Karen & Pat Garrett sent this report (and photos) from today’s first day of dressage at the World Pony Driving Championships:

The United States has done very well on the opening day of dressage. Jennifer Matheson had a score of 46.08 with her pony pair to win third place in the pairs competition. From a team basis, her score is a second since both the first- and second-place competitors were from Germany: Dieter Baackmann with 39.68 and Stephen Koch with 41.47. For the team competition, Koch’s score will be dropped. Jennifer’s score during the morning session took the pressure off the other U.S. pairs driver, Wendy O’Brien, who was last to go, with a score of 61.82.

The pairs dressage was followed by the start of the single pony competition .Twelve single turnouts went this afternoon. The remaining twenty will drive tomorrow morning. At this point, the only U.S. driver to go, Shelly Temple, is in first place with a score of 44.67.

From a team standpoint, the U.S. is currently in second place among the teams that have had at least one single pony team member drive, with a total score of 90.75, following Germany (84.48) and ahead of Great Britain (102.02). None of the Dutch, Austrian, or Hungarian single-pony drivers has yet done their dressage test. The most significant threat to the U.S. position is likely to be the Netherlands, with a pairs score of 48.13.

Tomorrow, Randy Cadwell, the other U.S. single pony driver, goes at 11:05 a.m., and individual driver Suzy Stafford at 10.30 a.m.

As with most championship competitions, scoring from the five judges has evolved over the day. There were some fairly erratic differences among the judges during the morning, which tended to smooth out as the day progressed. That said, those who are interested in that type of analysis will find some interesting difference throughout the day. [You can see all the scores at www.hoefnet.com.]

Following the dressage competition we went on a “course walk” in a trailer behind a tractor. Section A is a very scenic and open five kilometers without any challenging elevation changes. Section D is reasonably flat and should not present significant challenges for most ponies at the 6 KPH speed. Most of Section E is configured for competitors to make five loops around a field adjacent to the marathon obstacles and to generally complete two obstacles on a circuit. We have not yet had a chance to study the obstacles closely. It is clear that obstacle viewing will be very spectator-friendly. The marathon starts at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the last competitor goes at 3:30 p.m. It will be a full day.

.

Wendy O’Brien (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

.

 

Shelly Temple (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

.

Jennifer Matheson (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)