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The National Drive
Middle Tennessee Carriage Club members (left to right) Jane Muir, Colette Sides, Rebecca Jones, Carol Grimsley, and Jane Hoffman
The National Drive Fall 2021 was held October 5-10, 2021at the Hoosier Horse Park in Edinburgh, Indiana. Deemed as “Carriage Driving for Everyone,” The National Drive is the largest single gathering of recreational equine drivers in the U.S. Highlighting the week’s activities are clinics, demonstrations, and private lessons from some of the nation’s prominent clinicians.
The Hoosier Horse Park is quiet and picturesque with miles of trails and open spaces. There are also competitors’ routes through the woods and a series of eight hazards to negotiate, two of which are water. Participants can drive as many of the trails as often as they like. There are areas to work on the flat with two dressage rings and a cones course.
Middle Tennessee Carriage Club was well represented at The National Drive, with several members attending. Mid-south driver Jane Hoffman, from College Grove, Tenn., took her horse “Gator” to the fall drive and had this evaluation:
“Cheers to a wonderful National Drive 2021. I came to drive at the National Drive and I can say I logged over 18 hours of travels throughout Hoosier Park. I love the fact that the Drive takes in so many people of different walks of life. I like seeing so many driving vehicles and breeds of horses. I enjoy all that the Drive Board offers to us: many well-marked trails, Safari Drive, Bingo cones, a different cone course daily, clinicians, and enjoying the hazards out in the park. Thank you for a great package you put together for us!”
Clinicians at the drive were Gene Brown, from Georgetown, Kentucky, and Trish Demers from Prescott Valley, Arizona.
There were a number of interesting clinic topics, including Ground Manners, Reinsmanship, and Practicing for when things go wrong; Common mistakes in driving, Stagecoach history, and Pleasure show turnout with Trish Demers; Relaxing your horse with Gene Brown; Harness fit and maintenance and All about bits with Myrna Rinehart; Emergency preparedness and Despooking clinic with Amy Neary.
Fun activities were part of the week, too, with Tacky Turnout, Pooch Parade, Bingo Cones, a Bonfire/cookout, and a Wine and Cheese Party.
For Bingo cones, a course of ten cones was set up in the arena. But rather than drive them in numerical order, “callers” called out a particular number, ala Bingo, e.g., 6, and the drivers had to go through cones #6 in the correct direction. Then callers called out the next number for the next set of cones to be negotiated.
On the Safari Drive, Amy Neary puts out a variety of stuffed animals along the trails through the woods. Drivers have a list of “animals” to find, like tiger or zebra, which might be located anywhere just off the trail.
For the Tacky Turnout, drivers had to present themselves, their horses/ponies, and carriages in the most outlandish, ugliest outfit they could find. You might consider this the opposite of the Concours d’Elegance.
Friday’s highlight was the Driving Derby, with about 30-40 participants driving the course of cones and hazards. Saturday’s driving concluded with the Mimosa Drive, with drivers dressed in their formal best, greeted by “black tie” servers of mimosas along the way.
Kristen Warning was the official photographer at the event and you can find her photos at: www.kristenwarningphotography.com.
Find more information about next year’s National Drive at: www.nationaldrive.net
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