Monthly Archives: September 2010

WEG – Wishing I Was There

And I will be a week from Tuesday for the driving portion, but after hearing and seeing photos from the Opening Ceremonies, it makes me wish I was already there.  I watched NBC’s coverage today from noon to 1:30.  It was all reining, which makes sense since except for Endurance, it was the only competition going on.  If driving was the first to go, I wonder if we would have seen an hour and a half of driving! 

Tucker Johnson carried the American flag during the parade of nations, sharing the honor with Karen O’Connor.  Carriages were also featured in the opening ceremonies bringing dignitaries into the arena, driven by  Tom Burgess, Marilyn MacFarlane, Misdee Wrigley Miller and Todd Draheim whose passenger will be FEI President Princess Haya.

Sunday at the National Drive

The view outside my motel window shows a cloudy day, but hopefully it won’t rain, at least until the Champagne drive is over.  That is a Sunday tradition at TND.  I’m told the stop will be at the POW chapel.  As the Hoosier Horse Park/Johnson Park was once a military base, I believe that Italian prisoners of war from WWII were held here.

Lyle Petersen, Kathy Blank (in camo) Barbara Petersen return from a drive.

The day ended with a wine and cheese party that went on for quite a while, judging from the sounds coming from the indoor arena long after I left.

More photos:

Muffy Seaton does a CAA Proficiency test

I’ll be leaving for home this afternoon so may not be able to post anything until Monday. Hope you’ve enjoyed The National Drive so far!

Saturday at The National Drive

It’s another beautiful day. Starts out in the high 50s but soon gets to the upper 70s with lots of sunshine. The day started with the Drivers’ meeting and coffee and donuts supplied by Driving Digest. There are still people arriving so Mike Lyon and others went over the events of the day with reminders about safety checks, etc. I’m sure people are wondering how the Hoosier Horse Park as a site for the National Drive compares with the Kentucky Horse Park. At first glance, the Indiana site isn’t as fancy or lush, but there are many positive features and the drivers are the ones who have told me that they really enjoy the extensive area for driving.  And there aren’t any other activities going on, so we have the place to ourselves. One drive covers 8 1/2 miles. The stalls are 12 x 12 and permanent with large overhangs. The camping area is very close. Attached to the indoor arena where the vendors are is a real little restaurant with real food.  My BLT had about 1/2 pound of bacon in it! There are permanent restrooms and a shower facility. So far all the comments I’ve heard are positive. Mike Lyon got an enthusiastic affirmative response when he asked the crowd if they wished to return in a couple of years.

The sign up sheets for lessons are full.  Paul Maye started off this morning with a talk/demonstration on rein handling and the Achenbach style using a couple of different reinboards. He had quite a large audience. Bill Lower took over the long lining demo from Mary Ruth Marks who apparently couldn’t attend because of illness. I didn’t see this because I was offered a seat on a golf cart to head out to watch some drivers tackle the water obstacle and cones course.

This afternoon the schedule says there is an Orienteering driving activity, but I listened in to Melissa Boyd giving a tutorial on how to use the compass and how the drive was going to work, and I suspect we may lose a few! Sounds complicated.  We’ll see.

Paul Maye demonstrates using the Achenbach style for driving a four-in-hand

Jeff Morse gives a lesson to a future world champion

It's a beautiful day for a drive

Friday at The National Drive

Driving, driving everywhere! The Hoosier Horse Park offers hundreds of acres of driving opportunity. A former army base, (there is still a real one across the road) there are miles of old macadam roads as well as trails through the woods and fields to drive on. The organizers of the Indiana CDE have kept the obstacles marked and the cones course that was used set up as well as the dressage arena so participants have all that to enjoy in addition to the marked drives.

Bill Lower started the morning off with a talk on using the whip.  It kind of morphed into a talk on rein handling and Achenbach style which was fine. 

Bill Lower helps a driver learn Achenbach rein handling

Jeff Morse followed with a check list of things you need to do to ensure that you are secure and comfortable on the box seat.  Both talks were well attended.  Mostly ladies gathered around after lunch to watch Sherri Lower put together winning driving outfits. She has such skill when it comes to matching just the right scarf to set off the perfect hat and apron.

Sherri Lower puts together a winning outfit

 A trace pace was scheduled late in the afternoon. All day long lessons were given by Bill Lower, Andy Marcoux, Paul Maye and Muffy Seaton.  Their sign up sheets were full and when I left after 7 this evening, lessons were still going on.

Andy Marcous give a lesson

The work never ends for the National Drive organizers. Len Courtemanche and David Sadler were out marking out the Trace Pace course just before lunch.

Len Courtemanche and David Sadler hard at work

Schooling the water hazard

Switching Gears to the National Drive

We left the Laurels on Monday morning, stopping off at Jack Day’s in Maryland to tour his impressive carriage collection (stay tuned for a future article in Driving Digest) and then arrived home Tuesday afternoon. Now Thursday finds me in Edinburgh, Indiana for the National Drive. It is being held here at the Hoosier Horse Park (home of the Indiana CDE) this year only due to the WEG taking the National Drive’s date – imagine that!

As I pulled in, already there were many drivers enjoying the extensive driving opportunities the horse park has to offer.  I’ve yet to see much, but hope to tomorrow.  The winds were strong, but the vendors are safely housed in the indoor arena – safe from the elements. The forecast is for temps in the 80s, but no rain.  The ‘staff’ was ready to inspect all turnouts and give them their sticker of approval. At the end of the day all gathered in the indoor for wine and cheese and to enjoy live music.

Driving Digest Magazine will be providing coffee and donuts each morning as well as selling subscriptions.

Cones clinic at the Laurels

The spectators and those in the Patrons’ tent at the Laurels really seemed to enjoy seeing the four-in-hand drivers being coached by team coach Michael Freund.

Bill Long - photo by Vicki Long

Michael Freund makes an adjustment to Chester Weber's turnout. Photo by Vicki Long

A Little from the Laurels

My good intentions to post daily obviously didn’t happen.  I should have known that being the Secretary/office manager here at The Laurels is a 15 hour a day job, and leaves little time for reporting.  I haven’t seen much outside of the four walls of the office.

After Hurricane Hannah in 2008 and torrential rains on dressage day in 2009 that turned the marathon into a mud pit, the weather this year couldn’t have been nicer.  Although Sunday has started out with a little rain.  It seems to have stopped now. 

Kennett Square is the mushroom capital of the world and is very near The Laurels. On this same weekend the town hosts a Mushroom Festival.   The fragrance from the nearby mushroom farms wafts through the air.

Although The Laurels was to be the final selection trial for the four-in-hands bound for WEG, instead the weekend turned into a team training session.  The fours didn’t actually compete.  They did not participate in the horse inspection, the dressage scores were not published.  The marathon was an exhibition, and only a few stayed to do cones.  Chester Weber drove his modified marathon at 8 a.m. and then provided commentary at noon when the other fours were scheduled to drive.

Following the course walk and briefing on Thursday, competitors and volunteers were treated to a barbecue sponsored by Hunt’s Harness, Driving Essentials, Kendalwood Farm.  On Friday, all were invited to an exhibition of art by local artists and sculptors with Brandywine Prime providing hors’ d oeuvres.  The huge Patron’s Tent is situated almost on top of the water obstacle – Palmer’s Bridge, and was filled with hundreds of people all day long. They enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch. “Rock Around the Clock” was the theme for the competitors’ party Saturday night.

Complete results can be found at http://www.drivingnews.us

I will add more info and photos when I get home.