Monthly Archives: March 2011

Live Oak photos

A little late, but here are some pictures from Live Oak last weekend.

Marcie Quist, first in FEI Single Horse

Joe Yoder, driving Jack Wetzel's pair in dressage

Bill Lower in Obstacle 3

Lisa Singer


Live Oak Marathon

The festival atmosphere started early as tailgaters prepared to welcome their expected guests. Tents were raised, tables set with colorful clothes topped with trays and baskets of food, coolers were filled with ice and beverages to keep everyone hydrated and happy during the warm day.  With thousands of spectators expected, many arrived early to ensure a seat with a good view of the 80 some competitors who would fly though the obstacles.

Volunteers took their places to wait patiently for the first competitor. When the roar or the crowd at the water obstacle – the first of seven was heard, the 19th CAI-A Live Oak marathon was truly underway.

Sunny skies in the morning gave way to clouds and a very welcome breeze.  There was another kind of cloud – dust – raised by the competitors as they flew through the obstacles. 

Young Jacob Arnold, driving his Morgan mare Shadow, tipped over in The Gulch, the second obstacle.  He continued on to drive obstacle three and then chose to retire before obstacle four.   Horse, driver and navigator are all ok, and Jacob returned to dance the night away at the competitor’s party.

Junior driver Jan Jan Hamilton won every single obstacle in the FEI Single Horse class, besting her elders and veterans of World Championships such as Lisa Singer, Donna Crookston and Robin Groves. Nonetheless, Marcie Quist, fourth in the marathon, held onto her lead going into cones, about two points ahead of Robin Groves.

Joe Yoder, driving Jack Wetzel’s pair, is well on his way to his first USEF National Championship, winning the marathon decisively and with a 15 point lead over Kathrin Dancer of California.

Shelly Temple will go into Sunday’s cones competition with a narrow lead over Suzy Stafford in the FEI Single Pony class.  Temple was seventh in the marathon, but her lead after dressage keeps her on top.

In the FEI Pair Pony class, Katie Whaley won the marathon, but Jennifer Matheson retains her lead going into cones, with a 12 point lead over her closest competitor, Elizabeth Keathley.  Chester Weber won the marathon on home soil, but second place finisher Josh Rector was not far behind. Rector’s disappointing dressage test is what gives Weber a 30 point lead going into cones.

The Preliminary competitors handled the world class marathon obstacles with skill and enthusiasm. Live Oak has not offered Preliminary level for several years, so drivers were quick to fill the available slots when the opportunity arose.  

President of the Jury Diana Brownlie commented on the condition of the horses and ponies as they finished the marathon, “The course had been adjusted because of the promised hot weather. All horses and ponies finished satisfactorily in good condition.”

USEF National Championships will be awarded on Sunday to the best FEI Horse Pair, and the best FEI Single Pony, Pair Ponies and Pony Team. Richard Nicoll is the course designer and the course will include a bridge and two zig-zags for the competitors to negotiate. It is sure to be a nail-biter.

Intermediate and Preliminary Dressage at Live Oak

On the second day of dressage at the CAI-A Live Oak, Boots Wright of Ocala, Fla., was awarded the best dressage score in the Intermediate division.  Wright drove Mista Q and Marko, German Riding Ponies, gaining a decisive 17 point lead over second place Sherri Dolan with her Shetland ponies Smoke and Mirrors. 

Sybil Humphreys, driving her Section C Welsh pony Cefnanokpark Bouncer, will go into Saturday’s marathon leading the 12 competitor Intermediate Single Pony class.  Her score of 47.60 puts her just two points ahead of second place Pixie Keating. In 2005, Bouncer, driven by Suzy Stafford, won the individual gold medal at the World Combined Pony Championships in Catton Hall, England.

In the Preliminary division, the best dressage score was posted by single horse driver Bonnie Hudson from Anthony, Fla., with a score of 51.47.  Hudson drives Blythewood Casino Royale, an eight-year-old Morgan. Virginia driver Boo Fitch is standing first in the Preliminary Single Pony class, with a score of 55.07. 

Live Oak is the third and final leg of the Florida Triple Crown open to competitors who have competed at Live Oak as well as Sunshine State and Little Everglades two events held earlier in the year.  One entry in each of the Intermediate and FEI divisions will take home the prize when the scores from all three competitions are tallied.

Eighty-one drivers are expected to tackle the 14 kilometer marathon course on Saturday.  The seven obstacles designed by Richard Nicoll, who also designed the course for the 2010 World Equestrian Games, will test the courage, strength and endurance of all the horses and ponies. Concern for the welfare of the horses and ponies on the Saturday’s marathon, should the temperatures climb into the high 80s, have prompted the ground jury to make adjustments to the times.  The speeds in the walk section will be lowered, the time in the rest halt will be increased, and the window in Section E will be expanded, all to lessen the stress on the horses and ponies and give them ample time to cool down should it be necessary.

Thousands of spectators are expected on Saturday. Admission is $5 per person.  In addition to the excitement of the obstacles, a trade fair set in a grove of graceful Live Oaks, and a variety of food and beverage concessions will be available.

Live Oak – Friday

Another day of dressage is underway.  Today the Intermediate and Preliminary entries drive their tests.  Those divisions have the unusual experience of being judged by all five judges. 

Janelle Marshall

The horse inspection was held Thursday morning at 8 a.m. instead of the usual Wed. afternoon in past years.  All horses passed.  

The temperature got into the 80s, but a breeze, fairly strong at times, made it bearable.  With high temperatures expected on Saturday for the marathon, the jury has already added extra time to the rest halt, slowed down the speeds for the walk, and expanded the window in section E.  The water hazard and the Gulch are obstacles one and two, so spectators should see fresh horses and ponies negotiate these two very demanding obstacles.

Jennifer Matheson

A competitor briefing was held at 6:30 in the big tent, followed by a barbecue dinner hosted by one of the sponsors. 

Spectators Thursday witnessed something very unusual.  Lisa Singer drove a single horse in competition for the first time in many, many years. 

Lisa Singer

FEI Dressage at Live Oak

Horse pairs and single, pair and four-in-hands of ponies are competing for USEF National Championship titles at the 2011 CAI-B Live Oak in Ocala, Florida. The first phase of competition, dressage for the FEI classes is now complete.

Shelly Temple of Windsor, S.C., put herself well ahead of the competition, winning the FEI Single Pony dressage with a score of 41.60.  Driving her Morgan LR Ami B-Line, Temple was happy with her score. “With Michael Freund’s help, we are working toward elevation and expression. It’s challenging to do both and be accurate and consistent.” She’s happy with the progress they are making, but knows that there is still work to do. “Michael and Fred (Freund, Michael’s brother) have been a tremendous help to us all.”

Jennifer Matheson of Aiken, S.C.  earned a dressage score of 50.82 driving Katrina Becker’s pair of German Riding Ponies, Danyloo and Topper. Matheson is the defending USEF pair pony champion and hopes to make it two in a row.

The lone entry in the FEI pony four-in-hand class is Allison Stroud of West Grove, Pa. Stroud scored 52.48 with her four Connemara ponies.

One point separates Misdee Wrigley-Miller from Joe Yoder after dressage in the FEI horse pair class.  Wrigley-Miller scored 45.95 to stand first in dressage. President of the Jury Diana Brownlie noted “The first two places showed some excellent basic paces and some nice movements which bodes well for the future of the U.S. Team. They were also notable for their excellent presentation

The best dressage score in the FEI single horse class was earned by Marcie Quist of Vass, N.C. driving her nine-year-old Hackney gelding Halstead’s Shale.  “I was really pleased, but disappointed that I had that mistake in the reinback.  We got into a spot I couldn’t get him to back up.”

Hometown favorite Chester Weber gave himself over a 22 point cushion to take into the marathon, earning 37.63 penalty points from the five-person jury.  Weber is driving two new horses in his team this spring provided by his sponsor Jane Clark.  “They are a welcome addition to the program,” said Weber. “They’ve added depth and they’ve added quality. It takes a little time to figure out where they best fit, so we’re working on it slowly. This is the third competition they’ve done but never in the same position.” Weber also commented how invaluable it is to his driving program to have a sponsor like Jane Clark. 

Intermediate and Preliminary competitors will drive their dressage tests on Friday.

A Day at the Florida Carriage Museum

I haven’t been to the Florida Carriage Museum/Austin Carriage Museum/Continental Acres for several years, so I was eager to see what changes had been made.  Gloria Austin, the driving force behind this one-of-a kind facility, graciously agreed to meet with me for an interview which will be featured in a future issue of Driving Digest.  I knew Gloria before she moved to Weirsdale, Florida and made her vision a reality, so I engaged the artistic theory of pentimento – the name of my business – as I wandered around before our appointment began. (Pentimento means letting the old shine through the canvas where the new painting has been created.)  I think it is the perfect term to apply to carriage driving because as modern as it  might become, the basic concepts are still there. 

I spent the first hour in the library interviewing Gloria, and then she generously offered to show me through the museums.  I’ve been through them before, but not with Gloria herself.  It was a very quick tour – 30 minutes at the very most.  The most fun was watching the other visitors who looked and then – I imagined – whispered to their friends “Look – that’s her!” 

Tomorrow we are off to Live Oak where the competition will begin with the ever important Horse Inspection in the afternoon.  I will try and post a daily blog as long as the internet gods are smiling.  The forecast is for temperatures in the high 80s – almost 90 for the marathon.   Let’s hope everyone is prepared and prepared to do the right thing for their horses and ponies.

Club Newsletters

I receive many newsletters from driving clubs throughout the country.  Their design and content ranges from very homespun to sophisticated graphic design.  All are interesting.

A recent newsletter from a club I belong to made me think of Goldilocks and the 3 bears.  It was over 20 pages long!  And it was produced to be sent via the internet.  Another club I belong to produced a newsletter that was a scant 4 pages packed with postage stamp sized photos and minimal content.  Comparing the two, one seemed too big (too big for Earthlink to deliver it to my inbox), the other too small.  So what is just right? Somewhere in between, I think, but of course it depends on the activities of the club and its mission.

Being an editor of a club newsletter is a thankless job.  Most cry out for content from members, and end up generating the content themselves. I know, I’ve done i t.

Many clubs are now sending their newsletters via email attachments or putting them on their club websites and notifying their membership via email.  It does save significantly on printing and postage costs, but there are a few drawbacks.

1. If the club has a lot of elderly members, many aren’t keen on reading online, if they have computers at all.
2. Short is better for an online newsletter.
3. One column is better for an online newsletter to keep scrolling up and down to a minimum.
4. Lots of graphics and photos add tremendously to the size meaning it will take more time to download.
5. Readership may be limited to one or two. When I received a print copy of our  20+ page newsletter and set it on the table in the living room, my husband read it (for the first time ever) and so did my neighbor who even took it home to read.

Obviously, I am a fan of the internet or I wouldn’t be writing this blog. But my attention span is limited, and I don’t really like to read anything of length on the computer screen.  I’m more likely to print out an article I’m editing than to edit it directly on the screen.

Club newsletters are a very important part of the chain of communication within a club, especially if the membership spans several states.  Too big, two small, or just right – I’ll still look forward to receiving them either way and enjoy reading them all.