A Sporting Day of Traditional Driving was set up to celebrate the by gone days of driving.  During the day you will be judged on horsemanship, good judgment and quick decision making while driving. Your turnout will also be judged on the preservation of your carriage, the suitability of your harness, and of course good sportsmanship.

Judging is done by one, two or three judges and they view you at the halt as well as on the move.

Your day of driving will comprise three sections:

First is the Turnout Inspection:  you will be judged on the cleanliness, safety, quality and the general overall impression that you, your harness, your carriage, your horse and any other person that is in your carriage. Any type of rein handling (one or two hands) is allowed as long as it matches the type of vehicle that you are driving. Your harness should be suitable for the type of carriage you are driving and be in good working order.  It should be of a proper weight for the carriage and have the proper collar and saddle as needed.  Synthetic or leather  is allowed but leather is more preferred as it is the traditional type that was used with all antique carriages.

Horses or ponies must be clean and well groomed with no boots or bandages allowed.  All types of carriages or carts are allowed but antiques or reproductions are preferred. If lamps are carried they must be of the proper type and in working condition.

In this part of the Traditional Day of Driving you can earn up to 50 points.  Ten points in each of the following five categories:

1) horse/pony

2) harness

3) carriage

4) driver/groom/passengers

5) overall general impression

Second is the Country Drive: in this phase you will be showing your ability to drive safely in a variety of situations.  All rules of the road are to be observed.

The driver is allowed to walk, trot and halt his horse at will. The terrain will tell a lot about the speed you will need to go. You will need to keep your horse at a steady pace to be able to complete the course in the allotted time.  The distance will be from 3 to 7 miles.  The course will include up to five simple driving tests along the way.  The course will also include course gates so that all drivers are sure to go the same distance.  All types of equine are allowed to participate at a speed set forth for their type of equine (horse, pony, miniature). This can be anywhere from 5 to 14 kph.

A few examples of drivers tests would be:

1) stop to pickup a passenger and let them off again.

2) stop at gate and have groom get down and open then go through and shut the gate.

3) rein back a prescribed number of steps

4) drive over a bridge

5) demonstrate a repair in case of a breakage

6) drive a figure eight

Ones’ imagination can come up with many more that would be useful on a cross country drive.

You start the drive with 25 points and then points are deducted for failed driver’s test, for not completing the course in the required time and not going through a mandatory gate.

Third is the Cones Course: this is a demonstration of the driver’s ability to drive through a set of cones at the proper speed and without hitting any of them. You only need to complete within the required time allowed.

The cones are driven at a trot, and should be on a level surface with  5 to 10 gates. The first set of cones is start and the last set is the finish.  The width of the cones will vary from 18″ to 24″ wider than the axle width of the vehicles.  The speed allowed will be from 85 mpm to 230 mpm depending on the type of equine being driven.

You again will start with 25 points and deductions will be taken for balls down, cantering, exceeding time allowed, going out of order and failing to go through a set of cones.

I will tell you briefly about one of the Sporting Days Of Driving I attended several years ago in Baraboo, Wisconsin.  This being the home of the Ringling Brothers Circus, we were given a tour of their facility which was spectacular.

The was the fall meeting of Carriage Association of America which was held in Baraboo with great success. There were 116 attendees representing 19 states, and 2 provinces.

Thursday was spent touring the local area in search of carriages. We first toured the Wesley Jung Carriage collection at the Wade House. There were more than 100 vehicles that had been restored by Mr. Jung. The vehicles ranged from a Pabst family Drag to a rare Velvet Tobacco Co. peddler’s wagon. We then headed for the Hunt’s Harness factory to see first hand how their fine harness is made.  Greg Hunt has been making harness since 1977 and has all of the best sewing machines to do a great job.  We then sped our way to Colonial Carriage Works for a tour of their manufacturing and restoration plant. These carriages were so ornate that you would not want to drive them for fear of chipping the paint. They do a beautiful job of restoring the old vehicles, as well as making new easy entry carts for the beginning driver. If you feel like buying a restored vehicle be ready to drop anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000 for a job well done.

Friday after the board meeting we had a special guided tour of the Ringling Brother’s carriage house and restoration building at the circus museum. The massive size and stature of these old circus wagons is hard to envision but all were in great shape and most are still used today. You may have seen a few of them in the Macy’s Day parade from time to time. The restoration department had just received two donated carriages from a local gentleman. They just happened to be Al Ringling’s personal carriages. One was a Studebaker and it still bore Al Ringling’s initials on the side.  It truly was a site to see as I have a Studebaker “Izzer” Carriage.Sunday Baraboo hosted the mid-west’s first Sporting Day of Traditional Driving.  Twenty nine beautiful antique and reproduced vehicles participated.

I drove my 1892 Studebaker Izzer that was completely restored. The day started out with pouring rain but by 8am it had stopped and cleared enough for everyone to have a safe and enjoyable drive through downtown Baraboo across the Baraboo river, past Effinger Park and to the half way point, Devils Lake, for refreshments and a ten minute stop.  We made our way back to town over the river and past Circus World Museum and back to the fairgrounds for a short cones course.  The eleven-mile drive was beautiful and we were all thankful that the weather held out until we were all having ‘brats and beer.