Hickory Knoll CDE, Big boost for minis/vse's and a small brag

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Dec 1, 2002
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You can never underestimate what a mini/vse can do. We just got back from Hickory Knoll CDE in Wisconsin. Shay (my mini/VSE) has been competing at Prelim level. However, they don't offer Prelim level to VSE's only training level. which means if I wanted to run prelim, he had to run as a pony, which means quite a bit faster times for marathon and cones. I was not happy about this, as I saw no reason to not give me the VSE times even if I was running with the ponys. But they said if I was running in the pony division I had to run pony times. I figured what the heck, I would rather have the over time penalties in marathon, than have the canter penalties (training level isn't allowed to canter in cones or hazards). and be constantly holding him back when we have worked so hard to be forward. He warmed up very well for Dressage, but once in the ring he got hanging on me a bit and could have had a bit more bend but not bad so figured I was in the middle of the pack. Then over to cones, which he had a very good run other than a brief buck fit going to the first set of cones (but that is normal for him as he gets over excited). He was in my hands so nicely it was wonderful. He would gallop hard between cones and then come right back to me to a strong trot to go though the sets. It was a nice feeling when all the work is starting to pay off. I ended up clean in the cones but over time by 1.2 seconds (not bad for doing pony times...if not for that little bucking fit he probably would have made it
) I had a lot of nice compliments on how well he did and how much fun he was to watch.

So I figure I am in the middle of the pack still, so off to check the score boards and to my excitement I am in first place. In dressage, he was in 2nd with a 51.68, then ran the best prelim cones with only 1.5 penalties which put us in 1st place by 4.5 points. I could not believe it and was very excited, but a bit bummed because I did not know how he would be able to maintain it having to make the pony times in the marathon, especially on section A. Section A is 5k and an extremely hilly course and he had to make it at 12 kph to make time, then a 1k walk at 5kph, then to section E another 5.5k with 5 hazards to be ran again at 12kph. He went into section A feeling pretty good, but as we went on I could tell the hills were starting to take their toll. The first couple he would gallop up strong, but as we progressed we were down to a trot and at the final big hill he was down to a walk by the time we were up to the top, he was definitely having to be pushed to finish it, but he finished out the last kilometer and ended section A in the window and I was worried I had pushed him a bit too hard to make the pony times. When we stopped to turn in our green card he looked worn out. We get into the walk portion and initially he wasn't striding out, (I actually thought about retiring at this point), but as we walked he started striding out better and by the end of the 1k walk he was looking around and striding nicely. We finished in time so I was feeling pretty good at this point as Shay loves the hazards. We went throught the vet check well so off to Section E. I wasn't sure how much he would have left to give me, but boy was I wrong. He started off Section E at a strong trot and once he saw the first hazard he started pulling and wanting to break into a canter, but I had to hold him back as he wasn't close enough to the start gate yet. Well once given the signal he took off like a rocket and ran his heart out spinning around the hazard like he had just come out of his stall. He continued this on for the entire marathon, even in the water hazard that was up to his belly. He finished in time and was still trotting strong. He was such a good boy. Now time to check the score boards again and low and behold, he not only made the times in all 3 sections, he won the marathon phase. So he ended up overall prelim cones champion, marathon champion, 1st place in prelim single pony and OVERALL PRELIMINARY CHAMPION!! with an overall score of 88 .65 to win by over 11 points. Not bad for a little 36.5" mini.

I had more people come up to me talking about how impressed they were with Shay and they would no longer underestimate the minis. One guy in particular, said he wanted to shake by hand because he had the best go of his life in marathon and that mine must have been unbelievable as I beat him by so much. It felt really good and I was very proud of my guy. I think alot of people had their eyes opened to what a mini can do and that they can be competitive even against the big boys. So next time VSE isn't offered go anyway and compete as a small pony...they can do it and do it well. It just goes to show with alot of hard work it can be done.

I do have to give a big Thank you to Jada Neubauer of Midwest Carriage Driving for all the help, lessons and advice it has been worth every dime. I haul in to her facility (2.5 hours each way) about every other month for lessons and it has been well worth it.
Wow, what a GREAT story and an inspiration. Sounds like you had the time of your life and so did your VIP VSE!
wow! you and your little guy are my new hero! I so want to do this...one day I will, I know I will, just a matter of time, hard work and the right equipment :D

Any chance of pics during the run? I'd love to see them.
Kim Kuhlman was the photographer. Her site is Kimkuhlman.com click on Equine and then Hickory Knoll CDE and she has all the competitor pictures split up by phase then under each name. I actually showed two at the event, Shay my black/white VSE and also Lex my grey pony. It was Lex's 2nd show and he did fairly well also. He ended up 4th in his training division which I was thrilled with since he is only a 4 yr old and was just started this past winter. He just needs more miles.
Well Done!!! Loved reading about your experience and really love hearing a mini showed every one once again, they may be small but they are MIGHTY!
awesome! Ya'll look so sharp! I couldn't find Shay's dressage pics, am I missing them are did they just not have any? Absolutely love the cross country pics! Your grey looks sharp too. That's so cool and looks like so much fun! Congrats for them both!
If the pony division is split and you have a small pony you can request small pony time, but, a VSE running in the Pony division, thats a good question. Was "they" that told you that the judge or TD or just the organizer.

Went to the rule book and it states that in combined height classes the speeds for the larger height will be used. I guess you can request it but they don't have to give it.

Congratulations anyway. Go Minis.
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Thank you everyone. Combined driving is really a blast and anyone can do it. The full results are on usdrivingnews.com under Hickory Knoll. I don't know what happened with the Prelim dressage pics. Training level was in a different ring than Prelim. Prelim was in a grass ring with just a chain boundary. I thought they had a photographer there as well, but maybe they were just taking the cones pics.
Al - Hickory Knoll is ran my John Frieberger (Pres. of ADS) and it was his decision. It stated in the Omnibus that VSE was offered at training level only. I entered as a Prelim VSE in pony division. I assumed (my mistake) that I would just run with the ponies with VSE times and not have my own division which I was fine with. Once I got there I saw that he had put me in training because I was a VSE, I said no I am competing prelim with my VSE and to just give me VSE times and he said no if I am competing with the ponies, I had to do pony times but he would give me the small pony times. Those times are still quite a difference and only 1kph different that large pony times. He also asked me if I had ever done a marathon with him before which I laughed at (probably shouldn't have but didn't think he was actually serious) but said "yeah, I'm not gonna start at Prelim level" (I really didn't mean to me a smarta**) I had just driven 7 hours and was a little cranky finding out he had put me back to training.

Here are the times for VSE's versus small ponies.

Section A- VSE's go at 10kph Small pony - 12kph

Section D (1k walk) VSE - 4kph Small pony - 5kph

Section E - VSE's-9 kph Small pony - 12 kph

Basically at section A for a 5k I had to do every Kilometer at 5 minutes instead of 6minutes.

Section E I had to do evry kilometer at 5 minutes instead of 6.6 minutes. It doesn't sound like alot but it is.

I was really upset at the time because I really wasn't sure I had trained hard enough to pull it off, but I have to say now, I am so glad he pushed me to the challenge because I was able to show him and everyone there to not underestimate the VSE's.
Kim Kuhlman was the photographer. Her site is Kimkuhlman.com click on Equine and then Hickory Knoll CDE and she has all the competitor pictures split up by phase then under each name. I actually showed two at the event, Shay my black/white VSE and also Lex my grey pony. It was Lex's 2nd show and he did fairly well also. He ended up 4th in his training division which I was thrilled with since he is only a 4 yr old and was just started this past winter. He just needs more miles.

Both your horses are gorgeous and your turnouts are so nice. Wow! GREAT pix.
Those pictures were unbelievably AWESOME!

Congrats! Next year maybe they'll offer Prelim VSE!

I was surprised you could compete as a pony without carrying a navigator. I always wanted to try Hawk on the pony times (I think it would have suited him better than having to slow up all the time), but I didn't want him to have to haul 2 people.
Kendra- Last year a rule was passed that small ponies do not have to have navigators. So next event enter as a small pony, I know I will be. It was nice being in a big class instead of just competing against 1 or 2.

Thank you for all the nice compliments. Its nice when all the hard work begins to payoff. It was really tough the last month, I knew the heat index would be over 100 each afternoon so I was getting up extra early to work the horses before I went to work. Some days it would have been nice to just stay in bed
. Glad I pushed myself now.
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Congratulations!! What a fantastic story and a wonderful example of what VSEs can do. What great ambassadors you and Shay make!
Wow that sounds like FUN. I know my mare can do the small pony times, she's really unhappy at the 9kph. She's 35" I love her and driving her is so much fun. It is a lot of fun to kick big pony tail with a mini. Great job, and great Story.

Wonderful for the VSEs. Congratulations! Pictures are wonderful!!
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Congrats to you and your mini and pony!! That is so awesome how you did and I really enjoyed the story way you shared your experience. It allowed me to see where things could go wrong in such a situation and how it didn't & instead went so right! The pro pics are great and I loved going thru them and matching pics to your "story". I, too, loved your turnout.

Go VSEs!!!
Awesome! I had planned on going to this to watch, but went to the Winona, MN AMHR show instead (wish they were not the same weekend!) I live close to this event and would like to try some of my guys at CDE next summer. Also, what kind of cart do you have? I've looked at several for CDE's and I have to say I really like yours!

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