World Ponies '09


Dressage is finished here at the 2009 World Pony Driving Championships. The rest of the pairs and all of the four-in-hand teams went yesterday (Friday).

Tracey Morgan finished the dressage phase in sixth place (53.50). Katie Whaley, who’s competing as an individual, finished tied with two other drivers for eleventh place (57.34). Unfortunately, Randy Cadwell didn’t have a very good dressage test, and she finished next to last, in thirty-third place, with a score of 71.68.

Katie Whaley

Katie Whaley

Randy Cadwell

Randy Cadwell

The leaders in the pairs division after dressage: Stephan Koch of Germany currently stands in first place, with a score of 40.83; Steffen Abicht of Germany (44.42) is in second; and Anna Grayston of Great Britain is in third.

The four-in-hand division is the smallest, with only twenty entries. The leader here after dressage, Tobias Bücker of Germany, scored 42.75 for a dressage test that everyone was talking about long after he’d finished, it was that nicely done. Currently standing in second place is Tinne Bax of Belgium (44.67), and currently in third is Steffen Brauchle of, guess where, Germany (50.30).

Our two U.S. drivers are in the middle of the pack. Laurie Astegiano (an American driver who lives in France) is in ninth place with a score of 58.37. As the sad note in an otherwise nice test, Lisa Stroud went off course and accrued five extra penalty points, putting her at 65.54 (sixteenth place) for the day.

Laurie Astegiano

Laurie Astegiano

Lisa Stroud

Lisa Stroud

In the team competition, eight teams are competing for top honors. There are eighteen nations represented here, but only eight of those have sent enough drivers to field a full team, which consists of two drivers in each division. The U.S. team members are Sara Schmitt and Suzy Stafford (singles), Rand Cadwell and Tracey Morgan (pairs), and Laurie Astegiano and Lisa Stroud (four-in-hand). The other U.S. drivers are all competing as individuals and are, of course, eligible for individual prizes but not the team medals. At any rate, the U.S. currently stands in fourth place in the team standings after dressage. We’re a mere 1.01 behind the Dutch. Ahead of them by about ten points are the Belgians and, unfortunately for everybody else, the Germans are in first place by about thirteen points.

Suzy Stafford (in fourth place, our best U.S. finisher in the dressage phase) and Chef d'Equipe Chester Weber share a laugh during the dressage awards ceremony (photo by A.J.)

Suzy Stafford (in fourth place, our best U.S. finisher in dressage) and Chef d’Equipe Chester Weber share a laugh during the dressage awards ceremony

The weather today was absolutely gorgeous but it’s getting quite warm in the sun. Fingers crossed that it’s not too hot today on the marathon course!

So that you, too, can enjoy the excitement, the flags, and the cheers, applause, whistles, barking dogs, and swing music from this evening’s dressage awards presentation, here are the laps of honor for the various divisions (first, the singles, then the pairs, and then the four-in-hand teams). Enjoy!

 

 

So the first day of dressage is over. The singles division is finished, and about a third of the pairs have gone. The rest of the pairs and all of the four-in-hand teams will perform their dressage tests today.

 At the moment, Suzy Stafford (48.51) sits in fourth place after a lovely dressage test. In first place is Franz-Josef Lehmkuhl of Germany (44.80), in second place: Peter Koux of Denmark (46.46), and in third place: Johan Verswalm of Belgium (46.98). Sara Schmitt (55.42) is in twelfth place after dressage, and Sherri Dolan (58.50) is in eighteenth place.

Suzy Stafford during her lovely dressage test; she looked very pleased with it at the end

Suzy Stafford during her lovely dressage test; she looked very pleased with it at the end

Sara Schmitt executing one a one-handed circles during her dressage test

Sara Schmitt executing a one-handed circle during her dressage test

Now that we’re part way through the pairs division, Tracey Morgan currently stands in third place with a score of 53.50 penalty points.

Tracey Morgan and her and Susan Deutermann's Dartmoor ponies

Tracey Morgan and her and Susan Deutermann’s Dartmoor ponies

In the evening, we were all treated to a lovely stallion show presented by the North-Rhine Westphalian state stud farm at Warendorf, which is only about 25 km east of Münster. After the show (endangered cold-blooded breeds, demonstrations of high-school movements, a variety of quadrilles, and a “rodeo clown”-type comedian who was also a very good bareback rider) were the opening ceremony and parade of nations. So the competition is officially on!

one of the cold-blooded (draft) stallions in the opening ceremony show

one of the cold-blooded (draft) stallions in the opening ceremony show

... and another stallion presentation, with one being ridden and two driven

… and another stallion presentation, with one being ridden and two driven

part of the U.S. team in the opening ceremony's parade of nations -- each team entered the arena in carriages, but it was getting quite dark by this time, so the cameras were having a hard time keeping up with the failing light!

several of the U.S. team members in the opening ceremony’s parade of nations — each team entered the arena in one, two, or several carriages

On the drive back over to the venue for tonight’s party, A.J. was thrilled to pass his third moped while driving the “Green Machine,” as he’s dubbed our slow but steady minivan. He’s now successfully passed one tractor-trailer truck, one verrrry slow-moving car, and three mopeds. He doesn’t want to discuss the many cars that have passed us. (Bear in mind that we haven’t set foot – tire – on the Autobahn; this is all just on the “regular” roads).

For the Nations’ Party, the big marquee tent was absolutely packed with people, sampling each of the nation’s food and drink specialties. The U.S. table featured Phil’s famous ribs, which were such a hit that people were practically standing in line, waiting for them to come off the grill, and whiskey and bourbon, which were also quite the hit.

cheers! ... Pimms Cups at the British table

cheers! … Pimms Cups at the British table …

... spectacular smoked salmon at the Swedish table ...

… spectacular smoked salmon at the Swedish table …

... and salami and ham at the Austrian table

… and salami and ham at the Austrian table

the Australians didn't have much food at their table (all I saw was Vegemite on bread), but they had their mascot there with them

the Australians didn’t have much food at their table (all I saw was Vegemite on bread), but they had their mascot there with them

Once the food and drink supplies started to dwindle, the skits began. First up were the Austrians, who danced on stage and then went out into the crowd, where they each grabbed a partner. Everyone then went back up on the stage (twice as many people as before, of course, so it was looking a little crowded up there) and danced a very energetic polka-looking thing. The Danes (surprisingly) and the French (perhaps not surprisingly?) both did stripteases. The Germans (who won the skit contest) had five men roll plastic, lidded trash cans onto the stage. Then the music started – that “menah, menah, doo doo do doo doo” song that you would know as soon as you hear it, even though I obviously can’t sing it for you right now. In time with the various parts of the wordless chorus, each of the lids would pop up – like a jack-in-the-box – with the black, red, and yellow be-wigged head of the person hidden in the trash can. The routine is hard to describe, but it was really quite clever and funny. The U.S. team went last with their skit, which was a dance to the song “I Like Big Butts.” They all had balloons taped on their backsides, under their pants.

In writing this down and trying to describe it for you, it doesn’t sound nearly as funny as it seemed at the time. But it was definitely a good laugh, and a great way for everybody to get to know each other a bit better.

After a lovely morning of sight-seeing, farmers’ market-ing, and shopping, we had typical Westphalian food for lunch, in the old, wood-paneled interior in the restaurant at Münster’s only remaining local brewery, Pinkus Müller. After lunch, we of course had to stop for ice cream. Hey, it’s summer in Germany – even if it’s threatening rain, one must have ice cream!

 Our next stop was the championship site to take a look at a few of the marathon obstacles:

one of the marathon obstacles ...

one of the marathon obstacles …

... and another

… and another

… and then to drop off all the decorations we had brought with us for the U.S. team’s table at tonight’s Nations’ Party. Everyone was drafted to help with the decorations, and we’re headed back there shortly to see the final results and to enjoy Phil’s famous barbecued ribs and the food and drink provided by all the other nations.

our group helped to decorate the U.S. table for the Nations' Party ...

our group helped to decorate the U.S. table for the Nations’ Party …

... which features A LOT of red, white, and blue

… which features A LOT of red, white, and blue

Go Team USA!

Go Team USA!

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