Friday, November 30, 2012


With the Darby this weekend and the year end awards banquet, it is sure to be a lot of fun. Each year, the Darby is free to enter and there are no prizes, just your time on course if you don't screw up and E out.  Last year if any of you were reading then, you might recall our blunder on the course? If not, let me refresh your memory or bring you up to speed.

Coming through the poles- power poles set well in the ground, we went through #1 and made a hard left to spin around and come through #2. That was the plan anyways... I tried to get Kat to make the sharp turn, but he wasn't responding so well. Looking back he may have had his tongue over the bit? Hmmmm  Anyways he wasn't as responsive as he could have been, we didn't make the turn like I had planned and suddenly it all came to an Abrupt and unplanned for STOP!  The right shaft of the cart had slammed into the pole and we weren't moving.  Yeah, that was fun! Feel free to laugh here. I did then and still do now thinking about it.

After my pony looked back at me to give me the wicked stink eye, I backed him up a step or two, moved him over and off we went to finish the course.  Things went well enough, but I went through #9 the wrong way and E'd out. Considering that was only our 2nd Darby/fun event, and Kat's 5th time out and about in harness, I was still getting the hang of things which could only mean- anything could happen. I have looked at the map for the course this year and it has the poles on it again. I am NOT planning on slamming into any of them this time around. Considering I entered at Expert level, so cantering is ok for us? Hitting anything is going to really do a number on things.

After this, it is on to the first ADT of the year, which will be at Goree's in Coolidge. Always a fun event and next year- we have to move up to Training Level and compete with a lot of other people. That group is generally pretty large and competitively fierce. Which is why I have been watching our scores and comparing them to their scores. We have always landed right about in the middle. At the last ADT there were 4 entries but for the year end, there is 8 competitors. Combine that with the 4 of us who gave it a whirl at Green Driver (two of us have to move up), so there can be 10 of us or more at any given event. It should be fun!

Monday, November 19, 2012


After unhitching Kat and putting him in the stall so he could relax, drink, pee and catch his second wind, I walked back over to the cones arena for the news. Had I completely blow it or did we manage to save our butts by going through #12 the right way and correcting it before going on?

It turns out Jim, the course designer and judge, checked with 2 other judges to be sure. I had been Eliminated or as it is known in the driving world- E'ed out.  In the obstacles it is okay to rearrange the alphabet (which I did at the CDE if you remember), but in cones it is one time through them and only in the right order, right direction or forget it, you're done.

Kat got a decent break between the cones and obstacles.  For him it was a much needed rest and even though we were eliminated, we still complete the course and have fun.  And fun we had!
It was a good thing I had walked the course on obstacle #1 earlier in the day. Once horses are 'on course', you cannot walk them for obvious reasons. 

As it was, I planned to make all left hand turns. After coming through C, if I had whipped around to the right? It would have been Game on!  There was a nice, big, brightly colored tent not too far from where we might have gone around a stump heading back to the "In/Out" gate.  I'm not sure how many drivers attempted aiming their horses at it and how many of those that said "Oh Hell NO!", but I was just not risking it. Another day- maybe, but we can wait for it until that day comes.

We went through all of the obstacles clean and whipped out some amazing times even though they wouldn't count for us that day. I still like to look at the next level up and compare notes to see where we will stand when we move up next year. Comparing them to all of the horses competing, we were pretty much smack dab in the middle. Some horses were fast than we were, others were slower. Some E'ed out in the obstacles, a few of us did it in the cones.

One thing fellow blogger Nuzzling Muzzles noticed was that as each competitor exited an obstacle, we all verbally thanked the volunteers.  Upon exiting the cones arena, same thing. You salute the judge on the way in, the way out and thanked him before you leave.  As I mentioned before, our volunteers are well recieved and highly appreciated. Without them- we wouldn't have our ADT's. They are fed, given drinks and at some of the bigger events (CDE's) they are given T-shirts. I still have mine from volunteering at the CDE several years ago, long before I got to compete there.

And for having 40 some entries in the ADT, we were started in dressage at 9 am and done with the obstacles by around 2:30 or 3pm. This included a break for lunch in there as well. After unhitching, packing everything up, cleaning up, loading the pony, checking in at the office/table to make sure there was no outstanding class fees to clear up, I was on the road and headed home at 3:45. Not bad for two days competing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

ADT #6

With the show over and done, I decided the game plan for the ADT was to do our dressage test for whatever it was worth and knock it out in the cones and obstacles. We could really rip around on both courses and Kat had a blast in the games anyways so why not? He gets a bit jacked up like a monkey on crack, but if I could keep him under some level of control- we were good. If I can manage to remember to keep the red letters and numbers on the right- we will stay in the game.

Our judge for dressage was the same one from the show. Eyeroll, sigh and a big whatever. She didn't like Kat and I yesterday, I didn't hold out any hope that she changed her mind overnight. One of my friends reminded me that for pleasure and main ring type classes- The arena is the devils judges’ playground. We headed in to do our test with the intent of just getting it done and out of the way. Kat must have sensed my mood because he was pretty stoic in his personality in the ring.

I had chosen to use our butterfly bit again- just added measures to ensure we had brakes and may actually stop at X this time. Remember last month we galloped into the ring and I was hauling on him hard to stop? I didn't want a repeat. I had also lunged him before putting his harness on. Everything combined- Kat couldn't give much of a swish of his tail either way. He wasn't pushing anything, wasn't challenging my cues or leadership, he just went about his way and did as I asked.

On two parts of the test we trotted right past the judge. As we went by the first time, I had a few rather *unsavory* thoughts going through my mind for her which caused me to start laughing. It was a tension breaker for both me and my pony. Was it unprofessional on my part? Maybe, but I didn't speak it out loud, just kept it to myself and thought what I wanted. Had I said what I was thinking- well that would be a different story altogether. I have always used the phrase in the arena, "Smile like you have the best secret in the world. This time I did a little more than smile and for a reason.

As it was- our scores for every movement, were all either a 5 or 6. At least we were consistent! At the bottom, all of my scores were 6's with the notes of Needs consistent contact in both up and down transitions. With the butterfly bit, I was barely touching the reins and signaling for turns by 'feathering' my touch with them. Less is more and Kat was uber responsive. Had I taken a hold and had contact- he would have been behind the bit, gaping at the mouth and a host of other things we would have gotten nailed for. I would gladly take the lesser of the evils.

Our score was a 63.61 overall. Pretty much in line with some of our other scores and since this judge "wasn't giving anything away", I'll take it and move on. Which we did, heading over to the cones...

With two rings, both the minis and the horse/pony ring feeding into the cones, the organizers thought there may be a bog down at some point with competitors lined up for their turn. The cones have to be set one width for mini's, another for the larger horses/ponies and this took a minute or two to do each time. If there were 3-4 mini's lined up, they would set the cones and run them through, stacking the horses/ponies up for their turn after resetting the cones. This kept everything moving along fairly well.

There were also 3 sets of cones in the warm up area for practicing. This worked well because I only allowed Kat to walk through them. This kept him moving and loosened up without letting him get the idea he could run around and go berserk acting like a wackadoodle loon. As it was, once our turn came- he was doggin' on me bad. I had to really push him to get him to trot. We halted and saluted the judge, went through the start finish gate and were off to do our best.

This time there were only 15 cones since the arena space was smaller and a bit more limited. Usually there is 20 cones staring at you, trying to trip you up. I pushed Kat on and even told him he could go a little faster as long as he kept it at a trot. He never once broke gait and cantered, instead it was the opposite. He felt like at any time he would putter out and just walk.

As we went through cone #12 we were still clear with no balls down. Lining up for #13, I looked at it thinking red on the right and realized we had just gone through cone #12 the wrong way. I circled Kat back around and corrected it before going on, but as we went through the right way, I asked the guy by the fence- "We are pretty much dead for that one, aren't we?"
"Yeah I think so."
"Ahhh shit." I laughed it off and went on.

In the obstacles, if you go through a gate in the wrong order or direction, as long as you correct it before going through the next one, you are not eliminated, but you do get penalty points. I hoped the same applied to cones as we finished the course. As we passed through the finish line our time was 3 minutes flat. The time allowed was 3 minutes, 20 seconds. We were double clear, which means no balls down, no time penalties.  I saluted and thanked the judge as I waited nearby, to hear the guy by the fence say "She went thru 12 backwards."

Jim looked at me as I said, "Yes. We did do that! I corrected it and went thru the right way again before going thru 13. Are we out for that one?" He was going to check with the other judges to see if we were still in the game or eliminated and doomed. I kinda figured we were doomed as we headed back to the trailer to unhook and give Kat a break before obstacles in the afternoon.


Monday, November 12, 2012

How did we do?

We went to the annual carriage driving and pleasure show this weekend. I had us down for 3 main ring classes and 2 of the games classes. When we got there, I added another main ring class and the third games class.

I didn't get as early  a start as I would have liked, but still managed to get to the showgrounds in plenty of time. Traffic was fairly light even though there was a race of sime kind at PIR nearby.  I got checked in, Kat unloaded and had time to breathe while we got ready. Classes were going along, there were no skips between the first class and our first class #6 Reinsmanship Single Pony. 

We tanked and got 5th of 5 which pretty much set the tone for the day. The judge came to speak to me and her comments were about the shafts not being level, which was causing me to sit fairly hunched over. Duly noted and we have been dealing with the shafts for a while now...

Between class 6 and 13 we had plenty of time so we went over to the 'Games' arena and licked our wounds. We were entered in Your Route- My Route, and Fault and Out which were both using the same set up for the cones...  we waited our turn and were ready to go.  To keep things fair for everyone, they only allow walking and trotting in the games classes. This is so that everyone of every level can compete with a decent chance. Not fair for the beginners to be limited to trotting and advanced being able to canter or gallop, so this is the reason behind the rules.

YR-MR is 10 cones. You take them in order, in the correct direction- red number on the right. When you pass through #10 you take all 10 cones again- in any order, any direction. Fastest time wins, clean round of course. We were clean, but I have no idea what our time was.  I wouldn't find out until later in the day how we did...

Since F&O was using the same course, I checked to see where the main ring classes were and slipped back into line for the games ring and our shot at F&O.  Fault and Out is pretty self explanitory. You go through the start/finish where your time starts. You go through the cones 1-10 in the proper order and directions. Once you pass through #10, you continue going around through the cones (proper order and directions) until you either knock down a ball or have a refusal. As we went through #10- down came the ball. Crap! Lol!  I looked at the judge Jim and said, "That did us in didn't it?" He looked back at #10 and smiled at me as we slowed to a walk and he said, "Yes, it did." I figured we were toast on this one, and would have to wait for the damage report later on.

Next up in the main ring was our Reinsmanship Open class, where again, we tanked and got 3rd of 3. This time the judges comments were to check his mouth when we unhitched. It appears his tongue is rubbing on a sharp tooth or something and there's blood.  I was using his butterfly bit, because I wanted to have steering, brakes and some level of control for the morning classes.  He was going fairly light in it and I have never had any issues with him or the bit before, but ok. I would look into it since I wanted to switch him to the snaffle for the later classes after he worked down.  They were calling for a lunch break so things worked out for us here.

When I checked his mouth, there was no blood, no bruising, no signs of any issues. Chalk it up to Whatever?!?! and go on. I put Kat in the trailer to pee, went and found him some water and went to hit the bathrooms myself.  I was settling up with the entry table when they said class 14 was in the ring, there were no entries in 15 and Uh Oh! We are IN class 16. I ran back to the trailer to harness up and put Kat to the cart, throw on my hat, coat, gloves and apron and get back to the arena. Lucky for us, the batteries in the show staff walkie-talkies had died and there was a hold-up while they were replaced. Whew!

We slipped into the holding area and waited for our class.  Working Pleasure Pony.  This time I'm not sure what the reason was, but again we tanked. 5th of 5.  There was no comments from the judge to give me any idea, but we took our ribbon and left the arena.

Again I headed for the games arena, since we had a little time and to go lick our wounds again. Kat was getting a little strong in the bridle on me with the switch to the snaffle, but he was still behaving fairly well for the most part and I chalked it up as a WTF? Day.  As in What The F... do you want from us?

The course for Reverse Psychology was set up and we slipped into line to wait. In RP, you take the course of cones in order , 1-10, going the right direction- red #'s on the right. After going through # 10, you drive it again only in the reverse order and directions. Red on the left, 10, 9, 8, etc. It is timed and balls down count as penalties. We had another clear round and no idea of our time... so we headed back to the main ring for our last class of the day.

Ladies to Drive entered the ring. There were 5 of us again and I felt Kat had a fairly decent go. Poor guy was getting a bit pooped out, but he still held strong and did his job. I should have known better as the ribbons were being handed out and placings called. The judge had come over to talk to the woman beside me, but before I could take our 5th place ribbon and head for the gate, she turned to us and stopped us. "I had to ding you on this one because, Traditionally, Ladies don't drive stallions." Heavy emphasis on the *Ladies* part there.

I looked at her and said, "That's ALL I drive." 
"Yes, but traditionally, *Ladies* don't drive stallions."
"Oh so a technicality. Nice"
"Yes, that and you are wearing jeans."

I was a bit disappointed about the last class, but figured Whatever?!?! again and headed back to the trailer to unhitch and tend to Katman.  He had done well and behaved for the most part, save a couple of small incidents, he listened and repsonded in the ring and gave me what he could.  Our day was done and it was time to let him relax. Besides, he needed his braids out and I needed food.

Over dinner, I decided she didn't like my pony for whatever reasons and yeah... rather than telling me he was too flat- it happens, inconsistent in his gaits- it happens, looked a tad tenderfooted- there were strides in the day he looked a little 'gimpy' here and there, I had trimmed him the night before due to time constriants leading up to the day.... Any of these comments, I would have gladly accepted. It is what it is and none of our performances in the main ring classes were absolutely perfect. 

My friends consoled me by saying he is a competition pony, not a boring round and round, main ring kind of horse. True, but...
When she said Traditionally *Ladies* don't drive stallions, did you ask her- "Who said I was a Lady????"  Well no...  but if I had, I may have dropped an f'bomb in there for added emphasis. (You know me!)

As it turned out, we had won Your Route- My Route, pulled down a 2nd in Reverse Psychology and still managed to place 4th in Fault & Out.  All was not totally lost and tomorrow is another day. We still had the ADT, the last one of the year in the series... We were sitting in second and there was a chance that if we scored well enough and won for the day, we would be tied for first in the year end standings.  Here's hoping!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So much to do

If you notice, the show and ADT are this weekend.  For anyone in the Phoenix area, the easiest way to get there is I-10 to Dysart Road, north to Camelback, west to the entry gate.  Lots of fun and if anyone is interested in volunteering one day or both- please email the organizers either thru the club website or let me know and I can put you in touch.

I have been working Kat, mostly on the weekends due to time constraints and lack of lights. By the time I get home during the week it is already dark or soon to be. With no lit arena other than hauling to the horsepark, it just isn't happening. He is doing well enough though and I am not going to change things up on him right before the show. What he has been doing is working for the most part so why mess with it if it isn't broken?

I still need to clip him, trim his feet, braid him up, sort out the trailer lights and figure out lodging, food and a few other expenses. If it weren't on the other side of town, it may be an easier task. The CDE while still a bit of a distance away, was close enough that I slept at home every night. That was nice, but not always possible.

For those wondering, the show is $5 per entry office fees, $15 per class pre-entry, 12 classes Kat is eligble for), stalls are available at $20 per day, t-shirts available $10-$15 depending on size and sleeve length.  The ADT's are $40 entry, flat rate. Club membership is $25 per year.  The ADT's are usually hosted at different places around the state. Hopefully some are nearby, but not all of them are. This year they were as follows-
January- Sonoita
February- Apache Junction *
March- Coolidge *
May- Prescott
October- Paulden *
and November- Litchfield Park. *

The ones with stars are the events we attended. In the year end standings, we have 6 points and the leader has 8.  It could be a tie or I will remain in second, we just have to go out there and do our best... Either way, both of us have to move up to Training level next year, our times in the hazards will count and there is a lot of people in there to go up against.  I like to look at their scores now to see where and how ours compare. It gives me a good idea of how we are doing overall. But then every day, every show, every class... the horse has the opprotunity to either amaze everyone or pull something that will be remembered and talked about long after and keep us humble.