Monthly Archives: June 2013

24 Hours On Mackinac Island

Marcie chats with Debbie and Ron Egan in St. Ignace

Marcie chats with Debbie and Ron Egan in St. Ignace

I’m ready to take advantage of any opportunity to visit Mackinac Island and Marcie Quist and the Metamora Combined Driving Event presented that opportunity.  Mackinac Island is a little gem just east of the Straits of Mackinac which separates the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan.

Marcie was the President of the Jury at the Metamora CDE and as we are friends outside of the combined driving world, and as Marcie had not been to Mackinac before, we made a plan to visit the Island after the event.  How fun to see this unique island through Marcie’s eyes.

Round bales that had been brought over by ferry are taken to their final destination.

Round bales that had been brought over by ferry are taken to their final destination.

Because Marcie wanted to see the Mackinac Bridge up-close-and personal, we drove over it (a five-mile span and one that frankly makes me a little nervous) to St. Ignace on the upper peninsula side.  Many of the ferries are now high speed things but all freight – including horses – go in different ferries and only from St. Ignace.  We hadn’t even parked the car when we spied two horses departing a ferry. They were held by no other than Debbie Egan. She and Ron have leased a pair of Dutch Harness Horses to people who live on Mackinac’s West Bluff.  They were taking them to Ohio for a couple of weeks.  That was just the start to a great 24 hour adventure.

Horses and ponies going over to the Island

Horses and ponies going over to the Island

We had a private carriage tour of the island, lunch at Grand Hotel, a visit with Ben Mosely who works for Grand Hotel and manages their stable (I wrote about the grand opening last summer in Driving Digest).  We had dinner at the Woods restaurant which required a half-hour carriage ride each way.  We stayed at a charming B & B.  We rented bikes on a “dusk to dawn” rental so we could get up at  7 a.m. and ride around the perimeter of the Island (8 miles) before breakfast.

Mackinac Bridge from the porch of Grand Hotel

Mackinac Bridge from the porch of Grand Hotel

All this, and we caught the 10 a.m. ferry back to St. Ignace, crossed the bridge again (better this time) and I dropped Marcie off at Pellston for a noon flight.

I’ve organized trips to Mackinac Island before and I wonder if Driving Digest subscribers would be interested in a group trip to the Island sometime in 2014.  It is truly something that should be on everyone’s bucket list.  If enough are interested, I will try and put something together.  The folks on Mackinac love to welcome horse and carriage people.

The article in Driving Digest about the opening of the Carriage House is framed and hanging next to the harness room.

The article in Driving Digest about the opening of the Carriage House is framed and hangs next to the harness room.

 

Marathon day at Metamora CDE

It was a good day.  The weather was almost perfect – low 70s, overcast, slightly humid, but with a little breeze.

The VSEs started out doing Section E only.  The first one turned over in the Milner’s Cabin but all is well and it is always good to know that an incident can be handled swiftly and efficiently.  Another didn’t see a large rock and tipped over – again, no drama.  We had a couple of competitors with equipment failure who were justly disappointed not to be able to finish the marathon.  The officials took care of all the other little issues very expeditiously so once the scores were posted, no questions arose, and the volunteers were released immediately.

The marathon was over by 1:30.  With only 41 entries, and 10 of them only doing a combined test, it was a very short day.  Now competitors are walking the cones course in earnest.  It has been up and open since Thursday afternoon, but all their concentration has been on dressage and marathon.

The competitors’ party starts soon.  The food is always good, the beverages plenty, and the camaraderie excellent.  Some awards will be given out, including the special Otto Siegmund Award.  Otto was a regular Presentation official at the MCDE.  While he lived in Massachusetts, he attended Michigan State for his veterinary degree and always enjoyed being asked to officiate at Metamora.  Sadly, fewer people are around who knew him and it is their loss.

The 29th Metamora CDE

 

IMG_4468The 29th Annual Metamora Combined Driving is underway.  Competitors started arriving yesterday to the temporary tent stabling.  More are pulling in this morning.  We dodged some of the dire weather forecasts and just got a lot of rain last night, but the weather has passed us and it should be a pleasant rest of the week.

The event is held at Barbara Chapman and her husband Frank Andrew’s Windrush Farm. A bonus for everyone is watching the 3 mares and foals frolic in the front pasture.  A fourth foal was born just a few hours ago!  The mare wasn’t expected to foal for a couple more weeks, but maybe all the activity with the event preparations accelerated the birth.  Many competitors train and board here at Windrush, so the stress level in the barn area is heightened.

Mares and foals at Windrush

Mares and foals at Windrush

One change I just found out about is that Standing Presentation which was listed in the Omnibus as being required for Training and Preliminary level (outside the competition with separate awards) has been cancelled.  You just might hear the cheers as competitors find out they don’t have to spit polish their harness and carriage and horse.  They still have to undergo a safety check however.

This year, as secretary, I am set up in the big barn at Windrush.  With no other office facility than the hospitality tent, it seemed safer to be out of the wind and rain with all the electronic equipment that we use now-a-days.

The banners are all up – recognizing our generous sponsors and also giving a very festive look to the farm.

The look of Metamora CDE

The look of Metamora CDE

Lake Metamora and the Carousel in the background.

Lake Metamora and the Carousel in the background.

Elk Creek Marathon

MORNING: Still quite warm, but more of a breeze today.  I am in the scoring booth (air-conditioned!!!) so may not get to see much of the marathon since the office is so far away from the obstacle area.  The VSEs started off on Section E at the same time others started off on Section A.

At Elk Creek, because the marathon is on Sunday, they give out awards as each class is finished.  No big awards ceremony.  It lets people get on the road as soon as they have finished.

AFTERNOON: Just a few more to go, and it is just starting to sprinkle. I know everyone appreciates the cloud cover and slightly cooler temperatures.  A nice touch, a vendor gives competitors and navigators cups of delicious  ice cream or Italian ice after they’ve finished the marathon.

Many people have already packed up and left for home.  No frills, just fun here at Elk Creek.

I never left the scoring office so can’t put any photos on this blog 😦

It’s official.  The marathon is over with no accidents!  See complete results at Driving News.  http://www.drivingnews.us

 

Elk Creek Dressage and Cones Day

Richard is scoring from the front seat of our Pacific, like last year.  It’s shady under this tree, but a little cramped.

I’m in love with a Training Level horse who was taking advantage of a shady place while waiting to do  dressage.  Kennebec Storm Chaser is a beautiful Morgan, chestnut with strawberry blond mane and tail.  He is a grandson of Margaret Gardiner’s Kennebec Count made famous by Larry Poulin in the 80s.  What made me love it even more is that his owner/driver Deborah Spalding from Leonardtown, Pa., has turned out with a beautiful russet harness with real brass fittings.  It is so wonderful to see a traditional turnout in this day and age of marathon turnouts for everything.  And I totally understand and am not being critical – its just that beautiful is beautiful.  Deborah loves to turnout in the traditional style.  She says she doesn’t like to dress up to go out to dinner, but she loves to dress up to drive.

Kennebec Storm Chaser

Kennebec Storm Chaser

The officials have waived wearing of jackets for dressage and cones, and sleeveless blouses are ok for ladies, but no tank tops!  Some, I’m sure, would rather go without the hot aprons as well.

It was unusual that no penalties were given for errors of course in dressage nor eliminations in cones at Elk Creek.  Mary Mott Koscis made sure that all the volunteers were well fed and well hydrated during the hot day.

Awards for best dressage and cones were given before the competitors’ party. Bev Lesher, in charge of the party, explained that the centerpieces on the tables were Impatients, and counseled drivers not to be impatient on tomorrow’s marathon.

Chet Halka, Intermediate Pair Horse.

Chet Halka, Intermediate Pair Horse.

Susan Gregorio driving a Mustang

Susan Gregorio driving a Mustang

Dan Rosenthal and his Preliminary Pair of Dartmoors

Dan Rosenthal and his Preliminary Pair of Dartmoors

Elk Creek CDE 2013

Hot.  That was the forecast, and for once, the weatherman may be right.  Unfortunately.  However, the Elk Creek team is as experienced as they come, with Lisa Singer in charge of the course, and Diane Trefry (as Lisa says) in charge of “paper.”  These two have decades of experience between them.

Lisa Singer's Nametag

Lisa Singer’s Nametag

The show office is a ModSpace trailer parked near the permanent block stalls. A party tent is set up nearby, with the Lilydale catering truck at one end, and Newt Brosius with his new New Heritage Farm Carriages tent set up at the other end.  I have a table for Driving Digest next to Newt.

The colors of Elk Creek

The colors of Elk Creek

Elk Creek entries are back up to a normal level.  Last year’s turnout was disappointingly low, and after a late spring, who knew what this year would bring as far as competitors.    Elk Creek takes place at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Center in Elkton, Maryland, the same place as the Fair Hill International in the fall which used to include driving.  Elk Creek is a ‘no frills, just fun’ event – a concept that is popular with many competitors.  They offer Training through ADS Advanced, and because of the number of people sharing and going twice, 50% of the competitors, the marathon scheduling was a nightmare.

Today, Friday, people are moving in.  Lisa Singer conducted a clinic on dressage up at the dressage arena with a focus on accuracy. Richard Pringle held a clinic on course design under the tent.

One thing about Elk Creek that is not ideal is the distance between the stabling area and the dressage, cones and obstacle area.  One either has to drive their car out onto 273 about a mile to the next road, or cut through the woods and field with a golf cart or ATV.  It’s more than a mile.  Because Fair Hill is owned by the State of Maryland, they require that anyone driving or riding on an ATV must wear a helmet.  If this rule is violated, Elk Creek may not be allowed to exist anymore!!!!

I hear that the officials have shortened Section E and taken out Obstacle 3 for the marathon.  Cones are official, and competitors in spite of the heat are out walking.  Someone –  I think it was Mary Mott Kocsis, has arranged a HUGE fan for the big tent.  Can’t wait for it to start working.  I think it is going to provide a little cool mist, which will be much appreciated.

The BIG fan

The BIG fan

The briefing was held at 5:00 following wine and cheese provided by Newt Brosius and New Heritage Farm Carriages.