Monthly Archives: October 2013

Pine Tree – Marathon and more

The sun shone, the temperatures were on the cool side – just right for a marathon. Section A at Pine Tree uses several pieces of property.  Using private property often severely limits the options, and also often means that that part of the course can’t be ‘walked.’  Training level and first time competitors were given a special course walk over this section.  Even so, a few managed to get a little lost.  Course walks are not social occasions, the point of a course walk is to make notes of where the track makes a turn, where the kilometer markers are, other landmarks to help make your way to the end of the section on time.  

As an organizer and official, the one plan you never want to have to put into effect is the “emergency plan.”   When you hear the announcer give the heads up for a loose horse, you immediately think someone turned over in an obstacle.  Of course with my gimpy leg, I wasn’t in a place to see what was happening, but could listen to the radio at our scoring table.  At first it was a little confusing, as it often is.  Loose horses typically run back toward the stables, and this one did.  The incident occured at the rest halt when the horse shook and his bridle came off.  EMTs were on the scene within minutes and within minutes not only was an ambulance on its way, but a helicopter also.  The driver sustained a serious leg fracture when the horse ran through a dense brush/tree row and the driver was ejected.  The entire competition was put on hold until the helicopter landed and left.  It seemed like a long time, but was actually less than an hour. And the report a couple of hours later was that the driver was in surgery at a hospital in Raleigh. 

In true Pine Tree fashion, a buffet table provided sustenance for competitors and volunteers while awards were handed out.  It is amazing how quickly competitors pack up and clear out, and the clean up begins.  What takes weeks to set up, disappears in hours.  


Dressage and Cones at Pine Tree

With my sprained knee, I wasn’t able to get around as  usual (and at Pine Tree I usually help the official photographer by taking photos of all competitors in cones) so I don’t have many to share today.  I did sit with Larry Poulin for part of the Preliminary division and listened to his comments above and beyond what the scribe wrote on the test.  These extra comments will be part of a future article.  “Suppleness” was a word he used over and over and over.  

One of the nicest tests was driven by Irene Gillis and her pony Hemmingway.  Hemmingway is a beautiful pony and Irene is having a great time with him.  Unfortunately, while we were sitting in the dressage booth, we heard the announcer say that she had eliminated in cones.  Later she told us it was just a brain fade and she went through 18 backwards.  It happens.  

Several competitors drove more than once and/or had clients to school and watch – Marcie Quist, Wiebe Dragstra, Emily and Josh Rector. They were very, very busy.  Marcie had her very first error in dressage, driving her Intermediate entry late in the day.  It happens. 

I have to comment on just how hard and how long it takes for the person who schedules the marathon (and even dressage) to accommodate all the people who drive twice, share navigators, share equipment or have other ‘special requests.’  If I were to say hours – like five!!! – I wouldn’t be exaggerating.  And then when people complain that the marathon schedule isn’t ready when they want it?  Really?  The alternative is not to allow anyone to go around more than once.  

After a wonderful dinner of all-you-can eat beef tenderloin (and an endless salad bar), Kelly Valdes asked Lisa Singer and Larry Poulin to reminisce about some of their experiences together over the many years they have both been competing.  Between them, they have double digit National Championships and have each competed in eight World Championships.  I think they had even forgotten some of the things the other remembered.  An impromptu rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Won’t you Buy Me A Mercedes-Benz” by Janet Sidewater topped off the evening. 


New Obstacle at Pine Tree

New obstacle

New obstacle

The new obstacle at Pine Tree replaces the old orange boxes that were by the road.  This one, if looked at from above, is in the shape of a star.  The panels are attached with screw eyes and zip ties, so they can be moved easily.  The green and dark brown color is very attractive and natural looking.

detail of panel attachment

detail of panel attachment

Yesterday about 20 competed in the combined test.  Awards were presented before the briefing for the CDE, which was followed by a dinner for competitors and volunteers.  Results can be seen at

It is raining now, and I hope that it will end by the time dressage begins at 9.   I’m looking forward to sitting with Larry Poulin to work on an article for a future issue of Driving Digest.



Pine Tree CDE

This is the 10th Pine Tree CDE, held at Big Sky Farm in Southern Pines, NC.  I love this event.  After some of the ‘big’ events that take up the most part of a week, a two-day event is refreshing.  (Not to mention being able to stay in my home at night!) However, having said that, Pine Tree has added a Combined Test on Friday, which technically adds a day, but still, Pine Tree is a very relaxed, well-organized event.

Early on, entries for the CD were light, due to a mistake in the Omnibus listing, but as of this morning, I think over 20 are on the list.  This meant that the schedule changed several times over the last couple of days as people continued to enter.  A different cones course will be used today, and the judges will shift positions so those doing dressage in both the CT and CDE will get a different perspective.

Larry Poulin, Lisa Singer and Nancy Tomlinson are the judges, Keith Yutzy is the TD and Richard Pringle is the course designer and the scorer.

A new obstacle was built for this year.  I’ll get a photo and post it later.  It is very attractive and uses a different kind of construction to attach the rails to the posts.

Southern Pines has had some unusual weather this fall.  Lots of rain and very gray skies.  Not the normal Carolina blue skies and lots of sun.

A lot of new names are on the list – this is a very good thing.  We are missing some from the Aiken group as the World Pony Championship in Pau, France is just around the corner.  Jennifer Matheson and Wendy O’Brien are there, as is Paul Maye, and Tracey Morgan, who are often Pine Tree competitors.

Driving Digest at the National Drive

Another gathering of carriage drivers from all over the USA have met at the Kentucky Horse Park for the National Drive.  It’s reassuring to arrive and see all is the same as the when we left last year:  the big tent that spans the distance across the aisle between two rows of stalls,  the vendors in their regular places: Hat’s Off Boutique among many others.  Kristy Warrington is ready to welcome all.  

When I arrived, the Driving Digest banner had been put up on the stall normally reserve for us. Of course it was the old banner, but we left it up and put our new banner beneath it .  

Mike Lyon, President of TND reports about the same number of participants as last year.  They arrive, unload, settle in and eventually report in harness to be evaluated for safety by the men in orange hats and given their stickers indicating that they are allowed to venture out and explore the Kentucky Horse Park at will. 

The morning briefing included a talk by Safety Officer Melissa Boyd and one by Donny Nuessle  about the day’s marked driving routes. All are cautioned about the dressage competition with whom we must share the facility. 

The weather is perfect.  

More vendors than ever are available to take your debit cards, cash and checks.  Driving Essentials, Ideal Harness, Bowman Harness, Pleasurethyme Harness, the ADS, Hats Off Boutiique, are just a few.  Lessons with Bill Lower, Melissa Boyd, Sterling Graburn, Stacey Giere are filling up. 

I spent part of the day at Hillcroft Farm, talking with Misdee Wrigley Miller about her stable for an article in a future issue of Driving Digest, and stopped into the CAA office for a visit with Jill Ryder.  A wine and cheese and much more ended the day.