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.