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*This blog requires a bit of back story! Hang on HJU readers I’m going to fast forward through 3 years of my life!*
Let’s face it. My world is supposed to revolve around Princess Claire. At least in her opinion… But her own selfishness has led to my attention now being split into 4 horses. She was lonely at home, so I got her a friend, a free little pony we call Z. He’s my childhood dream and standing a fierce 12.1h he’s gone to shows, been borrowed by the 4H club and made it all the way to their state level show. Fast forward a few months to my knee surgery in 2012, I sent Claire to my trainer’s house to keep her in use while I was on crutches and more for 6 months. She learned that being a lesson horse is not fun because you have to work! And her poor Z pony was having a heart attack at home being alone (the most herd bound horse I have EVER seen) I started looking for a rescue to keep him from having a 30 year old horsey heart attack. Claire ended up going with me to a local 4H sponsored open show where she met her greatest fear… Minis, and not just minis but mini’s driving carts. Lets say we ended our show day a bit earlier than planned.
In my barn there’s a rule, if you’re afraid of it you’re going to wear it… That scary feed bag… yep; Tarp? Now it’s on your head!
A very angry Claire wearing her tarp on her head
So by the power of fate Lilly Pond Foal Rescue had a mini they needed adopted, who was battling founder and other health needs, and with Claire gone to the trainers I had a spot. Welcome, Flower! In the meantime I had a 4Her who had no horse for the year and we got the wild idea to break my geriatric and super healthy pony to driving. (with vet’s permission!)
When poor Claire came home from her rehab after eye surgery her field was a war zone. A Mini in her field! AND her best friend hooked to some sort of contraption that squeaked and chased him around! After a few drives with Z she suddenly realized that the world wasn’t ending yet but she held out suspicion for the short horse.
One day I got this weird vibe… like Magic Silent Horse Whisperer vibe. While the farrier was doing flower’s feet I looked at him and said “This sounds highly irrational but I think Flower’s Pregnant… I can’t explain it”. He looked at me and laughed a little, but I dismissed it too. But that vibe came back, I decided to wait a few days before texting my vet the exact same thing. She responded back “It’s entirely possible. I’ll see you for our spring shots visit later this week J” Well now I’m in a blind panic… trying not to tell anyone till we know. Dr Carmen jumped out her truck and looks out into the field and says “yep, that looks pregnant” At this point I don’t think I can see straight and I’m pretty sure fainting is the next step after elevated heart rate and blood pressure. My vet seeing the panic in my eyes offers an “Educational Ultrasound” where we put my mini inside the garage for darkness and try to convince her she wants us to poke her with the probe. What I saw next was the closes to true childbirth I may ever get. I saw an eye, a perfect large almond shaped eye, and it blinked at me. I then had my mini try to explode and baby start flailing in there so it was over but it was a moment I’ll never forget. Dr Carmen said “I’ll see you in 4-6 weeks for a baby!” Now what! I proceeded to treat her like a soap bubble ready to burst and stayed up every night thinking the baby’s coming. 8 weeks later… One very sleep deprived human family, and one very amazing FB/Internet community were ready for this thing to come out!
Between my watching and the MareStare camera we installed, the world’s most famous baby was set to arrive. His poor momma was only 36” tall and pushing 72” around, wearing special gel boots because she couldn’t walk anymore we confined her to the run in shed (because I NEVER planned for a baby and have no stalls and no proper birthing barn) for fear that she’d get stuck out in the field. We had a huge emergency plan to get the baby out if he got stuck and I was at stress level 10. I was camped out in the basement on the sofa watching the camera when I saw her go down for real. She’s fake labored every night for about 2 weeks at 3AM so I’m pretty numb to her faking it at this point. I busted out the door and ran the 100 yards to her “stall” and was on the phone with the vet screaming “We’re having a baby! We’re having a baby! We HAD a baby” Dr Carmen was on the way but stopped me catching my change of past tense. He was nose out and she stood up and he fell right out!
2 Day Old Cuteness
He was healthy, grunting and wiggling around, flower turned to go meet her baby but I was already all over him with a towel and cleaning him up. She poked me to get out her way of which my adrenaline turned to her and said “Hey he’s my baby too I stayed up every night with you” we shared our baby foal all night. He was up and nursing within 45 minutes and weighing only 20 pounds was in my lap napping. (April 16, 2013)
It’s been 8 months now… he’s grown like a weed, and looks nothing like his mom (actually he’s getting taller than her!!!) I spent all summer wondering what people do with overgrown mini’s. I mean he was adorable as a foal showing in the weanling classes last year. But seriously, he’s too small for even a child to ride and soon to be too big for the Miniature horse world (Not to mention he’s not registered and they are pretty strict in AMHA shows)
My Miniature partner in crime Tricia introduced me to a new sport… CDE or Combined Driving Event. Along with a host of other driving formats (ADT’s etc.) I learned more about the world of driving. Where he has a welcome home as a VSE or Very Small Equine or even a small pony depending on how large we get!
I got the text last month to pack the bags and grab the car we’re going to go watch a CDE! So off we set last weekend to drive the 7ish hours to Aiken Sc for the Monster Mini CDE. Three truck stops and a tack store 4 hrs off the itinerary we pulled in to Shepard’s Purse farm home of the legendary and gracious Muffy Seaton. It rained the ENTIRE way down and apparently wasn’t about to stop. But I learned that CDE’s are like Eventing on Wheels which means we go in the rain! Below is part of the USEF’s definition of CDE.
“… Instead of placing emphasis on the style, authenticity, and pleasurable performance of a hitch, a combined driving event is rigorously performance-based and is actually modeled after the mounted equestrian test of three-day eventing. Combined driving is designed to test a horse’s or a team’s speed, stamina, obedience and athleticism, in three distinct and demanding phases usually held over the course of three days.
Competitors can consist of a single horse, a pair of horses or a team of four horses, and they are tested in three phases: dressage, marathon and obstacle driving. The first day’s combined driving dressage class tests a single, pair or team in the areas of obedience, freedom and regularity of motion and impulsion through a sequence of compulsory movements executed within a designated area or arena.
Day two sees competitors tackle the fast-paced and demanding phase known as the cross-country marathon in which a horse’s fitness, stamina, agility and obedience is tested together with a driver’s accuracy and judgment as they are asked to negotiate an intricate series of hazards which can include water, steep hills and sharp turns in the fastest time while accumulating the least number of penalties. The third and final phase, the cone driving competition, tests a horse’s obedience, agility, and after two previously demanding days of competition, its endurance. Simultaneously, a driver’s skill, accuracy and precision are tested as the single, pair or team is challenged with negotiating an intricate course of narrowly-spaced cones cleanly and within the time allowed.”
After meeting USA WEG 2010 competitor Josh Rector and his wife Emily at a pleasure drive event they have graciously answered my million questions about the sport and I’ve gotten to see photos of the big CDE’s! They’ve been gracious enough to help me learn about a CDE before I got there looking totally clueless. (Go Team Nags Head Farm!!)
Big Horse CDE! (Josh and Emily at Southern Pines 2013) Used with permission Team-Nags-Head-FarmThis event was a non-sanctioned informal CDE. I was greeted by a very kind staff from the farm hosting and the Aiken Driving Club. By the end of the weekend I had some wonderful gentleman driving me around the marathon course in a golf cart to learn about each obstacle and to introduce me to some renowned local drivers. Tricia and I were also known as the “girls who drove all the way from Richmond, VA just to watch”.
The Virginia Ladies! (and Tricia)
I took tons of photos and videos through a storm, and a beautiful day to follow and made a video for the HJU community to watch. I hope everyone enjoys my fun footage! Here’s some things I learned about this sport!
Get Ready for this 2018!!
My Sleek Ferrari of a little future CDE buddy Huck! (kinda more like a mini cooper at 35″) Photo from Eagle’s Ring Farm when he was sold to Tricia
In the meantime my addicted self is now the proud leaser of “Eagle’s Ring Bow’s Huckleberry Finn” AKA Huck who will be my driving partner for the next few years!