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Brandywine Driving Trial April 7th, 2001
by Bob Fetters
please read our copyright notice

On a cool, cloudy Saturday, Brandywine Valley Driving Club conducted its' first Arena Driving Trial for 23 participants. Vince Dugan Stables supplied an exceptional site. The indoor arena was 33 meters wide and 75 meters long. Open walls on three sides allowed plenty of light. Footing was soft but not too deep. There was convenient trailer parking and a large grass area for warm-up

This event was focused on schooling for new drivers and fun and practice for more experienced whips. Two divisions were offered; Training and Preliminary. 14 of the 23 entrants were Training level including several who had never done a CDE.

Inside the large indoor arena a 30m x 60m dressage arena was set up and partially outlined with white PVC pipe. Lisa Singer designed a dressage test that could be executed in the ring while the Cones course (11 Cones) was already in place. This allowed the participants to execute their dressage test and proceed immediately to their cones effort while never leaving the ring. Shelly Temple was kind enough to document this test so that it could be included in the entrants' packet of information. The packet included the Schedule (order of go), Rules, Dressage test and Diagram, Cones Diagram, and 2 Hazard Diagrams.

Kail Palmer performed three roles: She was T.D., Dressage and Cones Judge, and counselor to the people who were new to driving a CDE. She did a wonderful job of handling the range of skills, which went from very very new to very very experienced.

The width of the Cones spacing was generous. (Wider than the training width required for the widest vehicle) They were left at that spacing for all vehicles. Scoring was unusual and patterned after ideas of Muffy Seaton. An ideal time for the Cones course was established based on 180 meters/Min for training and 200 meters/min. for prelim. The time was not published or announced. Each participant received 0.5 penalty points for each second they were above or below the ideal time. The other normal scoring ( 5 points per ball down etc. ) also applied. This scoring seemed to contribute towards the relaxed atmosphere of the event.

For Hazards the white PVC pipes were expanded to make the ring maximum width and about 70 meters long. The Hazards were designed by Lisa Singer and consisted of two types. The first consisted of 8 wooden towers built of 4x4 pieces of wood. They are about four and a half feet tall and four feet square. Fence rails could connect them where desired. In both hazards, Lisa had Training levels do gates A,B and C and prelim did A,B,C and D. The second Hazard was composed of upright plastic poles from the traffic control industry called "delineator posts". They have a weighted base and worked well. Some of them had plastic 'caution' tape strung between them. At Lisa's suggestion, a few of these posts with tape strung between them were placed in the warm-up area.

The two hazards were placed at opposite ends of the arena. One pair of cones in the middle of the arena served as the entry and exit for each hazard. They drove each hazard twice. The sequence was : enter the arena and circle it once then drive through the center cones to enter Hazard 1, drive it, and exit through the center cones. Then circle the arena, enter hazard 2 through the center cones, drive it and exit through the center cones. Then repeat the process. Only the time spent in the hazards was scored.

The Scoring of hazards was meant to encourage a smooth, careful trip. Participants received 0.2 penalty points for each second spent in the hazard and 5 penalty points for each knockdown. A knockdown was much more of a penalty than going slow. The knockdowns were round balls placed on the top of many of the turning points in the hazards (they looked suspiciously like Oranges purchased at the grocery store). If any part of the hazard was touched, the balls came down. Surprisingly few balls came down.

Bob Fetters was the organizer. Bobbi Hager was the hard working secretary. She divided Training into three divisions and Prelim into two. Both experienced and inexperienced whips seemed to have fun. In Training, Blue Ribbons went to Guy Long with his spectacular Appaloosa, and to Beth Wolfers with "Rainbow Brite", and to Tandy Costello with her 20+ year old hunter/jumper "Razz". In Prelim, Doug Marx and his Haflinger won the Pony division and Nancy Fetters with her 18 year old Morgan "Zipper" won the horse division. Mimi Thorington had the best Prelim dressage score with her Morgan "Leaf" at 32.9 and Tandy Costello had the best Training dressage at 34.3.

Kathy Paschetto recruited 5 great volunteers; Becky Blakey, Diana Mark, Kristi Melby, Betsy Ullrich and Mary Berube. (Many thanks to you all !) The competitors themselves pitched in to disassemble the ring/cones and set up the hazards during lunch break. Many participants stayed until the end to remove the hazards and replace Vince Dugan's jump course in his ring

The event started at 8:30 a.m. and finished at 3:15 p.m. There was a 15 minute break mid-morning for the late morning participants to walk the cones. At mid-day an hour and a half was reserved for hazard erection, lunch, and walking the hazards. The coaching and suggestions made by Kail Palmer meant that the newer participants took longer than we anticipated, but the experienced whips took less.

What could be done differently? The training group went first in the 'order of go'. It might be better to let Prelim go first. It goes faster and the Training people would benefit from seeing the more experienced people drive the course.

If anyone would like more specific information regarding this event, please contact Bob Fetters at bobfetters@aol.com



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