Friday, May 15, 2009

Rock Solid Raider

In June 2006 I thought it would be fun to volunteer at an event. It was something I thought I might want to pursue someday, so volunteering was the perfect way to see and learn about it from the "inside out". I signed up for a few days of helpfulness at a Combined Driving Event. This is where driving horses test their mettle. It's based on Combined Training Events (think horses in the Olympics) and it's held over a 3 day period, with each day testing a different aspect of carriage driving: (driven) Dressage, the Marathon (cross country) and Cones Competition.

Bruce, my top hand and hubby, came along to take some pictures, sleep in late and generally hang out. By the time the second day came, he was, to say the least, bored stiff. He mentioned at lunch, "I guess I could volunteer for something this afternoon if you need me." Ah-ha! He was assigned to help judge and time the Tire Hazard. Singles, pairs and four-in-hands would be ripping through the maze of tires at Bruce's hazard and he was to time and note the path, correct or not, the carriages took through the hazard.

Driving home later that day it was evident Bruce had had a splendid experience. We chatted about driving horses and what fun it was to see everyone enjoying their time with their team. Never in my wildest dreams could I guess what was to happen the next day. My husband had been smitten.

Bruce and I communicate throughout the day, on the job, via email. First thing that morning I get an email, "I think I want to learn to drive a horse." Oh my gosh! He wants to learn to drive? (I can't tell you how many of my girlfriends have asked me how to cast that "spell"!)

The next email is, "Maybe I should buy a driving horse too so I can learn to drive with him." By now I was ecstatic. He wants to drive. He wants to buy a horse so he can drive. I was pinching myself to see if I was imagining it all.

The next email was from the regional director of the American Driving Society. The ADS is the parent organization for everything driving related in the U.S. The blanket email was about a horse, a miniature horse. He was for sale and lived only 2 hours away. He was trained to drive and had done well at a few Combined Driving Events. His name was "Raider".

This was Monday now, the day after the volunteering weekend. I forwarded the email to Bruce and his reply was, "Let's go look at him". Five days later we were writing the check!

I emailed my friend and driving mentor and asked her if she knew the horse. Not only did she know the horse, she had owned him for awhile and had taught him pretty much everything he knew about driving. She suggested we have Raider delivered to her farm. There Raider and Bruce could learn about each other....with Raider being the teacher. This was getting too good to be true.

Raider and Bruce became driving partners over the next year. In the spring Bruce said he thought it would be "OK" to drive in a Combined Driving Event. He wasn't too keen on wearing the fancy clothes for the dressage portion (including a driving apron which is traditional and a requirement) but he thought it would be a hoot to compete in the Marathon and Cones Competition.

The pair continued to train. The dressage test was memorized and practiced. The carriage was polished and the harness gleamed. Safety was always stressed and never compromised. The event arrived and they were ready! I had no worries about the outcome of their first event. I knew Raider would take care of Bruce and show him the way to fun and companionship with a little horse. I knew they were a team. I knew Raider was rock solid.


the7msn Saturday, May 16, 2009 6:57:00 AM  

I'd been wondering about how you got involved with minis and driving - what a great story. Will you guys participate in combined driving events when you move here? Hope so! I want to come and take pictures and be a cheerleader.

2Grandmas2 Saturday, May 16, 2009 7:16:00 AM  

Nice pictures! I've always been smitten with Raider and those two look like they belong together. A perfect home...for Raider too ;-)

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