Back when there was snow on the ground (not that long ago for some of us!!), I carried a sleigh bell in my coat pocket. Every time Gem would trot, you could hear its musical jingle. It was just loud enough to be heard and add some seasonal ambiance, but not too loud to be annoying. LA liked the sound and commented how it made her smile.
After a mention of the bell during one of our lessons, our conversation snow balled (pardon the pun!) into talking about the Canadian Horse and how versatile the breed is. It is a tough and hardy horse and was used for everything from pulling logs, farming, carriages and pleasure riding. The Canadian Horse is one of the strongest breeds and "has more power per hundred pounds of body weight than horses of any other breed" according to the Canadian Horse Breeders Association. Well, it certainly feels like that to me when Gem is resisting my request!! :-)
LA: He looks like black velvet against the white snow. I could see him pulling a sleigh with bells on the harness.
Me: Yeah, I could so see that!
LA: He's from GL's breeding farm, isn't he?
Me: Yes. Cool, eh?
LA: I am sure Gem would be started to pleasure drive if he came from GL's.
Me: (eyes widening) Really????
LA: You should find out.
Me: I could sit in a little red sleigh....it would have to be a red sleigh to match Gem's black coat....with a black and red checked blanket across my lap and maybe ear muffs...no! my mohair beret! I would wear my "Marlboro Man" coat with gloves and go up and down the road waving at people as we go by and .....
LA: Whoa!! Wait a minute!!! Slow down! First, you need to find out if he can drive before you start planning your sleighing outfit and accessories!
Me: Of course! (to myself) Geez, that LA sure knows how to be a joy sucker....
So, I immediately contacted GL and sure enough he starts all of his horses under saddle and for pleasure driving. How cool is that?!!! Wow! Gem is trained to pull a cart! When I asked what I could do to re-familiarize Gem, GL suggested that I contact the local driving club and attend a clinic. He told me that it wouldn't take long to get Gem used to a harness, but the most important thing was that I would have to "put the miles on". I did contact the local group, but no one got back to me. :-( The thought of Gem pulling a sleigh melted with the snow.
I had my 2nd anniversary lunch with STA a couple of weeks ago. During our sometimes loud, boisterous, belly-laugh 5-hour luncheon, I mentioned Gem being trained to drive. STA immediately mentioned Brenda, the mother of one of the girls that has a horse boarded at LA's. Brenda has minis and has trained all of them to pleasure drive and competes with them!! What a stroke of luck.
Brenda happened to be at the stables on Sunday and I asked her for some hints on how to re-familiarize Gem with driving. One thing led to another, and she has offered to bring out some equipment that we can use on Gem!!! Cool, eh? I know what you are thinking....minis, Gem....how could any of her equipment fit at 1300 lb. horse. Well, apparently we will be starting with really long reins attached to a bridle and running on either side of Gem's body with one person leading and the other walking behind him and steering him, using verbal commands, to reacquaint Gem with the concept. Initially, there were a lot of raised eyebrows from some of the other boarders when I used verbal commands with Gem (walk, wait, back, stand, whoa, come), but now I am glad I stuck with it! I think it will be quite easy to re-introduce "Gee" (right) and "Haw" (left) to him.
There's more! Brenda's best friend and neighbour has four Canadians that she competes with!! Brenda has offered to introduce me. Sadly, this friend may have to downsize soon. This may be an opportunity for me because she may be willing to part with some equipment that is already fit to a Canadian horse. :-) Gem + driving was meant to be, I think. What a great option to keep His Smartness on the ball and engaged. I will definitely keep you guys updated. You never know..... he and I may have driving or sleighing in our future!!
My Husband rolled his eyes when I told him about the potential additional equipment - in fact, he said "wouldn't it be cheaper just to buy a snowboard and have Gem pull you??" Ha, ha,...funny man....ha, ha. But, the way I look at it is that it may be an absolutely required expense to keep Gem happy and bored-free. Right? Right?....Work with me here...!
What was I thinking....?