Lexington CDE

Here, without further ado, are photos from yesterday afternoon (see the previous post for dressage results and wrap-up info from the first day of competition) …

These are in no particular order.

Bill Long performing his dressage test with Jack Wetzel’s team of horses; Bill is in eleventh place after dressage, with a score of 67.71

Boyd Exell (who lives in England but drives for Australia) finished in third place with Keady Cadwell’s team of horses

Gary Stover driving a one-handed circle; he’s in tenth place after dressage (67.46)

Gavin Robson, the other Australian driver, actually lives in Ohio and so is somewhat of a local favorite among the area driving clubs; he’s in fifth place after dressage (60.80)

Jimmy Fairclough drives a team of horses owned by Jane Clark; he’s been National Champion several times and has represented the U.S. internationally many times as well (here, he’s in fourth place after dressage, with 52.61)

Josh Rector (from Arizona) finished the dressage phase in seventh place (64.64)

Mike McLennan of Texas finished the dressage phase in sixth place, with a score of 63.36

Wendy Ying is currently in fourteenth place out of sixteen competitors (74.75)

in second place after dressage, Tucker Johnson is less than two points behind the leader … should make for an intense competition as he and Chester Weber each vie for a record seventh National Championship

Chester Weber is in the lead by a slim margin after the dressage phase; his right leader is a five-year-old being trained as a new dressage partner for Chester’s successful, veteran dressage horse Rolex

Larry Poulin, who plans to retire from competition after this event, drove Natasha Grigg’s pair of horses to the best dressage score of the day (37.50)

I apologize for the delay in getting these updates posted today, but I had to go from the competition to the press conference to the CAA office, as we (the CAA) were hosting this evening’s competitors’ briefing. Once that was over, there was a bit more work to be done, and then I finally got home and sat down to dinner at about 9:30. Tomorrow morning, I’ll add photos, I promise!

Out of a class of three drivers, Tracey Morgan leads the FEI-level pair pony division after dressage, with a score of 54.14 penalty points. In second place: Jennifer Matheson (60.42), and in third, Katie Whaley (69.12). Tracey said later that it was “a thrill” to drive in the arena (which will be used again for next year’s WEG), and that she was pleased with her mares’ performance and with the outcome.

In the FEI-level pony team division, Lisa Stroud is in the lead after dressage, with a score of 50.30. In second place is Elizabeth Keathley (73.60), who is also the only other competitor in this division. Lisa said later that, despite a new leader in her team, her ponies were very consistent. She was, not surprisingly, pleased with how they performed.

The FEI-level horse pair division also has only two competitors: veteran national champions and world championship competitors Lisa Singer and Larry Poulin. Larry ended the dressage portion of his final competition (he’s planning to retire from competition after this event) with a score of only 37.50 (the best dressage score of the day).  Lisa is in second place with 48.78 penalty points. Larry admitted later that he was a bit emotional about this final dressage test, but that he was pleased that it ended this way. He said that his horses usually need time to settle before a competition and that they were a bit off yesterday; if he had had to perform his dressage test a day earlier, he feared he might have been in trouble. Today, however, Larry felt that Natasha Grigg’s horses had an excellent warmup and that the atmosphere here at the KY Horse Park was perfect. The horses were forward and supple and gave him their full attention.

This event, in addition to being the WEG test event, will also decide the 2009 USEF National Champions in each of the FEI-level divisions.

The current leader in the four-in-hand (horses) division, Chester Weber (40.06), and the driver currently in second place, Tucker Johnson (41.98), are both six-time National Champions. Fewer than 2 points separates these two, so the stage has been set for an intense competition for a record seventh National Championship. Currently in third place is Australia’s Boyd Exell (47.87), who’s driving Keady Cadwell’s team of horses.

When asked whether their focus this weekend was more on this competition (and a possible seventh National Championship) or next year’s WEG, both Chester and Tucker said that, this weekend, they’re concentrating on this show.

Chester described his dressage score as “acceptable.” He said that he expects this new team will be capable of the types of scores his previous team received last year (in the low 30s), but he was pleased with how this team is working. He explained that one of his leaders is only 5 and is in training to replace a successful veteran leader — but he understands that it’s important to “continue to develop new horses behind the good, steady old ones.”

When asked what he thinks of the marathon obstacles for Saturday, Tucker said that the obstacles for this event are meant to accommodate a wide variety of levels and types of driving (singles, pairs, and fours), so that they’re more “flowing.” He said that he expect next year’s (WEG’s) obstacles to be geared specifically to the FEI-level four-in-hand drivers, which would typically mean more changes of direction and shorter turns.

Boyd said that he was pleased with the performance of Keady’s horses, especially since the team had only just been “cobbled together” this week from the pair Keady had competed at this year’s World Pair Championship and another pair. Although she’s trained with them some as a team, this was, in fact, their first dressage test as a team.

Having been for many years two of only a small handful of consistent international-level competitors, both Chester and Tucker said they were encouraged by the interest in four-in-hand driving that next year’s WEG has ignited in many U.S. drivers. As Chester said, they “hope this will stick.”

Don’t forget that scores will be posted each day, as they become available, at www.hoefnet.com and at www.alltechfeigames.com.

Unfortunately, I’ve either been in the office or the media center so far today, and I have no photos (yet!), but I do have the (UNOFFICIAL) dressage results for the FEI-level single ponies and single horses.

In the advanced/FEI single pony division, Shelley Temple is in the lead with 45.82 penalty points. In second place is Suzy Stafford (48.00). Phyllis Grupe and Sherri Dolan are tied for third place (52.35). Behind them are Dale Govus in fifth (64.51, Pixie Keating in sixth (71.55), Jada Neubauer in seventh (71.55), and Tasha Wilkie in eighth (75.52).

In the advanced/FEI single horse division, Fritz Grupe is in the lead with 50.05 penalty points. Robin Groves is in second (54.14), Scott Monroe in third (61.06), Donna Crookston in fourth (61.18), and Kate Shields in fifth (61.45, including 5 course penalties). Wilson Groves and Robin Foster are tied for sixth (62.98). Kimberly Stover is in eighth (63.10), Bill Allen is in ninth (63.74) and, rounding out the top ten, is Bill Peacock in tenth place with 66.30 penalty points.

The FEI-level pair and four-in-hand teams of both ponies and horses do their dressage tests this afternoon, so we’ll have photos and more results later today. Stay tuned for more updates!

The event’s first vet inspection was this afternoon. With all the construction going on here at the park, the lane was bordered by a row of empty stalls on one side, and a wide swath of mud on the other. At the far end was the earth-moving machinery that had no doubt just recently finished digging up all the mud … needless to say, several of the horses gave the earth mover a good careful look as they trotted toward it, while some others didn’t seem to care a bit.

Only the FEI-level horses were required to participate in the inspection, so the preliminary and intermediate competitors were able to watch or do other things. They had set up two lanes at a bit of distance from each other — all the FEI-level single and pair horses and ponies went down one lane, and all the four-in-hand teams went down the other. Since I (unfortunately) couldn’t be in two places at the same time, I was only able to see the four-in-hand horses. Of these, one horse of Gary Stover’s was not accepted, and one of the Canadian teams was instructed to re-present nearly all of their horses tomorrow.

Chester Weber and his horse Jamaica, the 2008 USEF Horse of the Year

Josh Rector brought his team all the way from Arizona

one of Jimmy Fairclough’s very fit-looking horses … several of his looked like they would much rather run and buck than trot quietly

Sterling Graburn presented Wendy Ying’s team of horses

one of Mike McLennan’s Friesian/QH crosses … Mike is one of the drivers we’re following in the “Road to the WEG” series in The Carriage Journal

one of Tucker Johnson’s horses

 And, finally, one very grainy (cell-phone) photo of Michael Freund presenting a driving demonstration using James Miller’s team of coach horses …

Michael Freund gave a crowd-pleasing demonstration of combined driving (with a team of coaching horses) at this evening’s Lexington Combined Driving Classic Kick-Off Party

I’ve just looked at the weather forecast for the rest of the week and, thankfully, it looks lovely. Today, though, turned out to be much cooler and cloudier (which makes it feel even colder than the 55 degrees on the thermometer) than expected.

So while everyone was starting to arrive, settle horses in, and (for the FEI-level four-in-hand teams) taking lessons or warming up / practicing, it’s been really cold. While in the barns, I heard lots of “wow, I wish I’d brought my … ” extra fleece / long underwear / warm hats / etc. I was dressed for the office and not really for a day in the barn, and several people very kindly offered me jackets / horse blankets / warm chili. But enough of my woes (and the kindness of both friends and strangers).

Here are a couple of pictures from today:

the decorated entrance to the VIP / sponsors tent

the fancy new electronic scoreboard being set up by the dressage / cones arena

 Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 2 p.m. is the FEI jog. I’ll be posting some photos after that. Then all the FEI-level competitors do their dressage tests on Thursday, and the Prelim and Intermediate competitors go on Friday. Stay tuned!

Final preparations are underway for this week’s Lexington Combined Driving Classic / WEG Test Event.

Observed on a walk around the KY Horse Park this afternoon:

1) Brilliant autumnal blue skies, bright sunshine, and a nice strong wind, which we’re all hoping will help to dry out all the mud from the rain (rain, rain!) we got over the past week.

2) A shiny dressage arena in the polo field, and a big tent for the VIPs/sponsors … this is being decorated as I type.

3) Marked gates at the “hill” obstacle, and more water in the creek than there ought to be (see “rain” above). Again, the wind should help with that. I’ve also learned that there are now nearly 200 tons of gravel in the creekbed (the three dumptruck-loads I saw being delivered only amounted to 70 tons).

4) Marked gates at the “wishing well” obstacle.

5) Across the road from the “wishing well” … in a neighboring Walnut Hall field … two yearlings chasing each other in circles, at a full gallop. Standing in the center of their racetrack, calmly watching port-o-potties being placed on the marathon course, were five more yearlings and a “babysitter” draft horse.

6) Horses, ponies, carriages, harness, and equipment being settled in to the barns.

There will be more getting ready tomorrow, the FEI jog on Wednesday, and then the fun begins! Stay tuned here, as we’ll be keeping you up to date throughout the week.

Our hearts go out to everyone in the southeast dealing with the recent incessant rain and terrible flooding. We’re grateful that, although we’ve had some downpours here over the past several days, it hasn’t been too terrible.

With luck, the storms will move through in time for the ground to dry out before next week’s driving event.

Speaking of rain … back in early August, a huge storm system blew through Kentucky and dumped nearly half a foot of rain on parts of Louisville, in just a few hours. We here in Lexington were fortunate that we didn’t get quite that much rain, but we still got quite a lot. Most of the KY Horse Park’s roads and pathways turned into rivers, any low-lying grassy areas or paddocks turned into lakes, and the floor of the covered arena was completely flooded. All of this took place just as hundreds of kids, parents, and ponies had arrived at the park for this year’s Pony Finals.

Here we have a photo, courtesy of Mick Costello, of what should be the grassy area next to the “head of the lake” … the cross-country / marathon water complex. This was that same day in early August.

this is normally just a low-lying area on the cross-country / marathon course; the "head of the lake" is (or should be) to the far left. Do you see the jump in the middle of the lake?

this is normally just a low-lying area on the cross-country / marathon course; the "head of the lake" is (or should be) to the far left. Do you see the jump in the middle of the lake?

« Previous PageNext Page »