Monthly Archives: May 2014

Gayla Bluegrass Marathon 2014

Avery Wilson

Avery Wilson

Lovely weather today – cool, but not as cold as yesterday and sunny.  I rode around with the Learner TD Dan Rosenthal so I could see a few drivers go through the hazards.  After seeing so many marathons over the last 30 years, I really don’t mind being in the office to help Richard file the scoring sheets and getting caught up on a little Driving Digest work.  Avery Wilson was one of the first Preliminary drivers to go through the water obstacle. He has quite a fan club and not all from the Hermitage group.

One of the more colorful obstacles at Gayla

One of the more colorful obstacles at Gayla

There are many nice features about this event.  In some ways it is a ‘no frills’ competition, but the organizers really see to everyone’s comfort.  For example, they do have the usual porto-johns but they also have one of those trailers in the stabling area with real ‘flush’ toilets and sinks. And people can come into the office and use the facilities there.

As a show secretary, I’m envious of the fact that the show office is Debbie Banfield’s permanent office.  This means that she doesn’t have to pack everything up and take it to another location.

Her office has a kitchen that can double as a room for the officials to meet privately.  It also has an apartment upstairs where the course designer or TD can stay.

The indoor arena doubles as a place to hold the competitors’ party, briefing, food vendor and other vendors. No need for a tent and it is great if the weather turns really nasty.

On the way to the Safety Check

On the way to the Safety Check

Mary Thomas, driving a Dartmoor pony at Training level.

Mary Thomas, driving a Dartmoor pony at Training level.

The day will end with the traditional pizza party.  You’ve never seen so many boxes of pizza delivered at one time!

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Dressage at Gayla Bluegrass

Blankets, coats, hand warmers were needed by the judges and volunteers this morning.  Even though the sky was blue, the breeze added a slight windchill factor to this mid-May morning.

The cones course is quite challenging. The only double clear round of the morning was driven by Emma Jane Fennel.

Enjoy some Gayla scenes:

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Gayla Bluegrass CDE

Richard and I left Southern Pines and 90 degree weather on Thursday morning, bound for Black River, Michigan, driving a car and a truck, with a stop over planned in Georgetown, Ky. for the Gayla Bluegrass CDE.  We drove through torrential rain, with the wash from the trucks making the going very slow with total concentration needed.

Thursday at the Gayla, the temperatures started out in the high 40s.  Hardy Zantke had arrived Thursday afternoon and looked over the course.  Ellen Ettenger is the TD – her first time at Gayla.  Her husband Bruce is the course designer.  I found out that Larry Poulin was also here to run a judges’ clinic for the ADS.  I sat in on it and enjoyed listening to the discussion by Hardy about the role of the President of the Jury, and to some of the new rules.  It was also great to sit down and visit with Andy Marcoux – a favorite of  Driving Digest readers – who is participating in the clinic, along with Shelly Temple, Keith Angstadt, Susan Hrzuck and Melissa Boyd.

By the late afternoon, the sun came out to warm things up a little bit, but I think it is going to stay cool for the competition.  Nice for the horses, especially those from the north that haven’t had as much time to condition thanks to the miserable winter.

Gayla has 50 competitors, missing some of the regulars from Michigan and Wisconsin because of the long winter.

Friday is dressage and cones.  One of my favorite things about the Gayla Bluegrass is the beautiful grounds – the iris-lined warm-up dressage ring, the beautifully kept grounds, not to mention the warm and friendly atmosphere provided by Debbie, Dana and Dawn Banfield and Gail Austin.