Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Last Blog on Live Oak

Decompressing from a week-long competition takes a while.  For the organizers and committee members it make take even longer.  A competition becomes a community, and after a day or so, the outside world goes away.  Then it interrupts us again when we get home.  A long drive home helps with the transition.  

Back in Southern Pines (after getting home at 11 pm last night) we had lunch with Kelly Valdes and Craig Kellogg.  Kelly’s perspective on the event was from watching the live feed produced by USEF from the comfort of her Barcalounger.  She said it was fantastic, and could discuss which routes were the faster ones, mistakes people made, etc.  She probably saw much more of the entire marathon than either Craig or I did – or many others for that matter.  Craig’s perspective was the competitor’s.  He navigated for Intermediate driver Daphne White and trains Marcie Quist who drove her Hackney Hal in the FEI Single Horse class. (Both did very well, by the way!)  So his stories from the other end of the competition were very interesting.  And of course, Richard and I had the perspective from the other end of the competition – much of which I’ve already written about. 

The competition ended abruptly when lightening and thunder were heard and torrential rain hit.  Making these decisions is always hard.  I’ll never forget two years ago at Southern Pines when we knew that tornados were a possibility for marathon day.  The organizing team and Technical Delegate decided the day before to alter the marathon start and compress the time between drivers.  All drivers and volunteers were safely off the course when the serious weather hit.  Fortunately the tornados did not hit us, but they did hit not far away and some did some very serious damage.  I’ll always be grateful to our Technical Delegate who pushed to have the plan in place.  We may have looked foolish if the day turned out bright and sunny, but I’d rather look foolish than the alternative.  

The organizers did the right thing by calling the competition to an end.  

Live Oak always has something new up its sleeve. I wonder what it will be next year?

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Exciting times in Cones at Live Oak

The wind is blowing at Live Oak

The wind is blowing at Live Oak

As the sky turned darker and the wind continued to blow, I heard over the radio “are you alright?”  Not knowing what had happened, my phone rang and it was Richard asking me to bring the car all the way down to the announcer’s tent – at the very far and opposite side of the cones arena.  They were moving out!  Apparently the front part let loose and hit everyone in the face, knocking Richard’s glasses off his face.

Thanks to Dave and Boots Wright, Dave drove their bus up from the stabling area and after a lot of moving things around, cords, radios, computers, etc. Richard and Geoff are comfortably installed in splendid comfort.

Thank you Boots and Dave Wright.  The show goes on.

Thank you Boots and Dave Wright. The show goes on.

The jump standards have been blowing over, hats are coming off almost every driver.  Maybe three dozen spectators are in the stands, and I hear not too many are in the sponsors’ tent.

The USEF National Pair Championship class is in the ring now. Rae Fisher has won the class, however since he is a Canadian, he is not eligible for the National Championship.  Lisa Singer started in second place but a couple of balls down and time penalties gave Misdee Wrigley Miller the National Championship.

The volunteers are terrific to stay through all this.  The rain is pouring down now and thunder has been heard.  The dilemma is that all the drivers are already down at the warm-up ring, but it has been decided to put a hold on the show.  The driver are going to head back to the stables.

Marathon photos

Kim Stover in Obstacle 6 - Sprinkles and Memories

Kim Stover in Obstacle 6 – Sprinkles and Memories

 

Lisa Stroud In the Sprinkles and Memories obstacle

Lisa Stroud In the Sprinkles and Memories obstacle

 

The repair crew

The repair crew

 

Randy Cadwell smokin' through obstacle 7, The Tower

Randy Cadwell smokin’ through obstacle 7, The Tower

Rae Fisher

Rae Fisher

Jennifer Matheson in Obstacle 6

Jennifer Matheson in Obstacle 6

Cones at Live Oak 2013

It’s about 8:30 at Live Oak and things are off to their usual start. (Apparently I was the first one to want breakfast at 8:15 and had to wait while the food people got organized, so I’m still on my first cup of coffee.) Chaos.  Frayed nerves.  Trying to get things set up for an on-time start is always chaotic.  Competitors chomping at the bit to walk the course.  Trying to get the tent where the announcer, scorer, judge, scoreboard people organized is difficult. Everyone wants and needs their own space, room for computers, printers, chairs, access to electricity, internet, etc.

It was planned that the course would be open last night before dark, but that didn’t happen.  I’m not sure why.  So at 7, Ed Young, T.D. came so people could walk before the official 8 o’clock opening.  At 8, only competitors properly dressed could walk the course.  The course is very pretty with the fences already set for the jumping class this afternoon.  They really add a decorative element all on their own.

The forecast isn’t looking good.  It’s already starting to sprinkle, and I think something worse is coming.  Hopefully Ellen and Bruce Ettenger who are masters at keeping things running efficiently on the cones course will be able to push everyone through as fast as possible.  However a long list of special awards have to be presented which adds several more minutes.

Yesterday I said that I thought Randy Cadwell would be a rich girl.  I was slightly wrong.  She did win $1000 for being fastest in one obstacle, but Paul Maye was fastest in 4!!!

The competitors’ party at Live Oak is always a sold out affair.  Very good food, an open bar and a band are normal.  This year the mechanical bull was back.  People stood on chairs to see Boyd Exell and Larry Poulin get bucked off.  I’m sure it got crazier as the night wore on.  No one needs to be coaxed onto the dance floor.  Young and old, those with rhythm or not, crowded the dance floor and moved to the favorite oldies.  I’m not sure how long it lasted.  Some years I don’t think the party ever ended! We were all younger then.

Dr. Stanglemeier the FEI vet reported that a lot of horses came in from the marathon with very high temperatures – a few at 107.  Today the horses will do their vet check before cones down near the stable so if they have to switch a horse or pony, they are close enough to do it.

The cars are arriving for the car show.  I just saw a very old orange ambulance/station wagon pull in.  This has been a regular extra activity at Live Oak for many, many years, and I believe they draw their own audience.  I don’t think many competitors have time to wander up and down the rows to admire these beauties.  They have their own competition and awards, and do their own ‘tailgating.’

 

Marathon Day at Live Oak

By now readers will have figured out that this blog is my own perspective on things as so many others are doing Facebook, YouTube, and the USEF is doing  live video.  I spent the day photographing the 6th and 7th obstacles for Pics of You, so they will have my cards to upload and I’m not going to have them back for a while.    I will try and get some photos up tomorrow.

I’m in the scoring trailer now, staying out of the way while Richard finishes up.  I wish more people realized how long it takes to finish up a marathon.  (I always find it interesting to hear all the ‘back stories.’  So many little issues – numbers that are hard to read, lost sheets, failure to write on the back-ups, competitors with wrong numbers.  And then even after all that is resolved and the scores are posted and official, the scorer has to prepare a schedule for cones.  And included in that has to be allowance for special events, awards, etc.

The day was mostly overcast, but started out warmer than the others.  The wind is picking up now that the marathon is over, and I think we might be in for some storms later.  No accidents, no turnovers that I’m aware of.  The repair crew had a little business when Casey Zubek knocked a board off in obstacle 6 and then again in obstacle 7.  They did a great job and Chester Weber who was behind wasn’t even held up.

One thing that really worried me was unlike last year, spectators were able to go into the field on the side of the obstacles where the track was.  Last year it was roped off and they had to stay on the west side of the obstacles in the field.  Several times the obstacle judges had to yell to spectators when drivers were approaching, and if someone had been in the way when a competitor galloped out, I hate to think what might have happened.  Also, unlike other years, they didn’t put official flags on the official golf carts and gators, so there were definitely some that didn’t belong cruising around.  I heard that it was because so many golf carts were there because of the jumping, etc. that it would be too hard to police.

A couple of people mentioned that the crowd seemed less than in previous years. It seemed that way to me too, but it is really hard to tell.

I will go out on a limb and guess that Randy Cadwell may be a little bit richer after this weekend.  I think she may have been the fastest in several of the obstacles and may be going home with the cash.  Paul Maye was going like stink also.  A couple of other pony drivers I talked to this morning said they were not going to push for it.

By the end of the marathon, the temperatures had risen and the footing in the 6th obstacle was very deep.  Good thing we didn’t have 20 more competitors!

Yesterday afternoon after the Operations Meeting for the officials and staff, an informal meeting of the USEF Driving Technical committee convened.  Newly elected chair Heather Walker invited any interested person to join and participate.  We discussed various topics including ways to encourage and help organizers, ideas to help the sport as a whole survive.

Hopefully if all goes well, the cones course will be open to walk tonight, but will depend on the jumping classes and also the weather.

As I think of other things, I may edit this post later this afternoon.

Friday at Live Oak 2013 and photos of Obstacles

Harley Waller is a junior driver and is competing in the Intermediate Single Horse class.

Harley Waller is a junior driver and is competing in the Intermediate Single Horse class.

Two-thirty and Intermediate dressage is finished and the jumping is getting underway in the main arena (no longer the dressage arena).  $15,000 in prize money will be won today in the two jumper classes.

Boots Wright had the best score of the Intermediate division with 38.61 with her pair of ponies.  Next best is Bettina Scherer with 45.43 in the Single Pony class.  Tina Sully of Ontario was thrilled with her score 52. 66 from the five judges to best the other 11 in the Single Horse class.  And Zenon Gal has a good lead over Peter Harding with 47.58 in the Intermediate Pair Horse class.

The drivers are busy walking hazards and getting ready for tomorrow.  A lot is at stake!  The big prize for the Horse Pairs will be the USEF Championship, and the list of prizes indicates that Prize Money will be awarded to the winner of each FEI class, between $1000 – $2,500 each.    On top of that,  the winning FEI  driver in each obstacle will be awarded $1000.   The top Intermediate driver in each obstacle will be awarded $100 sponsored by The Old Salty Dog Restaurants.   The list is long with other awards that will be presented during the cones competition on Sunday.

As I mentioned before, there is more and more of everything this year. More and bigger tents surround the obstacles for the tailgaters who will find themselved friended by many who will partake of their food, beer and wine.  Those new style vertical flags are flying at many obstacles.

Last evening’s briefing ended with a nice surprise.  Previously, the complimentary dinner consisted of Sonny’s barbecue with sweet tea and beer for beverages.  This year, 14 Hands wine was served in addition to other beverages and a delicious buffet with a Cuban theme was offered.  And shortly after, Chester Weber invited everyone down to the Charles Owen Competitor’s Club for more drinks and music.

In anticipation of higher temperatures and accompanying higher humidity, Section A has been shortened to slightly over 5 Km.  The new “Transfer Section” is 600 meters allowing  9 minutes for ponies and 8 minutes for horses to get from the End of A to the vet box.

All the results and schedules can be viewed at http://www.drivingnews.us

Obstacle 1, The Sanctuary Water

Obstacle 1, The Sanctuary Water

Obstacle 2, The Gulch

Obstacle 2, The Gulch

Obstacle 3, The Eagle's Nest

Obstacle 3, The Eagle’s Nest

Obstacle 4, The Bull Market

Obstacle 4, The Bull Market

Obstacle 5, Stella Stampede

Obstacle 5, Stella Stampede

Obstacle 6, Sprinkles and Memories

Obstacle 6, Sprinkles and Memories

Obstacle 7, The Tower

Obstacle 7, The Tower

 

 

 

 

Advanced Dressage at Live Oak

Leslie Berndl is leading the FEI Single Horse class

Leslie Berndl is leading the FEI Single Horse class

Canadians and other competitors from the north may have felt like they were at a different competition this morning.  Temps were in the low 40s at 8 a.m., but the sunshine dried things quickly and by afternoon it was quite pleasant. It rained hard last evening but waited until the Horse Inspection was over.  However, the dressage ring shows no sign of wear.  It is as lush and green as it has ever been. It looks like the going might be heavy, but I asked Suzy Stafford, one of the first to drive this morning, and she said it was fine.

Stafford, who is standing second to Tracey Morgan in the FEI Single Pony class, said she loves the ring.  This year it the far side is filled with sponsor signs.  Stafford says she likes that there are so many markers to use to when driving her test.  She was very happy with her test, “some parts were really good, some not.”

Misdee Wrigley Miller is leading the FEI Pair Horse class.

Misdee Wrigley Miller is leading the FEI Pair Horse class.

A big electronic scoreboard is centered along the far long side.  The announcer is in the very far corner.  They seem to move him farther and farther away every year.  Two sets of bleacher seating are up for spectators.  One with three rows has a tent cover, the other with 10 rows in uncovered.

Michael Freund, the coach for the Advanced long-listed drivers is running back and forth between the warm-up and the ring.  Peter Tischer is here as well.  “Live Oak every year they get new ideas – they do everything with more flair,” said Freund.  He said the hazards were “unbelievably decorated.”

Unfortunately Josh Rector had to withdraw.  It is a huge disappointment to us all that he will not have the opportunity to drive after looking forward to this first big event of the season after so much preparation and anticipation by Josh and his family and supporters.

Lisa Singer with Bengali and Warrior

Lisa Singer with Bengali and Warrior

Competitors are getting ready for the infamous Stella Artois course walk.  Smart competitors get to the front of the long line of golf carts, ATVs so they will eat as little dust as possible until they get to the beer stop.

The marathon schedule won’t be ready until a decision has been made about the walk section – how long it is going to be and what the time will be – for the FEI division.

Heather Schneider was one of three pony four-in-hands at the FEI level.

Heather Schneider was one of three pony four-in-hands at the FEI level.

Maybe not so important to some, but to others  it is very important –  at Live Oak they do a great job keeping the trash cans emptied and the portable toilets cleaned!