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Ambassadors for Driving :)

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  • Ambassadors for Driving :)

    I'm sure you're all a bit tired of my bragging on Maggie Mae - but you never let it show (thank you) so I'd like to share something that happened as a result that was totally unexpected.

    Now those of you who really know me know that I'm not quite the inspirational type, however that's just what has happened! Because of my enthusiastic posts on other horse forums about my adventures with Maggie I have had FOUR mature ladies contact me and enquire about driving! One already has a pony but was hesitant to start something new - and she's younger than me!

    Three of them are former riders who due to age or health can no longer ride or can no longer ride as much yet they still want to continue to enjoy horse adventures. The fourth is a woman who always wanted to ride and while she now has the time since she's retired, she is fearful of climbing up on a big horse.

    I have done my best to point them all to driving resources and to encourage them as you have all encouraged me. I've invited them to this forum and I know you will treat them kindly should they become brave enough to post.

    This made me realize that we should all be ambassadors for our sport. Encouraging and supporting YOUNG drivers is imperative for our sport to continue, but there is a whole world of prospective drivers out there we can bring into the fold now to strengthen our numbers and keep driving alive. So today I encourage all of YOU to share your happy driving stories with your riding horse friends. Especially those who are mature or unable to ride anymore. The love of horses is still there and by guiding them into the driving world we'll only make it better for all of us
    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

    PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages

  • #2
    Now personally speaking I think driving is much too much fun to wait till you're old and can't ride and neither do I think its a substitute, alternative, compromise or 2nd cousin to riding. I've ridden and driven all my life as have a lot of folks I know and indeed most the best drivers are also very proficient riders and they continue to do both.

    I always encourage and stimulate and challenge riders - of all ages and abilities - to think about carriage driving to develop and improve and enhance their equine knowledge, rein handling and ground training skills. So not as a substitute for or a poor relation to riding, BUT to compliment and enhance and improve.

    I frequently put riders on to a reining machine (with riding rein length) to show them how heavy handed and incorrect they are with their ridden technique and I often show them how they wouldn't have a snowball in h ells chance with driving reins by giving them reins of that length. A lot are absolutely gutted and horrified by the effect they're having on their horse's mouth when they see it in action and a few are inspired to take up driving to enhance their rein handling technique and to improve their ability to use the natural aids of hands and voice to guide a really well-trained horse.

    Having said that there's no doubt that driving has the additional advantage of being more accessible and particularly for those who may have special requirements, limited mobility etc etc.

    I've got open days on 21st & 22nd June and specifically to look at the topic of "Accessibility".

    Now its actually being co-ordinated through 4 organisations who provide services for people with disability and other special needs and the open day(s) here is part of a series of events to titilate and stimulate ideas about what is accessible to people.

    I already work with clients from those organisations and have customers from their who I teach to ride as well as carriage drive. It started off as being just one day on 22nd but because of the huge number of folks showing interest, I'm doing 2 days now.

    On the open day, I'll be doing:

    - a display of all the vehicles
    - a demonstration of long reining + a silly 'show off' bit where I "forget to attach the reins" and work the horse from voice only.
    - a demonstration of cross country obstacle driving
    some stunt driving/show off tricks..... DON'T TRY THESE AT HOME: "log jumping with a carriage", driving up and down a see-saw, through an obstacle course on fire!
    - tasters on the reining machines
    - tasters using a carriage built for wheelchair users and for those who are semi-ambulent
    - a drive out with the coach and 4 for those who are more profoundly disabled


    • #3
      Good for you Ashemont and Thomas I bow to your truely walking the walk and providing opportunities to so many people to learn about driving.

      One point though Ashmont... though we have a big current focus on youth driving again, which deserves support, we should also offer the same opportunities to our core market which has always seemed to be the mid-20s to mid-30s (and above) when people start getting married and having kids and wanting a sport where the family can all enjoy the same horse together.

      I'm happy to see the idea of driving weekends growing out of the original ADS Weekend of Driving of many years ago through the Mid A ADS weekends which have been running for many, many years (right gothedistance - who I believe ran one of the first ones) and now on to the National Drive and ADS weekends in the NorthEast and Pacific Northwest. The idea of "driving camps" for adults and minors is growing in popularity and rightly so.


      • Original Poster

        Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
        The idea of "driving camps" for adults and minors is growing in popularity and rightly so.
        Wow... where do you find out about these? Sounds like something that would be of interest

        And Thomas I appreciate that driving can be a 'first love' but my point was that there might be a HUGE market out there as yet untapped. To me more drivers equals more events, more opportunities and more FUN!
        Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

        PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages


        • #5
          but my point was that there might be a HUGE market out there as yet untapped. To me more drivers equals more events, more opportunities and more FUN!
          But you don't have to wait for them to get ancient and infirm and injured and unable to ride


          • #6
            Agreed on all the points above.

            Driving is such a wonderful sport for some many reasons. For us (Aaron and I), it gives us an opportunity to enjoy a sport together, much more so when we are competing individual horses at event (even though we groom for each other).

            Riding and driving complement each other so well, and go hand in hand. We love teaching our friends--both horsey and nonhorsey--about it and many of them are realizing that it is not just about having a "cute" pony and "cart," but that it encompasses abilities and training that are just as difficult as any sport out there, equestrian or nonequestrian. Of course, having a "cute" pony goes a long way towards attracting people to ask us about driving.

            Drive NJ is very correct in that there needs to be a focus not only on "young" drivers but on all new drivers getting into and participating in the sport. The true base of the sport is the adult amateur that works full time to support their "hobby" and typically enjoys driving with fellow family members (whether it's a spouse or kids).

            In addition, "young" drivers don't just encompass individuals under the age of 18, but also those of us in our 20's who are coming into the sport with a lot of passion and enthusiasm--we are here for the long haul and look forward to many, many years of driving participation.

            However, many of us in our 20's and 30's are dealing with similar issues: One, we don't have the financial base of many older competitors (or young drivers that are supported by mom & dad) and two, there are very few programs/incentives for adult drivers compared to what's available for "young" drivers. Now that I'm feeling better after having successful surgery in May, I'd like to become more involved in developing affordable clinics geared to all drivers and I think activities like the driving weekends (eg, Mid Atlantic driving weekend) provide low key, noncompetitive activities that are relatively inexpensive and fun.

            For those of us coming into this sport after college (and just getting careers starting as working adults), the initial investment in horse/pony, carriage, and equipment can be intimidating, but can be done. There are just a handful of us in this age bracket in our area competing at CDEs, and we all credit fellow drivers/friends for helping us get started and supporting our involvement. This is a great age to get involved because as you get older and more financially secure, the expenses associated with carriage driving seem less insurmountable (at least that's what we keep hoping).

            For Aaron and I, our introduction to driving came through a driving program at the college we attended. This led to summer internships with a judge/technical delegate and we were able to groom (and Aaron began competing) at shows such as Devon, the Canadian Classic, and Walnut Hill. We were very blessed to be able to learn from "the top" and the experiece we gained (and contacts we made in the driving world) allowed us to easily move into combined driving.

            There is a big learning curve when you become involved in driving--if we can focus on presenting learning opportunities to all levels and ages of interested parties, then people can get a knowledge base that allows them to safely enjoy the sport. But as Ashemont says, it begins at the grass roots level--if we each act as an ambassador, we can bring the joy of driving to many, many people.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Ashemont View Post
              And Thomas I appreciate that driving can be a 'first love' but my point was that there might be a HUGE market out there as yet untapped. To me more drivers equals more events, more opportunities and more FUN!
              There are also a boatload of people out there who actually drive right now, BUT they do it as a sideline to some other equestrian sport. Organizers, a good way to rope those people in is to make sure you organize your driving events at a time when none of the other breeds/disciplines has anything much going on in your area. And then publicize. A LOT. Which doesn't mean sticking it in your carriage assn. newsletter and hoping for the best....
              "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ashemont View Post
                Wow... where do you find out about these? Sounds like something that would be of interest
                Doesn't Muffy Seaton put on an adult driving camp? She's up in your neck of the woods, Pat. Might be worth checking out.



                • #9
                  I was speaking of the Mid-A, NE and National Drives for one when referring to "camps", but it is also true that Muffy is doing some "camp" sessions. Thinking in terms of long weekend or more where you can just go and drive, or go and take lessons or whatever. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. Maybe when I have more time.............


                  • #10
                    Yes one should always give back to ones sport. I made a promise myself to help anyone that asked as I still remember how hard it was to find information and trainers. Currently we have a 10 year old boy and 15 year old girl that are each apprentices to the sport of carriage driving. They are taught safety from the ground up, skills, all while having fun they never knew could be with horses.

                    Next weekend we are hosting a annual charity carriage show that is open to the public. We post flyers, put ads in our local papers, and have an email flyer. The proceeds benifit a large carriage driving show held in July. The event over the years has brought alot of non horse people to the world of driving along with riders looking for something new. We provide a large table with driving info such as: ADS, CAA, CMA, state driving clubs, our training center, photos, carriages on display with history and fully appointed.

                    In the fall we run a Carriage Driving 101 clinic and have been pleased with and average of 20 participants each year. Most are new to the sport or lost looking for more information.

                    Volunteering for any type of driving event is also a great help and keeps are driving venues alive and well. It's never to late to lend a hand or take someone for a drive.


                    • #11
                      Got that right HackneyHorseDriver but I'm taking a bit of time off for good behavior right now (which means that me and my sister nj2 are cutting back to volunteering only 1 day a weekend, 2 weekends a month for now).

                      Been volunteering, organizing, doing clinics, etc since the mid 1970s and we have new horses we are bringing along - just for fun... so I'll respectfully leave it to you guys for a few years while we turn these horses into our "perfect picnic 'ponies'".

                      Except for the carriage house/driving talk at a local museum this weekend, the monthly 1/2 day clinics we are trying to set up, and our Autumn Leaves Ride/Drive Fun Day this fall (in its 25th or so anniversary run this year)


                      • #12
                        Carolina Carriage Club had worked very hard to keep our name and passion in front of the public, from doing demos anywhere and everywhere, to sharing the FENCE facility this past weekend with Carolina Region Pony Club. I think the more folks see us, the more they want to be involved.

                        I have folks tell me from time to time that they are going to drive when they get old. I say, great, but think about carrying harness, moving vehicles, etc and how much easier it would be now. Plus, why wait to have this much fun. Although many of us drive because we can't ride anymore, it isn't a sport for the old and weak. And I'm sure that learning the cones courses and hazards will ward off senility.


                        • #13

                          I won't swear to it but I think there is going to be some sort of driving clinic at the Pony Club Nationals this summer. Driving is not currently one of the Pony Club events but if it is added it will be a HUGE boost to the young drivers.


                          • #14
                            I think your right Dick. I also think there will be a lot more interest than folks would expect from the Pony Club kids.

                            Last year at the Carolina Carriage Club HDT at Tryon the venue was shared with a Pony Club Regional show. When we got there it seemed there were kids on horses EVERYWHERE jumping over anything they could find. Jumps, fences, picnic tables, little brothers..... OK, so maybe I'm exaggerating just a wee bit but you get the picture. Anyway, Price had asked Sam to do a little talk to the PC kids about her driving and why she liked it. Sam took her 'gator with her, set up her marathon carriage, and tried to think of enough stuff to say to use up 20 - 30 minutes.

                            I was really impressed! There were a lot of kids that showed up for the talk. They seemed genuinely interested, asked for real serious questions, and the whole thing ended up lasting almost an hour.

                            I think there are a lot of potential drivers in Pony Club.....

                            *Charter Member-Blue Tarp State Driving Clique*
                            "You can't always get what you want, but if you try, you just might find you get what you need" Mick Jagger


                            • #15
                              In the UK we frequently use those from the Pony Club to act as marathon course score collectors. Gets them involved and also gets their pony used to the horrific sight of a horse drawn carriage in safe environs.


                              • #16
                                The driving might be a direct result of the problems a few years ago at KHP when the Pony Club Nationals and the CAA Driving Weekend were held on the same weekend. Some Pony Club kids did not show their best faces to some Driving ladies who also happened to be HUGE Pony Club supporters. I understand it got rather individually ugly with certain kids. I was there working at the Rare Breeds Show, but went over to visit and view the carriages. I know lots of the CAA folks, got a real earful about the PC kids, though the driving ladies had tried to be courteous and careful around ALL the other horses. Roads in the Park are open to all, drivers stopped to allow PC kids clearance, were very rudely treated.

                                Hope this clinic will open some eyes, expose kids to other venues to use horses for. So many PC members are ring-only riders, have a hard time dealing with new things and spooky horses.

                                My PC experiences were interesting and only for our Great Lakes Area. Of course each group of kids, leaders, will vary, so what is pursued will be what interests those folks. Games were just starting to be fun then, no interest in Polo Crosse or the Tetrathalon. Couldn't even make up a Team. Locally, everyone boarded a horse except us. Had to have stall cleaning lessons, how to feed and curry horses!! Son liked the jumping part, nothing like it for kids anywhere else here except big Circut shows.


                                • #17
                                  I think you must be speaking of the Midsouth rally which hold an USEA event at the same time, and not Nationals, as when nationals take up the KHP, they take up the entire darn thing!

                                  That being said, I remember being there when the show shared the weekend- the park was packed, every one of the driving people were great, and made a great impression on me. My horse was scared to DEATH of them. He is a bit of a dink about things like that. I am told by someone that knows a lot about driving () that my TB's would not cut it!

                                  I would think those being rude might have been the scared adults...just speculating, but I can assure you that if anyone had seen a kid being rude, esp. at Nationals, that kid should have been told right then and there that that was NOT acceptable. (I personally have a huge issue with rude kids) But since it was listed as a USPC rally AND event, there might have been some confusion. I know the kids I was with were in awe of the carriages- esp the 4 in hands. Thats impressive!

                                  In the last PC mag, there was an article about the driving that happened at the Carolina region camp/rally- don't have it handy, but know it was at FENCE. Those kids faces were beaming. And again, I was wishing that I could drive.

                                  KellyS- what you guys do sounds perfect. Would love to Drive with Mr AK, but sure wish I could get something that we have here already trained to drive.

                                  GH, Ask Mr GH if he thinks Chief could do it???


                                  • #18
                                    Here pony club is nearly all outside activity. And the afternoon before the driving event when the competitors are all arriving and setting up, we invite the PC to bring any new ponies down too and get them familiarised and ordinarily have a BBQ for everyone so folks can intermingle if they want to.


                                    • #19
                                      Once again, Pony Club and CCC HDT shared the FENCE facility. And it went beautifully. I wrote the article last year for the Whip, in response to the gossip I had heard about the incident at the Ky horse park. The picture in the Whip was of one of our pony clubbers ground driving Buster, one of my mini donks. I am the president of CCC and a USPC Chief Horse Management Judge so I assure you, both driving and pony club are dear to my heart.

                                      NATIONALY - The incident happened during a Mid South Regional Rally, not Nationals as when PC comes for Nationals we do indeed take up the entire facility. Pony Club stresses riding in the open and to move up through the ratings, pony clubbers must ride in the open as part of the ratings test. Not D1's of course, but by D2. I know when I drive at Biltmore, the only negative remarks I have ever gotten have been from adults, not kids. I can't imagine a kid being rude at pony club, at least more than once.

                                      LOCALLY - CCC put on Horses Meets Wheels Clinic several times a year. We share trails with trail riders and often one of them (yes, them, not us, by the rider's reaction to the carriage) scares their horse to bits about the carriages. So our clinic used all kinds of wheelie things from strollers to bicycles to carriages and allows the horses mounted and dismounted to look, follow, play leap frog, etc.
                                      And I teach harness parts, harnessing, ground driving, long lining, driving (what you can do it a little time), at every Carolina Region Pony Club Camp. When we share the facility as we have for the past 3 yrs, we also teach walking a hazards, have someone like Sami talk, etc.

                                      I am Chief Horse Management Judge for Tet this year at P C Nationals at Ky horse park and I haven't heard anything about a driving demo but can't be on top of everything. Our region does offer every pony club discipline but there are only a handful in the US that offers everything from dressage to polocross. It is a volunteer organization and you have to have the volunteers and the kids who want to do all the different stuff to support it in a region.


                                      • #20

                                        I miss understood my 11 yr old D3 Pony Clubber. We are taking her to National's this year and she wanted to go to a Driving Clinic and was hoping they were having one.

                                        I researched after I spoke. I am sorry. Spoke too quick. There is not a driving clinic at Pony Club National's this year.