Well, here we are one pandemic behind us, and you are returning to the box seat. We also would like to attend a carriage driving show or even a one day ADT (arena driving trial).  But, are there any of these events going to be held?

I was just reviewing the events from the ADS (American Driving Society) omnibus to see what might still be happening.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 25 events canceled.  There have also been 11 events that usually are scheduled for the period June through December that are missing. That is a total of 36 fewer events that we have to choose from.

For us here in Arizona, the state club (Arizona Carriage & Driving Club) has a few events on the calendar between now and the end of the year:

ADT #5 September 19 in Paulden

Festival of Driving Pleasure Show October 31 – November 1 in Scottsdale

ADT #4 November 14 in Black Canyon City

ADT #6 & #7 December 12-13 at Dale Creek

Be sure to check their website for any changes. https://arizonacarriage.org

So, as you can see we have some events we can get ready for returning to the box seat!!!

You now have to get your horse physically ready for the events you chose to attend and you have about two and a half months to do it.

  • If your planning to go out of state, then you need to be sure your horse has had all of his shots to be able to leave the state and return. Coggin and a health certificate are normally needed.
  • Has your horse been without shoes because you had nowhere to go? Then you need to get the farrier in and have feet trimmed and shoes applied if needed.
  • Start now to work on your horse’s conditioning so that he will be able to handle running four obstacles after doing dressage and cones. Start slowly, say a half-hour a day for a week, and then increase when you see that he can handle longer and harder work.
  • Be sure to review with your horse all of those scary things that he might see in an obstacle course. Work with other horses, riding or driving with your horse in an arena, if you plan on doing the driving festival.
  • If you plan on taking different feeds with you to an event, then get your horse used to it now before you go. The last thing you want at a show is for your horse not to eat or to colic.
  • Make sure that your harness is clean and that any frayed stitching or broken straps are repaired properly. Check over the bridle and be sure the bit is still strong and there is no rust.
  • Do a once over of your driving vehicle to be sure tires are in good running condition. If they are tires with air, make sure they hold the air. All other wheels should have their spokes checked for tightness, and the hubs should be greased. If your vehicle has brakes, then make sure the brake fluid is clean and full. Do a once over the whole vehicle for any worn or cracked wood or metal and repair where needed.
  • If you haven’t been able to do your normal grooming, then take the time now to use your clippers, just in case your horse has forgotten what they are! Wash your horse, especially those white socks that might look yellow, to make sure all boo-boos are attended too.
  • The weather of course will be an issue in the next couple of months so try and drive in the early mornings before monsoons show their ugly heads. If you do drive during the heat of the day then have bottles of alcohol available to mix with buckets of water. Sponging this mix on your horse will cool him down quicker!
  • Be aware that this is the bug season. When you are grooming before a drive, include bug spray on your horse.  I find that if I spray the bristle brush with the fly spray and then brush it on it works better.      Don’t forget your horses face.  I use the Avon Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Picaridin Towelettes to wipe my horses face. You can use it first on your face and have a two for one!
  • Make sure your first aid kit is refreshed and up to date.  Better to have it and not need it.

During your conditioning work be sure to use all of those words that your horse normally hears when you drive such as walk, trot, easy, whoa, stand and you get the idea. Practice that all-important long stand that you use for your salute, or the line up in a pleasure class.

You will also want to practice the back-up so that it is straight and true!

After your work sessions with your horse, remember to have that cool-down time at a walk for at least ten minutes.  With the summer heat, it is especially important to do.  You will want to be sure your horse drinks plenty of water after the workouts also. A salt block or electrolytes can be a big help with this.

Practice taking your horses’ pulse and respiration before and after your workouts.  Knowing what is normal for your horse will help you determine the amount of work you can do during your next session.  The normal resting pulse of your horse is approximately 40 beats per minute

We all want to start returning to the box seat so get back out there and have fun with our driving horses, so let’s do it!  Be safe and keep driving!

Eileen is conditioning Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy in a lunging caveson

Eileen is conditioning Pinegrove's Sailor Boy in a lunging cavason