Every year the size of the horse trailers get larger, and longer, many with self contained, comfortable living quarters, awnings – all the bells and whistles. Gone are the days of two-horse trailers with the carriage riding in the bed of a normal pick-up truck.
The Gayla doesn’t have an announcer, and it doesn’t seem to affect the competition, although I’m sure that it would be nice for the spectators to know who was in the ring. However, the setting is very peaceful, and everything seems to flow along without a voice in the background.
I drove around to see the hazards on Mari and Dennis Yancho’s golf cart. I’m used to seeing couples argue about the best routes, but the Yanchos listened and considered each other’s ideas. The new “Whiskey Ridge” obstacle is very attractive and looks challenging. Sponsored by Alltech, it is set on a hillside and the gates are set so that Training and Preliminary drivers can stay on the flat side, while the Intermediate will have to decide how to handle the slope. In spite of all the rain, the track is quite solid. The track is mown through the hayfields, so it is hard to get lost, although there are a few places where it criss-crosses, and it also looks as if some competitors – even when asked not to – may have taken short-cuts through the field, flattening down the hay which is due to be cut very soon after the event.
The new obstacle
A new dressage ring was supposed to be ready to use this year, but due to weather related problems over the last year, it wasn’t deemed ready to be driven on. Hopefully by next year, the new grass will have a strong enough hold in the ground and the old ring will be turned into the warm-up ring.
Now that dressage and cones are over, competitors are out on the course for a last look at the obstacles before the competitors’ party begins.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been at the Gayla Bluegrass CDE. I was here when Gail Austin and Debbie and Dana Banfield first established the Gayla Driving Center here, and the place just gets more beautiful and established every year. And of course the event is beautifully organized. Some people are born organizers, and Debbie Banfield is one of them.
Like much of the country, rain has plagued those trying to get a marathon course ready, but the Gayla people have had a lot of experience with rain at their events, so everything is ready for the 8:30 a.m. start today. The sun is shining, the temperatures are expected to be in the mid 80s, with possible thunderstorms later.
Being a gardener, I have always loved the daylilies and iris planted in clumps around the dressage arena. I especially love the land bridge near the cones course, and the gazebo for the judges, both planted with colorful shrubbery – the perfect photo op. The land bridge is not part of the cones course, but will be on the marathon track tomorrow.
Fifty-seven competitors are scheduled to start in Training, Preliminary, Intermediate. Dressage and cones will be driven today, with the marathon on Sunday.
The Tiki Hut obstacle
A competitor briefing was held yesterday afternoon followed by a course drive. Officials gave the regular announcements, and then President of the Jury Hardy Zantke followed up by reminding all the competitors that they “are the masters of their ship,” reminding them that they and they alone know the limitations of their driving skill and the ability of their horses and ponies. It is impossible for a course to be designed to match the ability of every driver. What is easy for one may be beyond the capability of another. No one should be talked into doing anything they don’t feel comfortable doing. Sound advice!
Crossing the land bridge after cones