Wednesday, September 20, 2023

In CDE the "D" is for Donkey!

We did it! We made it successfully through out first CDE! What a fantastic adventure with the most wonderful, inviting and encouraging people. The Harvest Moon Combined Driving (Donkey) Event was hosted by the Klondike Driving Club at the beautiful facility owned by the Brown family outside of Vimy. There was, what I understand to be, a moderate turnout of drivers. Most were single-horse entries, several minis and one pair of lovely palomino welsh mares affectionately referred to as the Golden Girls. On Friday evening, we took up our vehicles for measurements and checked in. We had a course tour of the marathon and a look at the obstacles. There was a competitors' meeting that evening and I got all my questions answered.
Saturday morning, as bright and early as my migrane allowed, we arrived on the grounds and got set up for dressage and cones. It was such a delight seeing everyone dressed in turnout for dressage. I was hoping to wear my tophat, but the facility waiver states certified helmet, so I obliged. There will be another day for more fancy headgear. I drove the first dressage test with Phillippe, Ali was just a couple of tests after me. Now, I realized very well that my donkey was not going to have any movement to write home about, but after riding and judging dressage for over a decade, I knew I'd be able to drive a very accurate test. Indeed, the comments agreed. I learned about eventing dressage, how it's scored in penalty points, not in percentage like regular dressage. I'm proud to tell you that we were not the bottom of the barrel! The judge was kind and generous and very encouraging for my little long ears. My score equalled out ot over 65%. Phillippe was not as relaxed and confident as I would have liked, but that didn't matter. It was his first time in the ring. He'll be more confident next time he sees one. From dressage, we went straight to cones. Despite a moment where I got lost (who put 13 waaaay over on the other side of the field??!!) we were clean through the cones, with only 4 minutes over ideal time! In training level - the beginner level we're competing in, we're only permitted to walk and trot. Donkeys just don't trot as fast as ponies or horses. So we trotted the whole thing and had an accurate tour, there's really no way to get him to make time. All we can aim for in the future is to get closer to ideal. So many of the competitors were cheering for us and stopped to watch his cones course. He seems to be quite the novelty. Sunday was a much earlier start. Phillippe and I were asked to be second out on the marathon course, 1 minute after the first driver. This was done because we were not going to be competative on speed and we wanted to be out of the way for the next driver after us. It was a 6 km tour through the property with 5 sets of gates. Training level only requires the first 3 gates to be negotiated. I'd studied the courses the night before so I had my plan in place. Again, I'm very glad to say we were clear through all the obstacles! Phillippe trotted the entire way around and did not feel like he was spent at the finish line. We even went through the water and over the bridge. He felt so brave and interested in what we were doing. Again, everyone who was out volunteering or watching cheered us on! When we crossed the finish line, we were a mere 14 minutes over ideal time!!! Despite that, we finished the competition on a number, not eliminated! In the end, we placed 7/9 in trainnig level.
Ali and Jasmine had a great time too. They had a clean first dressage test - the first dressage test Ali's ever negotiated and she had to do it by memory. Definitely room for improvement but she scored 64% (yes I beat her!!! But that's the only place I beat her!) She had 1 ball down in the cones course and was only seconds over time allowed! That pony just loves to motor!
In marathon, they went backwards through one set of gates which cost them, but overall were only 2 minutes over ideal time. That's pretty impressive for a little $50 kijij pony trained by a teen! I was very proud of them. They did win a junior high-point prize as well. A lovely dash storage bag for her vehicle. I'm very excited to try CDE again next year. I have ideas on what I can do to be even more prepared and perhaps slightly more "competative" - that just means with our basline times and scores, not with anyone else, YET! Besides, I've now acquired another pony who I expect will be very competative!! More on that next time! In the meantime, happy horseing!