Live Oak International CDE

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

CLICK HERE to read more from the April 2017 Equine Business issue. 
BY KRISTI HOPP • PHOTOS BY SCOTT TREES • WWW.TREESMEDIA.COM
A popular equine venue, Ocala, Florida is the host to many world-class horse events. When March rolls around every year, all eyes are on the much-anticipated Live Oak International. Started in 1992 by Chester Weber, who was only eighteen at the time, it began as a modest competition and has grown into an all-out battle of the best of the best. Now Chester shares the co-responsibility with his sister Juliet W. Reid, and they had much to celebrate this year with the 25th anniversary of the show.
Live Oak Plantation is a 5,000-acre Thoroughbred farm located just outside Ocala. With its rolling green pastures and giant oak trees, branches draped with enchanting moss, it is enough to take your breath away. Arriving early with legendary photographer Scott Trees, camera equipment in hand, we were prepared to take in the sights early with legendary photographer Scott Trees, camera equipment in hand, we were prepared to take in the sights and sounds of competitive carriage driving, a sport that might even make eventing horses gasp. On a tip from a seasoned spectator, we dashed to obstacle number one, the water and covered bridge. A perennial spectator favorite, it sure ended up being mine.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://theplaidhorse.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Live-Oak-317-043-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” force_fullwidth=”off” animation=”left” /][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

My second time attending this event, I learned that tailgating was a big deal. Not so much in the football meaning, but rather tents roped off for private parties. With brunch and mimosas in abundance, all were in cheerful spirits. Finally, the first team arrived with the call “driver on course!” It was a pair of pure white welsh bred ponies which they executed the obstacle with absolute precision, and had an added cute factor. The next few driving duos were not so lucky, with several ponies NOT interested in entering the scary water. My hat is off to the talented drivers that convinced their equine teammates to finish the obstacle.
Wanting to experience some of the other obstacles on the Marathon part of the combined driving, we headed to obstacle number two, The Gulch. More challenging than the water, competitors had to navigate themselves up and over a significant bridge. With some close calls, I was very happy to see no overturned carriages. The remaining obstacles existed on what they call the “hill”. Starting at the bottom, the competitors worked their way to the top and finally to the finish line.
The marathon is just one part of what makes up the combined driving competition. The other two phases are dressage and obstacle driving, sometimes just referred to as the cone event. Preliminary, Intermediate and FEI levels, the FEI is the most prestigious with many of the winning teams being considered for the U.S. Combined Driving Team. For the record breaking 14th year in a row, Chester Weber wins the Four In Hand, followed in a close second by Misdee Wrigley- Miller. Other FEI winners included the Pony Single with Tracey Morgan, Pony Pair with Katie Whaley, Horse Single with Jennifer Hamilton and the Horse Pair with Steve Wilson.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://theplaidhorse.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Live-Oak-317-294-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” force_fullwidth=”off” animation=”left” /][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”left” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

A long day of driving ponies and horses through the marathon section did not deter anyone from attending the Competitors Party that evening, a chance for everyone to share their driving stories, successes or even near disasters.
Combined Driving is not the only event offered at the Live Oak International as Show Jumping was introduced in 2012. This year, the event featured the $100,000 Longines FEI World Cup Qualifier Grand Prix. Winning the grand prize was Todd Minikus riding Two Swans Farm’s 12-year-old chestnut mare, Babalou 41. With this victory in the last qualifier for the Longines FEI World Cup Finals, Minikus earned a spot in this coveted event held on March 29-April 2 in Omaha, Nebraska. Minkus was thrilled with the opportunity to compete in one of the most prestigious show jumping events in the world. “We came here hoping to accomplish this and I am really happy that it worked out this way,” the jump off specialist exudes. With fellow American riders Laura Kraut, McLain Ward, and Audrey Coulter, Minikus will contest his sixth FEI World Cup Final.
If you are in the Ocala area next March or want to mark your calendar for an Equine destination trip, the Live Oak International will not disappoint. For me, it is now a must-attend event. See everyone in 2018!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”on” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” parallax_2=”off” parallax_method_2=”off” parallax_3=”off” parallax_method_3=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” make_equal=”off”][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://theplaidhorse.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Live-Oak-317-113-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” force_fullwidth=”off” animation=”left” /][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_2″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”https://theplaidhorse.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Hopp-LO-009-1.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” sticky=”off” align=”left” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” force_fullwidth=”off” animation=”left” /][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]