Archive for the 'Carriage Driving' Category

Driving From the Left Hand

amywink April 20th, 2013


I have returned to driving lessons in an attempt to get myself unstuck from the mire I’ve been in for several weeks. Last Saturday, I had my first lesson with Francine since December and it went spectacularly well. To improve my whip-handling, I am learning to drive from the left hand, while using the whip in my right hand as the horse bends in the corners. It is a very exciting step in my driving and is adding a great deal of finesse to the “steering”. Last Saturday was my first try at it and this Saturday we worked on it again. I felt a great improvement in my corner steering and in the straight lines. The subtlety of movement in my wrist and fingers–mostly my wrist rotating from flat to upright, like the turning of a key– makes a much more finely tuned directional movement of the horse and it’s a complete “Wow” moment. I know that Blessing is going to love it.

In addition to the new stage in my driving training, I have been really enjoying driving the new carriage Francine has. It’s a De Lemerij made by Dominiak and during the last two weeks (since I saw the carriage in early April), I’ve distracted myself with carriage research–and it was very very helpful this last week. This carriage (pictured above) is the Karo and it drives very smoothly and has the kind of floor that Lily would completely love–she did hop up happily up and spread out “frog-legged” comfy when we tried it unhooked a few weeks ago. I liked the ride and how it looks hooked as well! Here it is hooked to a friend’s Welsh Cob mare who is about the same size as my horses.


So now I am dreaming of my own and thinking how I’ll save and save for the purchase.

It rained this week and I caught these drops on the Hello, Darkness iris.


And Thursday was Lily’s first birthday. We celebrated with a lovely cookie from Groovy Dog Bakery.


Happy Birthday, Lily.

Carriage Dogs and Straighter Lines

amywink February 18th, 2013


Lily is making swift progress in her work as my carriage dog and this weekend, we had a good drive together again while I worked on straight lines with Blessing. She has decided that lying across or under my feet is really most comfortable and she is now sleeping during most of the drive with little issue.


She is now waiting quietly tethered to the carriage while I harness (not while I hook–we are safe). Look how nicely she waits here!


For a 10 month old dog, she’s doing miraculously well with all of her training and duties.

Her reward (aside from being with me, which is her Life’s Dream) is a happy romp with Cookie, who now is very eager for our visits.

Lily’s improved carriage ethic has made working on driving more possible and this Sunday I was very pleased with our work on straight lines. Though I could see my tracks in the dry soil of the arena, I couldn’t tell how well we’d done until I looked at my GPS tracks. Granted, the GPS unit is not on Blessing’s bridle but the carriage went straight! and these lines are greatly improved from our last attempt at straight lines


I can tell that we have a little terrain issue on some of our lines because we keep having a wobble at the same place…a place where there’s a noticeable dip in the terrain. We’ll work on that as well but so far, I ‘m quite pleased with this progress. We only have a short drive, just 30 minutes, but even short workouts can be productive. I also worked on myself more, fixing my eyes on a focus point at the end of my line and keeping my hands quiet when Blessing moved correctly into line. I am still working on my hands and keeping the light contact that works for her.

Straight Lines

amywink February 9th, 2013

With Blessing home, I have been facing the new challenge of driving two horses. Will is shocked SHOCKED that Blessing now drives and when I harness her, he looks sadly on, one ear turns sideways, head handing sadly over the gate. When I drive Will, Blessing mopes at the fence and looks on with the same bewilderment. People may think horses don’t have very expressive faces but they are NOT looking at mine. The guilt is tremendous. And then there’s Lily, who feels SURE that I am going to forget that she’s supposed to be inches from my feet at ALL TIMES.

They are all learning to share but it is a hard for everyone.

And of course, driving two different horses been a learning experience in itself. The one time I was able to drive both on the same day, I chose Blessing first because she is so light and I didn’t want to be overtired when I drove her. Will is not “heavy” but he does require more contact than Blessing. Because he is older, he also moves differently–though I also think he’s hollowing his back at the trot and we need to strengthen his back with some canter work–and Blessing is more…flexible, as in we are really having a time making a straight line!!

So straight lines have been my task for the month, particularly with Blessing. We are working on starting straight from a halt as well as a long straight line on the diagonal as well as any straight line we attempt! As you can see from our GPS tracks here, we have a ways to go:


After this showing, I took a lesson at Francine’s with the gorgeous Joyante (BB) and managed to do a wee bit better:

But then I tried the next week with Will and we wobbled wildly….screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102347-am.jpg
before we manage to get our act together to make a few respectable straight lines. screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102355-am.jpg screen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102427-am.jpgscreen-shot-2013-02-09-at-102451-am.jpg

And then there’s this very nice straight line across the bottom of the arena on a short diagonal–as I was making room for Lisa ground-driving her mare Windy.

I will admit to some interference with Will since I also had Lily in the carriage and she was often a little more helpful than she ought to have been during our drive. Still, she is coming along very well in her carriage training for a 10 month old puppy:

I’m rethinking the type of carriage I want to purchase since I have been driving with Lily. She’s as long as she will be but as you can see from this photo, she’s almost longer than the footbed of the carriage. Though I have added a corrugated plastic “fender” to keep her in the carriage, I think I will be looking for a carriage with a more “basket” design, something like a used Glinkowski Pony Sport. I have begun to dither quite a bit about that so I hope I will be able to find something that works for Lily as well as the horses and my pocketbook. But for now, we’ll carry on and keep working on straight lines and keeping everyone worked and happy.


Last Day

amywink December 31st, 2012

On this last day of 2012, here is my list of Best Things of 2012, in no particular order:

Great American Dog Trip
Riding Lessons
Riding Will
Driving Circles
Riding BB
Learning to drive Blessing’s light mouth
Fall Morgan Horse Show
Grand Champion Morgan Mare
Driving with the sleigh bells.
Saturdays at Francine’s
Driving Friends

Sleigh Bells Ring

amywink December 16th, 2012


Blessing and I had our first belled drive this weekend, on her “Commencement Day”. These bells were created by Jim Dingman at Lignite Leather and Bells. They are a graduated set of harness bells, designed to hang underneath the horse’s belly but we have them on the way they fit best on Blessing and the carriage. There are 21 bells on this strap, three #8 bells, eight #6 bells and ten #4 bells. I’d originally bought them for Will before Blessing came into our lives but they sound perfect on her and she was perfect in them.


The videos do not quite capture the delightful sound of the bells in the open air but it does give you an idea of the sound and how it changes with her gait.

Francine is driving while I man the iPhone for the video. I drove her earlier and she was spectacular.

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