Horses, Life, A Touch of Geek

Archive for the ‘Driving’ Category

Maiden Voyage!

The non-video version
Step 1: Courtney drove while Melissa led.

Step 2: Courtney drove.

Step 3: Greg Drove while Melissa led.

Step 4: Greg drove.

Praise and gratitude to Courtney Huguley and Melissa Croxton for their help.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s Delayed Future as a Riding Horse

Riding Milton is on hold while he is learning to drive.

Getting used to pulling appears to be the big step in teaching a driving horse. Once we have that, we will get back to the riding question.

One can never know the counterfactuals. Doing both at the same time would probably be okay. Probably. This way, if he declines to drive, it won’t be because he was confused by conflicting demands.

We’re talking several weeks, or a few months at most. We’ve waited this long.


Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

7 Ways To Dodge Nostalgia


In planning for the CAA Carriage Festival, there was one question on everyone’s mind. How would I handle it? In the end, the weekend didn’t turn out so bad. [Show Report, Show Photos]

Looking Back
I wasn’t nostalgic because … I already held the pity party.

“The sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home.” Where I stayed. New owners. Still gorgeous.

For over a decade, I would spend the week of the then-Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event running around the Kentucky Horse Park. I’ve mentioned it once or twice [Peregrinatio in Stabilitate 2012]. When I left WEG on the last day, I made a point of stopping and looking back at the arena, knowing it would be a while before I came back. It was seven years. [Kentucky Memories 2013]

I wasn’t nostalgic because … everything looked different.

I’ve seen Iron Works Pike often, but never from this angle.

The CAA Festival was in the Alltech arena, which was built for WEG in 2010. It stands off to the side behind the maintenance area. So we were on a completely different patch of turf. The trailers were parked in a section of KHP that I didn’t even know existed.

We did not go near the big arena all weekend. I only saw it in the distance. We were specifically told NOT to take the carriages down Nina Bonnie Boulevard, so that we didn’t spook the exhibitors at the Arabian show and they didn’t spook us. When I walked up to see the show, I went through the barns, something I could never do when they were fenced off as FEI stabling. Instead of a trade fair, the covered arena held classes that looked a lot like an ASB show.

Even cross-country looked different. Obviously, the white ropes and flowers were not there. Seeing unbarricaded, naked jumps was odd. Plus the jumps themselves have changed. Now it’s all portables, skinnies, and angled lines. Difficult, but not the heart-stopping impossibility of a broken bridge.

Lexington has changed, as cities do over time. deSha’s is gone, which seems unreal, Herald-Leader: It’s closing time for deSha’s restaurant in downtown Lexington.

DeSha’s corner is to the left. I refuse to take a picture of the global brand that now occupies the space.

OTOH, we discovered North Lime Coffee & Donuts which produced a pastry product that tested my loyalty to Dunkin’ Donuts. We would have gone back every day had their hours been more horse show friendly.

Looking Around
I wasn’t nostalgic because … I was busy.
No princessing permitted [Reign of the Swan Princess, Show Report]. If something needed to be done to the horses, one of the four of us had to do it. I loved it. IRL, I’m horrible barn help. I do good work but I’m too slow to be a professional. However, for the handful of days at a show, I am an awesome groom: perky, organized, obsessive. Everything one would want in a minion.

Taking care of what’s important.

Didn’t get to Joseph-Beth Booksellers. Didn’t get to Commotion to try on schooling jods. Didn’t get to Freedmans to drool over leather goods. Did get to Old Kentucky Chocolates.

I wasn’t nostalgic because … I have new friends.

The Lexington Junior League Charity Horse Show takes place the week after CAA. Stepping Stone Farm came up to represent in the Adult Eq division, Upton Claims Back-to-Back USEF Saddle Seat Adult Amateur Medal Final Titles. Despite all that time in Lexington. I had never seen the Red Mile. Heard of, yes. Driven past, sure. Gone to see? No. Now that I had a reason, we stopped on the way home out to check out the showgrounds.

Sunday morning during our doughnut run, I texted Coach Courtney.

Sunday afternoon, she texted back.

Photo by Courtney Huguley

Missed ’em by that much.

Looking Forward
I wasn’t nostalgic because … the carriages will be back.
Will we go to CAA next year? Depends what horse Greg is driving. On one hand, it’s hunterland in a cart. On the other hand, we do not suffer an overabundance of driving competition opportunities. Plus, half of the classes were speed classes, even if one does have to do them in fancy dress.

I wasn’t nostalgic because … the Saddlebreds will be back.
In 2018, the Junior League show is moving to KHP, in the big arena no less. I’ve read what they said publicly in the Special Junior League of Lexington Announcement. Since it is the horse world, I have to imagine an element of drama accompanied that decision. One reason given was the all-weather footing. Remember, show Saddlebreds do not consider themselves to be all-terrain vehicles.

Memories of #thelastmile, Red Mile 2017.
Photos by Courtney Huguley

I wonder if I could start a movement for an Adult Leadline class.

I wasn’t nostalgic because … I’ll be back.
Would I forego an event in Georgia that was closer to me or drive right past a hunter/jumper show in Tennessee just to compete at the Kentucky Horse Park? Absolutely.

Rolex in Rodney’s Saga over the years [list of posts].

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott


Driving Tuesday

Well, that was unexpected.

We showed up for Greg’s third groundwork lesson at Stepping Stone Farm [First, SSF] expecting more of the same. After about 5 minutes, Coach Courtney says, “So Greg, want to hook him?” Um, yes? I guess? We knew Milton would be put to a cart sometime this summer. Today was not on our radar.

Still, Miss Courtney liked way Milton was going and decided to get on with it. That’s why one hires a professional. Technique is the easy part. Knowing when to apply that technique is what takes a lifetime to master.

I dragged out the additional straps. Turns out Greg had been bringing all the gear along in case it might be needed. One of the barn Munchkins brought the jog cart up to the big ring. Greg grounddrove for a few minutes. We hitched. Miss Courtney drove from behind the cart while Greg led. They switched. We unhitched. Everyone exhaled. Milton was showered with praise.

Milton was awesome. Coach Courtney was awesome. Greg was awesome. Greg keeps asking me how Milton looked pulling a cart. I have no idea. I was so deeply, intensely focused on the lack of hysteria that I didn’t really see much else.

Not that the day was without drama. While getting ready, Milton got away and ran around field wearing half of his shipping boots. Then, shifting from long lines to driving reins involved a bridle adjustment. Milton objected. On the way from the covered arena to the big ring, Milton spooked and spun in several circles, taking out spectators and crashing into a truck (horse, spectators and truck are all fine). I would have pulled the plug. In the ring, Milton fussed about the clouds of gnats. In his defense, the bugs where vile.

The one thing he didn’t seem to care about all day was the cart rattling along behind him. Yay! The next step is for the driver to sit in the cart. Then, lots and lots of schooling. While there is still a ways to go before we can consider Milton a driving horse, this was a huge step. As Greg said,

Before Sat, Milton as a driving horse was a hypothetical. It is still hypothetical, but a whole lot closer to real.

No pictures. Deliberately. I wanted to stay vigilant rather than worry about recording the moment. Next time, expect many, many photos.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Show Photos: CAA Carriage Festival 2017

CAA Carriage Festival
Alltech Arena
Kentucky Horse Park
Lexington KY, USA
June 30-July 2, 2017
[Show Report]

Bliss is revved up from winning the timed obstacle class.

On a Sunday drive through the Kentucky Horse Park.

The Sunday drive as seen from the back seat.

Jewel and Kate behind the Alltech arena

Kate’s phancy phaeton earns a gold certificate in the carriage judging.

Carriage closeup.

Whip Hand Farm photos by Kate Bushman and Kevin Smith.

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Show Report: CAA Carriage Festival 2017

Driving Thursday

CAA Carriage Festival
Alltech Arena
Kentucky Horse Park
Lexington KY, USA
June 30-July 2, 2017

Whip Hand Farm ribbons

Greg & Bliss
21 Utility Vehicle Working – 4th of 7
22 Utility Vehicle Timed Obstacles – 1st of 7
23 Utility Vehicle Reinsmanship – 1st of 7
Utility Vehicle Reserve Champion

55 Double Jeopardy Single Horse with Kate Bushman as second driver – 1st of 3

Presentation Pleasure Drive – no place

Thank you to Kate Bushman for the horse, for the coaching, and for dragging us CDE types to a pleasure carriage show.

Official Photographer – Casey McBride. Friday Afternoon, Saturday Morning & Afternoon, Sunday #387-403. Bay horse, black jacket, helmet. In the Sunday photos, the red hat in the photos before ours is Coach Kate, accompanied by her husband, driving Jewel.

Thursday in the warm-up ring. Bliss & Greg are not in frame.

First Class – Zoom, Zoom
I thought the pair looked marvelous, full of style & flair. The judge, not so much. She thought they were too fast. Pfffft.

Second & Third Class – In Our Wheelhouse

Simple cones courses while wearing fancy dress. Piece of cake. In Double Jeopardy, Greg drove the course, switch drivers, Coach Kate drove the course backwards. Not clear which of the three had more fun.


Fourth Class – Redemption
After going too fast the day before, and two speed classes that day, could he reel it all back in? Why yes he could. For carriage driving, as with saddle seat, one trots into the ring. Greg walked down the entry chute. The audience – including yours truly – wondered why. As Bliss passed the ingate, Greg asked for the trot. It set the tone for the class: sedate, mannerly, elegant. I thought it was a snooze. I much prefer the zip of the day before. BSF, the trick is Friday’s energy with Saturday’s control.

The mature part of me recognizes that it’s all about the work. It’s nice to have the work rewarded.

We all got dressed up – with me in groom’s attire – for a drive around the horse park. How cool is that?

Helmet Note
Greg was not the only driver at the show with a helmet, a minority, but not alone. A railbird floated the opinion that Greg’s outfit was too dark. Given the black hunt-cap style helmet and the black apron to match the cart, a dark blue or black jacket are about his only options. I liked how the helmet was integral to the outfit, rather than plopped on top. Plus, the dark outfit drew the eye to the horse. But what do I know. We are as likely to take up pleasure carriage showing as I am to take up hunters.

View From The Back Seat
I. Was. Exhausted. It is way harder to watch than to do. All the nervousness with none of the ability to act. Plus, carriage shows expect decorum from the spectators. I had to stuff a towel in my mouth – seriously – to keep from hootin’ and hollerin’ during the classes.

Heading home with an armload.

Hint solution [What]: We met up with Coach Kate in Franklin TN. She drove the ladies and the cart Greg would use. We followed with a box trailer containing her fancy carriage. No pressure.

Nashville Skyline

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott

Milton’s First Lesson

Coach Courtney long-lines Milton during his first lesson.

My future riding horse had a combined driving lesson sans cart in front of a saddle seat instructor. Gotta start somewhere.

Milton hears the SSF peacocks.

(Photos to be added as soon as my desktop is back in touch with the mothership.)

Thank you for reading,
Katherine Walcott