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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:








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.

Images from Martin’s Auction





Lots of carriages, of course, but thousands of other items.  An interesting note: the people who gather at  Martin’s Auction encompass the entire carriage driving world – coaching, combined driving, pleasure driving, collectors, harness makers, carriage makers, carriage restorers, Americans, Canadians, Europeans.  Some people come to buy, some to sell and others just to hang out, see what sells, what doesn’t and have fun with friends.

Beautiful picnic basket from Saks Fifth Avenue, made in England

Beautiful picnic basket from Saks Fifth Avenue, made in England

Lots and lots of lamps

Lots and lots of lamps

Very collectible Royal Doulton carriage scene china

Very collectible Royal Doulton carriage scene china

And lots of livery, aprons, hats and much more.

And lots of livery, aprons, hats and much more.

And Driving Digest was there!

And Driving Digest was there!

Martin’s Spring Sale

The sale got underway at 9 a.m. selling carriages.  Again, it seems as if it still is a buyer’s market.  I did hear a cheer from the crowd when one carriage brought $20,000.  But people told me bargains abound.  People like John Greenall, Mike Zaetta, and others.  

It was a very chilly day – more so inside than out.  Down, turtlenecks, vests, were the preferred attire.  Those not so fortunate sought warmth from their cars.  Late in the afternoon a storm passed through, and volunteers were recruited  to bring the sold carriages back inside.  

About noon, a second auctioneer began to sell books in another corner of the hall.  Not long after that, a third auctioneer started selling the area with prints and artwork. Every now and then, a big silence occurred which was a welcome, if brief, respite to the drone. Although, it is amazing how we all cope and tune it out until we need to focus when something we are interested in comes on the block.  

Lots of people stopped by the Driving Digest table, and I was happy to welcome new subscribers, advertisers, and those renewing.  And I was very, very, happy to hear all the compliments about the new look and expanded content from everyone – young and old.  We are batting 1000!  Thank you everyone for your contributions and support.  

I think the Driving Digest table was a gathering place for all our Michigan friends.  A loyal bunch come to Martin’s every sale and we see more of them this weekend than we do when we’re  back up north. 

The sale will undoubtedly go on into the evening.  We abandoned our table for a quiet dinner and early evening.  Tomorrow is the field sale.  The rain should be gone and hopefully the sun will shine.  

Looking forward to Martin’s Auction

From last year….

From last year….

We are getting ready to leave for Martin’s Auction tomorrow.  Martin’s is always fun, even if you aren’t a buyer or a seller.  I understand that they have a record number of things like prints and books, as well as some very interesting carriages.  I look forward to seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  Driving Digest will have a table so stop by and say hi.

Southern Pines CDE is over

I think I can honestly say that the 8th Southern Pines CDE was a big success.  Success at a CDE is measured first and foremost by a safe event.  It is also measured by the weather – in this case it was about perfect.  Happy competitors are another measure, and I think we measured up quite well in that department.  Can’t say for sure 100%, but fairly high on the scale.

The last competitors left the Carolina Horse Park mid morning on Monday.  I was able to say goodbye to Leslie Berndl and Scott Monroe as they checked their trailers one more time before the long road home to California.  At least they can look back on the weekend with good memories.

Richard Pringle, Doug Spence, Kelly Valdes took down the course (another eventing competition is this weekend) and I cleaned out the office and dealt with the paperwork.

And then there are the reports for the ADS and the USEF.  The ADS reports take about an hour. The same with the FEI report.  Not too bad.  The USEF report is another story, and many of you have heard me rant for years about it.  This year Claire Reid volunteered to come over and read the names, numbers, breeds, ages of each horse and pony, names and addresses of all the drivers, owners, and trainers, and then all the individual scores from the judges in dressage, the penalties in each section of the marathon and the time and course penalties in cones, plus the placings in each division and the final placings.  It took over 2 hours.  WOW! And that is only because Claire was there to read every name and number without interruption.  I was typing as fast as I could. It usually takes 6 or more hours of very tedious looking back and forth from the results to the computer.  If I thought that anyone actually took the time to look at all this, it might be worth it.  I doubt than any of the selectors look at it, and if they do, I wish they’d tell me.

The FEI report – even if we were not an FEI show, is meaningful because it actually asks which competitions each horse in a multiple competed in.  It is simple, it doesn’t ask for useless information, and yet tells the interested parties what they need to know.

Looking forward to next year, we have some decisions to make:  to apply for another National Championship, which officials to use.  Bringing officials from Europe is getting to be prohibitively expensive. The benefits of being USEF vs just ADS recognized.  Whether or not to allow “twice around” on the marathon for drivers, navigators or carriages.

But, it was a very good show, some people won, some lost, but hopefully all enjoyed a weekend at a lovely venue.

Southern Pines Marathon and Cones

Leslie Berndl and Travis - USEF National Singles Champion

Leslie Berndl and Travis – USEF National Singles Champions

A collective sigh of relief by the organizers and officials when the marathon ended on Saturday with no accidents.  However a few competitors tried valiantly to have their penalties overturned.

It was a beautiful day, and spectators were able to find some shade under the trees near the two water obstacles.  Golf carts shuttled spectators out to the obstacles, but not before they walked past the vendors and had a chance to shop.  Trailers, carriages, harness, jewelry, soap, whips and many other things were on display.

The officials were vigilant to make sure no one was over-using their whips.

The massage therapy students were set up again all day to relieve the competitors of their tight muscles before and after their marathons.

The competitors’ party was held at Claire Reid’s Big Sky Farm in Southern Pines with a endless salad bar, beef tenderloin  (all you could eat) desserts ensured to put any pounds lost during the weekend back on.

The cones course ran on schedule or even a little ahead.  Using the Stone Henge element built for the CCI+++ event a couple of weeks earlier, the course looked beautiful.  The sponsors were served a lovely brunch as the watched the Preliminary class go first, followed by the Advanced.  The USEF Single Horse Championship class was very exciting.  Leslie Berndl made it back-to-back championships