Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Driving Arizona

Last week, I flew to Burbank CA, to go help my friend Vickie at a Combined Driving Event(CDE) with her lovely horse Galent. The even was in Sonoita Arizona, which is south of Tuscon, in the Southern part of the state. I arrived Tuesday, helped her finish packing the rig, and getting ready, and we hit the road early Wednesday morning. It was about 600 miles away. The trip was uneventful, and we chatted the whole way. Because I am a control freak, I love to drive, so I took care of that duty for the 12 hour trip. We arrived after dark, but found our way in, got Galent into his stall, and then headed to town to find some food, before heading to the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at.

We found a little diner/bar that was still open. This is not a big town, and most everything was closed. But they had food to eat, a juke box that played some good music, and some local cowboys that were very friendly, and entertaining as we ate our meal. I love meeting locals in areas like this. Probably because I live in a smallish town myself.

So, off to the B&B, which was tricky to find. It included some small dirt roads, and a narrow driveway, and a gate. But once inside, we found it to be a very lovely setting. We had to settle for a room with one queen bed the first 2 nights, and since I get restless legs, I opted for a pad on the floor with bedding, so I would not be kicking Vickie all night. The next morning we had an awesome breakfast made by the couple who owned the place, then off to the barn to work the horse.

Galent was a little full of himself, so we decided Vickie should ride him a bit first, as I needed to adjust some harness on him, and that is tough to do when he is squirming. But, as she was getting on, and I was holding him, he had a horsey brain fart, reared (something he has never done before) and he then fell over on her. She was fine, bt her shoulder was sore. She had surgery on it in the past. After deciding it might need looked at, we talked to show management, and before we knew it, the EMT's were heading our way, with the sirens on! We got them radioed to turn of the sirens, it was not that critical. The arrived and took great care of Vickie. Had her move the arm up, down, around, took vital signs, and told her it did not look like they needed to take her anywhere, but to get it looked at. Since having t looked at, ad X-Rayed would not "fix" it, she opted to wait until returning home. But now, she could not drive her horse, and I was the new driver. Been about 10 years since I have driven a CDE. I did not have all the proper clothes, ut we tossed things together. And as we were making the decision, a good friend, Chris Downing, who I have known for years, but had not seen much since moving to TX arrived, and said she would ride with me on the marathon. The recently moved to CO, and came to help out. I worked Galent some that day, and the next morning, and boy was he strong! Pulling, and a bit tense with me. Might be just the new driver, or he was not liking the bit, r just fit and ready to go.

We did our dressage on Friday, and while I was pleased with how he drove, and how he listened, the judges thought otherwise, and he had a poor score. But since Vickie was pleased with what she watched, and I was happy, we just disregarded the scores, and continued to enjoy ourselves.

Saturday was the marathon. It was a bit warm, and a longer course than we thought he was fit and ready for, but he did awesome. He was strong, forward, ad wiling. Did not want to walk when he was to do so, but lost no time. Breezed through the vet check, and then we headed to the hazards. Training level is not timed in hazards, as they are just part f our over all time on course. Three gates to go through, A,B,C, in alphabetical order. Try to drive nice and smooth, no jerking or hard, sharp turns. These hazards had some tighter turns that I'd have liked for a horse newer to the sport, but he did really well. The water hazard was great fun. We did not have to go through the water, but it was a great chance to school. I expected him to balk, but he never missed a stride, and trotted right on in like a pro. At the end of the marathon, he had another vet check, and was one of the few horses the vet did not need to see back again.

Sunday is a cones course, that you drive through, trying to not hit a cone, and knock off the balls. The clearance is the same distance for everyone. He was again strong and pulling, but responsive. We did not knock down any balls, and did the course in the time allowed. Good boy!

We packed up and decided to head home Sunday afternoon, so Vickie could get to the doctor Monday. Our 12 hour drive got us in about 1-2 in the morning. Boy did I sleep well! Next day the doctor found she had broke her clavicle, and to just rest it, not use the arm, and see how it heals.

Tuesday I found myself on the plane heading back to Texas, thinking about the great time I had driving such a beautiful horse in Arizona, but sad that Vickie hurt herself and could not do so. And for those curious, he is 63/64th Arabian, with some pinto in there for color. No Saddlebred blood. Born in Montana, from Ravenwood Farms.

The wonderful photos of us from the event were taken by Peggi with Cactus Creek Design. You can see all of our photos, and more of her work at this link:


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