Monthly Archives: August 2010

Off to the Laurels

The Laurels at Landhope is just over a week away, and already the anticipation is growing. Ann Pringle will be there wearing two hats – to represent Driving Digest and to assist in the Secretary’s office. It’s always an adventure at The Laurels and there is something for everyone.

The Laurels at Landhope CDE Combines International Competition and Family Fun.

 The Laurels at Landhope International Combined Driving Event, one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the U.S., will be held in West Grove, Chester County, PA September 10-12, 2010. Combining family fun with international equestrian competition in a beautiful country setting just 40 miles from Philadelphia, the event hosts the best drivers from Canada, Mexico and the United States, who compete in a series of three events with combinations from single horses and ponies to four-in-hands. It features competition in Preliminary, Intermediate and Advanced Divisions. The Laurels features the U.S. National Championships for ponies and pair horses. Combined driving requires a unique partnership between horse or pony and driver that relies on training and trust. An offshoot of ridden three-day eventing, it features the elegance of dressage, the excitement of cross-country and a cones course, an intricate test of skill and precision. The competition begins at 8 am each day. Dressage is held Friday, Marathon on Saturday, and Cones on Sunday.

Though The Laurels at Landhope show grounds cover 44 acres, the two competition arenas, extremely popular trade fair, exhibition area with two restaurants, and the Patron Tent all adjoin one another. The marathon hazards, the highlight of the event, are adjacent and easily visible to spectators. Returning in 2010 is the very popular Artists of the Brandywine Art Show and Sale, continuing all three days, featuring talented Brandywine Valley artists, many of them equine veterinarians by profession or deeply involved in the local horse industry. Kids Corner, with games, face painting and crafts, runs Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. The Trade Fair features a variety of vendors offering jewelry, art, antiques, collectibles, equine/canine inspired giftware, equine and equestrian equipment, elegant country-style apparel, farm equipment, carriages, and carriage appointments. Sunday’s activities include Jack Russell terrier races and a parade and display of antique coaches pulled by four in hands. The Barbone Street Jazz Band plays throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. Members of the Chester County Antique Car Club will display their vintage automobiles both days. Rock Around The Clock, an evening of dinner, drinks, live music and dancing, will raise funds to support The Laurels on Saturday night. Tickets are $40; a premier reserved table for eight is $500.

On Friday evening, September 10, a free reception will kick off the opening of the Artists of the Brandywine Valley exhibition. The reception runs from 5 pm to 7 pm and is open to the public. New this year, The Laurels will launch the first Laurels at Landhope cookbook, Combined Cooking. The cookbook, which will be on sale at the event, features recipes from the collections of Laurels committee members. The cookbook, along with quality Laurels at Landhope souvenir apparel including polo shirts and visor caps, can be purchased on the web site,

Admission to The Laurels at Landhope CDE is $10 per car, which includes admission for all occupants. Tickets for the patron tent, which includes daily preferred parking and lunch Saturday and Sunday, are $150. For more information and directions, visit the web site, or phone (610) 486-0710.


Presentation Pleasure Drive at Walnut Hill

I left from the show site to drive to Mendon Pond Park – the destination for the Presentation Pleasure Drive – at a quarter to 9.  The drive was to start at 9. It had rained over night, and looked iffy.  After I crossed over the thruway and turned onto Canfield Rd., I started to see all the people lining the road in their lawn chairs with their coffee. Others had more elaborate set ups – tables laden with food and beverage. Some even had tents!  I’m not sure how long the drive was one way, but it was at least 2-3 miles, maybe more.  Obviously this drive is much anticipated by the community.  I arrived at the park and found that there was a spot with a lovely background to take pictures.

Kathryn Gallant

The rain held off until all the turnouts had arrived, and then it started.  Fortunately it looked like most of the drivers had planned ahead and hats were either covered or replaced with rain hats, raingear was donned and then they all set off, after having a beverage, back to Walnut Hill for the afternoon classes. 

Tom Burgess arrives at Mendon Pond Park

And then the rain came

Raymond Cable

Sunday at Walnut Hill

Last night I went to the competitors’ party. Tricia Remley thanked everyone for their support and assured all that there would be a 40th Walnut Hill next year which met with enthusiatic applause.  There were a few others who spoke and recognized the efforts of the committee and volunteers.

It rained overnight and it looks threatening this morning.  Sunday morning is the traditional Presentation Pleasure Drive. I’m planning to go to the park where they line up.  However, I won’t be able to post until tomorrow as I’ll be driving back to Michigan this afternoon.

Saturday at Walnut Hill

It was another beautiful day.  A little on the warm side, but not nearly as hot as it has been and no rain which is always good.  Great crowds.  Ed Young, WH manager says he thinks that from the reports from the people at the gate that spectators numbers are up.  The seats were full.  One of the little details that are taken care of is that all the chairs are wiped off each morning from the heavy dew. So many little details are taken care of, which is what you can do when you run a show in the same venue with the same commitment for 39 years.  T.D. Phil Ferro says that some volunteers are second generation.  The highlights today were the Park, Ladies Wicker Phaeton Picnic Turnout Class, the Old Guard Class, and the Retirement ceremony for Mac, who has won many classes for owner/driver Louisa Plummer.

Louisa Plummer in the Old Guard class

Announcer Peter Doubleday (who pretty much keeps the show running) reported that the combined ages of all the competitors in the Old Guard class was 1120 years!

Mac's Retirement withP.J. Crowley at his head

Audrey Bostwick in cross country obstacles

Remember that I mentioned that Walnut Hill could be seen on the New York Thruway, well this is how close it actually is:

Driving Near the Thruway

Marilyn MacFarlane on the cross country course

Mary Jo Stockman in the Picnic Turnout class

After being judged in the ring, the entries left the ring and then unhitched their horses who were led away, and then the picnics were unpacked and set up on waiting tables.  The judges visited each one before the competitors were able to finally enjoy the fruits of their efforts.

One of the picnics. They were all fabulous.

Picnic carriage

Tomorrow is the Presentation Pleasure Drive. Competitors leave from the show ring class by class and drive along the road to a public park where the judges will be waiting.  If the weather is good, I plan to go to the park and photograph.  If not, well, we’ll have to see.

Walnut Hill 2010

Walnut Hill. What can I say that will do today justice in this blog?  First, I think the competitors, volunteers, managment, and even spectators have honored Bill Remley by making this year’s competition the biggest and best yet. So many people commented on how the quality of turnout is superior. The number of horses and ponies entered – 280 – is the largest ever.  There are 60 single ponies! They’ve been divided into large and small, and those classes have been divided into A and B. The Miniature Horses have their own division. There were 16 entries in the Junior Turnout class this morning. The costume class was over the top. It’s hard to remember that this is a horse show when one sees all the flowers, landscaping, and the beautiful cross country course. Attention to detail is beyond description.  So as they say pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll get on with it and give you a few photos from the 400 or so I shot today.  Many of these are to give those who haven’t had the Walnut Hill experience a sense of the show.  So my apologize to those who wish to see horses and carriages.  I’ll post more tomorrow.

The Bill Remley Memorial Garden

Friday's crowd

Harley Waller won the Junior driver Turnout class

Great things can be bought at the Carriage Lane Boutiques

The Carriage Museum

Pointing the way

The Miniature Horse turnouts are exceptional

Kirsten Brunner on the cross country course

Harvey Waller

JOhn White. The coaches went on a short drive to Oak Ridge Farm

Kate Whaley -101 Dalmations

Off to see the Wizard of Oz

John Greenall's Fishing Tackle carriage won the Trade/Commercial Turout Class

End of the evening. The Park Division Bonneted Phaetons Evening Turnout.

Off to Walnut Hill

Thanks everyone for your comments, compliments and criticisms.  I would point out that as I am not a competitor, my viewpoint is different that those who drive.  So while I try to give an overall view, positive but sometimes not, of the competition or activity, my comments may not be exactly what you want to know. 

I’ll be at Walnut Hill next week – Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.  It will be interesting to feel the atmosphere of this show without Bill Remley at the helm. I’m sure all their excellent volunteers and committee members will do him proud.

Cones at Iron Horse

It was HOT. Cones started at 8 a.m. which was early, but that meant that it was over by 2 ish, which was good for the poor volunteers who had to sit in the sun all day.  The organizers provided umbrella tables which did give them some relief, and there was lots of water to keep them hydrated.

In previous years, cones was held on top in front of the big tent, and incorporated the bridge.  This year the course was set in the grass dressage arena, which provided a flat surface.  Unfortunately it was too far from the big tent so that spectators really couldn’t sit up there and see anything.

Another problem for everyone was the poor communication.  The hired announcer cancelled at the last minute before the start of the event, so each day we had someone different. Susie Koos Aker of the ADS filled in on Saturday and did the best of the three.  Also, the radios did not work well, so communication to the cones setters was difficult, between the officials almost impossible.  Between the scorer and announcer basically non-existant. So it was often a mystery to us all what the penalties were, if there were time penalties and how the placings stayed or stayed the same. But it was what it was, and everyone did the best they could to keep the show going.  

The complete results are on

Dennis Yancho, Preliminary Champion with Makiva

Muffy Seaton taking a victory lap

Bill Long

There were no double clear rounds at the Advanced Level, and only four made the time. Deb Laderoute had a lame horse at the vet check and couldn’t drive cones. A couple areas of the course got quite deep as the ground hasn’t had a chance to dry completely after Friday night’s rain.

10 fours