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MTCC Marathon Driving Clinic


2019/05/02


Jane Hoffmann driving Gator, with Jane Muir navigating

Kate Bushman driving Jewel with Melissa Swantek navigating

Earl Burkett driving Easton with Jen Burkett navigating

Claire Root driving Sarah with Brent Anderson navigating
By Kate Bushman; photos by Kevin Smith

The Middle Tennessee Carriage Club (MTCC) helped members prepare for their 2019 competition season by holding a one-day marathon clinic on Saturday April 13, 2019 at Earl and Jen Burkett’s farm in Huntsville, AL. 

The “Marathon” is one of the three phases of a combined driving event, a competition that closely resembles ridden eventing.  In the Marathon section, which is modeled on ridden cross-country, drivers negotiate obstacles like bridges, streams, hills and mazes. The marathon course may be up to 11 miles (18km), although at the lower levels the distance and pace will be lower.  Penalty scores from each of the three phases are added together and the lowest score wins.  Also, like eventing, there are different levels of difficulty for entry, starting off with beginner-friendly divisions, and moving all the way up to international level competition.

The marathon clinic started with a 90-minute review of the required and recommended equipment, the rules and scoring, what to expect at an event, and general wisdom and funny lessons – learned from some of our club members who have competition experience. Then everyone went out to “walk” the abbreviated course that Earl and Jen had prepared.  After a box lunch, the members who had brought horses to drive got hitched and went out to try out what they had learned on the course. 

Earl and Jen’s property sits along the Flint River, and they have worked hard to set up trails running along several levies and mowed trails through lush fields.  They just finished a permanent obstacle that looked like something found at a big-time event.  The course had real “compulsory gates,” turning arrows, mileage marking, plus two full obstacles.  Everyone who drove (and their navigators) said it was a blast and they learned a lot from the day.  Many thanks to the members who volunteered on foot, and to Earl and Jen Burkett for hosting the clinic.

“We had a great clinic on Saturday,” said Kate Bushman, president MTCC. Keep up with driving events in middle Tennessee at: http://www.midtenncarriageclub.org/
 

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