Elk Creek, held at the Fair Hill Natural Resource Center in Elkton, Maryland is getting underway. I went out on the marathon course today with Muffy Seaton, one of the judges. I hadn’t been around on the area that is Section A for many years. It is a beautiful, woodsy, course. Not entirely smooth – need to take care in certain areas, but those areas were well marked. Elk Creek has competitors from VSE to Intermediate II.
The barns here are permanent, spacious with good doors, permanent bathroom facilities, and the organizers are very experienced. The weather forecast is excellent for the weekend.
Here are the obstacles:
Dressage and Cones will be held on Saturday, marathon on Sunday. The judges are Marsoe LaRose, Muffy Seaton and Hardy Zantke. Simon Rosenman is the TD.
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
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
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!
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:
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.
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
Lots and lots of lamps
Very collectible Royal Doulton carriage scene china
And lots of livery, aprons, hats and much more.
And Driving Digest was there!
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.
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.