Friday, April 1, 2011

Colour Coded

Recently I had the pleasure of getting back into the “driver's seat” behind a one horse-power engine of energy. It was at a meeting of the Kaipara Equine Driving Club which has a mixture of members, horses and ponies but all with one thing in common – the enjoyment of an original form of transport.

I have now become a member of the group with the offer of animals to drive providing I can find a little cart and harness. Having sold my smaller turn-out some years ago the Trade-Me columns are now being scrutinised for something which will fit a Miniature Horse which is around nine hands high!

The Miniature Horse (Equus ferus caballus) is found in many nations particularly in America and Europe. It's distinguishing feature is that it is small size with horse phenotype 34-38 inches (86-97 cm) as measured at the last hairs of the mane. In other words, like a Miniature Hereford it is based on size but it is exactly the same as its larger counterpart.

The mini horse pictured here is “Red”, an11-year-old stallion with the most amazing disposition. He drove calmly and responded well to my rusty instructions and it was sheer delight to be rolling gently around the paddock to the familiar hoofbeat, harness and “buggy” sounds. Another attraction is that Red exactly matches the colour of my Miniature Herefords so would blend in well with them! He is one of two horses offered to me for use in either leisure or competition driving events so once I get the necessary gear we will be away.

A Games Day is to be held on April 3rd, weather permitting, with April 10th if not and an ODE will take place on either May 1st or 8th, again depending on weather. Unlike ridden horses, which generally have to cope with whatever conditions are thrown at them, a driven one will find the going too hard if the ground becomes soft or boggy. I now have a Dressage Test to learn which for me is quite a mission to remember. My daughter who does eventing on horseback has no such trouble, often learning the test just before going into the ring!

In the past I have driven big horses - taken the ribbons (reins) of a Clydesdale and ponies around 11 to 13 hands plus my beloved donkey. With wonky knees, which I am waiting to have replaced, getting on and off a horse is not easy so returning to harness driving seems a great solution.

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