Friday, May. 24, 2024

Stroud Puts The Cherry On Top At The Katydid CDE

She finishes a winning year with something a little bit different.

“You couldn’t top this year,” said Lisa Stroud after winning the preliminary tandem challenge at the Katydid CDE, Nov. 8-11 in Windsor, S.C.

“You think you’re going to get a scoop of ice cream, and you get the whole darn banana split,” she said.
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She finishes a winning year with something a little bit different.

“You couldn’t top this year,” said Lisa Stroud after winning the preliminary tandem challenge at the Katydid CDE, Nov. 8-11 in Windsor, S.C.

“You think you’re going to get a scoop of ice cream, and you get the whole darn banana split,” she said.

Stroud’s perfect year started when she was selected to represent the United States at the World Combined Pony Driving Championships in Denmark, where the U.S. team won bronze. Prior to the championships, she won two competitions in England.

Next, back at home, she won the advanced pony four-in-hand division at the Laurels At Landhope CDE (Pa.) and followed that up at the Fair Hill CDE (Md.) by becoming the USEF National Four-in-Hand Pony Champion.

At Katydid, Stroud decided to change things a little and drive a tandem. “It is very technical, and very subtle,” she said.

Wendy Ying, winner of the preliminary horse tandem class, is another tandem aficionado and the two became friendly rivals whenever the opportunity arose to drive tandem.

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At last year’s Pine Tree CDE (N.C.), they went head to head—and in costume—in honor of the Halloween weekend. So when the organizers of the Katydid CDE decided to offer a tandem challenge, they didn’t need to be persuaded to take part. The event is the last of the year for many drivers on the East Coast, and all the national and international championships have been contested. This one was just for fun.

The challenge attracted six competitors, three pony and three horse tandems. “Misery loves company,” joked Stroud, referring to the difficulty of driving this configuration.

It is a true test of the skill of the whip. Tandem requires a bold, confident leader, but he’s out there on his own, and can turn and face you in a split second. While the challenge was at the preliminary level, all of the competitors have had experience at higher levels, including Sterling Graburn, Ying, Paul Nordan, Betsy Cowper-thwaite and Lindsay Taliaferro.

Organizers hope that by keeping the competition preliminary, more drivers will be inspired to join the fun. They’re confident from the comments that next year’s tandem classes will be larger.

Stroud drove half of her “A team,” Mosby in the lead and Kilkerin Edward in the wheel, scoring an impressive 38.26 in dressage, the best of the entire competition. In dressage, with tandems, the leader should be out of draft (the traces should be slack—the leader should not be pulling the carriage). Stroud said it was hard to keep Mosby in her hand, yet out of draft. They executed a perfect rein back; both ponies took three steps back and the articulated carriage stayed straight.

In the marathon, “We didn’t miss a single line,” said Stroud. “We made every turn.”

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Used to driving an advanced cones course, Stroud found the preliminary course like driving on a four-lane highway, and thus didn’t incur any penalties.

The competition was held at Katrina Becker’s Katydid Farm just outside of Aiken, S.C. Barry Hunter, an FEI course designer who splits his time between England and Ocala, Fla., flagged the marathon track and obstacles. No new obstacles were built for this year’s event, but the direction and order of the obstacles was changed.

Jennifer Matheson, competing on home turf, won the advanced single pony class with her handsome pony stallion Dannyloo. “We finally put it all together. I was really pleased,” said Matheson. “We were still a little sloppy in dressage—we didn’t have Shelly [Temple] to push us.”

After some difficulties in the marathon at earlier events, Matheson regrouped and now does her obstacle “schooling” at the shows. “I was really happy. We won four hazards and even beat some of Fred’s [Merriam] times.”

Matheson had to convince “Danny” that he had to complete the last three obstacles instead of turning for home, as is his normal habit, a disadvantage to competing in your own back yard. Samantha Orem had the best advanced-level marathon and finished second to Matheson.

Fred Merriam and Gaitwood Lightwing, who won an individual bronze medal in 2002 at the World Singles Championship, were in top form in the marathon in the advanced single horse class. In spite of driving fast in the first six of the seven obstacles, a turnover in the last one dashed his victory hopes, giving the win to David Schneider.

Ann L. Pringle

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