Built Fjord Tough by Sylvia Riddle
On a hot mid July weekend eleven Norwegian Fjord horses proved to their owners that they really are Fjord Tough. This was the first ever, anywhere, all-Fjord “combined driving event”, (CDE) and it was held at Teddy Bear Fjords near Mount Spokane. Teddy Bear owners, Warren and Sylvia Riddle, caught the CDE bug in 2006 when they and Fjord friends had begun participating in CDE clinics. No one could have predicted that the weather would turn really hot for the weekend event.
A CDE competition begins on day one with formal attire and precision dressage, then ends with skillful maneuvers through a timed layout of cones and poles. Day one was prime for photographer Daralee Munson to take wonderful photos for competitors to treasure. But it is the second day which really challenges horses and drivers (whips). Course designers, Donna Burgess and China Larabe, are experienced CDE particpants and really laid out a tough course with some challenging hills in the forest and five sets of obstacles as well. Zig zagging through a maze of trees was a real test of the whips and their Fjords. Next year a water crossing will likely be included as interest in Fjord CDE’s continues to grow.
Although this was not an ADS (American Driving Society) sanctioned CDE, the event was run as closely as possible to ADS rules. B.J. Heuving judged the dressage portion, Donna and China oversaw the cones and the marathon included the customary vet checks by Staci Linder and Dr. Joan Sprow Ojerio. Although the Fjords needed to be wet down and walked, none was eliminated from the event for heat stress on this hot, hot day.
By the time the marathon was completed, the Fjords were back in their stalls and the participants had enjoyed an abundant picnic lunch, everyone was ready to hear the competition results. All agreed that Montanan Dick Renfro had proved his Fjords could handily mow hay one week and speed through a marathon the next! Warren Riddle’s team did manage to best Renfro in the marathon. Brian Jensen and Ursula Jensen had come from Lumby, British Columbia, and it was their years of experience and teaching clinics that had sparked this event. Brian had no competitors for his team of four. Ursula competed with her stallion at “preliminary” level. It was Linda Stevenson who had improved the most since last year’s clinics. But Linda could not best her friend and neighbor from Athol Idaho, Mike Sabatiini. Mike walked away from the CDE with the most honors and ribbons: Best overall, first place in training level in dressage, cones and also in the marathon.
The afternoon was made even better as Brian Jensen brought formal greetings from Fjord Horse International, of which he is a member of the board of directors. Greetings, ribbons, hats and other keepsakes had been sent from Norway, where the annual FHI meeting had recently been held.
This CDE was just one example of the activities Fjord owners in the Northwest are enjoying. This year the breed has two shows (see other ads in this issue) fun days, CDE clinics, a certified “No Dust” clinician conducting “Natural Horsemanship” clinics and organized trail rides. These “versatile” Norwegian Fjords also have “versatile” owners who are really enjoying their horses. Check out our Northwest web-site, www.pnfpg.org to find out more about our activities.