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Getting Ready To Compete

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  • Getting Ready To Compete

    Wondered if anyone else is preparing for a CDE in the near future? We are getting ready for Metamora, seems like we have been getting ready forever! Probably because we started in March. Only got in a couple drives in Feb. our usual start time, weather was just terrible, couldn't go down the road. So that meant we had to do more drives per week in the time left, to get enough miles and time on them to achieve fitness. At least it wasn't their first time getting fit, so it is working for them. These last couple weeks, it means we drive rain or shine, so they get worked. Got the raincoats packed under the vehicle seat now!

    The Pair is fairly fit, recovering pretty well after a hard work. Body clipped them yesterday, should have the shine back after a couple sweats and rinse off with the hose. Weather is being tricky, warm to hot and VERY humid, then back to cool with breezes. Rains almost every day, got caught out in a couple rains that drenched us, which is why I packed the raincoats! Weather predictions are pretty useless, both those storms were on 10% chance of showers! The longer daylight hours help let us drive after work until 9P, but then we don't get back in the house until almost 10P.

    With not showing for a while, I have been locating all the good Driving stuff and dragging it out to see what is useful. Did a BIG Presentation fitting last weekend, took several hours. Had to get the new vehicle fitted to the horses and their leather harness. I thought I knew what we would use, but husband and I both were not happy with the looks of the Smucker harness, it just looked "small" on the boys. Weird, because they wore it, looked fine with last year. Anyway we decided to go with the refurbished dutch harness as it fit better, so EVERYTHING had to be dragged out to find all the parts. Packed up all the Smucker stuff and put it back away. Put the extras of dutch harness away TOGETHER this time, so it will be much easier to locate next time I want it.

    Then needed find a couple pairs of leather Achenbach reins. We have been using our Tedman web reins for good grip in all weathers. Horses always protest going back to HEAVY leather, so we do the change way ahead, to get it over with. They walk with heads down by their knees for a couple days, look pitiful, then leather is "normal" again. Found out we have a LOT of NOT Achenbach, Pair reins, which are now all ID'd. Oddly enough both kinds of Pair reins have 11 holes, so that was NOT helpful to tell Wheeler reins from Achenbach without unwinding and measuring them. Had to decide on nice leather bridles to use, get the bits on them. Glad to have a number of same style and size bits, so we don't have to change bits from bridle to bridle each time we use them.

    Next was the vehicle fitting. This was the one we got at the Martin Auction in April, hasn't been on our horses yet. So we had some pole length adjustments, plus deciding on the height of the pole end. Vehicle has an interesting spring arrangement, so pole will go down, but not up to smack horses in the face over rough ground. Then we had to find some pole straps that would be short enough to work. We tried shortening traces first, with short normal length pole straps, couldn't get any tension on the harness at all! I remembered some ridiculously short pole straps that came with something else we bought, and got them out. Then we had to lengthen the traces AGAIN, and being heavily built harness, that is HARD. Harness is really overbuilt, straps for thickness, PLUS webbing in the strapwork. Guess it is NOT going to fail in use! Buckle tongues for traces are thicker than a round pencil! Finally, we got things corrected, and DARN, those shorty pole straps are perfect! New singletrees husband put on the vehicle are wider, placed closer to the outside of splinter bar, so horses were pretty happy. Guess our equines are just fuller bodied than previous owner's horses.

    Things went quicker after that, so we were able to go for a nice long drive at a LOVELY Pleasure pace as the finish to the afternoon. New vehicle rides pretty smooth, but husband is still getting the feel of it with wider width, different height seat. He had raised the body about 4", so it is more proportionate with our taller, larger horses. Still looks OK, that is not a small vehicle. I discovered that back Groom's seat, facing forward, has NO BACK REST to lean on! That is no fun, so will have to come up with an idea to make it safer, yet still able to get into the seat from the back steps. I have put a handhold strap on the front seat back, so at least there is something to hold onto now. I think a quick start could actually have you go backwards, even fall out, with no back rest. Guess hired grooms are better at this than I am!

    We have been able to drive this vehicle about 3 times now, horses are liking it better because it is so light and rolls easily. They are now comfortable in the leather harness, which sure feels different than the synthetic we have been using so much. Us people have also gotten used to weight and handling of the leather harness so it is easier to put on and take off now. Love leather, but it is not a light material.

    Next job is getting the trailer packed up, taking all the stuff you need, and not TOO much extra "just in case" stuff. Haven't used this trailer to show out of for Driving, so having to figure where to put things is taking time. Think I will put labels on the cabinet doors, husband thought that was a GOOD idea for him to find things he didn't pack! I do believe most of my Rubbermaid tubs will fit under the carriage, so they can just stay labeled and packed as they are. Maybe if I can find my old lists, that will be helpful to remember everything. Sure will be easier than the year we hauled everything in the stock trailer, with the ramp on the back end as part of the floor to carry two carriages! Now THAT had to be seen to be believed, and even with the photos I have to shake my head. Sure was fun though!

  • #2
    Goodness! I'm exhausted just reading about everything you have done getting ready for your CDE! <fanning oneself while collapsing back into the chair>

    I consider getting the pair ready for an elegant private picnic drive to be a real workout, but we won't have to worry about fitting the pair to a new vehicle until our latest (1910 lady's drop front phaeton) is finished being restored by DH! That may be this fall....or next year. No rush.

    Best of luck at Metamora!!! Be sure to come back and let us know how your pair does!!


    • #3
      Our weather has been going back and forth as well. I just body clipped one of my super hairy guys almost 2 weeks ago and then we had snow!! Crazy, crazy weather. It has been really hard to get them in shape.
      We just had a nice weekend show where we were able to do a dressage test (either prelim test 2 if you were going to show at Metamora or test 6 if you plan on going to Bromont) and then a cones course. The next day was our pleasure show so it was nice to do a dressage/cones the one day and then a pleasure show the next day.
      One of my boys forgot his brain at home for the Saturday class and just wanted to canter/hop along the whole time. My husband drove him very well considering...
      He luckily found it for the Sunday classes and though there was very little competition, they behaved very well and we ended up Grand Champion and won the Concours D'Elegance. It was a great show to get the jitters out and make sure we had everything in order until Bromont.
      We have done Metamora for the past 8 years (except for last year) and we tried Bromont last year for the first time. We love Metamora and all of the people, we just wanted a change. We have decided to go back to Bromont this year and we are thinking of Walnut Hill as a maybe. We are also planning on Glen Willow later this year.
      Lets hope for better weather! And good luck to you at Metamora


      • Original Poster

        We are taking one younger horse, hasn't been competed before, though he has attended various Driving activities. So far he hasn't left his brain home before, so we think he will be OK at the CDE. Other horse in the Pair has competed a lot of times, so he will be the calming influence.

        Glad to hear your horse settled and you husband certainly finished well with him! Always part of horse showing, having them bright, eager but not so "fresh" they can't listen.

        This weeks extra touch is some hosing in harness, for being ready to drown them in Vet Check. Being big, they need as much water on them as you can pour in the time allotted. Washing mouths, offering drinks, while standing nicely, since Vet Check is always a bit exciting. Also some thermometer and stethoscope practices, so they are NOT surprised to have that done. Funny how you forget when you trained that stuff with your older horses. We have gotten in some hand galloping work, which the young horse REALLY LIKES, but he is a bit strong after slowing down. He just needs more transition work and getting tired cantering, so he doesn't want to JUMP forward anymore. So MANY things to show young horses as they get seasoned.

        They both got loaded in the new-to-them trailer, and after a bit of fussing, backed into their stalls pretty well. They are not used to riding backwards, didn't understand what we were asking. So some more loading practices needed, with a time standing and eating, should get them more comfortable in there. It also gave us an idea on how much space will be left in front of them for packing hay and bagged shavings.

        We like Metamora which is close to home for us, only an hour away. Have been a Club member and attending the CDE's for years. Not sure what to expect this year, usually the heat and humidity has hit by now, which is always hard to deal with in those rolling hills. Nope, still cool, very wet ground. We may be doing Picnic Pace, if the ground is heavy going. We want the Pair having a good time for their first outing together. Son and daughter said they would come help, which will make things a LOT easier. I can take photos or film, get to SEE what the horses look like going! That doesn't work so well when I am always on the carriage.


        • #5
          I'm preparing for an HDT.... but it's not until August. lol.

          Guess that doesn't hold a candle to you GH! WOW!

          I'm taking 2 singles to compete at the HDT. Thankfully it's spread out over 2 days, so shouldn't be too hard to get them both going before their D/C on Saturday and M on Sunday.

          Should be fun! At my meager little training level, haha.

          Just hoping I don't run down any cones. I did a show in May and ran a nice clean course, and then killed a cone at gate 11 of 12. UGH! I suck.

          But I have fun sucking. lol.
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