A Day at Chilly NJ Horse Park
I was called to volunteer at the Garden State Driving Society's combined driving event at the NJ Horse Park today.
I opted for a job I've never done before--Cones Scribe.
This is a loft title for the person who sits next to the judge in the driving obstacle course--a tricky pattern where the carriages have to pass between numbered sets of cones with tennis balls on them. The course is timed and the cones are set apart with just a bit of room wider than the carriage wheels.
The course, according to my judge--who was from Massachusetts--was very difficult today. To start off with, it was in a smallish arena. The Horse Park has put in some new footing and the larger arena was a bit too deep for driving. Our arena was soft too, causing some sliding of some of the carriages. The time was tight and of the 40 or so competitors who drove, very few were able to make the time. However, since one or two did, the judge felt the time was OK, until we got to the advanced horses. Then, making the time was near high impossible. But there were only two advanced teams, so it really didn't matter too much.
Now, my job was to mark in boxes under the number of each set of cones whether the driver went clear or had a knockdown of a ball, a cone, or a marker. Each knockdown was a 3 point penalty. Then I had to record the time of each drive as there were penalties added to the score for each second over the time limit.
It was really fun. Because I was not a dressage scribe having to write oodles of comments, I got to watch the rounds. As a matter of fact, I had to watch the rounds because I, the judge and all the cone setters and timers needed to keep eagle eyes on those tennis balls to make sure we were scoring everyone fairly in case of a knockdown.
There were horses of all shapes and sizes--including two minis, known as "VSE's" or "Very Small Equines." There were several pairs teams, and some very lovely horses I wouldn't mind having in my dressage barn.
All the drives were excellent, even when they had penalties.
Today was a combined test with just dressage and cones. Tomorrow will be one phase of the two day combined event with another round of dressage and cones. Sunday will be the marathon with all kinds of obstacles to navigate on the cross country course. As I was leaving, I saw some of the workers setting things up at the water complex.
Hopefully it will warm up a little for the volunteers as it stayed chilly all day today. (I had my long down coat and was the envy of many.) Then again, I think, aside from the wind, the weather was perfect for the horses.
Wishing everyone well over the next two days. It's going to be a great competition!