If it were me, I'd be asking the organizers directly:
Lord Stirling Stable CDE
Organizer: Kay Birkholt,
Event Manager - Friends of Lord Stirling Stable
256 S. Maple Avenue
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
Secretary: Eric Sanders, 24 Albert Ave., Milltown, NJ 08850; H: 732- 247-4407
Last year they only allowed ATVs to the edge of the course. It really wasn't too bad to walk to the hazards, but we put in our bicycle this year just in case its the same situation. Thankfully we only have one and it's Aaron's. I am so bicycle-impaired that it's not even funny; well, funny if you are watching me try to ride one. I'm probably better off walking.
Look us up--we have a bay roan pony named Merlin--my husband Aaron drives and I navigate/braid/tell him to look like he's having fun in dressage/etc.
I 100% agree that you need to contact Kay or Eric for the final answer
I do know that last year they did NOT allow ATV's or even bicycles out on the trails because the ground was so soft from the spring rains
While we have had wet weather and expect some more - the ground is much more solid this year and the footing should be very nice
Tricia will be there in our big white trailer processing scores - stop in and say HI
It should be parked near the food tent and office area
I will be out on the marathon course - taking care of the hazard volunteers
BTW - breakfast and lunch at the LSS tent is really good food and supports the friends group
Oh, that's good to know about the bicycles. I could have sworn we saw some out there last year, but I could be remembering wrong. Wouldn't be the first time!
Yes, the ground is much better this year, even with the rain the past week.
FYI--we are having a litte BBQ on Saturday night (around 6 pm) with fellow CDE friends. You all are welcome to join us--it's BYOMD (bring your own meat and drinks ). Everyone coming is bringing either a side dish or dessert. We'll have condiments and fixings. Hoping to congregate around 6 pm at our trailer (or thereabouts). I'll have my cell phone (267-228-1640). Hope to see you!
What a great CDE! Despite raw, misty weather on Friday and Saturday, the rain stayed away until Saturday night and then cleared Sunday morning for a beautiful day!
Lord Stirling CDE was our very first CDE ever back in 2002 with our pony Coco. It is such a great event for the start of the season--great courses, especially the trails for marathon, and a laid back atmosphere that encourages everyone to have fun and relax.
I always love pulling into a CDE with our truck and trailer; especially in the spring when you've spent most of the winter at home and haven't seen your driving friends in quite awhile. It is so good to catch up with everyone and see how they and their equines are doing.
After settling Merlin in, schooling him under saddle, doing the official course walk, and then investigating hazards, we gathered with a group of about 15 friends and headed out to dinner. The first night of an event is always fun--there is much anticipation in the air and a feeling that anything (good and bad) is possible!
Saturday dawned quite cold and drizzly. I was thinking that I should have packed a turtleneck and long underwear, but four layers of tops (polo shirt, sweatshirt, polar fleece, jacket), jeans, a set of rain pants, 2 pairs of socks, and insulated muck boots kept me warm. Yes--I did faintly resemble the abominable rain woman.
We had a pretty late dressage time (2:53 pm), so we had plenty of time to walk hazards in the morning, put the finishing touches on Merlin and the carriage/harness, and cheer on friends as they competed. We got to meet Friesians4me and her husband--they are such nice people and I only wish we had more time to talk with them! Their pony is beautiful and I believe they had a great go at her first Prelim.
I will say that many of the horses/ponies were very "UP" that day. The cold wind/weather was definitely blowing up their rears. Merlin was no exception and he kept trying to demonstrate his extended trot in warm-up and gave us a few head shakes to demonstrate that his ponyness was ready to go kick some butt. We reminded him that that was for the next day and that some semblence of self control needed to be demonstrated in the dressage ring.
Aaron gave him an excellent drive and they ended up with their best dressage score to date. We are really making some headway now that I am riding him and it was fun to see how much better he was carrying himself and using his body. There are so many nuances to continue to work on, but it is encouraging to see the improvement since last year.
I don't know what it is about cones, but it always makes me nervous!That's probably the eventer in me--I hate show jumping and it's always my least favorite phase of an event. However, Aaron drove a nice double clear round; he makes it look easy. There was only one dressage ring running this year, so the hold up between dressage and cones that a lot of people noted at last year's event was not a problem.
That evening we had a little BBQ with friends at our trailers--the hot food and good companionship were the end to a great day and I think everyone was happy to head back for hot showers and dreams of the best part of the event--marathon.
We had a "late" time for marathon on Sunday--11:40 am. Of course, we were still out there bright and early to walk the course one last time before the competition began. Section A was pretty short (2.4K) and Section E was 5.54K with 5 obstacles. Despite rain on Saturday night, the footing was great and held up well over the course of the morning.
Section A is one of my favorite parts of a CDE--for the first time all weekend, it is just the 3 of us--Aaron, Merlin, and me--going through the countryside. It gives you time to unclutter your brain and prepare for the challenges ahead of you.
Due to the length, Section A was over before you knew it and it was on to Section D, the walk K. Merlin is a little power walker and typically covers the distance in less than 9 minutes; this time was no exception and he came in at 8:46. The vet box was really a nonissue for most horses--it was just starting to get really warm once we headed out on E.
To me, Section E always goes by in a blur. One minute you're taking stock of your time at a K marker, the next, you're galloping through a hazard. Merlin was really on the money and only had one bobble when we didn't let him know whether to zig or zag in front of an pylon fast enough, coming to a stop in front of it. It was easily corrected and he carried on without a second thought.
We finished easily within the time and there's a moment when you can't believe it's all over with! But soon enough, you're back at the trailer, washing off the pony, wiping down harness, and reliving all the fun moments of the day.
Merlin had a really great marathon, winning it for our division, and placing 2nd overall in the Preliminary Single Pony class. Needless to say, we were really excited as it's been a slow steping stone process to becoming competitive at this level. Personally, I love being able to look back and see the progression--Merlin's been competing 2 years now and Lord Stirling 2006 was his first CDE ever. We've taken the "light" approach to competition, making sure not to burn him out at such a relatively young age (7 going on 8). He truly loves competing and I'm pretty sure he'd rather be at a horse show any day versus at home.
Congrats to everyone who competed this past weekend and a big thank you to the organizers, officials, and volunteers who make this event such a success. Especially to DriveNJ and NJ2, who are there volunteering each and every year. We really appreciate it!
P.S. I, unfortunately, forgot my camera, so hopefully Aaron's mom will send me some of the pictures she took so I can add them to our Webshots album.
We also had a great time last weekend. The event was so well organized and all the volunteers did such a great job. It was fun meeting KellyS, her husband and their powerhouse pony. Our daughter saw him go at Hazard 1 and 5 and said he was smok'in.
This was our third CDE and first one at Prelim. All I can say is training level seems so much easier! Our first problem is water and the first hazard had to be the water hazard. It seemed like an eternity to get through it but we finally did. Unfortunately we were eliminated at hazard 4 when we went thru the wrong gate. Other than that we were happy with Tiki's performance. Good dressage test, good in the cones, forward on the trails but we need more speed in the hazards to be competitive. So we have alot of homework to do.
We'll definately go next year. It is a really well laid out course and alot of fun.
Here's my best description...perhaps Friesian4me can add to it.
Hazard 1--The Water
This hazard is nestled in the woods and has 2 stream crossings, one of which includes a gate to negotiate in the water. It also included a knockdown on your way to the first water crossing. Both crossings have a fairly steep grade in and out, which can be a challenge if you are turning before or after entering the water.
Hazard 2--Log Jam
This hazard is a maze created by logs (horizontal logs sitting on vertical logs). I think it is the tightest hazard and there are a lot of options in it--both longer routes that allow more speed and shorter routes that have tight turns. The key is deciding whether your pony/horse is faster galloping the longer ways or faster trotting and negotiating the shorter routes' tight turns.
Hazard 3--The Dogwoods
As the name implies, this hazard is out in a meadow dotted with dogwood trees. It is set on a grade and many of the turns required the horse/pony to accelerate uphill. As with all the hazards, there was no "easy" path to any gate; instead, there were multiple options, and the path you chose depended which one you thought your horse/pony could negotiate the fastest.
Hazard 4--The Corn Cribs
This is one of those hazards that looks wide open while you are walking it, but rides a lot tighter once you're inside with horse/pony and carriage. At the center are 4 corn cribs; surrounding it is a maze of split rail fencing. In 2006 they put a plastic life-sized foal in one of the "paddocks" created by the fencing--that certainly surprised a lot of equines, including Merlin. Even the hazard judges were laughing at his look of shock.
Hazard 5--The Pines
This was the first hazard last year and the last this year. Created by a stand of tall pine trees, the relatively hard and "fast" footing makes it a speedy hazard. It's a light to dark question--you go from the open and and gallop into the much darker woods.
Kelly, Thanks for your great description and the photos helped. As a driver, I am always interested in seeing or hearing about unique hazards. We don;t have corn cribs down here in Florida, so the photo was a great help. The 4 cribs must add a height dimension that makes it more challenging to drive.
Your perspective as a gator also helps. Enjoyed your post.