I don’t know why it is called navigating, because I actually just tried to stay aboard. Kate is a top international combined driver, and I got to ride along in the carriages at the Upperville Horse Show this year! It was SO COOL!
My groovy get-up for the cones competition. I think I pull off tweed quite well!
The first ride was a cones competition where you drive your horse as fast as you dare between sets of cones with tennis balls balanced on top of them. The point is to post the fastest time without knocking down any balls/cones, which adds 5 seconds each to your time.
Scrutinizing the competition.
I was not entirely sure what to do. I just didn’t want to screw up!
And we’re off!
Kate was first in the ring for her division. She had to set the pace, go as fast as she could and hope no one could catch her. She started right off at a gallop.
Between this photo and the one above, you can see the margin of error is slim.
The first few turns were smooth and easy, like a lovely drive in the country. I was generally able to tell where the next set of cones would be and prepare myself to shift my body weight one way or the other. I had one hand on the rail next to me and tried to smile.
By halfway, Kate and Winslow were really rocking, and I was holding on with two hands trying not to look like an amateur. I couldn’t tell where the next cones were anymore because usually they were behind us. I was amazed at how quickly and sharply Kate could steer that massive carriage and still she didn’t knock a single cone!
Two hands so you don’t wreck!
No one came close to her time, and she won by a landslide. I’m learning that she’s fairly well known and lots of people came up to her to compliment her round. One lady even expressed her disappointment because she thought she had a shot at winning until she saw Kate’s name on the entry.
Later that same day…
A dear friend of Kate’s recently passed away from pancreatic cancer and her husband had arranged for Kate to do a driving demo before the Grand Prix competition on the last day of the show to raise awareness of the illness.
Kate drove her friend’s pony, Bouncer, who had been at our farm for a few weeks preparing.
As we galloped around the ring during the demo I heard the announcer list Bouncer’s many accolades. I had no idea he was an individual world driving gold medalist. He even has his own Breyer model! Although I was told later that his model has, ahem, a few extra details that geldings do not typically have.
We just went in the ring and “winged it” galloping around the Grand Prix jumps between a few cones that had been set up. People clapped, we laughed, I leaned, and it was just an overall joyous occasion. I hope I get to “navigate” again!
Thanks to my friends Amanda and John Dayton for taking pictures and letting me share them with you here!