Wednesday, June 2, 2010

May Flowers DTC is done...whew...

What a long, hard, hot, tiring experience that was....whew...But in the end, it was fun and I am glad I did it. BUT...I would not have been able to pull this off without the help of good friends.

Barb, June and Tracey were a huge help when working, marking, and clearing trails. Then I had Diane and her hubby Jerry (have chainsaw, will travel). Jerry cut some trees down for us with his trusty chainsaw. Then Barb, June and I made some gorgeous red and white numbered boards for the cones course. They looked very professional. Saturday morning, the day before the drive, my hubby David came out and pounded stakes into the ground for the plates that were to be the trail markers. Then June and I went back out and did the trail markers later that day with colored plastic plates.

There was just so much that was done to get ready that I know I am going to forget something or someone, but I appreciate it all so much that words are just not enough.

Then I had my judges. Tracey, Toni, Kelley and Alice. My photographer Peter. I had a couple of folks donate drinks. I had some volunteers come out and help the judges with their obstacles, Teresa, Jean, Maggie and Amanda. I had a Facebook friend that I hadn't had the pleasure of meeting yet come out and learn about this new driving venture, Noreen. Thank you Denise, who is a trainer/instructor, did a Q & A after the drive while the judges did the riders cards.

Again, I am sure I am forgetting someone and I am so sorry if I am. But know this, I am so thankful I had such a wonderful group of people to volunteer and compete. This was very stressful yet satisfying for me. I was the ride manager, ride secretary, trail master and senior judge. Once I (sort of) learned every thing, it started to flow more easily.

Thank you Candy for re-doing the riders cards for me so that they "fit" my drive obstacles.

I have to say, I was stressed and my hubby said that if I did this next year, I better find a new place to live. LOL But I will be doing this next year and he will be pounding the stakes in then too.

Now...on with the drive story...

We did a drive briefing at 8:30 am, and soundness check at around 9am. Everyone harnessed up and hitched up and Denise did a tack safety check for me. I really appreciated having her there for her knowledge of everything driving.

The drivers began with my first obstacle, I called it Balls and Barrels. In our out door arena, I placed 5 large plastic barrels, 1 in each corner (but out far enough that carts could go around them) and 1 in the middle. The 1 one in the middle had a bucket on it with 4 tennis balls. The object of this was to go to the middle, settle your horse, pick up the bucket and drive to each corner barrel. When you arrive at each barrel, you are to settle your horse to a stop and place a ball on the barrel. The driver was to do this to each corner barrel. After all the balls were in place, the driver went back to the center barrel and returned the bucket. This was a walk pace, not a timed obstacle. The drivers really seemed to like that as it started their horse thinking but didn't jazz them up. And that is what I was going for in this obstacle. Calmness and responsiveness. Plus, it timed my drivers just right to head out to the pasture for their trail course.

Once the drivers were on course, they were to follow the plates. Red plates for all:

Green plates for Horse and Ponies, and pink plates for VSE's:

The first obstacle that they encountered on trail was a Back 1-Stride. After that, the horse and ponies were to do a clover leaf obstacle (barrel racing pattern). On each barrel was a cone and on the cone was a tennis ball. This was a timed obstacle with penalties. All my paced obstacles were walk/trot only. If they broke gait into a canter, that counted as a penalty.

After this obstacle, Tracey pointed them down the trail where they entered the Old Woods. No obstacles in there, but there might be next time. It is very pretty in there. Here is a picture of Summer and I riding in the Old Woods:

The VSE's next obstacle was the Marie Laveau trail. This was their paced obstacle since they didn't have to do the Clover Leaf. From start to end is 3/10ths of a mile. On this course, they had to pick up and return to judge, 3 clothes pens. Each clothes pen had a different colored ribbon on it. This was a walk/trot pace. I used the clothes pens to make sure the competitors didn't canter. This kept them aware of their trail and for each clothes pen they didn't return was a 2pt penalty. This trail is also decorated with cool yet creepy decor: This is the entrance to the trail.

Here are a few trail decorations:

The above picture is the end of the trail and where carts must turn around. Here is a close up of this trees decor:

The next obstacle for all was the cones course. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined. The only thing missing from making this look like a professional course were FEI cones! But I couldn't have asked for better! This was a 10 gate course and just looked wonderful with the meadow surrounding it.

Once they completed the cones course, the drivers were directed to the next trail which was lined with Pinwheels. I spaced the penwheels out from the trail enough that it wouldn't cause a wreck if the horse should decide to refuse. But my judge said they all completed it with flying colors.

Once they exited the pinwheels, they continued on trail and came to a figure 8 pattern which was a walk pace only. Once they completed the pattern, there was a mailbox at the end. They were to settle their horse, open mailbox, removed contents (rolled up magizine), return contents, close mailbox and continue on down the trail.

Two different trails returned the competitors home. The VSE trail was approximately 2 miles and the Horse and Pony trail was approximately 2.5 miles.

Once home, they were told to untack and return in 10 minutes for a P & R check. The horse was done immediately upon returning home and basically had a resting heart and resp rate.

After the P & R check was the final obstacle. Send your horse over a caveletti.

It took a bit to figure the cards as I couldn't get the computer to work so we had to do it all by hand. I was glad I made several copies just in case this occurred.

For awards I purchased blue feed buckets for first, red brushes for second and large sponges for third all along with 1st thru 3 ribbons. For high point I purchased a very nice helmet case and a grand champion ribbon.

This drive only had 6 entries, but I am grateful for that. I was competing with an established show in Houston. Next year I am going to shoot for May 22nd/23rd as there isn't usually a driving show that weekend.

After awards several of us went to Sam's Cafe and just enjoyed the air conditioning and good company.

Again, thank you all who attended to compete or volunteer and please know how grateful I am for you.


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