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CDE Driver and Navigator Clinic

I attended the CDE Driver and Navigator Clinic in Metamora last weekend. We were supposed to take the Pair, but husband caught some bug and was not in shape to go. So I attended by myself (not sick myself, but well-masked!), to see what new things I could learn.

Turns out there were a LOT! The clinicians, Dr. Barbara Chapman (past World Pony Champion) and Tracy Morgan, with many championships to her name, a Judge, Trainer, were amazing! They shared many tips and details each day. Rules are changing, a competitor needs to be current with rules in use NOW. Getting a current paper rulebook or having the ADS rulebook in digital format for reference was strongly encouraged.

We covered a lot each day on various things. Dressage and the need for flexibility in the horse, then on to various marathon carriages to look over. Features like delayed steering, 5th wheel brakes, weights of vehicle to equine, Navigator body position on-course, how to move SAFELY for terrain and hazard changes. Why certain foot locations help not hinder. The advantages of certain carriage features, working around lack of some features to help the Driver. Timing distances, moving carriage over to miss a post. The differences of Single and Pair carriages and why. Then after a late lunch we went to the hazards to practice riding as Navigators behind some horses. Everyone wore helmets and vests, got to ride behind one or both Single horses thru two different type hazards. Everyone was sure smiling when that finished! That finished up our organized day.

Day two was about Cones. Barb and Tracy gave a lot of information on learning to be a good Cones driver, each developing their own strategy for learning the course, how they need to set equine up to succeed without knocking balls off, making the time allowed. And repeatedly saying “Walk the course MULTIPLE times!” Horse needs to be as bendy , listening, as he was for Dressage, not up like for Marathon. Penalties were discussed, how hundredths of a second could change the score for winning or losing. Both ladies said they had been winners and losers with penalties and timing at the end of the competition. Many interesting questions were answered, things I never thought of!! After lunch, folks harnessed their horses and went thru the VERY TRICKY Cones course. I was working as the cones setter, putting things back after any got hit. Resetting for wider carriages. Driver and Navigator had walked the course, getting suggestions of routes before lunch. So now they needed to get thru the 20 sets of cones (2 zig-zags, each with 4 pair of cones, each ZZ still only counts as one cone set). It was interesting to watch them do a round, then get suggestions for improving from the Ladies. Then tackling the course again. Visible improvements by all Drivers, smoother moving horses, better pace maintained. Getting the flowing look started with FORWARD equines! Really nice to see it happen so quickly as they gained confidence! Some went quickly, others walked or walk-trotted thru. Getting set up to get thru each set of cones was the main criteria first, speed can always be added later!

There was a fun Derby Party late in the afternoon. Lots of discussion, picking a favorite horse to cheer on during the Race! Lots of fancy Derby hats were visible. Great food!

The last day was for indoor hazard driving. I didn’t not attend Sunday, but everyone I talked to had a great time. Wish I could have caught the discussion, but had to get other stuff done at home.


That sounds great. Tracy is a regular clinician in the Developing Athlete program and I know I up my game considerably whenever she is there. There’s nobody better at teaching you the technical aspects of driving a dressage test and how to develop a solid warm up routine for both cones and dressage.

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Sounds awesome!
I’d much rather clinic than show, always have felt this way, even when I was riding (Hunters, Dressage, Eventing).
From a clinician I take away things to improve & ways to do that.
From a show, I take away a cheap synthetic ribbon & the rare (in my area) cash payback.