I think it is reasonable to say that most driving is ‘driving for pleasure,’ but many people make a distinction between driving competitively and driving without any compensation such as a ribbon or other prize.
For some, getting a group of drivers together for a single drive or a series of drives comes naturally, for others, it seems to be as complicated as putting on a CDE.
Last weekend a group of drivers, all members of the Four-in-Hand Club, met in Southern Pines to meet, eat and drive, not necessarily in that order. Each drive over the three days began at 11 o’clock in the big field at Big Sky, Claire Reid’s farm. Each day’s drive was lead by one of the local hosts. It was follow-the-leader style, with only the leader knowing the route.
I chose Saturday to attend and take photographs. It is fun to watch those from out of town who are stabled at Big Sky prepare and put to. The local drivers appear from different directions and wander around the field until all are ready and someone on the leader’s carriage sounds the horn to indicate that the drive is starting and all should follow.
It is a challenge to find good spots to photograph the 10 or so turnouts. It is also a challenge sometimes to figure out their route, and then find a way to get to a spot via a different route, and set up before they come trotting by. This particular Saturday I was lucky to find two or three good spots. Once they start coming by, I have to shoot fast. It’s much harder than a photographing at a competition.
The social aspect of these drives is also important. Usually a boxed lunch is served at a designated stop enroute, giving the drivers, their guests as well as the horses and ponies, a chance to rest, and for those who follow along in cars, to view the turnouts. Cocktail parties are held in the evenings.
You can imagine that the grooms are very busy for the duration of the weekend, keeping four horses, harness and carriage gleaming.
After a week at the Southern Pines CDE, it was a real treat to be able to watch a just for fun drive.