Driving, Riding, Draft, Packing
Horsemanship is fundamentally about getting the horse to be a willing and helpful partner in any tasks we set out to do together. The relationship between the horseman and horse must be based on mutual trust and respect. But the relationship is not equal. I adhere to the belief that the horse is labor and I am management. I take care of the horse’s basic needs and well-being. In return the horse helps me accomplish a few tasks now and then. I am the fearless leader. I make all the decisions and the horse learns to help me out as I train the horse to do various tasks. A well-trained horse can accomplish unbelievable tasks under difficult circumstances, all the while being a willing partner.
Together Else and I work with the horses in riding, driving, draft, and packing.
Most of our horse time is devoted to driving horses hitched to light carriages and carts, but we also use the horses for light draft work around their farm. The horses pull wagons when the ground is bare and sleighs when there is snow enough to make sleigh trails.
We enjoy riding our horses on trails close to our home in rural Wisconsin. We also take the horses to National Forests or wilderness areas in the mountainous western states to ride trails each summer. The horses carry gear and food for us on special pack-saddles.
Every year, we compete at American Driving Society sponsored Pleasure Driving Shows. These competitions are judged on the appropriateness of the combination of the horses, harness, carriage, and attire of the driver and passenger or groom. The horses are further judged on their behavior and athletic ability. The driver is judged on his driving skills. Some of the events at a pleasure driving show are additionally judged on how fast the horse and carriage can be driven through a set of obstacles.
Despite the competition, pleasure driving shows are mostly an opportunity for like-minded people to get together and enjoy driving their horses and fancy carriages.
Combined Driving Events are based on driven dressage. These events usually have three parts. First there is the dressage test, followed by a precision cones course and a set of obstacles.