- Cjay over at Artemis Areia is going through a rough time right now. Her horse, Cas, has a serious injury. If you have a sec, please show her your support.
- Gabriella over at Horse Dayz has an interesting challenge. She is challenging other bloggers to do a post or series on how you would train a horse from the time it is a foal to being broke. If you have already raised a foal, perhaps you could share your experience so that others can learn.
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Yesterday I had my first Pleasure Driving lesson! Through a friend, I found an instructor that is only 30 minutes away from me. Shelley has competed in Jumping, Dressage and Pleasure Driving. A back injury due to a jumping accident has turned her focus on to Driving. She has a small boarding facility; 11 horses and ponies, 23 acres.
The day couldn't have been more beautiful. Temps were around 25C with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. From the get-go it was obvious that Shelley loves driving and her pony. Shelley doesn't use horses when she competes....she uses Magic, her gorgeous Newfoundland Pony. Magic is the Mini Me of Gem!!
I was very excited about meeting Magic. Newfoundland Ponies are considered a rare breed. My father is from Newfoundland and we spent many a summer on The Rock. Dad's family had a Newfoundland Pony named Blackie when he was a kid. The Newfoundland Pony is known for its hardiness and is a very easy keeper. The Canadian and the Newfoundland Pony share a similar history. Both breeds were instrumental in helping Canada be settled. They were used as work animals and to pull carriages. Machines and automation greatly impacted the need for the hardy little Newfoundland Pony and hundreds and hundreds of them were rounded up and sent for slaughter, ending up as dog food. By the late 1970's they were on the verge of extinction. Like the Canadian, a strict breeding program has saved them from that fate and these ponies are now recognized as a provincial heritage animal.
Shelley went through the different parts of the cart. Safety was the focus of her overview, and I liked that. After we went through the different parts of the cart, we brought Magic in and started our grooming. The tacking up part of Driving is very intimidating....at least right now. There is a sequence to how the harness is put on and you have to be very careful that pieces of the harness aren't hanging down where your feet or your horse's feet can get tangled up. Fortunately for us, Magic stood like a pro. :-) Hooking up to the cart was interesting. The horse has to stand while you pull and position the cart behind him and attach the harness. This part of the process seemed to take much less time than putting on the harness. This is a picture of her cart. It cost around $1,000.00.
It was now time to go for a spin. We donned our helmets and off we went. It was a bit weird at first. I felt...I don't know...exposed. The seat was comfortable, but there's nothing to hang on to really. And where was the brake?????!!! :-) We slow trotted around part of the property, which included a couple of very steep little hills. Eventually, Magic worked his way up to a working trot and then to a road trot. Amazingly, all of his speeds were communicated verbally by Shelley. All commands were prefaced with his name. "Magic! Road trot!" Which direction he was to go was communicated through the reins, by the flexing of the fingers. I could easily feel the difference in the speeds. We went down to the sand ring and Shelley showed me how to turn. Think you just sit there??? Wrong! You still have to have great balance and use your core. You have to assist the horse by shifting your body weight in the carriage when going up or down a hill, for example. You have to be able to feel the connection with the horse through the reins even though they are really, really long. No, you sure don't just sit there. :-)
Then Shelley let me take the reins! It was awesome!! I operated the reins while she told Magic what to do. It was harder than it looked and it took me a while to get the hang of it. It was great and I could soooo see Gem pulling a cart.
I have committed to taking two more lessons to get a real feel for it and see if it's something I want to pursue. It's quite expensive. To have her come to my stables and work with Gem would cost approximately $80.00 per session, at least twice a week. Shelley did say that it would take a few months to get Gem up to speed. It would mean giving up my lessons with LA for a while because I couldn't afford both.
It was time to wrap up our session (3 hours later!) and I went to pay her. She decline the money, stating that the first lesson was at no charge; she was happy exposing someone to her passion. Nice!
It was a great visit and I felt sort of "satisfied" when I was driving home. Let me share a captured moment of pure Magic......
Have a great week!