Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Ultimate Rockstar Status

I'm sure there was some significance to Frankie's name when he was registered, but I have to admit that Frankie's Rockstar would not have been my first choice.  However, if you have to have a self-fulfilling name...Rockstar ain't a bad one to have.  If there has ever been a better 'first time at a Combined Driving Event experience'...well, Frankie definitely filled Handy's huge shoes.

There are several videos over on Instagram.  My long time friend Amy came to reenact her long time ago role as groom/navigator and she did an awesome job narrating the videos of our warm up for dressage and cones, the actual tests and the warm up for the marathon.  There are also a couple videos of the cross country course and a peek at two hazards.  I'll link them at the bottom. 

We arrived Friday afternoon and Frankie quickly settled in.  We did a short drive later in the afternoon so he could stretch his legs and get a look around.  We were able to drive around the outside of the dressage ring and he got to look at the judges huts and the white chain fence around the ring - no problems.  

There was a briefing and course walk after that and we took Auntie Reg with us on the golf cart and she has the bruises to show for how fun that was ;-).  John and Reg came to cheer us on and took care of Bea the whole weekend and made her experience fun and as low stress as possible.  Bea was of course the real star of the show.

After the course walk we headed out to walk the cones course.  You can walk it as many times as you need to to get it straight in your mind and plot your route through.  My goal going up to the event was to go "double clean", meaning we didn't knock any balls down and didn't have any time penalties.  After I saw the course I decided I was just going to be happy if I didn't get lost :-o.  

The next morning we put on our city clothes and headed over to warm up for dressage and cones.  Frankie had a great warm up, staying nice and relaxed and looked like a million bucks.  Our dressage test was a good solid training level test and he stayed nice and relaxed and didn't have any issues with the ring or judges.  

From there we moved over to the cones course and even though I'd walked the course five or six times, I was very concerned I was going to mess things up for us.  It was a complicated course with several tricky obstacles and lots of really tight turns.  

It's fun to go back and watch the video and then remember how he looked driving cones back at the spring show.  So Much Improvement.  He did a great job making all the tight turns and we didn't knock a single ball down.  We were a few seconds slow, but I didn't care.  I was very proud of both of us.

After we were finished up and had Frankie taken care of, we made our first trip out to the hazards to start plotting our routes through there.  It was 90 degrees (!).  We made one trip around, thankfully with a golf cart, and decided to do our second round after dinner when it was a little cooler.  I made one last quick trip around the next morning.  There are a couple of videos that show a glimpse of two of the hazards and they are fun to see.

Now I should mention that we were not the only horse event at the Hoosier Horse Park over the weekend.  There was also a mounted shooting event taking place in the indoor arena.  Horses, balloons and black powder pistols.  In an echoing metal building.  Right on the road we had to take to the safety check and start of the marathon.

I didn't really even give it a thought as we listened to the loud blasts all the way over in the stabling area all weekend.  As we headed past the arena on the way to the safety check on a quiet Sunday morning, right next to the arena, out of nowhere, "BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM BLAM..."  I nearly fell out of the cart.  Frankie never even flicked an ear.  It was almost surreal.

We passed our safety check, did a nice relaxed warm up and then it was time to go.  "Ten, nine, eight...three, two, one. Have a great trip!"  Section A was just roads and tracks and we had a blast heading off into the woods.  Frankie, never having driven through tight woods and narrow trails, was fantastic!  He even drove off the "Oh sh**" hill without a hint of hesitation.

Even with the heat, Frankie had no issues in the vet check after Section A and as they counted us down to start B, I was just so incredibly grateful to be there, doing something I honestly thought I'd never do again.  On to the hazards!

The first hazard was a natural looking woods, brush and unpainted fences obstacle.  We trotted up to it and around the tree.  As we approached the first fenced chute I let him walk to get his bearings and get around the tight turns and then we had an open spot he willingly picked up the trot again and out we went.  

This is how we handled each hazard. If he was concerned about something I let him walk a few steps to get his confidence up before asking him to trot.  If I felt like we weren't safe to attempt something at a faster rate, I asked him to walk until we were more open.  The pictures above were of the second hazard.

The third hazard was the covered wagons.  You can see it in one of the course walk videos.  I was super excited to drive this one.  It's a gorgeous obstacle.  We trotted through the entrance and straight up to the first wagon.  He wasn't sure he wanted to drive under it and hesitated for just a second or two before bravely walking under.  We walked under the second covered wagon as well and by the third he was trotting without hesitation.  

The fourth hazard was big colorful plastic tarps stretched between fence posts. I think there is a video of that hazard, but I need to get it from John and I'll share it later.  I don't remember him even looking at that one.  So brave and smart!

The last hazard was the stockade, also on one of the videos.  He didn't hesitate going into the stockade, but the turns were tighter than I'd realized and I asked him to walk much of it so we wouldn't hit something and end our great trip on a bad note.  As soon as we were clear of the tight turns he immediately charged back into a trot and we headed to the finish line.

My fear going into this was that Frankie was going to be overwhelmed by the distance, almost 10 km.  Our summer schools had been a bit brutal with me feeling like I was working almost as hard as Frankie just to get some minimum mileage in.  He loved traveling the trails and actually got easier to drive the further along the course we got.  He never dropped his head like he was tired and we passed through the final vet check with flying colors, even in the heat.

Even though we were too slow over the weekend to even think about beating anyone, we did finish with a solid dressage test and no penalties other than time in cones and marathon.  A couple drivers didn't make it through cones.  Adding to that his safe, steady, pretty and incredibly fun drives throughout the weekend, I'm calling Frankie a big winner.  Definitely a Rockstar.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped us do this.  Leslie Cashion did an outstanding job not only getting us ready to be there, but also running things from the ground for us throughout the weekend and taking the awesome pictures above.  John and Reg...for everything they do and especially caring for Bea.  Amy for the super fun videos and excellent grooming and navigating and Saint Tim for, as always, doing "the heavy lifting".  

Note: Tim didn't get to see much of our marathon run because he volunteered to help out on Sunday when he heard they were short on volunteers.  It was fun to pass him at the road crossing on course :-D.

Here are the videos from IG.  I hope you can watch them.  Amy did a great job with the running commentary!




Unknown said...

What a pair of rock stars! Both of you! It's so inspiring to get to join you for part of this huge achievement!

Anonymous said...

Wow! So interesting and a whole other part of your life to share.😊 You both did great. I commend you for not dying of heat stroke, but your outfit was fantastic! Frankie has much to tell Lancelot. K.Littrell

Vandermolen said...

Thank you for sharing your lovely event with Frankie. A champion pair.

Anonymous said...

Your videos are awesome :)
You and Frankie are great together.
~deni m

Shirley said...

Rockstar indeed! You make a great pair and I'm so happy for you to have gotten back into doing this.
Frankie is gorgeous.
Well done! And it isn't always about winning it's about showing your horse in the best possible way and having a good experience for both of you.

Leslie said...

So happy you're able to go do something you loved and thought you'd lost. Excellent job by all concerned. When's the next one??

Michelle said...

I think Frankie must just be an 'energy conserver.' ;-) What an awesome experience for both of you! I am just so thrilled that you are back in the box, and hope you continue. In the same way, I look forward to getting back in the 'sandbox' competitively (not just for a 'looky-loo' like this June) with Stella; it's been a long time!

Far Side of Fifty said...

You are both rockstars! I enjoyed all the videos, I watched several on Facebook. What a great accomplishment! You have a great team of people supporting you!

Terry and Linda said...

WOW! This is wonderful! Both of you are ROCKSTARS!! This has been a huge treat for me to get to watch that beautiful horse and his beautiful hooman!

ineedorange said...

Way to go, Team Frankie!!!

Dos Galgos said...

Lovely turnout for Team Frankie! Those cones were pretty complex and yet you did amazingly well; I'd say Huzzah for a great finish!


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