Monthly Archives: March 2012

Live Oak Sunday and Some Photos

A glorious day for cones.  The Classic Car Show looks well attended, helped no doubt by the weather.  Last night’s competitors’ party was also well attended. One popular guest was Marilyn Monroe who sang a Happy Birthday to Ned Bliss.  Later in the evening (Chester Weber gave fair warning to those conservative types) Lady Godiva rode into the tent and gave a very, very special birthday to Sterling Graburn.  I wouldn’t be surprised if photos are already on Facebook pages.  The band played on and the dance floor was crowded.

I haven’t mentioned that all the scores can be seen on

The cones course didn’t open for walking until 8 am with a 9 am start.  There is always a little stress getting things started but they are off and running.

Jacob Arnold with his brother Samuel drove Marcie Quist’s Hackney horse Hal. They are in 3rd place going into the cones.

Janelle Marshall and Captain Jack Sparrow in the Budweiser Blast. Below Sterling Graburn won the dressage in the FEI Single Horse class.


Live Oak Marathon

The 20th Live Oak marathon is now finished.  I’m happy to report that no one tipped over or had any other accidents.  The weather cooperated.  Most of the day clouds and a slight breeze made things bearable for the volunteers who were out in the field without a tent or any shelter from the sun or rain.  A few drops fell   just as the last few Preliminary drivers got on Section E.

Intermediate drivers went first, followed by the FEI, and the Preliminary went last.  Because of the jumping competition, the 3rd hazard was eliminated for Preliminary (as was the 7th – the Crow’s Nest) so that the track leading up to it was clear for the jumping horses to get from the stables to their warm-up area.

Geoff Morgan, the announcer had to leave his post in the tower of obstacle 3 so he could announce at the jumper ring. He left David Wright in charge of informing the public about the Preliminary competitors. No surprise that much of the crowd dispersed after the Advanced division finished and went to watch the jumping.

I was at the Budweiser Blast – hazard 5 – all day working for Pics of You, so I didn’t  get around to see the others.  Nine knockdowns were in play but few were dislodged.  I can’t put up any photos right now because they have my cards to upload in their trailer so the competitors can see them.  I should have them back tomorrow and will put some up.

The number of tail gating tents has increased dramatically, as has their size.  The biggest takes up a big chunk of real estate by the water hazard, I think it’s called the Sanctuary.  Bobbi Hager also has a tailgating spot and generously invites all the Brandywine Valley Driving Club members to join her, as well as many others.

Admission for the marathon is $10 per adult and $5 per child.  I spoke with Chester for a moment and he says that he thinks a new record was set as far as spectators.

The cones could not be set up until after the jumping was over, so it has already been posted that the cones will be open for walking Sunday morning at 8 am.

Second Day at Live Oak

Much of my day was spent under the tent outside the office trailer.  While doing some work for Driving Digest and catching up on my email, many, many people stopped by for a chat.  So much fun to have the time to sit and catch up with people I don’t get to see much of.  Natasha Grigg, one of my favorite people who I haven’t seen in a couple of years, and I reminisced about the good old days.  Jack Pemberton joined us on and off in between being an ambassador for the competition by taking dignitaries and the infirm around to see the obstacles. People who haven’t seen either of these icons of the driving world sat down throughout the afternoon. 


Here is the new obstacle that I promised to include yesterday. It is called the Bull Market.  I’ve been told by some that the obstacles are tight but will be fun to drive. 

A little rain shower just went by – after dressage was over and before the jumping begins. It has cooled things off considerably.

Tomorrow everyone will drive the Preliminary Section A and the window on Section E has been opened up to 8 minutes. 


Live Oak International

Twenty years ago, the Live Oak CDE wasn’t Live Oak International.  It wasn’t even  three days.  Dressage and cones were held in Ocala at the Ocala Arabian Breeders Pavillion, with the marathon held on Sunday in what was essentially a cattle field at the Live Oak Plantation.

Fast forward to today and if one hadn’t been to the competition since that first time in 1993, they would be astonished at how the place has changed.  The place bears more resemblance to a golf course than a cattle pasture. The dressage arena is lush and soft, surrounded by white plastic fencing and flags.

New this year are canopies covering the spectator bleacher seating to protect from the sun or possible rain (not forecasted).  Unfortunately those sitting on the lower two of the three rows have difficulty seeing through the fence rails.

A new obstacle has been built, although I haven’t seen it yet.  I’ll post a photo when I do.  This is the USEF National Championship for four-in-hand horses. Chester Weber and Casey Zubek are the only two entries, but anything can happen.

A two-star jumping competition is also being held smack in the middle of the CDE.  On Friday late afternoon one session will be held, with the second one on Sunday at 2 pm, while the Preliminary marathon is continuing.  That should be interesting!  And then the cones course will have to be set up afterward!

Horse Fever is happening again.  Several dozen beautifully painted fiberglass horses are on display to be auctioned off for charity on Friday night.

The FEI is holding a clinic for judges, TDs and course designers after the competition, so many those who signed up and aren’t already officiating will be wandering in.  The President of the FEI Driving Karoly Fugli is here (he’s one of the jumping judges) and I was introduced to him by Past President Jack Pemberton.  Past President of the ADS Natasha Grigg is also on the grounds.

Soon the course walk and famous beer stop will be starting soon.