… and, finally, here are the last report and photos from Karen & Pat Garrett:

The cones course proved to be difficult for the pony singles and pairs, with only two double clears for the singles and none for the pairs. The teams fared better with an extra twenty seconds and six double clears.

Individual single-pony driver Suzy Stafford and team single-pony driver Randy Cadwell came very close to double clears with only seconds over the time allowed of 133 seconds, with 0.97 and 1.88 time penalties, respectively. This put Suzy in fifth place for cones and Randy in seventh place. Single-pony team driver Shelly Temple experienced difficulty in the sand arena, taking out two cones, including cone 19, the nemesis of many drivers. The cone was tight in the corner of the “C” end of the arena and required a sharp right turn. It appeared the sand was deeper at that point; although this may have been from the numerous carriages taking the same tight turn. Shelly also was slightly over the time and was eighteenth overall. Fundamentally, for the singles, it became a time competition with the first nine placings having no cones down.

Unlike the singles, very few of the pairs drivers survived without a cone down and with only two seconds added to the singles’ time, they also struggled with time penalties. The two U.S. drivers were no exception, with Wendy O’Brien, the first of the two to go, having three balls down and with time penalties for a total of 15.45 penalties. Jennifer Matheson also struggled, having fewer time penalties than Wendy but four balls down for total penalty points of 15.47. This put Wendy and Jennifer in twenty-second and twenty-third place, respectively. They were among the eleven pairs drivers who took out cone 19.

The U.S. spectators with whom we were sitting thought Lisa Stroud had a double-clear, as did the announcer; however, the official results (posted minutes before the prize-giving) showed Lisa with one ball down but no time penalties and in eighth place. Laurie Astegiano’s results are still confusing (at least to us). She took out cone 4 (but not the marker) and apparently was charged with ten seconds for a rebuild and five points for disobedience. This is a guess because the announcer was unclear, and the official scoring does not give any detail. We did not have a chance to discuss the scoring with any of our sources. Presumably, this will become clear in the next few days. From where we were sitting, it appeared the call (if our assumption as to the call is correct) was confusing. In any case, these penalties and one other cone down resulted in Laurie finishing in eighteenth place. Laurie went before Lisa, and although there was disappointment in Laurie’s individual result, there was jubilation that her result had clinched the medal for the U.S. team.

As in previous pony championships, Germany came in first and the Netherlands second, with the U.S. third. The U.S. was around twenty-five points behind the Netherlands and roughly thirty points in front of fourth-place Great Britain.

Suzy Stafford driving as an individual built on her impressive pony championship record by taking the individual bronze medal. Consistency was the order of the day, with Suzy being fifth in dressage, thirteenth in the marathon, and fifth in cones. Suzy was also third overall in 2009 and first in 2005. Randy Cadwell finished sixth overall, having been ninth in dressage, eighteenth in marathon, and seventh in cones. Randy was first overall in 2007 in the pairs division.

Jennifer Matheson finished in tenth place overall in the pairs division.

Lisa Stroud and her Connemara team finished in an impressive sixth place, behind two Dutch and three German drivers.

As we mentioned in our report following the marathon, there was one particularly unique judging call in the marathon. We have parsed together details from “usually reliable sources,” none of whom are U.S. team competitors or officials. As far as we know, nothing has been publicly reported by the FEI on the situation. Dutch pairs driver Ewoud Boom broke a swingletree in or as he was leaving the eighth obstacle in the marathon. He stopped outside the obstacle, which was about 350 meters from the end of E and made a repair that consisted of attaching traces directly to the carriage. He then completed section E. Apparently, certain of the other teams suggested he should either be given penalty points for incorrect harness or eliminated because the repair endangered the welfare of the horses. In the end, as we understand it, he was given a yellow card but no penalty points or elimination. Had he been eliminated, it appears the Dutch team would have still been second, but only by a hair.

The second situation is partially based on public information and partially on “usually reliable sources,” who again are not U.S. competitors or officials. As we reported after the marathon, Hungarian driver Jozsef Dobrovitz was eliminated in obstacle 4. We sent that report at about 7:00 p.m. Slovenian time. Sunday morning, we discovered that about two hours later, the elimination had been removed. This moved Hungary to fourth place, slightly behind the U.S., and moved Dobrovitz well up in the individual rankings. Apparently, the Hungarian team had appealed directly to the Appeals Committee, which had reversed the earlier elimination. Ultimately, FEI officials voided the action of the Appeals Committee and the elimination was reinstated. Interestingly, Dobrovitz went on to win the four-in-hand cones competition.

While it is possible that more detail has been or will ultimately be reported publically by the FEI about the above, it would be beneficial for spectators for there to be more real-time transparency as to critical decisions when they are made. It is the umpire’s decisions, as well as the balls and strikes and home runs, which make baseball interesting. If we only have the balls and strikes in combined driving and do not know how they were affected by decisions of officials, a dimension of the sport is lost.

In summary, this was a great competition in a superb venue. We can all be proud of the U.S. competitors. The U.S. is now the only team other than Germany and the Netherlands to have had a medal more than once in the pony championships.

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Randy Cadwell (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

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Shelly Temple (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

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

 

 

Jennifer Matheson (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

 

 

Laurie Astegiano (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

 

 

Lisa Stroud (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)

 

 

Suzy Stafford (photo by Karen & Pat Garrett)