Okay, so I am thinking of committing to my first driving trial in a few weeks time. I have a little pony (10:2 hh) and the endurance distance is about 12 km - which may well be shortened - and I am sure we can do that. We'll probably be the only entry in our class - VERY low key.
So, I have some questions. I have competed ridden horses for years, have really good driving help - but everyone here is away at our national horse of the year show. I know I need a hat, jacket and apron for the dressage and cones - but what sort of hat, jacket and apron, given its very low key? I have helmets of all sorts, mostly in black, but one in navy blue velvet. I have bowlers and top hats. I also have velvet dressage hats - you know the ones we used to wear for dressage with no chin strap. Jacket wise I have nearly everything - longer old fashioned fox hunting jackets, newer SJ styles and even a side saddle jacket and habit! Tie or stock? If stock, coloured / fancy or white? Long boots or short boots?
I have black harness - are brown gloves still more correct? I have both.
How long should my whip be? When I've used a standard whip, it was really too long for my little pony!!
I'm going to have fun. He and I have been driving for 2 years now and he really has never done anything naughty in that time - although he can be a little toe rag for kids to ride he's fantastic in harness.
I'll have heaps of help - about 5 friends are vowing to come and support / enable this as well as the children who have been riding him.
Any and all answers and suggestions are welcome.
Last edited by phoebetrainer; Apr. 1, 2012 at 12:38 AM.
You can't go wrong being conservative. I'd say part of your choice will be determined by your carriage, but something along the lines of black helmet or bowler, hunting jacket with a tie and apron would be fine. Here in the US brown gloves are a must. Check with your local driving federation for their rules on turn out.
You can wear almost anything you want...skirt or slacks. Wear shoes not boots. You certainly don't need to wear a jacket, keep cooler and more comfy. Driving is an excuse for women to wear funny hats, find something "interesting"...just make sure your outfit/hat/apron coordinate.
I would dress according to your carriage/harness. If you use a breast collar opposed to a full collar it changes how formal you are. Look up pictures on the internet.
The more "sporting" our carriage is the more informal you can dress. The more formal your harness/carriage is the more formal you are.
But dont forget you are going to have FUN ! So wear what ever you feel comfy in. Slacks under the apron, a cami under your hunt coat, tie a pretty silk scarf around your neck for color and to cover your exposed chest/collar bones. A wide brimmed hat to keep the sun out of your face and eyes. Flat shoes NOT SNEAKERS PLEASE and your gloves.
Here is a link that shows you how to tie a scarf in fun and different ways!!
Yessss, all set. Everything is on track. I've had a couple of lessons, sorted out distances, made up cones courses to practise, practised the dressage test (although a free walk on a long rein across the diagonal takes a l o o n g time with a 10:2 hh pony) and sorted out what I need to wear: grey fitted hacking jacket, (borrowed) black apron with maroon trim, white shirt with maroon scarf (tied according to one of the ways on Munchingonhay's link) and black hat with a maroon flower (made by moi last night), black slacks and black shoes.
I went second hand shopping and have found a great jacket, a number of scarves and two lengths of material to make aprons - one grey, one very dark navy blue. If I go on doing this I have also located a local hat maker who will make me hats out of material I supply - so cool - I can have hats in the same material as my apron and a hat band / contrast in the same material as my jacket or vice versa.
The farm next door which I have full access to has just had the crops taken off and so I have large fields with rolling hills to train around. We've been having a blast. I really mean we too - the pony is obviously loving it too. He sees me coming out to get him and he gallops the length of the field to get to me, neighing and squealing. I don't think its anthropomorphizing to say that this means he loves what we are doing.
And I've been working on another, bigger pony too. We put him in the cart for the first time tonight and he walked and halted and turned circles and changed rein as if he'd done it all his life. Difficult to drive two ponies at once though - especially when one is 10:2 hh and the other is 13 hh! Maybe tandem?
Make sure your black shoes are grippy, so your feet stay where placed on the floor or climbing into the vehicle. Leather soles can be quite slippery in a carriage. Get black socks as well, no bright ankles showing as you drive about.
You PROBABLY should wear your full outfit for a practice session, see if anything needs tweaking. Driving, as with riding, does stress the fit of clothing across your shoulders and arms when extended Can be restrictive to using your arms. Whip or arm length is too short with white wrists hanging out. Contrasting wrist color shows EVERY move of your hands.
Go over a few places with "rougher" ground, to see if you bounce or slide on the seat. You may need a piece of rubberized material under you to keep your postion on the seat. Do NOT allow anyone to put "polish" on the vinyl seat, it is dangerous! We have Rubbermaid (brand name) shelf liner here, which is rubbery covered mesh, to pad shelf under glassware. Makes an excellent sticky seat pad of no thickness, for staying in place with no residue on clothing or vinyl seat. Maybe you have something similar if you need to be held in place on the seat.
If possible, have someone take photos while you are fully dressed and driving. Later you can evaluate your "look" to see if you want to change anything. What looks nice close up, may make you disappear if viewed from the side of the ring. I did that with a dark blue and dark grey outfit once, but it had no contrast with distance. Just a big dark blob out in the ring, NOT the look I was going for.
If allowed, walk your courses for Cones and Dressage test numerous times to learn the ground and your "land marks" for turns to be accurate. Presentation is only one part of the WHOLE competition. You can make up any possible Presentation points lost, with EXCELLENT Dressage test scores, round circles, prompt gait changes, TRUE gait changes. A good clean Cones course will let you earn points to use, while balls down from bad approach will really bite you. You also want to walk your Hazards, KNOW your gate locations from anyplace in the Hazard. Do you have a Groom who can practice with you? Groom is required on Marathon Course here, except at the very lowest level with minis. Groom learning the Hazards too can be helpful. In the heat of competition, everyone gets excited, so "getting lost" in a Hazard does happen. Have a backup route in mind if you should overshoot your turns. Better to keep the animal moving smoothly along, than to make him stop and start the load again for jerky turns in shortcuts. Especially true with small animals and their momentum helping move the load. Taking a smoothly flowing LONG route is usually much easier on the animal, and not that much of a time factor. You want pony having a good time, not stressing those short, jerky routes, which can be very tiring. You have a number of Hazards to get thru, so you want him feeling good for the whole time out there.
Have you practiced cooling him quickly? Ponies in fit condition usually have no problems, but he will be working HARD on Marathon, so any help you give him will leave more reserves for later. He needs to stand if you pour cold water over him, sponge his underparts, under the tail, drink with his bit on, get mouth sponged or wet toweled out to rinse it. As much water moving across his skin possible, removes heat, so pour it on, scrape it off belly fast. He will get temp taken, usually twice by STRANGERS, so you should practice this as well. Don't want him going ballistic at the Vet check, you ONLY have a very short time for cooling. Don't waste the time fighting to get a temp and respiration count. Do your homework ahead so he is good for you. Groom should be the one moving the water over him, YOU stay seated with hands on the reins for safety. You have prepared your place near Vet check, with drinking bucket, pouring water supply (in a clean muck tub is good), scraper and sponges, towels, before ever setting off on course.
You may already be quite familiar with what is needed, but with our local humidity, cooling our horses takes WORK. They get practiced ahead, so all stand nice for checking. 10 minutes goes very fast, so knowing what is needed and how to do it without excitement, horses accepting that kind of treatment quietly, is crucial to getting their temps down to the needed numbers.
Think of this CDE as a LEARNING experience, rather than being about the winning. You will be learning things the whole time you are there. IF you should place or win, it is like the frosting on the cake! There is nothing like driving in a Competition, but aim for "correctness" in following your plan thru the Hazards and Cones, the BEST possible Dressage test you can manage. Doing it RIGHT is better than doing it FAST. Get control of your excitement, it DOES transfer to the pony, and this is hard because you are having SO MUCH FUN!!
Then you can evaluate your better moments and possible other choices when you get home, for changing strategy doing your NEXT CDE.
Last edited by goodhors; Mar. 27, 2012 at 12:20 PM.
Goodhors, thank you so much for all your advice. I've done a lot of long format ridden horse trials, but when you're riding you can get off in the 10 min box!. He's really good for other people to do things - had lots of differnt people handling him so tolerates everything.
I'm going over the day before to walk the cones and have a first look at the obstacles on endurance. Pony is in a "tiny pony" category - he's small enough that I don't have a groom in the cart with me - but it would be much less stressful for me if I had a groom who could help with the endurance obstacles - but he can't really be expected to pull that extra weight. We've done lots of XC work, including waters, so I'm not worried by his ability there. He has 15 mins to do the km walk because of his size - that's not going to be a problem - long legs (looks almost like an American Shetland). I'm actually most concerned about remembering the cones course! I'm used to SJ - but there you go from the blue rails to the wall to the brown oxer etc - with the cones its from the orange cones to the orange cones to the orange cones!
The CDE is on the property of the person who has been giving me lessons - so he's familar with the place.
I doubt that the grey, maroon and black will be my final outfit - but it works with the apron and other gear I am borrowing.
We got time faults in A. I have never really timed his walking, trotting, cantering etc. It was either in fields with hills and really long grass or on stony tracks. We were learning about his speed on the job!
This was before the walk. My friend pulled most of it out, but he worked on it throughout the walk.
At the vet check, the vet asked me if he was super fit. I don't think I've done work which would make him that fit, but he came in with a heart rate of 68 which dropped to 52 after 5 minutes. We took a bit extra time - drinks for both of us and as much grass as he could sneak when we were not holding tight to his head.
He was rearing to go at the start of E. Starter and I were laughing because I said he had no business to behave like this because he had no idea what was coming. In the end my friend held him until start time. He cantered a lot of the first part - rolling hills and two STEEP down hills. Walked some of the rocky track and then it was into the obstacles.
I had a ball. It was awesome! I'll do it again as soon as I can. I've had a local person offer to increase the wheel base of the cart - two axles, one for dressage and cones and one for marathon. I also had an offer to buy the pony!!! Not for sale!!! But she had heard me talking about the next one I'm starting and thought this one might come on the market.
Pony is now out in the field making up for lost eating time.
Please let my know if you can't see the pictures - I may have messed up the links!
We've been having a blast. I really mean we too - the pony is obviously loving it too. He sees me coming out to get him and he gallops the length of the field to get to me, neighing and squealing. I don't think its anthropomorphizing to say that this means he loves what we are doing.
He was rearing to go at the start of E. Starter and I were laughing because I said he had no business to behave like this because he had no idea what was coming.
This makes me smile. I have a 20-year old Morgan that was originally trained to drive, and I SO want to get something to drive! However, I need to learn what to get and how to do it first.
"Oh, sure, you may be able to take down one smurf, but mark my words: You bonk one smurf, you better be ready for a blue wave."---Bucky Katt