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November, 2017

Driving - Not Just for Miss Daisy

We all love to ride our horses. But we try to find someone who can ride with us or has a horse that moves the same pace as ours and sometimes it doesn't happen. Or for whatever reason, getting up on that horse is getting more and more challenging. What's a horse lover to do?

An old activity is a new activity catching on like wildfire. Driving! We've all seen pictures of carts and carriages and people having a wonderful time driving their horses in parades. But there is so much more going on. Horse shows have classes specifically for driving which include as simple as ground driving for beginners. Ground driving is having your horse tacked up in its harness but you walk behind it, rather than being in a cart, steering your horse through an obstacle course. This can be done with very young horses too, horses too young to pull yet. Also at shows are classes showing driving skills. The judge will watch how your horse responds to commands as well as the appropriateness of your turnout. Does everything fit correctly and is it in the correct place? Does the harness match the type of cart/carriage? Is the whip's attire correct? (Whip is the driver.) There are also competitions at shows that involve obstacle driving through a course.

An old activity is a new activity catching on like wildfire. Driving!
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An old activity is a new activity catching on like wildfire. Driving! When getting up on that horse is getting more and more challenging. What's a horse lover to do? Driving!
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Outside of shows, there are very fast paced extreme carriage driving competitions call Eventing which will make your head spin to watch the speed and potential danger around a course with fixed objects and water. Combined Driving is a demanding three phase competition with carriage in tow including Driven Dressage, Marathon, and Cones. Accuracy, speed, and endurance are tested in this exhilarating sport. But for those of us who prefer a quiet fun drive in the country, down your neighborhood road, or on a trail, the sport of driving can be just a fun gathering with friends and neighbors. Carts and carriages can of course carry more than one person so it quickly becomes a group activity.

The harness can be an intimidating bag of leather (or synthetic is the choice of many due to less maintenance) until you know what each individual part of the harness is there to accomplish. Although you can find diagrams and videos of how to harness your horse, few things will replace an experienced trainer explaining the secrets. A Wizards Spell Gypsy Horse Ranch in Burleson is proud to have Tom O'Carroll of Good Hands Training Center in Pinkton, Texas as their driving trainer of choice. He has taught well over 15 Gypsy Horses born at this ranch and sold to happy new owners who now gather for events and additional training. Several of these horses have also gone on to be World Show Champions.

There are a staggering number of types of carts and carriages such as Wagonette, Eventing, Easy Entry, Gig, Phaeton, Meadowbrook, Surrey, Vis-a-vis, Governess cart, and so much more. Each serves its own purpose very much like how we choose our trucks and cars. The cart must fit your horse so be careful not to go buy a cart because it's pretty before you know if it will work with your horse. (Thusly the phrase about not putting the cart before the horse.)

Horses can pull as a single or several can pull. Two is a pair not a team, although you will often see two referred to as a team. There are also many types of formations for those horses. A Troika is a team hitched in a single row of three across with the center horse in the shafts and the other two hitched to either side. A Unicorn is one horse in front of a pair of horses. Pickaxe is three horses in front of a pair. Although these setups are fascinating to see, they are not commonly used. The Gypsy Horses of A Wizards Spell Ranch in Burleson, Texas are taught many of the basics of riding and driving beginning at birth. And clients who have purchased horses from this ranch are often invited to free clinics as their horses grow so they might join in the fun of parades, Veteran therapy driving, and competitions. And of course just a fun afternoon of driving around as a group is always encouraged.

For more information on the Gypsy Horses or to learn more about driving events, go to http://www.GypsyHorsesInTexas.com