The Sun Shines on Day Four at Sunshine State CDE

Ocala, FL - Drivers at Sunshine State opened their eyes this morning to a hard frost on the ground.  Thankfully, the sun did shine and there were actually a few hours when the down jackets could be taken off.  A large area was transformed from the Dressage ring and on deck warm-up into the Obstacle Phase during the marathon yesterday and this course certainly covered some ground.  

The course did not open for walking until 7 AM on Sunday so competitors flooded the course at that time leaving a winding trail through the frosty grass as they trooped over the course.  According to the FEI rules, the course must be open “at least one hour before the official start time”.   At many events, early competitors have been at a distinct disadvantage as some organizers have chosen to only allow an hour for walking, not taking into account that drivers must also get their horses harnessed and warmed up in that narrow time frame, so the two hours was a welcome breather.

One atypical element in the course was the use of a low depression filled with water in one corner of the course with a set of cones perched at the entrance lip and another at a right angle across the water on the other incline.   This part of the course followed a zig-zag and afforded little space to set up the approach to the water.  In addition, the afternoon sun reflecting off the pool managed to back quite a few horses off as the entrance set of cones took quite a few hits.

The course required quite a bit of speed especially at the upper levels.  As a result there were only a handful of double clear rounds.  Two of those came from Junior drivers Jan Jan Hamilton (FL) and Maggie Sullivan (CT)!   Of the FEI Horse Teams only Jimmy Fairclough managed to pull off the nearly impossible task with no time or course penalties.

There were some casualties in the placings as a result of the course.  Most fatal was that of FEI Team driver Casey Zubeck (IN) who went from a second place in Dressage with a good marathon keeping him in that spot to a devastating fall from the ribbons.  Poor Casey wreaked havock on the course and if that wasn’t enough, had a trace become disconnected as he headed to the finish line racking up over 62 penalty points.  

Probably the most hotly contested Class in the show with the exception of the World Equestrian Games quest in Horse Teams, was the Intermediate Single Pony.  Eventual winner Tracey Morgan went into the Obstacle Phase behind Dressage winner and newcomer to the sport, Amy Cross (SC) driving Wendy O’Brien’s  Maximus.  Sadly, Amy had two balls down for 6 course penalties dropping her to second place while Tracey had a clear round.

A nice touch for the competitors today was a luncheon provided by Cody’s Original Roadhouse in Ocala.  Each entry received a free ticket to attend and additional tickets were available at a nominal fee.  

Final results for the show were:

  • Preliminary Division:  Single Pony- Laura SanDiego (MS), Pair Pony- Wendy O’Brien (SC), Single Horse- Bob Giles (FL), Pair Horse- Alan Aulson (FL)
  • Intermediate: Single Pony- Tracey Morgan (MD), Pair Ponies- Meghan Benge (SC),  Single Horse- Jan Jan Hamilton (FL), Pair Horse- Rae Fischer (CAN), Pony Team- Heather Schneider (FL)
  • FEI/Advanced: Single Pony- Phyllis Grupe (CA), Pair Ponies- Jennifer Matheson (SC), Pony Team- Lisa Stroud (PA), Single Horse- Scott Monroe (CT), Pair Horse- Misdee Miller-Wrigley (TN), Horse Team Chester Weber (FL)

Photos from the event can be viewed once they are uploaded at