Beavercreek CDE report (long)

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Well-Known Member
Jun 27, 2004
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Lakeport, CA
Well, I’ve got the photos all edited and I want to share them so I guess I’d better hurry up and write about the weekend! I went to Beavercreek alternately excited and nervous- excited because I knew Kody was ready and could do a great job and nervous because this is the same show where he came down so sick last year and had to be laid up for two months. He was in fine fettle as I threw him in the trailer for the trip down so I crossed my fingers and made the long drive to Oregon. There was of course the requisite accident on I-5 near the Nisqually Valley which put us about 45 minutes behind and then I somehow missed my exit for I-205 and ended up in downtown Portland during rush hour. Fun! I gambled and took an exit that said it was for Oregon City which did eventually work, but meanwhile dumped me on tiny one-way streets through an art district full of pedestrians and transit buses with absolutely nowhere to turn around or even pull over and no idea where I was going. I finally ended up guiltily calling one of the hotels on my show information sheet and begging for directions back to I-205, which made me feel rotten since I wasn’t staying there and they spent about twenty minutes on the phone trying to help me. I told them I wasn’t staying there before I asked for directions, but still! At least the accident on I-5 forced me to sit by McChord Air Force Base and watch a squad of four jets practice touch-and-goes; the Portland thing just added another hour to my trip without giving anything back.


I think by the time I made it to the event site it was almost 7 o’clock. Beavercreek offers a vet check in the morning for late arrivals so I wasn’t worried about that, just getting my courses walked before it got dark. I backed the trailer into a tiny spot under the trees, got Kody’s pen set up and tossed him his dinner then ran off to find the cones course and walk my dressage test. I ran into some of the training level VSE drivers on my way out and caught up on the news while we watched wide-eyed as the ground squirrels tossed dirt out of their new holes right in the middle of the cones course. :new_shocked: They are such busy little things! (The squirrels, not the drivers.
: ) I finally got a look at my program and was mildly dismayed to see that I was the only Preliminary Single VSE driver due to one person selling out of the sport, another not wanting to risk her young horse on such tough terrain, and another moving back down to Training Level to spare their horse. 1st out of one lacks a certain shine, but at least in this sport it’s your score you are worried about more than your placing. You can still tell if you’ve actually done well even when there’s no one else to compete against. And of course it’s still fun!

I ground-drove Kody as night fell and felt my heart skip a beat when he stepped in a gopher hole at a walk not two minutes out and came up lame. Thankfully he walked out of it within a few minutes but it sure scared me. I had a talk with him right then and there and told him that I couldn’t see where he was stepping from the cart so it was his job to watch for holes and in exchange I promised to listen to him when he tried to tell me there was one and let him go around them even in our dressage test. I reminded him to “listen” to the ground with his hooves and to be part of his environment, not some careless silly colt who runs around with no regard for his footing. He looked mildly shamed and quickly got more and more mindful about where he put his feet until you couldn’t tell by watching him that the ground was like lacework. He only took one or two missteps for the rest of the show and both times it was big holes that there was no way to avoid.

My mom finally got there about 10PM with the RV, having been caught in much worse traffic than I had, and I said goodnight to the other drivers I’d been chatting with and settled down to cleaning harness. I would have much preferred to do it on, say, Wednesday, but that darn brass tarnishes so fast that you might as well not bother if you’re going to do it more than 24 hours in advance. I got it done faster than usual thanks to the miracle of washable synthetic harness and finally went to bed around 3AM with even my vet check bridle spit-shined.

6:30AM came early and I dragged myself out of bed to feed Kody and find my show clothes. When I went to bridle him my heart sank down to my knees as he raised his head and coughed four or five times in a row, that nasty deep barking cough he only does when he’s having one of his episodes. I said a prayer and kept going as he seemed fine otherwise.

Vet Check

I was the first one to arrive at vet check and was a bit amused when the official made me run the course two or three times before she let me pass. Not, mind you, because she thought Kody wasn’t sound. I had him on a fairly short rein to keep him at a trot on the first pass and she made me do it again because she felt I had him choked up and he wasn’t able to move freely. Well then of course he cantered the entire second round because I wasn’t holding him back anymore and she said okay, maybe it was all right if I had the reins a little shorter and could I do it again please? LOL. At least he’s gotten to the point where he no longer gets more wound up the longer we trot in-hand; by the third time he was actually flicking his ears at me and trying to match my pace and figure out what I wanted. Good boy! We passed and went back to the trailer to get ready for dressage. Mom and I dunked the harness quickly in a Murphy’s Oil Soap solution to clean it (this is possibly the single most time-saving idea I’ve ever been given in my life. Thank you Ann C. and Candy W.!) and got the cart cleaned while Kody finished his breakfast. For once I had some time since there were seven or so training level VSE’s to go ahead of me and I took advantage of it to French braid his mane. For once we were out there, clipped and bathed and hoof blacked and braided and polished from head to rear reflectors, in plenty of time for our go. Woohoo!

We had the same wonderfully thorough official for Presentation as we did last year, and I deeply enjoy having him inspect my harness. I had a moment of “Oh crap!” though as I drove out of the trees and saw him because I’d thought Presentation was on the move this year and had skimped on some things like completely polishing my boots and wiping down my wicker basket. Eek! He spent a very long time silently staring at my gear and inspecting every square inch, pointing out with a twinkle in his eye that the very tarnished eyelets on my boots were brass too. I grinned and said if I’d realized he was the inspector I would have polished them! He laughed and allowed me to redirect his attention to the polished brass pieces on the cart which were hidden under my apron and might have gone unnoticed. He admitted that those might balance out the boots and finally asked what score he’d given me last year. I told him honestly that I couldn’t recall but I usually get tens and one nine somewhere, and he told me I was good to go and sent me on to warm up. I was quite pleased when scores were posted later to see that I was one of the few who got perfect tens in Presentation, and that with a new cart and harness I haven’t finished adjusting yet. It makes me feel good to pass muster with those older and wiser than myself, especially the ones I feel really take the time to look carefully like Mr. Goree and Dave McWethy.

The bummer was as soon as I got Kody driving I could tell he was suffering from that strange lethargy of “I don’t feel good” that comes along with what we now think are allergy attacks. I’ve learned better than to push him when he feels that way (it doesn’t do any good anyhow) so I settled for some long slow warmup and then let him stand under the trees until it was our turn. I figured I’d try for a really accurate test and hopefully that would make up for our lack of impulsion and presumably poor lengthenings. Well, I forgot to factor in Kody. I’d talked with him before bed on Friday night and run through the test in my head, picturing exactly what I wanted him to do and stressing how important it was to me that he do good trot lengthenings. That little horse is such a smart critter, he never fails to amaze me. He was conserving his limited energy for the dressage ring! We headed for A and his tiredness just fell away like it had never been as he pulled himself together and gave me everything he had. That’s not to say we had a fantastic test of course, but he sure tried. We had trouble getting up the centerline smoothly and our stop was crooked, which I promptly corrected rather than let him get away with it. He was constantly bobbing and tossing his head in response to the memory of his last drive with a check the weekend before, there was a general lack of bend in a lot of our corners and he felt rushed to me but our figures weren’t too bad and he was responsive in his speeds and transitions. He gave me a good walk, we got an 8 on that double-score movement.
: What I was proud of was that as I picked him up in the corners I could feel him come back into my hand and he made a real effort to lighten his forehand and go on the lengthening. It wasn’t a great lengthening, it was mostly a faster tempo with some reach rather than a longer pushing stride and the second one was really rough with several attempts to break as we went over gopher holes, but he tried! That was more than I expected and I was pleased with the way he came back down from the lengthened trot to an immediate half-circle in working trot with good balance. My overall impression of the test was that there were a lot of unpolished maneuvers and individual elements that could use improvement but the foundations were there and we belonged in Prelim. The judges agreed, we got a 60 from one and 55.43 from the other for a combined score of 57.72 and the Best Prelim VSE Dressage Score award. We beat the pair that’s been doing this for years! Granted I think I heard they had to stop and fix a trace during their test so I suspect they may have actually beaten the pants off Kody and me, but technically we had the better score. :lol: One judge wrote “Lovely uphill VSE!” on her notes (right before “resistant and fussy,” ::snicker:: ) which I took as a major compliment. Being uphill is a new thing for Kody!

Here’s one of the pictures the professional photographer took that I just love:

This was a two day competition so we had to do cones right after dressage. By then it was starting to get hot and Kody was quite ready to quit but wasn’t puffing or sweating at all and moved off willingly enough when the whistle blew. He wasn’t particularly up in the bridle and raring to go but he cantered willingly and was forward enough to steer easily so we breezed through most of the hilly course except for one ball we just barely tipped at the end. Considering this is the same team that creamed four different balls at Happ’s in training level last year, the fact that we are now consistently whizzing cleanly through much narrower courses is cause for rejoicing. :aktion033:

My mom had the still camera out for cones and got a lot of nice pictures. I love this cantering shot Awesome trotting shot The field was so bouncy that I kept hunching over to brace myself!

Overall I was quite pleased with the morning and Kody basked in his well-earned scritchies and attaboys as he was unharnessed. Once he was back in his pen with food camp photo I got myself some lunch and settled down with some of the other VSE drivers to watch the big horses go and talk about driving. I love the camaraderie this group is developing as we get bigger and more new drivers decide this is the sport for them and start coming to every event. It’s so much more fun with friends! The minis comprised a full third of the entries at this small show so there were quite a few of us.

Kody’s stifles were acting up quite badly that evening so I gave him some carefully measured Bute to calm the inflammation and Mom took him out grazing while I walked the marathon course. I got most of it walked before darkness started to fall and in fact walked several of the hazards a few extra times because the routes between the gates seemed much too easy and I was sure I had something backwards. I didn’t, so by the time I got to the last hazard I didn’t even think twice when I saw A-B-C-D in the fading light. I was tired, my feet and stomach were starting to hurt and the light was fading so I walked the hazard a few times, drew the route on my map and went back to camp. Hint: Don’t walk a hazard when you are tired and not paying attention! :nono: I paid for it later.

The VSE marathon course at Beavercreek was dismayingly short at only a 1km Section A and 3.9km Section E for Preliminary and a lot of the drivers were grumbling over comments made by the officials about our horses and how little they seemed to think we were capable of. We heard comments like thanking us for “attempting the challenge,” said in such a way that it was clear they were dubious about whether we’d make it, and saying the “real horses” or “regular horses” were going Direction X and we were going Direction Y…one wit decided to turn it into a positive thing and we dubbed ourselves “The Irregulars” in contrast to “The Regular Horses.” While I did roll my eyes a bit at how little faith the organizers expressed in the VSE’s (especially considering the fact that we were at last year’s event and all the entries did just fine) I had trouble understanding why everyone was taking such offense. To me it was simple- just go out there and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that we can do it! Why bother to get upset?? The people saying such things to us didn’t seem to mean any offense by it, although granted that almost made it worse.
: But I seemed to be the only one who felt that way. As it turned out the course designer would have given us at least a little longer course but was trying to avoid routing us up some of the bigger hills and through some of the deeper creek crossings. I think we could have done them but do appreciate that the organizers were trying to keep the welfare of our horses in mind and at least they were willing to let us compete! It was just the first time that a lot of us Happ’s folk have felt some of the prejudice that VSE competitors in other parts of the country have been facing all along and we didn’t like it one little bit.

The good news is that we not only proved we could do it, but we did it with style. Every single one of the VSE entries came in well within time, barely sweated, and ready to do it again to the great surprise and admiration of some of the other drivers. Kody after the marathon The organizers and course designer graciously admitted to being impressed and promised us a longer course next year which I think is fantastic. My personal feeling is that I don’t particularly want to do the exact same distance as the big guys; I don’t think it’s equal at all to have the big horse out there on course trotting for 45 minutes and the mini for 75. Yes they can do it, but it’s not exactly an even comparison and honestly it’s boring! I’d just like our courses lengthened from half an hour’s worth to the same amount of time on course as the big guys of the same level. I think 6-8 kilometers is just about right for Training and Prelim. Again though, that’s just my personal opinion and is by no means shared by the other VSE drivers.

So how did Kody do? Wonderfully! The VSE’s were scheduled to go last just as the day became hot so he had plenty of time to eat and nap while I got the Hyperbike ready and helped my neighbor get her small pony braided for her first marathon.. His stifles were bad enough straight out of confinement that we got raised eyebrows from some of the other drivers who hadn’t realized he had a locking problem and even one comment of “You aren’t going to run him like that, are you?” I winced because I know I would have thought the same thing in her position, but the fact is the best thing for him when he’s locking is work. He doesn’t have a problem when he’s trotting and by the time he’s warmed up his muscles have contracted and he’s much better. My vet has said the same thing, in fact several vets have told me that on bad days it’s really important he get worked and worked hard. So I shrugged apologetically, pointed out he’s had the problem all along and been fine, and went to harness him. (I can’t WAIT for his surgery in the fall! No more embarrassing episodes like that.) I’m still trying to remember how I have my new Camptown harness set from one vehicle to the other so when I pulled out for vet check I wasn’t at all sure I had everything right. We were fine all the way across the field and to the start of A, no problems, although I did loosen the breeching slightly as I felt I had it constrictingly tight. I was amused when the starter at A commented to a friend that “Kody’s svelte figure was what happens when someone actually works their horse.” That’s sure the first time I’ve heard that about one of my horses! LOL. I’m usually the one driving or riding the hay belly because I don’t condition enough.

Kody did great on the 1km run through the lumber mill, listening to me when I asked him not to canter at the start and trotting out strongly on the pavement he had ouched over last year. I got proof of how much more comfortable having a longer foot has made him when we rounded a corner and were confronted with a long stretch of huge rocks, the kind you put down for large logging trucks to rumble over so they don’t sink into the mud. In the past he would have come to a screeching halt at the first sight of that sort of footing and when forced onto it would have picked his way across like a swimmer on hot sand. Heck, I wouldn’t trot across that! But Kody just pricked his ears and trotted right out onto it with nothing more than a curious arch of his neck and kept on going. Woohoo! Over and over again on this marathon he lunged willingly onto rocks and concrete and hard ground that he would have shirked at in the past, proving the truth of the saying “No foot, no horse.” Remove the tenderness of short hooves and suddenly Kody’s as forward and brave as an FEI eventer! I always knew he could do it so it was incredibly liberating to feel him living up to his potential. He even trotted across the wooden bridge he had balked at crossing last year, hollow booming and rushing water and all. :aktion033: My boy is growing up.

He did well through the first two hazards, eagerly pricking his ears as he approached them and switching smoothly into a canter and back to a trot when I asked him to. Half-way down a steep grass hill after the first hazard I looked down and realized with some horror that his breeching had inexplicably ridden up under his tail with no warning, a very dangerous situation that could have gotten both of us severely hurt if he had started bucking or panicked and bolted. Luckily he didn’t even clamp his tail, just hollowed his back and tried valiantly to control the cart’s descent by pushing up into the breeching with his pelvis. It can’t have been comfortable! I frantically pushed the breeching back down below the point of his buttocks but it continued to ride up every few minutes and I was at a loss as to how to fix it on the trail. I realized I didn’t know if there was a rule about stopping to fix harness, if there were penalties or time-outs or if you’d be eliminated, so I just kept going and shoving the breeching down every few strides. The first three hazards came thick and fast so I really didn’t have a chance to adjust anything anyway. Hazard 3 (the Fawn’s Firs) had quite an audience but was thankfully flat so as we went in I stopped worrying about the breeching and just went for it. There was a looooong stretch from D to the outgate so I told Kody to book it and whooped as he took off at a flat run. He’s learning! LOL. Even better, he was quite good about returning to a trot as soon as he hit the exit. A couple of friends had cameras so I’ll have to see if anyone got pictures of him there.

With the first three hazards out of the way there was a break while the course wound through some forested hills and down a long slope lined with baby Christmas trees and as the breeching popped up yet again I knew I’d have to stop and fix it. We were already well ahead of time but as soon as we were out of sight in the trees I let him gallop hard up the hill to bank time and pulled him to a halt at the top. He seemed surprised as we never ever stop on course but stood quietly and I realized later he wasn’t even breathing deeply. About the time I’d lengthening the holdback straps a notch (thinking that it was too snug and so was being worked up his hindquarters with each stride) I heard the sound of a golf cart coming up behind me and had to stifle a curse at their poor timing. I called out that there was a horse stopped on the trail for harness adjustments and they crept carefully into sight and asked if I needed help. I explained the problem and they said that I was doing exactly the right thing in stopping to fix it and that I was allowed to do so, no problem. I’m still not sure that I believe there isn’t a rule regarding stopping to fix mechanical problems, but they went by without further comment and I got back in the ‘Bike and started off. It was obvious within a stride or two that my adjustments hadn’t worked so I stopped again and dropped the rear hip strap. When I checked it a moment later all the straps were even although I could have sworn I dropped it one hole, so perhaps somehow it had gotten raised a notch since dressage the day before. We had no more problems after that except for the fact my holdback straps were now too long and Kody proceeded brilliantly through the next hazard, across the bridge, and up the last hill.

The final hazard, a set of chutes on a hill called “The Squirrel’s Whirl,” is a tough drive because the horse has to lunge uphill, turn at the top, then immediately try to control the vehicle’s momentum downhill while aiming for the next chute. The first few big horses through there in the morning just decimated it; you could hear the banging from the start of Section A in the next field. The minis of course did a bit better with more room to maneuver but had a tough time as most of our vehicles don’t have brakes. I had walked it several times picking the easiest routes for my horse and was confident as we trotted up the slope to the ingate that we were going to nail it. In we went, cantering slowly up the hill to A. Through it, tight pivot right to drop down through an open slot and picking up speed we swung right at the bottom for B.

Turning right after A Notice how because my holdback straps are set too long the shafts have come forward past the point of the shoulder.

Turning hard for B

Through the chute, and lunging up the hill outside the upper chutes we made a loop for C! Kody was going strong and I was feeling confident that we were right on target and my partner was doing exactly what I needed him to. The reason I walk my hazards so much is because I cannot drive them and be looking for letters at the same time. I have to know exactly where I’m going, bone-deep, because it comes at me too fast for me to make it out on the run. That was the case here so I dropped through the chute marked C without looking, snagged D and headed out across the field feeling the satisfaction of a job well-done. Kody was still going strong and I held him back as we entered the final loop around the edge of the dressage arena to make sure we’d be above our minimum time. I was not at all concerned with vet check as he was still breathing easily and from what I could see from the cart did not even seem sweated. To my great disappointment however they didn’t even have a vet check, they just signed my green card and sent me on my way with the comment that Kody didn’t even look like he’d been out. (How are the VSE’s supposed to prove we can do this stuff if they won’t even take down our statistics? That was frustrating.) As I turned to go back to the trailer a blonde volunteer jogged up and informed me that I had been eliminated in the last hazard for going through C backwards and not correcting it. What?
: I wasn’t upset, more bemused than anything as I knew I had walked the course multiple times and had even checked my maps again that morning before heading out. I couldn’t believe that after all my triple-checking of the other hazards I had gotten so sloppy on the last one. But the pictures tell the tale!

1 Entering C

2 Wait, which side is white C on?

3 And which way am I going?

4 Red Alert!

5 E!!! Trotting to D completely unaware I’ve just blown it. And exiting the hazard

D’oh! :eek: The good news is it happened when the only one I was trying to beat was myself and as a consequence I didn’t greatly mind losing the ribbon. I’ve made it almost three years without eliminating when I know people (very careful people!) who have eliminated two or more times in one year, so I felt it was bound to happen sometime and I’m glad I got it out of the way. After all, going the wrong way through the second-to-last gate of the last hazard in the last phase of competition doesn’t negate our good dressage score, nice cones run, or all the progress he made during the marathon! Kody still has no idea we did anything wrong and I praised him like the champion I felt him to be. We lost our 1st place Prelim single VSE and Best Overall Prelim VSE award (we had beaten the pair, remember) but they still awarded us the Best Prelim VSE Dressage Score prize which was a year’s subscription to Carriage Driving World Magazine. Nice!

All in all it was a very fun event although I wish the hazards had been decorated as beautifully as they were last year and I missed the music playing over loud-speaker during dressage. Those were classy little touches that made Beavercreek really something special. I think and hope that with further support from our local VSE competitors next year’s event will be even better. Thank you to those drivers I recognized who came and volunteered on Sunday! Nothing is as important as our volunteers and it makes a good impression for the VSE’s when we support our organizers that way.

Wow, this is some writeup! It sounds to me like a success, even with the "don'ts" and Kody as always is himself; irrepressible, full of heart with a twist!

Thanks for sharing. I am going to re-read this later when I have more time.

Liz M.
Another great write-up Leia! Your stories are sure to bring many new competitors to the sport, as it sounds like so darn much FUN!!! I am sorry I missed it. Kody looked wonderful! And I LOVED your photographic journaling of the big E!!! Oh, I do understand the agony of defeat! LOL :new_rofl: I have to say also as a hazard judge, it is NO FUN to mark down an elimination.
I have had to do so on a few occasions, and I do not like it.

Anyway, thanks again for the write-up, these are real treasures. I am sure that over the years of your life you will be so glad that you took the time to do it.
I read the whole sotry :D lol.

nice photos he just seems to try so hard for you thats just awesome
: I wish wee man wasnt a spaz
: I had a blast at our mini CDE but Im nervous to take him to one next year after his episodes want to send Kody over :D LOL !!

Great job :aktion033:

If we dont rebreed sweetgrass (mare tortting in avatar) Then Im going to get her going :D haha I dont know how much more reliable she'll be but you know :D Shes kinda prissy but went through the water hazard perfect not on a cart LOL. Same one wee drove through at the CDE hes sucha trooper he goes right through the water like its just plain land he jumps form perfect to insane in a split second.
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Very interesting as always
: . Sounds like u and Cody did well in the face of several obstacles. Congrats!!!
:aktion033: As usual, a wonderfully enjoyable, educational story! I feel as if I'm right there with you! :lol:

Eventually Appy and I will have to give CDE's a go - the gal we're taking driving lessons from now is a carriage driver and wants to see me do that with him.... I tell her "one thing at a time"! Once we "master" the arena driving I'll start collecting the equipment I need for the CDE VSE!
:aktion033: great story Leia, i don't drive myself (yet) so a lot of it was "greek" to me
: , but i agree that you will be so happy you took the time to do this someday. be sure you save it somewhere! and keep it up, years and years and years from now when Kody is gone over the Rainbow Bridge peacefuly in his sleep at a ripe old age
: you will be so glad you have these write-ups to look back on! memories are nice but i know from experience that they do fail and boy do i wish i had written down a whole bunch of stuff from my own past :eek:

anyway from a total novice, it sounds like Kody is really coming along!
Thank you for this wonderful write up Leia! I think when I get to my first competition it won't seem so foreign to me just because of the stories that you share!!

Darn that tricky britchin!!! As you know I TOTALLY understand your frustration
: I think I've found the thing that works for me and Cammy and that's tucking the buckles of the straps under the traces and the shafts. It looks messy but it helps keep the britching down... Sigh...

Anyway! I really enjoyed reading this and looking at all the pictures. I'll be back here again!!!
Thank you for the terrific write up!! You have a good memory and certainly do a great job of putting it to the keyboard!

I have a question though.... why are there so few prelimins? Is it a pretty big leap to go from training to preliminary level as far as preparation, horse and driver skill, fitness etc.?
WOw Leia,,, it made me tired just reading it! You must be addicted! SO glad that Kody was okay and not getting sick. I hope to come and see Lincoln Creek next weekend.
Kim I am so glad you are coming! I am really looking forward to the event. Clipping Ally this weekend in case it is very hot. She is coming along very nicely.

I am picking up a nice 2yo Arenosa colt there also; bringing him to my place to fit him up for sale for a friend. He is a nice colt if anyone knows someone looking to add a little Arenosa bloodline to their herd. Chestnut pinto with very unique markings and one blue eye.
: Needs fattening and work to build muscle, but he is a mover and will be a very nice show colt.

Edited to add for anyone who might want to say I am a professional somewhere down the line (happened to me at a show this to me! :new_let_it_all_out: ) I am doing this AT NO COST as a FAVOR to a friend.
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Leia, I know Mouse is capable, but wow...I don't know if I am mentally sound enough to remember all that I would need to remember!

Not that I don't want to try this (and I may have a new babysitting venue that will help enable this dream, yayyy!)!

Thank you again for sharing these, and of course to Kody for making it alllll possible.

I'm really sorry you have to go through that frustration w/his locking stifle issue, but hopefully the surgery will completely alleveiate it. I think all one has to do is spend a day or so in his honorable presence to understand that he's basically sound and really in no pain, though it is clear that it annoys him, too, he seems so relieved when he's out working and can move out!

Sheryl said:
I have a question though.... why are there so few prelimins? Is it a pretty big leap to go from training to preliminary level as far as preparation, horse and driver skill, fitness etc.?
Good question. I think part of it is that so many people only do a competition or two a year. You have to have completed two or more full CDE's before you can move up and for some people that could take over two years! (Once the driver has met that requirement they could take any horse at either level in the future, it isn't a driver-and-horse together requirement.) Another problem is that a lot of people start out with one horse, compete for a year, then decide they want to get serious about the sport and get another horse that is better suited. Of course, that means for the horse's sake they start at the bottom again. Most of the Prelim drivers around here train horses for others so their own stock is constantly changing and you will often see a Prelim driver reappearing at Training level with a new horse. Back East apparently Training Level isn't real popular with big horses, it sounds like people are in a hurry to move up to Prelim where they can do the "fun stuff" and canter. The emphasis at Happ's is on dressage and the lower levels so I think the climate encourages staying at Training level until your horse has developed a Preliminary frame.

I think in the NW it's because VSE drivers tend to have more than one horse to drive and keep switching, and back East it may be due to a wish to be taken seriously. You don't move up until you are absolutely qualified because no one wants the big horse drivers to have any reason to discount the minis! I'm pretty unusual in that I have one horse that I plan to work steadily up the levels until he can't do it anymore, then I'll start over with another one. That's more typical among big horse drivers.

Crabby-Chicken said:
WOw Leia,,, it made me tired just reading it! You must be addicted! SO glad that Kody was okay and not getting sick. I hope to come and see Lincoln Creek next weekend.
That's fantastic! Don't leave without saying hi to me!

nootka said:
Leia, I know Mouse is capable, but wow...I don't know if I am mentally sound enough to remember all that I would need to remember!
...I'm really sorry you have to go through that frustration w/his locking stifle issue, but hopefully the surgery will completely alleveiate it. I think all one has to do is spend a day or so in his honorable presence to understand that he's basically sound and really in no pain, though it is clear that it annoys him, too, he seems so relieved when he's out working and can move out!
This from the lady who manages to balance two small kids, three horses (one always an obnoxious foal) and all those classes without any help?? You've got to be kidding me! LOL. I think what would be difficult for you would be switching from managing a million things at once to only managing yourself and your cart. This is a social sport but once you get in that vehicle it can be just you and your horse and the task if you want to focus that tight. I tend to, I find it a bit Zen. :bgrin And remember, they do break it up into phases! Just worry about dressage when you're doing dressage. All you care about in cones is where the next set is. Marathon...well, okay, marathon is a lot to remember but it's doable! LOL. Just follow the markers and go through ABC with red on your right. Everyone there wants to help you and if you eliminate- so what? That's literally the worst that can happen.

My writeups are complex because I cover everything from travel to training to final ribbons. I promise, the sport itself isn't that bad! LOL

I hope you're right about Kody's stifles. It is getting frustrating for both him and I and I can't take it anymore. We need to get this fixed and I'm just praying that I'm doing the right thing and all will come out well. Surgeries on something as important as my horse's movement scare me to death.

Great job Leia. I know the little guys can do the job but as you say it hurts when the comments come, even if they are unintentional. I know, at least down here in Texas, the VSE's have only been accepted in the last 2 -3 years and then only because (in my opinion) the shows are declining in numbers and hurting financially. Our checks seem to clear the bank and help pay the bills. Some people have accepted them and commented on their stamina and ability but in general they are just tolerated. I have had ADS people actually turn and walk away when I told them I drove VSE's.

I think we have a long way to go and quite probably may never be accepted fully by the ADS community. With the increase in popularity of driving, maybe we should start incorporating some of the ADS driving events into the breed registries. I was told that AMHA at one time in the past actually had an ADS committee. Must have been before my time. We just have to keep plugging along.

Congratulations on your success. I envy your area with Happs up there.

: Wow Good Job Leia, congrats on keeping your head during all this :aktion033: :lol: I know I'ld have a problem with that
: . Great Job Kody & Leia

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Amy and Leia,,,

Do they have a tack vendor at Lincoln Creek? I need a slightly larger bit for Falcon. Just wondering.
Kim, I'm afraid the one thing WA and OR CDE's don't typically have is vendors. The Californian events and back East do, but not us! You can however have a great time window shopping all the different harnesses and carts available on site. :lol:

Leia I had a mare far worse than Kody done- she locked so bad we had to roll her over to let her get up!!

She only ever did have one side done- the Vet said keep her quiet but she jumped out over a full half door so she was left there- no stitches either he just sort of scraped her ligaments, did not cut them.

We were all set to have both side done as she appeared to lock on both but after one side had healed she was sound!!!

I have to say it also changed her personality completely- she was mad as a march hare before.

I donated her to a local Safari Park and they have her pulling a cart for the kids in the petting zoo!!

This is a mare I watched through binoculars!!

Go ahead- you will not regret it but do not let him lose muscle tone- that is important.
I always enjoy reading your very detailed posts!

I once did a mini-CDE practice day, had a lot of fun, but it was remembering the gates in the hazards that scared me off, I'd never be able to do that!!

You have, however, inspired me to look into attending some events, maybe to get a little more comfortable about trying it again!
A wonderfully readable rendition,Leia, as usual!

Al, AMHA once had an AHSA(now USEF) committee, which looked into going under the AHSA 'umbrella'-My membership goes back to just 6 years after the formation of AMHA(and my interest, longer than that) and I don't recall that there was ever any committee related to ADS.

I agree that there is a lot of 'prejudice' among SOME of the "big horse" people--I see it as their problem, not mine...I have ridden from the age of 2, have owned my own riding horses since age 9, was choosing my next one to buy starting at age 12, began training my own at age 14, and still own one APHA mare, though I don't ride much, because there isn't much place to do so safely and enjoy it, alone, and/or without taking major time and effort-my point is, I have been in BOTH camps, and have chosen the one I like best. Reasonable folks will 'come around'; Equine 'snobs' may not, but...their loss, IMO! I do agree that our money is as green as anyone's, and that may indeed be a big reason why 'we' are being 'allowed to play', but we should take the opportunity wherever it arises....Kudos to places like Happs, who have been in the forefront of not just the acceptance of VSEs, but the outright promotion--AND additionally, to ALL venues who welcome them!

I really believe the mini breed registries are not suited to run activities such as CDE's and ADT's; I would rather see such activities stay under the ADS umbrella.


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