CDE Attracts Record Number of Entries
The Southern Pines Combined Driving Event attracted 76 entries reflecting a diverse group of carriage drivers -- from teenagers to senior citizens, from the physically fit to the physically challenged and from world champions to first-time competitors.
Competitors from as far away as California took part in the three phases of the combined driving event (dressage, marathon and cones) over three days at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, April 11-13.
World champion Miranda "Randy" Cadwell, who won the individual gold medal at the World Combined Pony Driving Championships in Denmark in July 2008, came in third in the Advanced Pair Pony division. She was driving her seasoned veteran Welsh pony Toby and her new German Riding Pony Cabam. It was the first Combined Driving Event for Cabam driven as part of a pair and only his fourth time hitched with another horse after being driven as a single all season. Cadwell finished third with a score of 150.47.
"Cabam needed more training so I decided to let Toby teach Cabam," Cadwell said. "Cabam was a little confused the first two or three hazards (in the marathon) but he started to catch on by the fifth and sixth hazards."
Cadwell gave fellow competitor Katie Whaley some pointers on how to scrub time off her marathon. Whaley benefited from the information and won the Advanced Pony Pair division with her Section B Welsh ponies, Tux and Spats. Tux and Spats haven't been shown as a pair since the 2005 World Championships, where they placed 13th overall and seventh in the marathon.
"She (Cadwell) does tighter routes than I'm used to, but I said I would try them," Whaley said. "I was pleased that my ponies never stalled in the corners. We never missed a turn and we didn't touch a post."
Whaley maintained her lead despite having two balls down in the cones phase on the last day of the competition to finish in first place with a score of 117.56.
Randy's sister, Keady, won the Advanced Pair Horse Division scoring a 145.78. Both Cadwells coach the Disabled Driving team and serve in the capacity of chef d'equipe for the team. They have been involved with coaching since 1998.
Their student, Meghan Benge, came in second in the Advanced Single Pony Division driving Randy's pony, Rupert. Benge, a student at the Savannah College of Art and Design, commutes to Southern Pines on weekends for lessons. Benge was part of the bronze medal team in the 2002 Disabled World Championships. Benge is hoping to make the team for the Disabled World Championships again this year. The event will be held in Grevin, Germany, in June.
Benge had the added challenge of driving the marathon Saturday in a downpour, making her lines slippery. Most of the advanced drivers got caught in the rain.
"It looks good to do well with able-bodied drivers," said the 23-year-old Benge, who has been driving Rupert for two years and competing in CDEs for nine years. Benge had a final score of 147.44.
Seventy-three-year-old Lindsay Taliaferro, driving a tandem (one horse in front of the other) of Welsh ponies, won the Preliminary Multiples class over Deborah Branson driving her team of four Welsh ponies.
Taliaferro was sitting in first place after dressage and maintained his lead through the marathon and the cones phases. A win has been a long time coming for Taliaferro, who has been driving a tandem for three years.
"They are beginning to mature into a good team," Taliaferro said. "My wheeler is the rock that the team is built on -- without him we would be dead in the water."
Deborah Roberts was glad she made the decision to have her grandson, Josh Setterlund, navigate for her. Roberts got caught on-course in the driving rain. Her glasses fogged up making it difficult to see. In Hazard 3, she hit a tree with her carriage which pitched her forward on top of her horse's rear end. Setterlund grabbed her and yanked her back into the carriage. Roberts never lost her lines or her whip so she was able to carry on despite a rather shook navigator.
"Nana, I don't think grandmothers are supposed to do this," Setterlund said.
Roberts moved up to second place after the marathon and held the lead despite a ball down in cones. Roberts' horse Ben is very tractable and when Roberts says, "Quick like a bunny," Ben responds with a burst of speed.
Roberts ended up second in the Intermediate Single Horse division with a score of 116.49.
"He (Ben) is a super horse -- he's a legend in his own mind," Roberts said.
Ray Morton traveled from Canada to train with Scott Padgett of Economy Farm. Morton ended up third in the Preliminary Pair Pony division, scoring a 116.97.
Fifteen-year-old O'Neal student Brianna Ek gave herself a birthday present by moving up from sixth place after dressage to end up second in the Preliminary Single Pony B division. Ek drove her grandmother's (Eleanor Gallagher) 6-year-old Welsh pony Cinderella.
Fellow O'Neal student Sarah Brown navigated for Ek.
"We had a pretty smooth marathon except for the water," Ek said. "She (Cinderella) has never liked the water. Despite walking through the water we were going at a pretty fast clip most of the way. Sarah told me to slow down toward the end of the marathon so we didn't come in with too fast a time."
Ek went double-clear in the cones phase to maintain her second place, finishing with a score of 113.48.
A number of uncontested divisions that were won by local drivers. Gary Stover won the Advanced Team Horse Division, scoring 247.30. Eleanor Gallagher won the Intermediate Pony Division, scoring 182.09.
Cindy O'Reilly won the Intermediate Team Horse Division, scoring 189.61.
For full results, go to www.carolinadriving.net
More like this story