March 22, 2019
The National Drive 2018
By M. Rebecca Jones
The first week of October 2018 brought together over 120 people and more than 100 equinesfrom 15 states – from Kansas to Pennsylvania, Mississippi to Minnesota – for The National Drive. This is the fourteenth year for the Drive, and in all but one year it has been held at the Kentucky Horse Park, (2010 it was in Indiana during the WEG, held at the Horse Park). But this year’s week of driving was held at its new permanent home, the Hoosier Horse Park, just outside of Edinburg, Indiana. For those of us in the Southeast, it is an easy drive, approximately 10 miles off I-65, just seventy-six miles into Indiana.
The National Drive is a gathering of carriage drivers of all types – from those who drive for pleasure to those who compete in combined driving, breed shows, and more. Just as there was a wide variety of equines, there was a wide variety of driving vehicles. Minis to drafts, and everything in between including gaited horses, pulled covered wagons, two-wheeled carts of all sizes and types, wagons, and competition vehicles, just to name a few. In addition to driving, participants are also able to horseback ride throughout the park.
The Johnson County Parks department had the grounds of the Hoosier Horse Park in top shape for the week, and once drivers and their turnouts went through a one-time mandatory safety check, the options for driving were numerous. Drivers had two rings, mowed fields, roads, and marked trails that The National Drive crew worked tirelessly to put in place. There were multiple cones courses and dressage rings, and thanks to the local driving club, there was a Driving Derby and Safari Drive offered during the week. Water obstacles used for previous combined driving events were a popular addition to many participants’ drives! The Iowa Valley Carriage shop set up as a vendor for the week, and the horse care company Hawthorne Products provided door prizes for a farrier’s presentation and numerous samples of products for all in attendance.
The first official day of The National Drive was Tuesday, October 2, and each day began with a Drivers’ meeting, which included coffee and fresh doughnuts. Participants were briefed in the main tent on the schedule for the day, updates and options for places to drive, introductions of clinicians and presentations. Three knowledgeable clinicians were available for lessons and presentations: Joanna Wilburn, Amy Neary, and Craig Kellogg. If they weren’t giving lessons, they might be seen helping drivers around the grounds or taking part in one of the many educational presentations over the week. The topics were diverse – preparing for emergencies, how to navigate a CDE, a presentation on bits, to name a few. In the evenings there was a chili supper, a wine and cheese gathering, movie viewing, and a tack swap – all under the big tent. A Saturday Mimosa Drive took in some of the most picturesque parts of the park.
For more information about The National Drive, visit their Facebook page and website: There were rave reviews from this year’s participants, and plans have already begun for the Spring Fling, May 2-5, 2019 and The National Drive 2019 in early October, both at the Hoosier Horse Park. . The organization’s board of directors works hard to ensure that this event will be THE place for drivers to convene for great driving, education, and fun.
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