Wednesday, April 26, 2017

26th April, 2017 Devon Daytrip

A day trip to Devon yesterday to meet Mark Broadbent of Fenix Carriages to find out whether his place would be a suitable school for Zoe and Zelda to start their driven education. Mark is one of the most experienced, kind, and accomplished carriage driving competitors, and comes well recommended by my driving friends. Appropriate that he should take us out with two beautifully matched black horses, albeit a lot taller than the Zee Gees as Simon and Zorro are KWPN warmblood, Gelderlander horses with a touch of Hackney in their blood.

Wendy took over the reins for the second part of the lesson and was amazed both by the power of the horses and their reactivity to the lightest of signals.

I learned quite a lot in a short time too - the bits in paired horses have a cross bar at the bottom of the shank to stop the other horse catching his bridle on them but in competition this may be replaced with a piece of rubber hosing so that if it gets caught up on something else it can be released quickly. When driven as pairs, the bridle is fastened to the horse's head by plaiting the horse's mane through it to prevent it coming off.

The traditional hand position, both reins through the fingers of the left hand, ensures that the driver has a sure grip with his right hand able to move, forward of the left, in order to shorten and lengthen the reins for turns, thus ensuring that there is always stability in the reins as well as the ability to steer.

The collar, when placed on the horse, goes on upside down and is turned the right way up in the direction of the mane to prevent damaging it.

So much more to learn, and the training for both the horses and the driver, is expensive but definitely worth getting right first time. I think Wendy was surprised but also gladdened to learn that there is ongoing communication between the driver and the two horses meaning that you can never switch off but that the horses are always listening to you.