Riding vs. Driving

3 Jun

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I was the usual horse crazy girl, and riding is a great joy of my life.  I cantered, galloped and trotted through my teen years on a bay QH, a roan half Arab and my neighbor’s barrel horse, Pat.

As an adult, it was harder to ride.  Things like time, money and a creeping sensation called fear got in the way.   It’s also something that only one person can do at a time.   One person per horse.  In a family, you want to do things together.  Only one other person in my family rides, so that leaves everyone else out.

Then I discovered driving.  I always wanted to do it.  I loved the clink of their harnesses and clop of feet.  The Jethro Tull song “Heavy Horses” always had me crying before the track was half over.

But I have no space for a draft horse.  We live an an expensive area and are lucky to have a tiny patch of pasture in the country.

A nice lady taught me to drive her big horses, not drafts, but one was pushing 16 hands.  Then I got a tiny trained driving mini off CL and away we went.  I soon discovered driving involved the whole family.  Everyone wanted to drive the mini.  He could pull two kids in the cart and babysit the newest beginner.  In a pinch, he could pull me and my daughter a short distance.

Other people also are fascinated by horses in harness.  I think it’s a vestige of a simpler time, when gasoline fumes and loud engines didn’t obscure the sound of the countryside.  You can get places still hearing the songs of birds, and are serenaded by the rhythmic clop of hooves on hard earth.

You can take a passenger or two in the cart (depending on how big your horse is). People like to visit the horse, help with harness, hang around a quiet driving horse.  To be a driving equine, your horse (or mule, or donkey)  must be a quiet, well-behaved creature.  Driving horses are the cream of the crop of calm, smart and good-mannered creatures.

Driving is the most social equine activity in some ways, because your friend can come along, even if they don’t ride.  Everyone likes a drive in the countryside. The only downsides are that drivers are few and far between so it can be hard to find other drivers to trail drive with, and fewer trails are appropriate for a cart theses days.  In flatter parts of the country, that is not a problem.

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One Response to “Riding vs. Driving”

  1. The Dancing Rider June 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Enjoyed the picture you painted of simpler times – and I do think interest is piqued by horses in harness.

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