Unlimited access >

Spring Happenings

Anyone caught up on their spring jobs? It seems we are running and can’t catch up. Finally got the paddocks mowed yesterday, fighting with overgrown grass. Had to mow some parts with finish mower in the air to cut tops down, then go back over to shorten stems down to 6 inches. Still looks pretty raggedy, so probably mowing again come Monday to even things up. Grasses were starting to show seed heads already!!

Spent the previous week cleaning the barn, walls, trusses, for a beginners clinic on harness fit, choices and selecting vehicles to fit your equine, for our driving club. Had to be somewhat presentable! Ha ha My arms felt like wet noodles after a few hours of that with a VERY LIGHT pole holding the duster ball. Cobwebs have the best glue, will NOT come down with blowing, have to pull them off.

Then organize the “props” of various style harness (after cleaning it), locate my sale bits with different sides and mouthpieces. THEN on to the carriage shed to dig out needed carriages. So much stuff to move!! Then put it back after getting prop carriages moved to the big barn.

The clinic went well, people asked lots of questions, walked around to watch as horse was harnessed and pieces parts were changed. We harness and hitch in our 12ft wide aisle. Reasons for “that” harness choice for this vehicle or driving use, were explained. Lincoln was a star! Stood beautifully, opened his mouth to show why his bit is “special” and the need for regular dental attention. He obligingly put his head thru collars that fit or did NOT fit, then turned right-side up to check fit. He did beastcollars too. Loved his cookies for that! Only time he gets cookies is being harnessed, putting head down for putting on or taking things off. Got his shoulder bones identified, windpipe felt so people knew what to feel in fitting harness on the chest area of their equine. He showed where level shafts should properly end on shoulder point, how a too-small, 14H size show cart was just all wrong for him! Shafts stopping at the saddle, pointing at his ears in lowest tug loop setting! The driver seat was only hock-high, causing reins to drop down along his sides to the hands. It made folks laugh! Kicking strap fit was demonstrated, in case they think they might need one.

Then Lincoln got put away, so Alyss and Hawk could show how Pairs get harnessed, their fit of things to be comfortable. They were cross-tied in the aisle as we normally do. Husband showed how putting harness on “all at once” worked, then settling things in place to girth up and buckle cruppers closed. Demonstrated the “famous secret way” buckle-in breeching works on Pleasure Pairs. People were quite surprised at the simplicity of breeching straps going forward and going on the same buckle tongue below the traces!! These were collar long tugs and long Pair breastcollars, not Single horse harness adapted to Pair use. I remember trying to figure out that point when we first got a real Pair harness. No one explained in it any book I had! Seems to be something “everybody knows.” never written out. We also showed Yankee/Canadian/ Wyoming breeching that angles from croup to girth, benefits of the design. Names seem to change depending on who you talk to! People again walked around the standing horses to see details, look at harness.

We then pulled up the Pair carriages, explained pole lengths, short on modern marathon style with a wide yoke, quick releases, padding. How it worked in action on the horses, allowing control of the vehicle. The big pleasure break with the older style, long pole was next. Why the need for the extra length, so longer pole straps to pole head allows horses to travel more straight, not pulled sideways into the pole. Need for pole head ending at relaxed horse nose, to be long enough, whatever horse size. How Pair reins are run, connected to bits. The Achenbach rein difference from regular Pair reins and why having coupling buckles near your hands allows fast adjustments to equalize both horses in work. Tons of questions! Rein holds were demonstrated, showed to individuals wanting to get a fingers on correctly. Four lovely ladies held reins for showing how to “pull loops” on Multiples for turns. Helped make rein pulls obvious to onlookers watching the hands and rein results. We do not have any buggies, could not show a dropped pole set-up.

People all seemed to have a good time, we ran over the allotted time, but no one cared! Just enjoying the nice weather, horse talk. A couple comments of “This is how to spend Mother’s Day! More fun than eating dinner out!” Lots of agreements were heard! Ha ha We had a great time too, enjoying our horsey get together. Talk of who was doing what with their horse this spring. Summer outings to enjoy with the Club. New people getting introduced around, telling their driving plans. It was worth the work getting ready, had such a good time!

When we put carriages back, we kept a different dressage carriage out to practice with. Husband said his inspiration told him Hawk and Alyss might like it better than the very light one!! They don’t care about weight, just go anyway. That new hunting break we got in Feb weighs 400#s more empty, than the Pair marathon vehicle. They never blinked when they walked off with it. Perhaps the light carriage doesn’t weigh enough? It will be getting tried out pretty quick. Needs a brake and fluid check after sitting so long. He smoothed the outdoor arena, just need to locate the seats. I think they are not buried very deep, should be easy to find! Famous last words!! Ha ha

Maybe I can tackle my poor gardens soon. Needs some trimming and fertilizing. The early perennials are blooming regardless. Peony trees are spectacular so far! Shrub flowers look quite nice too. Over the septic tank field, new bed is bed is coming along well for a new planting. Almost everything survived the move. The season is marching on!

1 Like

Your clinic sounds great :grin:
Is it something you & your husband would do for another Club?
Remind me how far into MI you are from me in NW, IN.
We have members closer than I am: Knox, Wanatah & Kouts are ones I can think of, plus a couple in Dowagiac, MI.
I like to think that’s the sort of thing my Driving Club would be interested in.
We’ve made several visits to Martin’s Buggy Shop in Napanee & a couple to Shipshewana Harness.
Generally 20 or so show up for these trips.

My Spring Stuff has been sparse.
I had Weststar change the bench seat on my EZ Entry cart to a bucket w/armrests & cupholders :blush:
I’ve driven Bugs to it once, on my acreage, so grass footing & a bit of gravel driveway.
I wanted to see how the raised seat affected handling & specifically how the new center of gravity handled turns.
Eventually I’d want to use it for Cones, though I’d not try for time over accuracy.
I also had a new bit for him. Went from a half cheek Mullen mouth to a fixed cheek Liverpool.
I’d ground driven him very briefly in the new bit & he cared not at all about the change.
Same for with the cart.
Club is driving Sunday at Bass Lake. Just a 2h stroll around the lake.
I’m thinking I may take my horse & ride, instead of driving.
He’s not been off the property since last year & only ridden a handful of times since then :roll_eyes:
But he’s a good boy & s/b fine, not kill me :smirk:

My perennials - daylilies, peony, iris - are budded, but no blooms yet.
In the veg garden rhubarb & asparagus are starting to produce & I planted 2 big containers with tomatoes, eggplant & basil.
Four small planters got annuals for instant color.
I’m on the hunt for sweet potato starts & probably regular potatos too. So far, no luck with the sweets. I may try starting some myself.
I’ll fill the rest of the small garden with greens - chard, kale, spinach - & maybe wax & green beans.

No other plans.
There’s a new local show in June, with a handful of Driving classes but same dates as my brother’s planned visit.
No way on Earth I could get him to a horse show :worried:
Since it’s been several years since we were in the same city…

Then there’s the Fall Ntl Drive, which will be here before I’ve had time to plan sufficiently.
Still, I have it inked on my calendar :crossed_fingers:

1 Like

What a wonderful clinic! I would have loved something like that when I was first starting out. Heck, I’d love it now. I know single horse harness reasonably well, but that’s speaking as a pleasure driver who never did shows. I’m sure there’s a whole universe filled with what I don’t know.


1 Like

I am so envious of your cool clinic and active driving communities. I bribed some friends with food and beer to help me organize the barn wash area and tack room (organization is very much not my forte), so I’m at least kind of tidy at the moment.

Darby O’Pony and I are going to a combined driving clinic next month (bribed a friend to go along, much to the relief of my husband). Lovely neighbor is letting us use the 4wheeler track through his hay and tree fields, which makes a nice change from home and the road.


@cattywampus Looks like fun ahead after doing a combined driving clinic! Nothing is ever the same!! I attended such a clinic wayyyy back. Had a great time though I didn’t have much idea what we were doing. Come in after driving the course, not too fast, not too slow, but no exact time!?! Ha ha

Volunteering at an event or two will help you get a better idea of how things are done, before you compete. You get prime seats in the sections, lunch, drinks, learn timing…

1 Like

Totally agree on volunteering!
I’ve done it a handful if times for CDEs & learned:
*How to set Cones
*How to time Obstacles
*How to help at the Vet Check
Plus, volunteers were treated like royalty :grin:

& After a lifetime of H/J “don’t let the judge hear you!” it was a pleasure to hear Whips talking their horses through Cones & Obstacles :grin:

My 1st rated CT I fluffed Dressage (off course :roll_eyes:) but got nice comments from the Judge.
Missed Start in Cones & was allowed to restart.
Also left my helmet back at my stall, but was lent one.
My advice:
Have fun!

That is one handsome pony! :heart_eyes: