Monthly Archives: January 2010

My first drive

by Ann Pringle

I’ll admit that when I gave Hal the signal to ‘walk on’ I was more than a little nervous.  Now over these many years, I’ve probably read more articles and books on driving in my role as an editor than many drivers.  I know about half-halts, the inside and outside reins, balance, bend, impulsion, but at this particular moment, all I was hoping was that Hal would know how to whoa. 

It didn’t help that we weren’t going to drive in a smooth, enclosed arena.  Oh no, we were headed for the Walthour Moss Foundation – thousands of acres of rolling sandy trails, a million pine trees that all looked alike, deer and all kinds of other spooks and goblins that I was sure would turn Hal into a runaway. 

Within the first few strides, Craig Kellogg, who had stepped onto the back of the vehicle, said “Trust your horse.” This he repeated several times in the next several minutes.  Then he said “Pick up a trot.”  Trot??? I was just starting to get comfortable at the walk.  The path wasn’t straight.  It wound around the long leaf pines, over roots, bumps, and under low hanging branches.  The only thing Hal didn’t like was rustling plastic Craig had told me in the barn when I accidentally brushed against a plastic bag.  Just ahead was a huge blue  plastic tarp covering a pile of hay several stories high.  Craig laughed a slightly wicked sounding laugh,  “Last week a couple of Mexicans came out from under the tarp and Hal didn’t like it much.”   Ok, trust your horse, I told myself. 

Obviously I survived my first real driving experience in two decades.  And by the end, not only did I trust my horse, I decided to trust Craig too, who has a very strong self preservation instinct.  He talked me through every turn, instilled a bit of confidence in me, and by the end, I was actually somewhat relaxed. Of course most of the credit goes to Hal, who never made a misstep or gave me a moment’s worry. He never got a tad stronger when we were headed for home.  However, a word of advice to instructors – us beginners can only absorb so much instruction at one time.  You can tell us all you want, but only about 100th of it is going to sink in.

Driving Again after all these years

by Ann Pringle

It’s been over 25 years since I drove a horse or pony on a regular basis.  A lot has changed in that time, and as a writer and editor of a carriage driving magazine, I am very aware of these changes, but knowing and doing are very different things. 

It was during a New Year’s Eve party here in Southern Pines that Marcie Quist and Craig Kellogg decided to take me on as a project.  At least that’s my perception of how it went.  They both thought I should come out to Marcie’s and drive some of her horses with Craig. (Marcie has a real job during the day.) Fortunately the weather was cold for several weeks and although Craig is from New England, he’s been in the south too long to venture out when it is below 50 degrees. 

The forecast for the day was in the 60s. The phone rang. It was Craig. “Want to go driving?” “Sure” was my tentative response. So I drove out to the farm at the appointed hour.

The last time I drove, the harness was all leather, the traces sewn in, the hardware was brass.  The carriage was all wood and iron, the shafts were a pair, not independent, the seat held two people.  This time, the harness was synthetic, the traces buckled in, the breeching was attached to the ends of the shafts on the carriage.  The carriage was a four-wheel van den Huevel competition carriage.  The seat accommodated one, snugly. The ‘passenger’ or groom had to stand on the back. 

I think I could have gotten the harness on correctly, but there was no way I could have hooked Hal, my driving ‘teacher,’ up to the carriage.  I don’t know who had the most patience, Hal or Craig.  I’ve known Craig for about 30 years.  I’ve know  Hal for a couple of years, mostly throught the view finder of my camera.  Hal is Halstead’s Shale, Marcie’s eight year old chestnut Hackney gelding that she now drives at Intermediate level – very successfully I might add. 

Craig just chuckled as he, on one side, me on the other, talked me through attaching the shaft to the tug strap (if that is even its name), then the trace to the singletree. Then the breeching strap. 

I kinda thought I was going to ride on back step, but nooooooo….. Craig told me I was going to drive.  Me.  An intermediate CDE horse.  I took a deep breath, Craig stepped away from Hal’s head, and off we went!    More later…..