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Horse Fest at Florida Carriage Museum and Resort

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  • Horse Fest at Florida Carriage Museum and Resort

    Even though this place of Gloria Austin;s has has more name changes than I have shoes, it will always be Continential Acres to me. That said, several years ago Gloria started the Carriage Festival. The first one was incredible with carriages of all sorts with breeds of all sorts from all over the US and Canada. I remember seeing one spectacular carriage that was shaped somewhat like a sleigh body but supported by straps of some sort so that it hung like cradle. Was beautiful blue, pulled by I believe an American White Draft. The woman was all dressed in white. Was awesome.

    They had all sorts of demonstrations as well. The show went all day long and had tons of people watching.

    Fast forward through the years-- I have watched, participated in various manner (drill team, support for parade of breed, vendor help, etc)

    A friend of mine who has never been called me and asked me about this place and this Horse Fest. I told her what I had seen through the years. The focus had shifted from carriages so much to more of general celebration of horses.
    So she wanted to go, would I go with her?

    Okay, we arrived to see a handful of carriages, carts, arrive from a morning park drive around CA. Glorida was there with her freisians, a 4 in hand of German sport ponies, a pair of Canadian sport horses, a couple of shires, a couple of minis and that was about it.

    This was followed by the Parade of Breeds with only perhaps a dozen breeds--TWH, ARabian, Shires, DrumHorses, Akele teke, Morgan, Warmbloods of different types, Gypse Vanner, Standardbred, pretty much it.

    Several dressage demonstrations with different themes, a huge amount of drill teams, and that was the morning. There was supposed to be a demonstration of something called tent pegging , never happened while we were there.

    There were some artsy vendors, jewelry, etc but no driving harness stuff (to my disappointment). So we didn;t shop.

    But the 5 dollar fee included a free visit to the incredible Florida Carriage Museum. Have been several times through the years, but it is always amazing to me. My friend was enthralled but forgot her glasses so we didn;t read much.

    The museum has grown in the last couple of years to include 2 more rooms. An entire fire fighting group complete with the horse harnessing technique is relatively new.

    If you come to central Florida give yourself time to enjoy this museum. It is welll worth the 10 buck entry with a docent who knows there stuff.

    The most impressive riding exhibition I think was a pair of disabled riders--one was blind and one had no use of her left side due to a childhood injury when she was 3. Her condition was similar to a strok victim. Young woman, so sad, but she was on a horse and riding on her own.

    The set up before hand made us think we were going to see a speed event because there were poles down the middle of the arena. But these poles had some sort of electronic beepers on them to help the blind gal know her position in the arena. Thee were also spotters around the edge of the arena to call directions to her.

    These two riders rode a pas de deux (sp?) for several minutes. It was not classic dressage, but they were good. They did the thing where one horse passes in front of the other in a diagonal move. These two were better than most of the drill teams who did the same move with sighted riders.

    I would have to say that these two were just incredible. I was speechless. (something that is pretty rare for me!!!)

    By this time it was already 2 and a huge list on the program of things to come. Most were drill teams, very little driving much to my friends dissapointment as she has just come to driving.

    I did run across a couple of old friends who raise Shires. Showed with them at Zanzer;s first show and they have come in and out of my life a couple of times since. They are now living outside Ocala and we have made plans to meet at Silver Springs and drive together!!! Always great to rekindle old friendships.

    I have been asked to do a driving demo at a fundraiser for VFW home in early March so I invited them to join me. An Arabian and a Shire, now there is amix!!! If I can get hctjudge to bring her mini mule and drive, now there is a great mix!!!

    The day was fun, but in a sense somewhat sad for me. I remember the first Carriage Festival and it has morphed or evolved as these things will in to something else. I find that evolution to be a lessening of the event. It just doesn;t carry the grandeur of that first show.

    The audience was rather lost with all the dressage. A pair of women were doing a "Ladies in Waiting" theme for a dressage pas de deux (sp?). They had beuatiful gowns on and were riding astride, so a bit of lacey leggings showed
    under their skirts now and again. They did a little strip tease and had the skirts taking off so they were riding in their underware of sorts. Cute. But behind us a couple were discussing just exactly what they were supposed to be watching."They are just riding around? Lets go get lunch, I am bored." SAd because the 2 gals had put a lot of work into their demo. Can appreciate the effort but dressage is not what I consider an audience friendly sport. Most folks consider it like wathcing grass grow.

    The best exhibit of the day was going to be the cowboy mounted shooting. I believe that Gloria was going to bring out her original stagecoach because it was NOT in the museum. ONe of my favorite pieces. But we did not stay as we were both getting a little hungry and headed for a favorite bbq place. (ahh, horsefolks (Don) where are you now when we speak of BBQ!!!)

  • #2
    To clarify---

    Cartfall was at NO TIME speechless!

    I think Delmer would like to demonstrate the supreme cuteness of a mini mule--sign us up!

    It was, indeed, a beautiful day and saw lots of friends. The museum was amazing and you can learn so much. The fire equipment exhibit was so neat,with harnesses ready to drop
    on the fire horses, and I especially loved the Chief's wagon, glossy white with gold trim. Just what my own personal Fire
    Chief would look great driving!Guess we would need one of
    cartfall's gorgeous gray arabians, tho, a little brown mini mule might take away some of the pizzaz!


    • Original Poster

      What me not speechless?


      • #4
        Have been to visit the Museum twice, enjoyed every minute there. First visit was quite a while ago, was very pleased to find the additions on our last visit. I think that was 3 years ago. Never made it to any of her carriage events, though they did sound real nice.

        I think the Museum is spectacular, some of the best stuff, restored to like-new condition, because Gloria does like to drive them! She also has the very interesting accessories that go with those various vehicles. Spare wheel cases for European coaches, who knew they existed?? Being able to look at the Curricle, see how it is sprung to stay level with the special harness, WHY you need matched Pairs to pull it. Very evident with the set-up in front of you. The Royal carriage, how everything is decorated, the detail!!

        Sorry the extras are not what they used to be, does seem to happen in many venues done yearly. Driving may be getting more exposure, but there still is not the great quantity of turnout variety that ridden horses have. Sometimes there is only one or two people, farms, that even HAVE that turnout and they don't attend. I know a lot of folks only own great carriages, no horses to pull them. And it does cost to attend those things, sometimes just not in the budget this year.

        Thanks for the report. Hope your VFW presentation goes well, makes lots of money for the cause. As you say, great variety of equines to display!!


        • Original Poster


          The VFW fund raiser is setting up to be a lot of fun. It seems there will be several driving teams. I will be taking junior, AFshires (who lurks here) just signed up to take her shires, a drum horse that drives, a pony and a mini I am told. So we will be well represented.

          No guidelines on what they want, so I guess I am taking the road cart and will braid the boy's mane and get all gussied up. It always impresses people.

          Part of the problem this year with the low driving turnout at CA was there was a show and continuous drive on the same day. I know there are enough weekends that the Whips have scheduled around this. I think this was a case of different calendars not being compared, sort of the right hand not talking to the left hand. Too bad.

          That and drill teams change. One of my favorite has always been the Arabian Fantasy Drill Team. Ladies dressed in traditional beduoin outfits on arabians to arabian style music.
          They changed their outfits to ladies in gowns. They became just another drill team with women in long gowns, nothing special anymore. To me anywho.

          You are so right about the cool extras on the coaches and carriages--like the horn holder, the porta potty on the one big coach in the back room, picnic etras likes tables, thermos boxes to keep things warm. I also find the carriages with 3 horses abreat to be interesting. Lotsa of power there.


          • #6
            Actually, I am sort of in charge of the Whips calendar and when we have our planning meeting in the summer, I come prepared with everyone else's dates. We work around everyone's dates as best we can, but we have to know about the dates. Our club treasurer even works for FCMR and did not mention this date to us. I only saw it on their calendar a few weeks before. I would have loved to have gone, but I was already committed to the other event at Little Everglades (which was awesome, by the way, and a ton of fun). As of right now, there are extremely few, if any, open weekends without something driving going on. Florida is a great place for drivers in the winter.


            • Original Poster

              Please share about the Little Everglades weekend!! Woudl love to hear about it. Start a new threat on and tell all!

              Too bad for their own show they didn;t share the date with you. It sure cost them.

              I know how the whips dates are selected. Been there done that. Lots of hard work goes into it. That said--

              still a shame when two events happen and we have to choose.