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January 26th found us rising earlier than normal to make a trip down to Apache Junction for our first Arena Driving Trial of the year. Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy is going advance for the first time in about eight years. During training I found that he was getting very bored with the Intermediate tests as was I, so I decided to move back up to advance.

It was a sunny and warm day, at least in my opinion, as we woke up to 22 degrees. Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy finished his breakfast, while I walked the cones course and checked out the dressage arena. Then after a hot cup of coffee and a Danish Allan, my husband and navigator, and I walked the obstacles. There were four obstacles in an Arena Driving Trial, and they were very well laid out.

Eileen driving Pinegrove's Sailor Boy warming up for the obstacles.
Eileen driving Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy warming up for the obstacles.

When our go time finally came around Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy was ready, as was I. We had a good go of it in dressage and I was appreciative of the judges comments. Afterwards we headed for the cones course where Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy was a bit too excited and we knocked down two cones and we accrued some time penalties.

An hour later we hitched up for our turn at the obstacles. Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy was happy to be able to canter through the obstacles and we had the best overall time in our division.

For our first Arena Driving Trial for the year I was happy with Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy performance!

Don’t stop driving in the cold, your horse will thank you for it!  Your horse adjusts just fine to the change of temperature.  How you exercise your horse will need to be changed, but you are able to keep him conditioned in cold weather.

Depending on where one lives, there are options to consider as you come into the days of winter.  There are those that have second homes in warmer areas that they go to. Some of those in the colder areas have access to inside arenas.  Then, all the rest of us must brave the cold temperatures in order to train and exercise our horses.

According to veterinarians, horses are much more adaptable to driving in the cold weather than us humans. If you were a horse, you could within temperatures up to a negative 40 degrees.  Of course, your horse has a much thicker coat, so he can adjust to the various temperatures.

One advantage for continuing your driving and training during the winter is that your horse will be less likely to colic.


Feed and water must be accessible in the proper amounts and temperatures.

When you work your driving horse you will not be running a marathon every time that you take them out.  The winter training schedule will be a much calmer and quieter type of work. 

You need to take your time during your warm-up and cool down.  The time doing this will be longer than in the warmer times of the year.  I know that with my Friesian Sporthorse, it takes me about twenty minutes in warm weather to get his muscles warmed up. So it stands to reason that driving in cold weather I need to add another five to ten minutes to it.  Taking this extra time for your warmup will help prevent injuries to your horse.

When you are done with your training session you will need ten to fifteen minutes of walking your horse to cool him down.  Then, after unhitching, you will probably need another ten to fifteen minutes of brushing and walking your horse to help him get dried off.  You need to feel through the hair down to the skin to make sure his skin is dry.  The hair itself will take a bit longer to dry, but it is the skin you are concerned about.

Now that you have some sort of idea about what it takes to keep your horse comfortable during the winter let’s talk about what type of training you can work with your horse in the cold.

A few of the things I do to keep my horses fit during the winter are:

  1. If time is short and you can’t hitch, then ground driving your horse around your property or in your arena.  The horse will get exercise and so will you.
  2. If you want to do just ground driving but want to make it more interesting, then add ground poles to your bag of tricks.  You can do the same exercises that you would do if you were riding your horse while ground driving.  The book by Sigrid Schope called “Training and Riding with Cones and Poles” has a lot of good ideas.
  3. When you are going to drive your horse one thing that I do is I walk the obstacles that I have set up on my property.  You would be surprised at how hard it is to just walk your horse.  If your horse is anything like mine, he sees the obstacle and immediately wants to run.
  4. You can do the same walking of a cones course.  When walking, you and your horse must concentrate a lot harder to be able to get through the cones without hitting them.  Your horse needs to walk at a good “working walk” and stay focused to do the cones at a walk.
  5. If you don’t want to bother with the harness or the cart, then you can just hand walk your horse down the street, on a trail, up and down a short incline or just around the arena.  He will have just as much fun and you will have some one-on-one time with your best friend.

Best time of day to drive in the cold

When is the best time of day to drive your horse in the winter?  You could drive them at any time, but we also must think about us humans and what we can take as far as the cold.

For myself, I get cold easily, so I generally work my horses between the hours of eleven am and three pm.  By eleven am, the sun is up high in the sky and we are reaching towards the high temperature of the day.  Then, by three pm, the sun is getting low and one starts to feel the chill in the air. 

You need to find the time of the day that you can best deal with the cold to be able to work functionally with your horse.  If you get to cold, then your horse won’t know if you are giving him a que or just shaking from being too cold. Besides, this should be fun for you and your horse, not a torture session! Oh, and by the way, it is okay to skip a day or two if the weather is just intolerable!

“Horses are not an animal that hibernates in the winter so keep them active”.

How far have we come since combined driving started?  Where did we start and where are we now?  Have you ever wondered why we drive the way we do?  My article this month will touch on some of the changes that have come about, not only to improve carriage driving, but to make combined driving easier on the driver as well as the horse.  This is “Then and Now”. 

Why brown gloves?  Then: In the book “On the Box Seat” by Tom Ryder, which was considered the driving guide of the time, states that dog-skin gloves were the best material of the time for driving. Nowhere in his words about gloves does it state any particular color.Now: Brown gloves are the norm for driving.  If you look in the ADS rule book, you will find that the only place brown gloves are mentioned is in the Rules for Pleasure Driving, Article 207.1.We all know that when driving Dressage and Cones, your gloves must be brown. 

Whips and Aprons

Why carry a whip?  Then:  In the beginning, your whip was made of holly, yew of thorn. The whip is held in the right-hand balanced at an angle across the body toward the horses left ear.Now: ADS states the whip should be held in hand at all times. Whip must be of traditional style and the lash must be able to reach all horses.  Whips now-a-days can be made of more modern materials such as graphite. The only mention of the whip being in the right hand is during a salute. 

Driving apron or knee rug?  Then: Originally made of light materials for summer and heavier material for winter.  The main purpose is to protect the clothes from being soiled by the reins or dirt thrown up by the horse’s feet. The heavier winter aprons also help you keep warm on a cold day.Now:  The rules today are pretty much the same that one must have an apron or knee rug.  You rarely see a knee rug! Today, you also need to be sure that your apron matches your carriage and what you are dressed in.   

Now - 2018 CDE in Arizona Eileen driving Pinegrove's Sailor Boy to a 2011 Dominiak Spider
Now – 2018 CDE in Arizona Eileen driving Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy to a 2011 Dominiak Spider


Hats & Overchecks

Hats?  Then:  In the beginning, people in general wore hats when they went out in their carriages.  It was more for protection from the sun and or elements. Men worn top hats or bowler’s, while women’s hats were adorned with flowers and ribbons.

Now: The rules state simply “the driver must wear a hat”, as well as any passenger.  They do discourage floppy hats. Also, in the last twenty years protective helmets being worn in dressage and cones no longer get penalized!

 Sidecheck/Overcheck?  Then: This item was a needed element in the olden days.  Originally it was only meant to keep one’s horse from grazing while traveling down the dirt roads or open fields.  Then it became a way of falsely putting your horse in what might look like a proper frame.

Now: If you are driving your horse in anything but training level, the use of a side or overcheck will result in elimination. 

One or Two Hands

One or two hands?  Then:  Way back in the late 1800’s reins were held in one hand, no matter how many horses you were driving.  This was developed in Germany by Master Achenbach, which is how it got its name.

Now:  Here in the United States, where the wild west met the old school, I think the west won and many more people drive with two hands.  This is quite functional until you get into the advanced level of combined driving where you must drive one handed in the dressage test. 

Two or Four Wheeled Vehicles

Two or four wheels?  Then: There is a really great video put together that is a must see (https://vimeo.com/31256145).  In 1985, they were mostly driving two-wheeled vehicles that one would normally go to town in.  A judge drove on each carriage that went out on the marathon in combined driving.  Water was sometimes deeper than the horses going through it.  There were no time limits in hazards.  They were called hazards back then. Most vehicles were made of wood. The weight of a vehicle did not matter in the beginning. 

Now: You see more four wheeled vehicles in marathon, except for small ponies.  The judges now are placed at the obstacles.  Water cannot be any deeper than (50cm) or 19.8 inches. Your time in a hazard is a max of five minutes.  We are now politically correct, and it is now an obstacle not a hazard.  Most vehicles are now made of metal or a combination of wood and metal.  Weight is now specified in the ADS rules for the different sizes of horses.  I think all drivers are more conscious of the weight that their horse must pull. 

Conclusions

As you can see, we have come a long way since 1985 to advance the technology and safety for both humans and horses in the sport of combined driving.  Helmet, body protectors, lighter weight vehicles with brakes, delayed steering, slant seats, hand rails and many other great improvements can be seen.  Hopefully we will continue to improve the sport for all involved.  As with anything, with change comes controversy and we will never all agree 100% of the time.  So, go out and drive your horse, be safe and have fun!

Now: You see more four wheeled vehicles in marathon, except for small ponies.  The judges now are placed at the obstacles.  Water cannot be any deeper than (50cm) or 19.8 inches. Your time in a hazard is a max of five minutes.  We are now politically correct, and it is now an obstacle not a hazard.  Most vehicles are now made of metal or a combination of wood and metal.  Weight is now specified in the ADS rules for the different sizes of horses.  I think all drivers are more conscious of the weight that their horse must pull. 

The Combined Driving Demonstration held at Davis Ranch was a great success.  About forty members of the Granite Mountain Riders showed up for the monthly meeting at the ranch. The members did a lot of catching up with other members while waiting for all to arrive.
By 5:30pm members made their way to the bleachers by the dressage arena to watch the beginning of the nights program.
All were welcomed to the ranch after which I explained what Combined Driving is.   I also explained what a Combined Driving Event consisted of.


Introducing Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy


I introduced my Friesian Sporthorse “Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy” who is a fifteen year old gelding.  I told them that I have been working with him for thirteen years.  Also, that he has competed through FEI level.
Sailor and I drove through a few cones showing the precision needed  to drive them without knocking any down.
We then escorted the ladies to an area on my cross country course to watch us run two of the obstacles on the property. 


Obstacles oh what fun!


In Sailor’s normal way he showed that he was very happy to canter through both of the obstacles.  The water obstacle is always great to watch, for Sailor due to his size,  creates a big splash.
After returning to the carriage barn to unhitch Sailor, I answered many questions and he hunted for treats as is usual after he has done a good job.  After returning him to his stall and getting his dinner we all  enjoyed a very tasty potluck dinner.
The night was finished off with a club meeting and everyone left to go home before the night got to cold to be outside.
There were many great questions answered and many great thanks for a great program.

Pessoa Training System with Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy is the best tool to use to help your horse find his own natural frame.

The Pessoa Training System was designed by Nelson Pessoa. With this tool you are able to start your green horse long and low. As your horse learns self carriage you can adjust to achieve the most advanced collected frame.

I have been using the Pessoa system with Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy for about ten years and it has been a great training tool. The best thing about it is that the horse is basically learning on his own. Sure I hold the lounge line, and I have a lounge whip to keep him moving in the direction that I want him to go. I never pull on his head, mouth or face.

Once you have watched the video you will see how quiet Sailor is.  This is the way you want your horse to be during this training process.  When introducing your horse to the Pessoa training system you will start at a walk.  Your session only needs to be about fifteen minutes.  Remember the horse is learning how to carry himself in a frame and it will tire him out. Work several sessions at the walk until your horse relaxes into what he is being asked to do.  Once he is comfortable with the walk then move onto the trot and then the canter.  Only a well conditioned horse will be able to do the three gaits for any length of time.

Remember you are teaching your horse to carry himself in a dressage frame. He needs tp stay round and on the bit during the whole session.

Horses and Smoke do not go well together.  The obvious signs of smoke from the Tinder fire should be a reminder to everyone about how quickly a fire can start from just a campfire being in an unauthorized area and being left unattended.

It also brings back the memory of the Rodeo-Chediski fire in June 2002 and the Dose fire in June of 2013. The Dose fire I remember well, being I live at the base of Granite Mountain.  My son called from Orleans, California to tell me that the Doce fire was heading our way and if it comes over the pass, we need to get out.  My son is a career wildland fire fighter with the US Forest Service and was stationed here in Prescott.

Extremely Tense Days

I watched many horse owners try to figure out what to do if they had to evacuate.  A good friend of mine who lives on Mint Creek had to evacuate and she called me to help with her horses and miniature donkeys.

There was much that went wrong that week, as well as much that went right.  When trying to get up Williamson Valley Road, I had to dodge look-e-loos parked on the road taking pictures!  Then, there were those that were unable to get their horses into trailers at all.  When the officials finally set up road blocks at both ends of Williamson Valley Road, evacuation then became easier.

As you can see Eileen’s trailer is large enough to hold all six of her horses.

As you can see Eileen's trailer is large enough to hold all six of her horses so when you have a fire horses and smoke do not mix


You are probably wondering where this is all going too?

It just so happened that my Hackney pony mare was in foal at this time. I consulted my veterinarian for the best thing to do with her and the rest of my horses during the fire.

Because my pony was older, my vet suggested that I keep her as quiet, and in no way exercise her!

The smoke has a drastic effect on horses to start with, but her being pregnant, it would be even worse.

This study from the University of California Davis proves that horses and smoke do not go together. Smoke is an unhealthy combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, soot, hydrocarbons, and other organic substances.   Smoke is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that are in the air. They can irritate your horse’s eyes and respiratory tract, which then hampers their breathing.  All horses should have very limited activity whenever smoke is visible.  Even a human has eye and breathing problems during a forest fire.


Remember horses and smoke do not go well together.

If you have a scheduled event in an area that is smoked filled due to a fire, it is always better to cancel and be safe then it is to go! Several years ago, the organizers of the Tevis Cup canceled the race because of the amount of smoke in the area.

Now, if you must evacuate then you are faced with the problem of getting your horse or horses out to a safe area.  In my situation during the Dose fire, we were on stand by evacuation for a week, as the fire management had no way of knowing which way the fire was going to go.  Fires can be very unpredictable!

I had my large trailer hooked up and ready to leave at a moment’s notice.  I can get all six of my horses into my trailer at one time. There were many people who had to evacuate and did not have trailers big enough to get all of their horses into.  Many people need to take several trips to get all of their horses out.

The worst thing that happens when you are told to evacuate is getting your horse into a trailer. Here are some tips on how to get them in:

  • Everybody stay calm!! If you’re not calm your horses will not be calm.  Act as if there is nothing special about this trailer ride.
  • Always be sure that your horse is trained to get in your trailer.  When it’s time to evacuate, it is not the time to train your horse!
  • Load your horse like you would at any other time.  If you use leg wraps, then put them on. If you use a different halter, then use it now.  The horse needs to think that this is just like any other ordinary trailer ride.
  • Don’t be in a hurry.  If you are, your horse will think there is something wrong.
  • If you normally load your horses by yourself, then do it by yourself.  I know it is tempting for friends and neighbors, that may or may not know anything about horses to volunteer their help. Graciously, refuse their help.
  • If you have multiple horses, load them in the same order that you would if going to a show or trail ride.
  • Give your horse time to think if he needs it to get into the trailer. My Friesian Sporthorse will always stand and look into the trailer for maybe up to sixty seconds before getting in.  This is his normal.  You don’t want to change your horses’ normal routine of how he gets into his trailer.

You Can Smell The Fire In The Air!

Most evacuations, especially with fires, we are all able to see and smell them well before the actual notice.  This is the time in which you need to get together any special medication that your horse will need along with a copy of his registration papers to have in your truck.  All of the other stuff you might want to bring like feed, tack, buckets, blankets, etc. are just material items that your horse can do without during an emergency. Your horses will survive on whatever food and water is at the stable of facility you are evacuating too.

The most important thing is to save your life and the life of your horse!

Sailor having fun at the ADT in Prescott this last weekend.  It was the first event that my Husband, Allan, has gatored for me since his by-pass surgery last year.  This was my trail event to make sure that all was good before we plan a trip later in the year to Colorado and possibly Texas for CDE’s.

The day started off calm and quiet with the weather but by noon the breezes started to come.  Our go time for dressage was 12:26 and yes we were the last to go.  By this time the ground in both the dressage arena and the cones was more like powder than dirt.

We did okay in dressage and Sailor was having fun just trying to make out the letters on the concrete bricks.  After dressage we headed for the cones course, by now the breeze was a lot stronger, so the cones and numbers were hard to see.

We went through the starting gate and then through the first set of cones and as I turned left towards the second set of cones the letters were so full of dirt there were no numbers, and then with the cloud of dust I had to make a second circle just to be able to see the numbers.  The rest of the course was like the blind leading the blind.  We managed not to knock any of the balls down for a clean round.

After lunch Sailor was hoping to have more fun but, by now the dirt was in constant clouds floating across the grounds.  We ran the four obstacles in good time and we were very glad to be done!

Overall Sailor having fun, and Allan being able to be there with me as my gator was worth eating dirt and being sand pitted!

The importance of warming up your horse, especially when you are at a driving show or a Combined Driving Event is probably the most important part of showing and competing.  But it does have to be done correctly.

Learning how to warm up your horse starts at home as part of your normal routine.

All horses, whether you compete with them or just drive them for fun on the trail where you live, need to have a warm up period in which to get, not only their bodies ready for work but also their minds.

We will address the mind first, for without it being present you won’t even need the body.  A well-trained horse who has a particular job, in this case, driving, needs to have his mind on the job at hand.

Most of the time when you go to drive your well-trained horse he is there with you, but there are those few times when you are all hitched up and ready to drive out and within the first five minutes you get the feeling that your horse woke up on the wrong side of the bed!

Large warm-up area away from other horses. Eileen is driving Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy.

Getting ready for dressage with Sailor in North Carolina at a Combined Driving Event

When this happens the best thing to do is ask him to do just one small thing, say like halting and backing up two steps.  Then you take him back to where you hitched him up, unhitch him, take off the harness and put him in his stall.  You will be thankful later, because he will remember that kind gesture when you least expect it.  Even horses can have a bad day, for whatever reason, and it is just not worth the fight!

I have had this happen with my horses, and when I have come back the next day, all is well and good.  Just like you and me we sometimes have a bad day for whatever reason.

I will use my Friesian Sporthorse as an example here for the warm-up that I do at home: 

Once he is harnessed and hitched I start by walking him quietly, on a loose rein for about five minutes.  I then will move him up to a slow trot to give him time to get all the normal coughing and light snorting to clear his airway and lungs out.  Continue to trot him working up to a working trot for about twelve minutes and going approximately 1.8 km. I do this whole warm up on my property by going around the flat part of my course four times. Then I walk him for about five minutes, or until his pulse and respiration comes down to normal.

This is my warm-up that I do every time I go to drive Sailor.  You need to note that Sailor is 16.1 hands and about 1250 pounds, so it takes this amount of time to get all his muscles and tendons warmed up to be able to work on dressage, cones or the endurance that is needed for a marathon course.

This type of warm-up will keep your horse sound, so if you don’t have a lot of time one day to drive more than about 15-20 minutes, then just use your warm-up as your drive time.  Warm-up time is still driving your horse and having fun.

So, you are at a driving show or are getting ready to do one of the three parts of a Combined Driving Event and you need to warm-up.  You want to do the same warm-up that you do at home.  First, doing what your horse is used to in a warm-up will keep him thinking there is nothing different about what he will be doing.

If you don’t lounge him at home don’t do it at a show.

If you don’t canter him around for ten minutes at home don’t do it at the show.  I think you get the idea.  You want to make the warm-up seem as normal as possible.  The last thing you want to do is get your horse hyped up or so exhausted he will not be able to show at his best.  When I am warming-up at a competition I try to find a quiet area in which to do this.  When at home my horses are generally driven by themselves so trying to warm-up in a place where there are ten other carriages being driven around can become distracting to your horse.

At a show or competition is not the time to try and teach your horse anything new.  If he does not know it by the time you leave your ranch, he will not miraculously learn it during warm-up.  If you think after the warm-up that your horse is not really wanting to do this competition, there is no shame in pulling out of a class or portion of a CDE.

We all know that our horses become very aware of where they are at especially when you have trailered to a show.  There are so many new things for them to see and smell.  This is all normal so if you keep everything you can the same at the show as at home it will help them enormously:

Take his normal water and feed buckets with.

Use his regular halter and lead rope

Use his regular harness that you show in for several weeks before at home.  (My show harness is the same type as           my regular work harness.)

Use the carriage that you will be showing in at home for several weeks. (My horses presentation carriage I do not           use on a regular basis until I am getting ready for a competition.)

Just remember going to a show or competition is supposed to be a fun experience for both you and your horse!

My motto has always been:  “If you’re not having fun than don’t do it!”

Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy competes at the Arizona Driving and Carriage Society’s first ADT of 2018.  I got an early start on the day, heading from my ranch in Prescott to the event at Apache Junction two and a half hours away.

Arriving at the event center about 8:30, there were already a lot of competitors there.  I picked up my entry number and settled into the routine of getting Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy out of the trailer and comfortable.  Next in line was to get the carriage and other equipment out also.  Then it was all about waiting for our time to go 10: 26.

I had Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy tacked up and harnessed by ten and we headed for the safety inspection, and then it was on to dressage.  Dressage not being Pinegrove’s Sailor Boys favorite thing we just headed into the dressage court in a very relaxed mode.  The whole test went terrific and I was very happy with a score of 54 at the Intermediate level.

  • Dressage

    Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona in Dressage
  • Dressage

    Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona in Dressage
  • Safety Inspection

    Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona at safety check
  • Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona heading to Dressage
  • Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona heading to Dressage
  • Harnessing

    Pinegrove's Sailor Boy at the Arena Driving Trial in Apache Junction Arizona harnessing up

I then headed over to the cones course which was large and sweeping and Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy decided that an extended trot for the whole 800m would be the way to go. We went clean with no balls down and I think we made time but as of this news release the final scores are not posted.

Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy and I made about a two hour break during which I walked the four obstacles that we would be driving at 2:45.  Our time came and Pinegrove’s Sailor Boy was eager to get going and we cantered about 95% of the four obstacles.  No whistle was blown so we had no course penalties.

All in all it was a nicely run event in a great location.  All of the organizers and the helpers did a great job keeping it running on time.

I will post out final score when I get it, and everyone out there keep driving!

It was a sunny May fourth and I had an appointment for my dog to be groomed.  My husband and I dropped our dog “Kandi” off at the groomers and then decided to get breakfast out.

By the time that we had finished breakfast, we headed home to get some work done before picking up Kandi.  I got the call from the groomer about noon and I asked my husband if he wanted to go with to pick her up. We headed into town and got Kandi and then headed home with her.  As I was driving, I noticed that my husband kept stretching his left arm and then rubbing his left shoulder.  I asked him several times if he was alright and if he needed to go to the doctor. He kept saying that he was alright, so I proceeded to drive home.

When we arrived home he decided to sit and take a rest. I asked again if he was alright, and again he said he was.  I told him I was going out to drive my horse Sailor for about twenty minutes and I would be back in.

Now, what happened next was Beyond The Expected!  As I was coming around the front of my property, I noticed a van sitting in my driveway at the gate.  My first thought was that the FedEx truck was delivering a package. Then about thirty seconds later, I heard sirens and they were getting close. Coming up my road was a fire paramedic truck pulling up to the driveway. By this time, I realized that the van was an ambulance and I knew that my husband was the one who called 911.

What was going through my mind at this time was how am I going to get Sailor unhitched without him being spooked by all of the forthcoming commotion.  I decided to drive him straight into the side of my round pen which would keep most of the activity of the paramedics out of his view. After taking a few deep breaths to calm myself, I started talking with Sailor in as calm a voice as I could mustard at the time.  For him, this was not his normal routine so keeping him calm was necessary because I didn’t need to get hurt.  I managed to get him unhitched and walked him to the barn and stripped his harness off as quickly as possible.  I could see the confusion in his eyes, but I also knew that he trusted me to keep him safe. By the time I was heading to the house, one of the paramedics was coming to find me.  As it happened, my husband was having a heart attack, so the quicker he got to the hospital, the better his chances would be to recover.  The paramedics did what they could for him at the house and then loaded him into the ambulance.  This whole time the paramedics were in contact with the heart center at the hospital.  By the time I got myself together and to the hospital, my husband was already in surgery having a stint put in. He made it through the whole ordeal, but he will need double bypass surgery to fix other arteries to his heart.

By now you are wondering why I am telling you this story. “Sailor” is a Friesian Sporthorse that I have been working with now for over eleven years.  We have become great partners and we have competed in many combined driving events across the country. During this experience, Sailor had no idea why I unhitched him in such a weird place and returned him to his stall in such a strange manner.  During the whole process, I could tell that he was concerned by watching his body language.

The bond that one develops over the years working with a horse is beyond words.

This bond showed itself about two weeks later when I hitched Sailor up to go for a drive on the course on my property.  My husband decided to ride along, and I only let him after making him promise that he would not try to move the carriage around and just be a passenger.

I headed out on the course at a walk as I usually do for a full round on the course.  Then, when I asked Sailor to trot he went about fifty feet and then went back to a walk.  We repeated this about four times at which time I realized that he knew there was a special person on the carriage and that he needed to be very careful on this particular day.

We drove at a walk for about thirty minutes and not once did Sailor take a wrong step or do anything that he was not asked to do.  You could see that he was stepping with such care, almost like walking over eggshells. I would not have even realized Sailors concern if I had not been working with him for those eleven years. I have learned all of his normal ways of going and this day was so different.

For all of you who only have your horse for a couple of years and then send them down the road, you are really missing out on the relationship that you could be having with your horse. This is not the first time that one of my horses have reacted in this almost human way, but most of my horses I have owned for many years and most until they have passed away.

“Beyond The Expected” is truly what this whole experience was about!