Marcie Quist Officiates at Inaugural Combined Driving Test and Derby Series in Florida

Sunday, November 28, 2021
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Marcie Quist, from Southern Pines, North Carolina, has been involved in the sport of Combined Driving for over 20 years. An FEI competitor, USEF Combined driving judge, American Driving Society Technical Delegate. and FEI Steward, Quist was also three times the Chef d’equipe for the USEF Para Driving Team and in 2021 the Chef d'equipe for the US Pairs team in Kronenberg at the Driving World Championships.

For the first in a series of Combined Tests and Driving Derbies 2021-2022, to be held at the Black Prong Equestrian Village, organizer Jennifer Matheson invited Quist to come to help launch a new series at the new and improved show and training facility in Bronson, Florida. Thank you Marcie for sharing your impressions and explaining a bit of the process.

Question: Tell me about your impression of the changes at Black Prong, and the quality of the event and competition.

After being away from Black Prong for more than 3 years, I was shocked and amazed at the wonderful changes. From the physical improvements to the focus on service and comfort, the place has undergone a wonderful transition.

Upon entry into the property, you see the details of a welcoming crew and staff with fine new additions like paved parking, a pool, excellent décor, and detailing for the building and facilities. Yet the property still maintains the original plan of a functional driving venue for competitions and training.

Top-Level Training and Competition Facility
Black Prong continues to be a top-level training and competition facility. The obstacles are well maintained and upgraded. The tracks have fabulous and forgiving footing. The diversity of training opportunities with the many courses, the maze, and water options. The facility caters to all levels, giving each competitor and trainer the chance to learn, get the experience, and tune-up for the show season. The US Driving community has an amazing opportunity to drive and train their equines at Black Prong.

Question: Explain your job as judge and official in the Combined Test (Dressage and Cones) and the Derby

As the judge at the last Combined Test of dressage and cones plus the Derby in November (and the scheduled judge at the next competition in Dec,) I had the golden opportunity to see the competitors in action. The marvelous dressage arena allowed the drivers to demonstrate their animals to the best advantage because it is laser level and beautifully groomed and prepared for competition.

As a judge, I am trained to judge each type of animal to the same training scale standard; no matter if they are big or small or tall or wide. As the animals and their drivers perform a determined set pattern (that has difficult challenges as you move up the levels) I pick a number from 0 to 10 to determine the quality of the movement, execution of the patterns, and demonstration of the training. With so much diversity in driving animals from the tall elegant Frisians to small mini horses, I am always amazed at the ability of each competitor to show the animal’s very best.

My fellow official, Lauren Reece the Technical Delegate, was the cones judge in a conveniently located nearby ring. In cones, she is judging the correct pattern and the time taken for the course. While the explaining of cones judging is simple, the reality of the judging is to maintain your focus and make spilt decisions in the case of a mistake. Sometimes the reality is almost overwhelming.

The Derby
For the Derby, a fast passed set course through a combined course of portable obstacles and cones, my judging duties are the combination of observer, timer, and keeping within the rules. As usual, the Black Prong Derby was full of wild music, fast action, and flying dirt.

The Tractor
The Derby arena was also perfectly maintained throughout the completion to allow an equal playing field for all entries. The driver of the tractor (to maintain the flying dirt) demonstrated his superior driving skills without a knockdown of a cone or obstacle. Should he bring a pony next time, he would be expected to be in the ribbons!