The Horse Gazette Newspaper
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Published monthly since 1996
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THE ART OF DRIVING COMING TO CENTRAL TEXAS
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Have you ever considered trying out something new with your favorite horse? Does the romance of yesteryear appeal to you, or are you a thrill seeker, looking for speed and excitement? Consider carriage driving, one of the fastest growing equine sports today. Carriage driving has something for everyone, from the elegance of an historically correct traditional carriage with gleaming leather harness and an equally elegant four-in-hand team of horses, or a modern marathon carriage engineered for durability, agility and speed, pulled by a pair of sporty ponies, to leisurely drives down a country road with your equine friend, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.
Carriage driving offers pleasures and challenges not found in riding. Horse and human must learn to communicate through only voice and rein aids, enhancing and building trust within the partnership. Driving involves learning a new set of skills for harnessing, handling reins and managing your equine from the seat of the carriage. Learning to drive multiples- pairs, tandem or four-in-hand turnouts, provides even greater challenge. Benefits abound for horse and owner as well. The young horse can be started on longlines and ground driving before it is mature enough to carry the weight of a rider. Older horses may be kept in light work when riding becomes too much for them. Children's mounts can benefit from driving to reinforce manners and obedience, or a beloved outgrown pony can continue to be enjoyed through driving. Any size or type of equine can be used for driving, from the largest draft horse to the smallest pony or miniature horse, as well as donkeys and mules.
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Driving is a great way to enjoy horses for those who don't or can't ride. Many therapeutic equestrian programs include driving. Some equestrians find that riding becomes more difficult with increasing maturity and the creaking joints of age. Driving allows us to continue to be involved with our horses, and non-riding friends can join you in your carriage. Many former riders find that smaller equines, very suitable for driving, are easier and less expensive to manage than larger riding horses. Even a miniature horse can pull a cart, and a four-in-hand team of minis pulling a carriage is a delightful and impressive sight.
There are many disciplines within the driving world providing widespread appeal. Pleasure driving competitions focus on the horse's manners, obedience, way of going, and driver's skill as well as the fit, appropriateness, cleanliness and overall presentation of your turnout. Combined driving competitions are typically a 2-3 day events which include a driven dressage component, a cross country marathon with obstacles, and a cones phase to test stamina, agility and obedience of the horse as well as driver's skill. Horse drawn sleighing is popular in snow country. Regional driving clubs sponsor many recreational driving events as well as clinics and other learning opportunities. And just driving down the road or taking friends and family for a picnic lunch by carriage is a delightful way to enjoy a pleasant day.
Currently there are several active driving clubs in Texas, but none in the San Antonio/south Texas area. In order to provide an introduction to driving, and to promote interest in carriage driving locally, Coyote Crossing Ranch of Hondo, will sponsor a Carriage Driving Open House on Saturday, December 10. Displays will include a variety of carriages, carts, harness and equipment as well as driving demonstrations with horses in harness. Renowned trainer and driving instructor, Frank Luetz, will be on hand for questions/discussion and advice on getting started in driving, or driving lessons (by prior arrangement). Frank has competed internationally at the advanced level with singles, pairs, tandem and four-in-hand turnouts. Recently relocated from California to Brenham, Texas, Frank excels at starting young horses to drive as well as providing instruction for the driver, or coaching the novice competitor. This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested in the exciting world of carriage driving. Contact Debbie White at 210-288-6311 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for directions, more information, or to schedule a driving lesson.