (who brokered the deal that brought everyone together) walked onto the field and presented Katy with a garland of flowers. There were more than a few misty-eyed faces in the crowd, mine included.
Next came the retirement of both Larry Poulin and Natasha Grigg’s pair (actually 3) of horses from driving competition. It seemed as if the horses were saying “no one asked us!” as they reared and circled during the ceremony. While Larry will continue to coach and train driving horses and their drivers, he will be missed as a competitor.
Fittingly, both Suzy and Larry completed their final competition of the season with decisive wins.