Driving for Pleasure

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.


2 responses to “Driving for Pleasure

  1. I apprecieate this website immencely. I joined because of a personal interest in a Handicapped Driving program in Front Range Colorado that has failed to get up and running. Not for any reason other than failure to attract interest of competitent management leadership to “take the ribbons” and drive this worthy vehicle of self esteam for those less fortunate. My personal experience with driving has been as safety outrider and groom for famous Movie production involving horse drawn vehicles. All types of folks took part as well as all kinds of vehicles. Driving Hobbiest, Living History Folks, Folks who were proud enough of their local heritage to fund and provide team and vehicle for thier states Centennial Celebrations. Our neighbor was a farmer his freight wagon and Percheron Team father driving and his 20s daughter skirts spread astride her weastern vintage saddle(outrider). Daughter had had first baby a week before filming started.
    Although we all recieved monitary compensation, And camp amenities and meals were to standard, non of these factors was in proportion to effort and potental risk involved. Factor in the pleasure of participation in a “Once in a Lifetime Event “on scale beyond anything possible privately and you have the experience we shared and enjoyed. Comparable experience for “Sport Coachmen ” would be a true Mail coach and team over period roads an stopping at historically correct inns for team changes and vituals. Period correct Gentlemen Ladies with maids footmen ect. Mulled cider/wine , Coachmans greatcoat with capes. Throw in the odd “Highwayman” and there you have it! Coaching is an anachronism, might as well dress the part.

  2. Thanks for sharing Ann. Coming in from yet another torrential Kentucky rain and finding this message in my inbox was a pleasure. Your photos are beautiful.

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