Friday, June 19, 2015

2015 A Drive in the Park: Day 1

Friday June 19 2015

Last weekend, I got to shoot "A Drive in the Park," an American Driving Society-sanctioned 2-day Horse Driving Trial and Combined Test in Nampa put on by the Treasure Valley Whips Carriage Driving Club.

This Combined Driving Event consisted of 3 competitions: Day 1's Dressage and Obstacles/Cones, and Day 2's Marathon.

Driving dressage takes place in an arena, testing the skills and obedience of the driver and horse over specific patterns and gaits. Obstacles/Cones is a timed course through course where drivers steer their horses through cones in a specific pattern. The more advanced levels have smaller gaps, and some of the steeds speed handily through this course.

Day 2's Marathon course (this one under a mile), wound in and around the horse park through different obstacles, weaving through gates in the correct sequences, up and down ramps, and at all but the training level, the water obstacle.

What I love about the driving is that people of all shapes and sizes and colors and ages drive horses of all shapes and sizes and colors and ages, in singles or doubles or teams of 4, pulling wagons, carriage, and carts of all shapes and colors and sizes. As one friend said, "In endurance you see… Arabians. And Arabians. And maybe an Arabian cross. Here, you see everything."

Everything from Arabians to Miniatures to Morgans to Fjords to Saddlebreds to Irish Draft crosses to Hackneys to Standardbreds to Thoroughbreds to Connemaras. (An amusing but apt classification is "VSE" - Very Small Equine). The Minis think they are monsters. I can time my shots to a certain stride at the trot, but when these business-like Very Small Equines cruise through the cones courses and their little legs spin like egg-beaters, it's time to just hold your finger on the shutter. Some of the ponies were proud high-steppers, the Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds ground-eating trotters, the bigger teams smart and athletic, and oh, so impressive-looking when they moved in step together.

The whole gallery can be seen here:

Following are a few shots from Day 1's Dressage and Cones/Obstacles.

A smart team!

My friends Jan and Strider. I specifically went to A Drive in the Park last year to watch them.
Today Strider was very excited to be in the spotlight. Sometimes he had a hard time trotting. He wanted to canter or gait, wiggling around all over like a wet noodle. He had fun, and so did Jan!

All business!

I loved this handsome fellow

Loved these Fjords too

A colorful duo

One of those high-steppers!

A talented matched pair

The Irish draft crosses in step (the light one is half Andalusian; the bay half Quarter Horse)

Another smart team of Connemaras

Handsome horse, big wheels!


  1. Looks like a lot of fun! What a great event. I like all the different breeds that compete too.

  2. I liked the expressions on the ladies' faces - from terror to enjoyment. My favorite horse is your friend's, and I liked any horse that didn't wear blinders because I like to see the expression, and to me it just seems like they're better trained/happier without them.

  3. Love carriage driving trials. One of my favorite experiences as an equestrian journalist-photographer was riding in the 'suicide seat' on the Marathon stage of two International events. Driver was Pippa Bassett with her four Lipizzaners, members of the GB team a few times. Unforgettable experience. One of my best driving photos - same team of Lipizzaners, but different driver - is in an interview I did:

  4. I've scribed for the cones judge a couple years now at a driving event at the NJ Horse Park. Amazing what can be done with a horse and carriage. And those marathon driving carriages are more maneuverable than I could ever imagine. It's a great sport to watch and, I suspect, to take part in.