Driving tuition for beginners in Southern Europe

OK - I know CoTH is USA based! I’ve been active on here for years, but never in the Driving forum :slight_smile: but I do trust the collective wisdom of the CoTH crowd and wonder if there’s someone that can help.

A friend and I have been hankering to learn a little about driving - a sort of taster to see if it’s something we would like to pursue as a sport/hobby and learn about. We have both spent 30 - ahem 40… - years with owning/riding/working with ridden horses and are curious about driving.

Does anyone know of anywhere in Southern Europe - Spain, Portugal, France - or anywhere sunny (we are based in the UK…) where we could go and enjoy the sun and get good quality tuition with well cared for horses? We’ve been able to find lists of excellent people in the USA and the UK - but less so mainland Europe.

Our plan would be to have a holiday and explore the basics of driving and then (assuming it’s something we want to continue with) pick up with someone local for further advice/tuition/mentoring. Like any equestrian discipline, I’m sure it’s a lifelong learning curve but for that initial toe in the water we were hoping to combine it with a much needed escape to warmer climes.

Any recommendations? Any caveats? Feel free to tell me if it’s a dumb idea!

Thank you CoTH!!

I would have a chat with one of the horse holiday companies such as www.unicorntrails.com or www.rideworldwide.com or www.inthesaddle.com, (all of which have provided excellent service to me on past riding holidays) and see what they can suggest. Usually they have a good working knowledge of what is available beyond what they choose to promote as holidays.

Thank you! I have actually done that for UnicornTrails - found each centre they recommend and looked to see if they offer driving too - but I’ll have a look at the others - great suggestion, thanks.

Just phone them up and ask. Unicorn trails, in particular, have been good at thinking outside the box.

I’m afraid I don’t have any suggestions but am rooting for you to find something! I picked-up driving over the pandemic and it’s been wild learning a new discipline after riding exclusively on-and-off for 30+ years.

Would love to hear if you follow through on the plan, keep us posted!

Try contacting Epona in Carmona, Spain (Andalusia).
They have connections to the School in Jerez & Driving is part of the training at the School.
Owners Fernando & Jane are lovely people & I believe one of their daughters ( a graduate of the School) is the trainer there. Any of them may know of somewhere you could go.
Many of Carmona’s extensive trails may be driveable.
And, Spain!
Weather & food alone are reasons to go. People everywhere were also nice.

& Yes!
Do report back here if you find a place.

You might try and reach out to some of the UK driving clubs and see if they have any advice. While it isn’t something that seems obvious, the big CDE drivers in France might be able to help… That sounds insane to a non driver, but the Chardons in the Netherlands have a huge lesson program along with upper level clients so the driving world is definitely unique in that sense!

If you’re open to Easter Europe, Hungary has a very strong tradition in driving and offers such a holiday: http://www.equestrianvacations.com/lipizzaner_carriage.php

(Not especially warm right now though!)

Yes! I can’t wait. It feels like my equestrian knowledge is not well rounded until I learn at least some basics of driving! I’m excited to try it out and will definitely keep you updated :slight_smile:

Oh interesting! Hungary would be great! After 2 years of lockdown and a long winter, really anywhere looks good! I guess my concern with this one is:

get acquainted with the Hungarian methods of harnessing and carriage driving,

Does that mean it won’t translate to the UK in terms of tack or carriage design or something? Or is driving universal? The tone of the page suggests that the Hungarian way is a little unique. But maybe that’s OK to get started - thank you!

Fantastic! Yes, I will try the UK clubs - you guys are a bit less intimidating as I’ve been on CoTH for a while but yes, next step is finding a UK equivalent forum - thank you!

Thank you! and yes, Spain! How I long for sun and wine and fun after two years in the UK!! :slight_smile:

I will try Epona, actually now you say it, I do sort of know them - one of the daughters came to train briefly at a place I worked, so I should definitely ask them!

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I would think that the styles of driving are relatively global. Combined driving is the same internationally, same I assume for draft/heavy transport or formal.

I mean everyone has their own peculiarities, but the basics are the same. Now when you talk about the sheer variety of attachment styles to the vehicle (tugs and traces) that can be overwhelming. I for one have no intention of mastering roller bolt traces. A girl has to draw a line somewhere. :rofl:

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I’ve only driven in hungary, and in a very informal fashion on my uncle’s farm (2 horse carriage and sleigh) so I have no idea if it’s different than elsewhere! But Hungarians are some of the top drivers at FEI levels so I think they follow international standards.

Hungary has a different rein hold if they are driving traditionally. All reins end in your hand with a “hand hold grip” similar to an old padded leather suitcase handle. For steering they roll wrists, move arms, all with only one hand for Pairs, two hands, each holding a “grip” for each pair of the Four. Not sure about single horse reins. Husband has driven this style, says it is not difficult, just “different.” He sometimes crosses his long reins in his palm, so it is like a “redneck country” version of Hungarian driving. Handy in hazards when things move so fast!

An acquaintance went there, took lessons with a Pair and Four, had a terrific time! Lovely horses, very nice instructor, driving out on roads and fields after they saw she had control of the horses.

Besides knowledge and improved skills, check for sellers of tack to find some Sallangs as souvenirs. Traditional braided harness decorations that are also practical fly swishers! Not much there as fly spray, so they made Sallangs for faces, necks, hips. Braided, looped and twisted leather strings made into shapes that hang from harness with long trailing strings. Quite lovely on harness or walls.

What lovely adventures you will have, whichever country you choose to visit! Do share your experiences with us!!


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