Fun but Frigid: Frostbite Series Continues
True to its name, the second leg of the Moore County Driving Club’s Frostbite Series started the day with frozen water buckets, winter blankets and funny hats on the heads of down-coated competitors.
While the sun did shine, the occasional breeze didn’t help warm the air very much. Nonetheless, more than 20 drivers turned out at Big Sky Farm to compete in dressage, cones and a short marathon Feb. 12.
Unlike the first Frostbite event, which offered just driven dressage and cones, a short one-section marathon was added this time. Four obstacles were in play for the competition.
These so-called “little” shows present big challenges for those responsible for putting them on. The course designer this weekend was Richard Pringle. Knowing that the experience of the drivers ranged from Green as Grass to FEI level, he had his work cut out for him.
The Green as Grass competitors, Marilyn and Ronnie Davenport and Susan Emmert, were only required to go through the gate A. Advanced Single Horse competitor Kate Shields was required to drive through A, B, C, D, E and F gates. Training, Preliminary and Intermediate drivers drove between three and five letters of the alphabet, respectively.
After enjoying such pleasant weather two weeks earlier, the frigid temperatures that were predicted had organizers Marcie Quist and Dana Diemer agonizing over how to best schedule the day to avoid real frostbite. Several drivers chickened out (including Diemer), which shortened the day somewhat.
Regardless, dressage and cones stretched over three hours. Fortunately volunteers and judges were able to sit in their cars so the warmth of the sun through the windows could help them keep warm. Holding the marathon in the afternoon meant that volunteers were on duty just over an hour.
Kate Shields earned the best dressage score of the day, earning a fabulous 27.52 penalties with Hastening Winslow, her Welsh Cob that she will be competing at the Southern Pines Combined Driving Event USEF National Single Championship to be held at the Carolina Horse Park in April.
Laurel Pyatt, from Tryon, driving in the Preliminary Single Pony class, got the next best score — 33.91 — and although Robert Anholt and Reba Wagner both beat her in cones, knocking down only one ball to Pyatt’s two, she beat them on the marathon. Craig Kellogg drove the only penalty-free cones course of the day, but then again, he designed half of it. And he was the only one in his class, driving Susan Deutermann’s Dartmoor pony in Training Level.
Diane Ameter was very happy with her Training Level Single Horse, leaving with a smile on her face and looking forward to receiving her blue ribbon at the next meeting of the Moore County Driving Club. Herman Hoberecht came in second by only a couple of points. Herman is a priceless volunteer and is usually in charge of the cones volunteers, so watching him enjoy competing himself was a treat for all.
Pat Belskie and Deborah Branson, both driving Preliminary pairs of ponies, eliminated on the marathon.
“I’ve never been so happy after eliminating,” said Belskie. “I’m just so happy with the way the ponies went that I don’t even care.”
On a day like Sunday, hot coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea and hot soup warmed everyone from the inside out. Gail Gittlesen motored around on her golf cart to make sure that those who didn’t have a chance to come to the stall where the snacks, sandwiches and soup were available, were taken care of.
The dressage judge for the day was USDF Silver Medalist Lynn Doki. Tommy Doonan returned to judge the cones. Not yet a driver herself, Doki was introduced to driving when friend and neighbor Dana Diemer asked her to help her with her dressage.
“It’s interesting when you take the rider out of it,” says Doki, used to being able to use seat and legs as aids. One of the benefits of not knowing a lot about driving dressage at this point, she says, is that “you haven’t been told what you can’t do.”
For example: doing shoulder-in work between the shafts. When asked for a general comment on what drivers should work on, Doki suggested drivers work on getting the correct bend, which in turn will help get the inside hind leg engaged. Doki was very generous not only with her scores but with her comments.
Kate Shields recalled being judged by Doki last fall. Shields said she got more from Doki’s comments than any other judge and was able to take them home to her instructor and work on them.
Quist said at the end of the day, “It may be just a schooling show, but there aren’t very many that can offer obstacles like we have here, really good course designers, excellent judges and ‘live scoring.’ Some of the big shows can’t offer that.”
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