Driving drill teams have been around for quite some time. I know you have all seen teams of horses being ridden by young women flying across the arena, as half time entertainment during a rodeo. You have probably also watched an occasional drill team in a parade doing precise movements while going down the parade route. Many of them have been with miniature horses, but they are even more amazing when full size horses and carts are used.
I was a member and choreographer of the Mini Sensations Driving Drill Teams for about seven years. At any one time, the group consisted of anywhere from six to ten miniature horses and drivers.
One of the hardest things to accomplish is pairing the horses up so that the pairs have matching paces. If one of a pair trots faster then the other horse, than that horse will have to canter to keep up which ruins the look of the whole design. If possible, it is also good to match up horses of matching colors in a pair as long as their pace is also equal. All horses in a drill team need to be well socialized with other horses and not mind being occasionally bumped by another horse. Drivers need to be well accomplished drivers of their horse for maximum control when needed.
A team of miniature horse and carriages can fit into a smaller arena than large horses. Minimum size is approximately 100 x 300 feet. Now for practice, one can use any flat open area that is at least the 100 x 300. One can mark off the corners with cones and measure the area with a Single Measuring Wheel, with at least a ten inch wheel.
It is important that the members of the group, work their horse during the week so that they stay fit for when you practice with the team. A one hour practice will pretty much exhaust both the horse and the driver. All drivers need to watch and listen to the chosen drill team leader so that everyone is always on the same page when practicing. Inattention can result to accidents which is not why we do this, it is all about having fun with our horses and team members.
Being that you will be driving with people you may or not know, it is important to be considerate to them all. Do not critique other members if they have done something that you think is wrong. The leader of the team should be the one to comment. You need to keep your ears and minds open while going through a maneuver. You should never let horses go nose to nose, this not only can pass illness but also be hazardous, if the two horses decide they do not like each other. Remember, your horse has a cart on it’s butt. You will need to accustom your horse to music, flags, and large groups of people, and spectators.
Some of the basic moves that you will often see a drill team do are:
Single File (one horse following another in a straight line)
Pairs (groups of two horses and carts aligned side by side)
Quads (group of four horses and carts aligned side by side)
Company Front or Column ( all horses and carts aligned side by side)
Outside horse and cart (the horse and cart closest to the outside of arena)
Inside horse and cart (the horse and cart nearest the center of the arena)
Oblique (when your horses head is at your neighbors cart wheel forming a diagonal line)
Wedding rings (two circle being made at the same time one going through the other)
Figure eight (you actually drive a figure eight and at the center you will criss-cross each other)
Do-Si-Do ( two horse and carts approach each other then both turn to left (or right) around each other and back to where they started)
Serpentine (a winding motion)
These are just a few of the movements that are put together to form a complete drill pattern.
Once you have a routine figured out with all the movements put together and you know how long it takes to run the whole routine, then you need to find music that will go with it and enhance the whole thing. This will all depend on the speed that your particular team moves at. Miniature driving drill teams can go good with a bit faster paced song, while large horses do better with a slower but more commanding piece of music. The best thing to do is find four of five pieces of music that you like and try each one to the routine and pick out the one that best suits what you are doing.
When putting your driving drill teams together, remember it is all about having fun with other horse lovers and your horses. Any mistakes that you make or your horse makes is always the drivers fault, so never take it out on the horse.
Once you have your routine down pat, then invite family and friend over and do it for them. Once you have done that several times, it will get around that your team is good and fun to watch and people will begin asking for you to do it at a party they are having or a fund raiser or! When you get to this point, then you can think about uniforms, and that can be as simple as, everyone in black pants and white shirts with a bandana around your neck.
The Mini Sensation Driving Drill Team was together for about seven years. We had members come and go but there were about six of us that were always around. It was lots of fun and it gave us something different to do with our driving horses. So get you there and have fun and stay safe.