Monthly Archives: April 2013

A Sunny Saturday at Martin’s Auction

Sunny skies and warm temperatures made the field day at Martin’s Auction very pleasant.  I have to say it is quite impressive to watch the entire operation.  While Friday’s session was all indoors with the hustle and bustle of carriages rolling on and off the sales floor, small items being sold by a second auctioneer in another area, today it was quiet and peaceful inside.  All the action was outside.

Thousands of items were laid out in row upon row on the grass.  A couple of tents held riding tack and other horse related stuff.  Under cover were more carriages.

At least five auctioneers with portable speaker systems moved up and down the rows spending just seconds on each item.  If one was interested in several items in different rows, one needed to be in two places at one time – or have a friend or two to help.  I was fascinated with the variety of items.  Bird cages, garden statuary, a lobster pot, a wooden pail full of wooden rolling pins, farm implements in various stages of age and condition and much more were scattered among the horse related items.  Where did all this stuff come from?  The interested bidders would move in close to make their bids.  After a few seconds the item was sold and the bidder’s number written on the card by a helper, while another helper wrote information on a sheet on a clipboard.  Those bidders would retreat and the next couple would move in. I never realized just how many people were involved with this auction.

The day was so pleasant that people would linger to chat and perch on some of the benches and chairs before they were sold.  I had a nice chat with some of my MIchigan friends until our chairs went on the block.

For Jill Ryder and me, it was like old times at Martin’s.  For years when I was with the ADS I went to almost every carriage auction, even those in California.  Our booths were side by side and we had many fun times.  I’m very glad to reestablish this tradition.  (The friendship has always been intact.) I’ve been assured my space for the Driving Digest table would be available next year!

While I spent the weekend at the sale, Richard commuted to Glen Willow to work on planning the track for the September event.  Today he met with Lisa Stroud and Newt Brosius.  A new obstacle is being built and some plans were made to change the second water obstacle to that the water depth will be shallower.  The new obstacle will have a railroad theme.

I had great fun at Martin’s – spoke to hundreds of people – and am looking forward to next year.


Driving Digest at Martin’s Auction

This is the first time I’ve been to Martin’s Auction representing Driving Digest.  Who goes to Martin’s?   Everyone! It is truly a gathering place for carriage drivers from around North America.  Sometimes even from around the world. Some come to sell, some come to buy, for others it is merely a social event.

The first people Richard and I saw were Jody and Gregg Cutler from California.  Then old friend Polly Petersen from Ohio.  Others from Quebec and Ontario.  Amish and Mennonite.  Young and old.  I think we saw more friends from Michigan than we see when we are in Michigan. (We will be in Southern Pines for a few more weeks.)  Dona Love from Florida said she could now cross this off her bucket list.

On Thursday, there is a flurry of unloading, checking in, getting bidder numbers, catalogs, and looking around while the staff tags and sets things out in the big building.

The official start this year was a reception on Thursday at 6 p.m. with beer, wine, snacks, and talks.  Yours truly spoke about Driving Digest, Heidi from D. D. Rapps talked about hats, aprons, and other accessories;  Jill Ryder from the Carriage Association of America showed a new DVD about the CAA. Paul Martin talked about a new Scurry Racing class that he hopes will gain popularity in the U.S.  The Coaching Club talked about their plans for a couple of drives this fall.

The Driving Digest table was located in an ideal location, in the main auction room where everyone had to pass by.  Many people stopped to introduce themselves and explain that they were long time subscribers and still have all the issues!  It was very nice to hear so many encouraging comments about our new role as publishers.  We also met several advertisers which was really great.

It is still a buyer’s market, and some really beautiful carriages went for less than they deserved.

Tomorrow all the activity will be in the field.  Everything imaginable – most carriage related, but certainly not all – will be auctioned off at a fast and furious pace.

If you haven’t been to Martin’s – put it on your bucket list.

Marathon at Southern Pines

A lovely day – temps in mid 70s, sunny skies.  The Preliminary is on course now and the Intermediate is about to begin.  Early morning chaos is over, and it’s very quiet in the scoring/secretary office. Chaos will begin again after the marathon is over.

A pet peeve of mine is the drivers who don’t send their navigators to the office to sign their entry blanks and require repeated calls over the PA system.  It would be understandable it they were new competitors, but it’s the most experienced ones that are always on the list.

I think more than a few Preliminary drivers will be disappointed to learn that they have been eliminated. Several have missed course gates and a couple even missed an in-gate at an obstacle. The Preliminary Single Pony class is by far the biggest of the show with 17 entries.

I’m hearing comments that drivers thought the marathon was going to be harder than it was, and actually drove very well.  Even those who got the big E were very pleased with  their horses and ponies  and were happy with that.

The cones course has already been set up and approved so competitors will be able to walk it as soon as the marathon is over.

Thoughts from Dressage Day

Being a CDE secretary isn’t hard work, it’s just constant mental motion.  By the time the day was over, I felt physically tired, even though I spent 95% of the day in the office sitting at a table.

We were lucky that the big storm came on Thursday night and was over by 7 a.m.  However a teeny-tiny storm cell developed and hit just about when Josh Rector with his four-in-hand was doing dressage. It didn’t last much longer than an FEI dressage test, but took everyone by surprise so no one had time to don raingear.

While dressage was going on, Richard worked on the marathon schedule.  Normally, it takes a few seconds to create with the scoring program, however with so many people sharing navigators, carriages, and even going twice, it took about 2 hours worth of juggling back and forth.  I don’t think anyone realizes just how much extra work it is when people want to share equipment and navigators.

Thanks to Pics of You for the following photos. I never got my camera out 😦

Lisa Stroud

Lisa Stroud

Wendy O'Brien

Wendy O’Brien

Championship Prizes!

Championship Prizes!

Suzy Stafford

Suzy Stafford


Best Laid Plans (Or What Can Go Wrong Getting Officials to Your Event)

I thought I had it all figured out.  Two judges from Europe – Sarah Mullins and Reiner Wannenwetsch – were due to arrive within 90 minutes of each other in Raleigh.  Kail Palmer Miller was due within 30 minutes after Sarah.  So I had arranged for Reiner and Sarah to meet at an airport hotel and wait for Kail who would pick up a rental car and swing by, pick them up and bring them to Southern Pines.

First, Kail called to say her flight was delayed an hour, then two, then three…… Of course it wasn’t easy to reach Reiner with an international phone number.  Long story short – Kelly Valdes had to drive to Raleigh to fetch Reiner and Sarah and Kail didn’t land in Raleigh until after midnight.

We are lucky in Southern Pines to have  some wonderful people who invite judges to stay at their lovely homes.  But there are limits to when they should have to wait up for them to arrive.  Kail ended up staying at a hotel in Raleigh overnight and driving down this morning.

Once the judges had seen the course in the morning – or at least the obstacles – we could hand out the packets.  Fortunately, while the competitors waited, they could enjoy a chair or full sports massage by the students of Sandhills Community College Massage Therapy program who come every year and ‘practice’ on our competitors.

Kelly Valdes spent much of the day putting finishing touches on things with flowering plants and shrubs for the Horse Inspection pad, the Sponsors’ Tent, around the dressage arenas, etc.

Claire Reid set up the Sponsors’ Tent where the briefing and welcome dinner would be held.  The briefing was at 3 p.m.   After the usual information had been announced, the competitors for the USEF National Combined Driving Pony Championships ‘drew’ for their dressage starting times.  Each driver came forth and chose a bottle of champagne with a number on the bottom which would translate into their start times!  Fun!

And then,  with  no formal course walk, everyone was free to inspect the track on their own.  Then they could come back to the tent and have  a delicious, casual dinner of ham, vegetable lasagna, baked beans, cole slaw, corn bread muffins, brownies.  Volunteers also were invited, and so people came and went and came back again and it was a lovely end to a good start of the competition.

Rain is predicted for tonight, and we hope that it will end by the morning.  Fingers crossed……


And Now For Southern Pines CDE

As many readers of Driving Digest know, I am not a competitor.  I’m not even an active driver, but I have been very active as a combined driving event secretary for many, many years.  So much of blog for the Southern Pines CDE will be from my perspective as an organizer.

Even with experience, being secretary for a fairly large event takes up a full week – 10-12 hour days.  Some organizations divide the responsibilities more than we do here, but we find fewer people to be more efficient in many ways.

Southern Pines is hosting the USEF National Pony Championships this year.  I’m very pleased that all the pony classes have at least three in them, but it’s not a lot. On the other hand – 17 single ponies are entered in the Preliminary division.

The grounds at the Carolina Horse Park have never looked better.  It helps that last weekend was the Stoneybrook Steeplechase so the place was really fluffed for that.  Although it was slightly disconcerting to see what was going on in and around the obstacles in the infield of the track.  An estimated 10,000 people came to watch 5 races!

In someone’s effort to be helpful – almost all of Section A – which was not near the  track area – was taken down yesterday! When Richard Pringle, assistant course designer to Richard Nicoll, and the one who does 90% of the work on the CDE course discovered this, it was not a pretty sight!

Our technical delegate Ian Douglas arrived last evening from Great Britain, having not heard about Margaret Thatcher’s death until he arrived.   Tomorrow all the other officials arrive. The temperature has gone from barely 60s last week to 80 + today.  At least it will force the dogwood and azaleas into bloom.

A couple of competitors arrived today, but the bulk will arrive tomorrow.

Good evening!

Driving Digest on Driving Radio Show

I was very happy to be interviewed about Driving Digest magazine on the Driving Radio Show. You can follow the link below and find all the different ways that you can listen.  Also on this week’s show was Heather Walker about the USEF Driving Committee and the winner of the Hanzi Award at Live Oak

This has been a particularly busy week.  Both the deadline for getting the editorial and advertising material for the May issue pulled together and off to the designer, and Southern Pines CDE entries closed April 1 have had me working some long hours.

Sixty-five are entered at Southern Pines CDE.  The event is hosting the USEF Pony Championship for single, pair, and four-in-hands of ponies.  The event is held at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C.  April 12-14.  Come and watch!

Driving Essentials, Pleasurethyme Carriage Companions, Beading Babes, Gore Trailers, Stoned on Lake Huron (stone bird houses) and other vendors will be set up near the dressage/cones areas.  The event has two – 2! water obstacles set side by side for double the excitement.