Driving Discussion 2024

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Well, I've been doing a little ground driving over the winter, just enough to be able to enter some online classes "Walk Only" dressage classes to alleviate the boredom. Some days it's just throw the harness on and video between the rain storms and crumby weather, but we get it done. Sometime more gracefully than others, lol. I was hoping to drive the May test. Was shooting for April but this mud is a bit much. We'll see. My goals are small, very small!
I have not posted much lately as things have been super hectic and stressful here with everyone health issues, including the minis (it all happens at once, right?) but I do check in and read up on everyone's adventures.
I sure hope everyone is recovering well and soon
I sure hope everyone is recovering well and soon
Thanks! We are all a work in progress, lol. Hubby and Mom go for tests in a few weeks and my mini Cappy goes to Tufts for a CT scan of his head on the 22nd. His sinus infections returned and he may have a fistula from between a tooth or his gums up in to his sinus. And I get my back injected next week. It's been busy!
What a busy couple of weeks it's been! My mom, who lives on the farm, we live 10 minutes' drive away, was away visiting her sisters. I got to do all the farm chores myself. I'm glad to do it, that's not an issue, it's just a lot when working full time, single parenting a teen and trying to prep for my taekwondo black belt exam. The fibromyalgia in my neck and shoulders had a hay day (haha hay...) with all the work. My feet ached, but I got loads of steps in every day, so that's a win! I did not get to drive very much though.
Saturday I took Falcor out because my arena is dry! I was looking forward to doing some arena work with him. He had other ideas though. I've taken to lunging him in his harness - sans breast collar and bridle, in a halter. He's starting to offer canter - which I think is great, but to the left he'd BUCK and BUCK!! I thought at first that he was reacting to the breeching, but he's been in breeching consistently since fall. He wouldn't buck much to the right, but consistently to the left and then consistently in the same spot. I'm wondering if he just felt really good, or if something was starting to change noticeably in his body. I wonder about horses who are in chronic paid who appear to be "quiet" or "well broke" but they're actually just protecting themselves from aggravating pain. I wonder if he's starting to feel out his recovering body. I'll probably never know for sure.
Well, I put on his breast collar and bridle and was hoping to put him to. It was windy, but not excessively. It's always windy here. He was very clear that there was no way he could tolerate being hitched and I was not interested in a wreck. So we long lined. After a couple of scoots forward, he started to relax into the walk and we practiced a lot of steering and arena figures anyways. The good part of all that is there was no bucking, or even threat or offer to buck, while we long lined.
I put the Bemer on him and immediately he started to yawn and yawn.
I may never figure out this pony but I'd sure love for him to become consistent.
To go along with the hours logged, I'm so grateful to be home after a very full long weekend. Phillippe and Jasmine accompanied Ali and I to Red Deer for the 2024 Horse Expo Canada where we participated in demos and spent some time in the booth (Ali and I, not the littles) for both the Alberta Donkey and Mule Club as well as the Alberta Carriage Driving Association. I couldn't be more proud of our little animals or my kiddo.
We checked in and set up on Thursday. Had some real issues with accommodations, but made the best of it and weren't really there much anyways.
Friday started demos. Phillippe was up first with the donkey and mule club group. We all paraded in first, as a group, so the animals could get a look at the ring, and then each came back individually to demonstrate their skill. My favorite little dark mini donkey Rosie was first in with her fancy packs full of flowers. The cutest thing that ever existed. I adore her!!! Then my friend Cindy and her two small standards Barry and Bramble pulling a little wagon as a team. Then Phillippe and I were in and did a very little cones course, then the mules came in doing coon jumping, obstacles, jumping, agility and finally Jessica Rabbit with her human Melissa came in and blew everyone away with their extreme cowboy skills! The crowd filled the bleachers each day!
Phillippe got braver and braver as the days went on and by Sunday, he could canter through some of the cones for me!
We were dressed in our full costume for the first time ever, including the fancy plume my friend made for me. Even my old dressage tophat fashioned with yellow ribbon and feather was brought out. And I just love how it all came together. SaddleUp Magazine took pictures and featured us on their instagram. A representative with Cavello Hoof Boots (perhaps the owner?) came to talk with us as she recognized the CLBs. She had me do a really quick video before we went in with the boots. I just wish she had them in yellow.
Friday afternoon Jasmine joined Phillippe in a different ring to do the first demo for the carriage driving club. While the donkey and mule club followed the same format every day, the carriage driving changed daily. Friday we did a demo on how to harness, types of harness, and long lining/ground driving. Miss Jasmine hadn't been out of her stall except to be hand walked and she reminded us promptly how much of a workhorse (mini) she is and insisted she get to go drive afterwards. She was a little feisty in the ring and Ali got a bit overwhelmed, but we got them through safely and they were able to come back Saturday better prepared.
Saturday's demo was about types of vehicles and how to put-to. Ali came in with Jasmine in her vehicle (and a little puffed out after having a good work) to demonstrate an easy entry (Chicoine) and its features. I'd pulled the foot basket off my K-bike and we were able to show what that looks like. As you well know, I don't care to drive in that manner so we did not fully hitch. I just dropped the shafts in the loops and took it right off again. Then we exited while the speaker continued on with another member and her lovely Canadian gelding and their 4-wheel marathon carriage.
Sunday our demo was at nearly the end of the day. The speaker wasn't able to be there and the Canadian team had obligations elsewhere as well, so it was just Ali and I. It was good though, the crowd was quite small. Half were there from the previous 2 days, half were new. Ali and I were fully harnessed and driving, the littles felt pretty relaxed being in the building. I talked and drove, did a recap of the previous topics and added in some of the most common questions we get asked. We worked the animals through their gates and had some fun. It was difficult for me to really focus on the topic while driving my animal, watching for my child's safety and engaging the crowd at the same time.

Although the whole weekend was really fun, it was just a bit too much for one person to do. Setting up 2 booths, pulling shifts between them both, 2 animals, 2 separate demos and one teenager...

The great part is, both groups had a fantastic time and felt that it was really worthwhile going there and plan to go again next year.

Phillippe Ali Drive.jpgJasmine Ali Ground Drive.jpg
ADMC Group Photo.jpgPhillippe Demo Close Up.jpg
Sounds like a great weekend. How did Ali like it? You both accomplished a lot and had a lot of fun, I hope. Great pictures :)

I just took a look on Instagram at Saddle Up Magazine. More great pictures ❤️
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Sounds like a great weekend. How did Ali like it? You both accomplished a lot and had a lot of fun, I hope. Great pictures :)

I just took a look on Instagram at Saddle Up Magazine. More great pictures ❤️
She did great! Met some more kids and had a blast. I was really proud to have her with me!
Yes, the new owners of Saddle Up were just the most lovely ladies! They were enamored with Phillippe and didn't pass up the opportunity for pictures with him. He's such a good egg that I feel confident putting most anyone in the cart with him in front. What a change from last year!
And thank you @Marsha Cassada!! I'm waiting for better pictures to get posted, not just fuzzy cell phone ones. It was my first time putting the new gear altogether and I'm really pleased with it! My top hat has a yellow plume and flower on the left side. It makes me happy!
Thank you so much Standards Equine for sharing the wonderful experience you and your daughter and littles enjoyed! You really gave a sense of the entire event and it would have been both fun and educational to attend in person.

Minnesota also has an annual horse expo, and we have attended some over the years. One year, I helped a friend who raised and competed AQHA reining horses, and it was a lot of work! You all must have just collapsed when you got home! Was it frozen pizza night? 😂

So sorry your accommodations were problematic. A comfortable suitable room is not really a luxury after those long days. My now favorite memory about horse show accommodations was the year the granddaughters and I scored a ground floor room in a hotel near a crossing a stone’s throw from a very active railroad line. 🤣 Thank you Canadian Northern and Burlington Northern Santa Fe! 🤣

That’s a great photo of your daughter and Jasmine! Love the harnesses you have for Jasmine and Phillippe and I now want a yellow feather! 😁 Actually I want the entire look - either one - even though I haven’t driven in years!

Yellow boots would absolutely complete the look! 😂 It wouldn’t be a surprise if the company turns Phillippe into a permanent rep for their boots. Just remember the little people when you two are mega stars! 🤩🌟🌟
My friend came to visit me after being away for nearly 15 years! She stayed with me for a week and we went all over the province. We started out with a ground-driving clinic, then drove our little beasties. It was her first time taking the lines and she had a hoot! Loved it!
Then we went to Jasper in the Rocky Mountains and I took her up the sky tram. She was so excited, I loved just watching her reaction!
The next day we went to Maligne canyon and enjoyed the scenery before coming home. I had a taekwondo class that I couldn't miss so we were home for a couple days before heading south to Drumhellar in the badlands. I just dropped her off with a friend south a few hours away but it was a great week! This weekend got really smoky again. South of Ft. McMurray is on fire (again...) so there's loads of smoke blowing down here that makes working ponies a no-no.
Saturday was an awesome day! We took an hour's drive south-west and found a lovely facility where they were hosting a derby weekend. We only went for Saturday, for practice, but it was great! Ali had a blast with Jasmine and I had Phillippe and Falcor (just for ground driving). There was fantastic mowed track all around the property with great obstacle sets to navigate as well as a dressage arena and cones course. Ali and Jazzy practiced their cones courses flawlessly so now they're ready to try prelim-level CDE! Phillippe did everything I asked of him and even offered a little bit of canter here and there. He's so much more confident than he was last year! I couldn't be more thrilled with him.
Poor Falcor got to stand at the trailer and take it all in. Some things were exciting to him, but he quickly decided to just chill. I did harness him up and took him around for some ground driving so I could better explain life to him and what I'd like him to do in the future. He was ok for most of it, never left, but came up to one spot where he could see a set of gates and white poles that he found incredibly alarming. Like was not going to go anywhere near them on his own. There was blowing and calling... I am glad he wasn't hitched! I had to lead him past it. After that, there was all sorts of calling and he just couldn't focus. He went where I asked him to, but didn't relax. Interestingly, we went around and back into those terrifying white gates from a different angle with no issue.
Eventually we ended up at the cones course where a Haflinger and a mini were practicing the course. We stood for a few minutes until it was our turn and that is where I found the most relaxed pony I'd had the whole ground drive! It seems a confidence issue and a bit of herdbound nature maybe? He's not bad to take away from other animals, but I think he's going to feel more confident driving out with a friend or two for a while. Fair enough.
Sunday we had a very busy day at the farm! Everyone was out! My daughter's friend and their dad came over. I visited with dad while the kids did their thing. And, before you knew it, I had Phillippe out and had dad up in the cart going for a spin. Dad was entertained but didn't stay in the cart long. We passed him off to a youngster who was out with her family (One-eyed Willy's family) who liked to drive the donkey because he's not fast.
Later in the afternoon, a local lady brought out her lovely Welsh x pony. Her vehicle is in the shop being repaired and she wanted to come for a drive to get some more miles and try my cart. Originally I thought she'd drive in Falcor's cart, but it was too big! We looked at Jasmine's but the shafts are too short. Well, like Goldilocks, I had the K-bike and it was just right! I put the wheels down lower and we let the shafts out just a bit and it was a perfect fit! They had a lovely drive around the field and I joined them with Jasmine. Apparently the little mare had bolted previously and shaken her owner's confidence a bit (I can totally relate!) so we had the opportunity for a really positive experience and everything went well. Good ponies and a great (busy and full!) weekend.
Ali must be so excited and proud at being ready for a prelim CDE! A big stepping stone! The facility you were all in sounds like a lot of fun with many ways to work with your horse, something for all sizes and expertise. Isn’t it interesting how horses can react (or not) with things that seem simple and normal? You have worked hard with a variety of tools on Falcor’s behalf, and it sounds like he is responding very well overall.

I love Welsh ponies. 😍 We had two when I was a kid and they were very loved. Then again, if he/she has 4 legs, a mane, and whinnies or brays, I’m good! 😂

Your whole weekend sounds fun, even if tiring by day’s end! Love that a Dad went for a spin as well as the visiting youngster. Horses (and donkeys) are for families! 💕
Big show weekend coming up! Tomorrow is the first real driving show, not CDE, that we're going to participate in. Fun thing, I'm doing all the organizing for it! haha Wish me luck!!
@MajorClementine I have both of them in Cavello CLBs. They really make a difference for the floors at site visits and on the gravel roads for conditioning drives.

Ok, the show went really well! I'm exhausted and picked up a virus with laryngitis so I must have had a good time! 🤒 😄
Day 1, the driving day, Ali took Jasmine and, once Jazzy settled into the groove of rail classes, they did great together! Falcor started the day with the ground-driving pattern. I believe there were about 7 in the class and he won it. I was really proud of him!
Next up came the ladies to drive pleasure class. There was 1 Haflinger and 1 Tennessee Walker in attendance, all the rest were ponies and VSEs. Everyone who could show hitched was. Unfortunately, the Walker was not interested in participating in all the excitement of the day and was excused from the show before he could even be put to. Just not his day. There was a runaway of a small pony too. Unfortunately, he was hitched and took his cart with him. In the end, the cart was ok minus one very deformed aluminum shaft. The pony came back for ground driving classes afterwards.

Ok, back to ladies to drive. I'd been practicing my English Coachman's Hand rein handling. Not sure if that made a difference at all but Phillippe and I did place well in the class, although now I can't remember where we placed. I believe we took top longears so must have been second or third.
My friend Jed came to drive him for the next class, gentlemen to drive, and handled him lovely! The only gentleman in the show, obviously won his class - with class!
Next, pleasure VSEs, most of the show was VSEs so it was a good-sized class. We placed there as well as did Ali, although exactly where, I can't remember. I know there was a first place somewhere along the way for us.

We drove our first super reinsmanship pattern after that. I'd never done it before so now that I've done it and I've seen it, I know where I can improve and I'll score better next time. I think 4th is where we ended up in that one.

After noon we had cones, and I disqualified myself because I opted to canter as much of it as I could. In our provincial-regulated shows, walk and trot only are permitted. We then tried cones bingo. With a full course of 16 obstacles and no PA system reaching out far enough, it was really challenging to get through it. Ali didn't want to even try with Jasmine so I took her! Handy little pony. Oh! Ali and Jasmine won the regular cones course!

Then it was cones trail. A really simple pattern of a bridge, some weave pilons, wheel through a narrow pair of poles and then back into a loading dock. He was game to go over the bridge and do the weave. The last two obstacles were more challenging for us and I left it at good effort rather than fighting for perfection.

Falcor did the cones in hand and the trail in hand. I think he came in 3rd for cones and 4th for trail. Cones he handled pretty well and we only walked because I did not want to fry his brain with speed when he's really starting to get relaxed in the environment. Trail, he could not walk over the bridge by himself in the beginning, so I led him. He did not feel confident walking between poles on the ground or backing up in the loading dock but, again, I took the effort he did put in as a major positive and didn't push to overwhelm him. On our way out, we walked over the bidge and he did it on his own without hesitation. I call that a major win!
Ali was off catching baby mini donkeys rather than driving the trail class...

Last class of the day, barrel race! We decided that we could canter it but must cross the finish line in a trot - so that was fun! Phillippe did great, really maneuverable around the barrels! Jasmine and Ali won it. Speed is totally their event!

At the end of the day, although it was a close race between Phillippe and a new member and her mini donkey, we did win the long-ears championship buckle!

Sunday we showed in every in-hand class, placed in everything but one of the games. In the end, we won the high-point overall champion buckle too!

Bless that little donkey. He's the best thing ever 💓
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My very good friend, an enabler, recently acquired a mini from another very good friend of mine. This little mare has had a really good start ground driving and is an overall good little citizen. Her name is Tammy and I got to help with her first hitch yesterday! I'll tell you, this K-bike is the best piece of kit! It's started a number of new ponies in first drives in the year that I've had it! Well, miss Tammy took to driving like nothing, even if the fit wasn't quite ideal... She'd been worked in an open bridle and we walked beside her with the cart, bumping into her with the shafts. No problem. I stayed close at first when she was put to, just in case, but there was no need. She followed me for the first couple of minutes and then went merrily on her own with her driver. The only thing they may need (besides longer traces) is a go-stick. The drive was kept short and sweet and very positive. I love successes like that!
Tammy Pony.jpg
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