Skunk River HDT report or how to mess up a championship

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Well-Known Member
Dec 1, 2002
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This is a little long, hope you don't mind.

Skunk River HDT was another learning experience (I seem to have alot of those). I competed my Prelim VSE (Shay) and training level small pony (Lex). I will try and keep this short, but added a little detail for those who seem to like it. First off let me say that I met some of the nicest people this past weekend and got to catch up with ones I already knew and enjoy socializing with. Combined driving people have got to be the nicest group I have ever been around.

Shay has been training very well. Lex on the other hand, has good days and bad days and you never quite know what to expect. Practice on Thursday went well for Shay, but Lex decided he would rather play on 2 legs instead of 4 when having a temper tantrum(thats always fun..not) Anyways, Saturday came and Lex went first and was tense warming up and I figured we just need to get through the test without any temper tantrums. He had one small melt down going around the ring after the bell rang but before entering for the test. It was one of those rear, crow hop, "I don't wanna" tantrums, but he got over it and we continued on. He was a bit tense going in the ring and through the first few movements, but finally settled in and put in an ok test (and I use "ok" very loosely). Judges thought it went better than I did and gave us a 58.21,(not great but not horrid). On to cones where he was basically like driving a noodle, but we only had one ball down and some over time penalties. We really have to work on the forward and not evading the bit thing. You just gotta love the young ones.

Shay on the other hand did wonderfully, he was bending well and not hanging on my hands which is a nice change and other than a few driver ooops. He did well and ended up with a 45.13 (best score we've had). Cones went equally well. He cantered the majority of the course and came back to trot when asked without any hesitation and stayed very forward. It was one of the best drives we've had and we ended up being one of the only double clears and had the fastest time. So come the end of Saturday, Shay won best Prelim dressage and cones and was ahead for the Prelim Championship by 4 points. Somehow, Lex was in 1st for training small pony. It was a great day...and then came marathon on Sunday.

Lex went first and we had not major problems..other than the constant rain, but it was warm so felt good. We ended up within the window and all was good. Shay loves marathon and was ready to go..unfortunately too much so. There were 6 hazards and just over 6k. He started right off on a nice working trot covering ground and at the first kilometer marker we were 2 1/2 minutes ahead of schedule..oops a bit to fast. He flew through the first hazard in 34.73 seconds. Since I knew we were way ahead in time, I proceeded to walk half way to the second hazard and then picked the trot back up. This continued through the next 3 hazards. Somehow by the 5th hazard I was almost 7 minutes ahead of schedule...this isn't good. I walked all the way from the 5th to the 6th. We entered the last hazard going well. However, as I was heading out the out gate I heard someone say I had missed D, but I looked back and saw that I thought I had swooped between the D's and cleared plane without actually going around the white D. (kind of hard to explain, but those who compete understand). As I left I heard someone say that I missed D and was eliminated ( now in hind sight I should have just turned before going out and redid the letter so there was no question...but hindsight is always 20/20). Well then I had mental breakdown, as I figured I had just thrown away the championship and was sure I had gone through D. So instead of keeping my head together and continuing to walk to the finish line so that I was within the window I lost it and just trotted to it bringing me in 4 minutes early and did the major no-no and put my whip down in the holder (which I so know version of a tantrum). As soon as I crossed the finish line I told them that we were going to have a problem at the last hazard (I was a bit wound up about it) and she said they would check into it. She took my green card and said I was good on time, but of course I didn't keep my mouth shut and said no I'm 4 minutes early (when will I learn to just shut up). It seems they had my start time 10 minutes earlier than it was. Of course, after she checked into it I was right (sometimes its not good to be right LOL). So we get to the posting of the scores and I have the big E and the TD was standing right beside me so I ask what if we don't agree with it and he said you can question it (didn't know that). So they had a little private meeting of everyone at the hazard and afterwards came out and told me that they had reversed it and that they did see tracks of clearing the plane so I wasn't eliminated...of course doesn't do a dang thing about all the time point penalties I got for being way to early due to my melt down. Yep, I'm proof 45 yr olds can have melt downs over a horse show.

So in the big scheme of things, lots of lessons learned. If you are going to take an odd path between letters, let the TD know ahead of schedule so the volunteers can be trained in it. Do not loose your brain no matter what happens or is said, stay focused and on plan...Ponies nor drivers are allowed to have temper tantrums (my tantrum- trotting to the end instead of walking and putting my whip up..won't mention the tears of knowing I had just blown it). And finally, I gotta learn to stop taking this so seriously and learn to laugh at myself for being an idiot. I am way to competitive and have to work on that.

Now I hope all my mistakes that I make, others can learn from so I can get some sort of positive out of it. LOL.


Well-Known Member
Feb 10, 2012
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Sounds like a lot of reflection after the event, which is always a useful thing. I think it helps us to pull apart experiences (good and bad) in order to see what we did do well and what we could do better next time.

It sounds like you and your horses are going to have a very bright future. Thank you for sharing


Well-Known Member
Jun 27, 2004
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Lakeport, CA
Aw, TMR! You poor thing. I can't count the number of times I've seen even the most high-level drivers get excited as they go through the last cone and gun it...only to knock down the final ball and cost themselves a championship. Keep driving, ALWAYS. It isn't over until you're across the finish line!

Since you knew you'd done it right you had every reason to hang in there and keep trying to hit that window. And next time you will, right?
Sometimes we just have to learn things the hard way.