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Middle Tennessee Carriage Club Schooling HDT


(Photos by Gerry Plock)

Visitors to Percy Warner Park in Nashville, TN on Saturday July 11, 2015 might have been surprised to see lots of horse drawn carriages driving through the park. It was the Middle Tennessee Carriage Club and Middle Tennessee Pony Club folks enjoying a Horse Driving Trial (HDT) competition at the beautiful park, although this one was officially a “schooling” HDT. After all, folks have to practice for the real thing! Also offered was a Combined Test with dressage and cones phases.

An HDT is a simplified Combined Driving Event (CDE), taking place on one day instead of the CDE’s usual three days. Combined Driving is a versatility test, like eventing, with three phases of the competition, similar to eventing – only driven: Dressage, Marathon, and Cones. Dressage tests the regularity of paces, impulsion, lightness and ease of movement of the equine. The Marathon tests the stamina, fitness and training of the equine and the judgment of paces and horsemanship of the competitor. The Cones phase tests the obedience, fitness and suppleness of the equine after completing the Marathon, and the skill and competence of the competitor. Early on Saturday, President Kate Bushman wrote: “5:46am. Dressage ring dewy. Courses set. Trailers arriving. Good day ahead!” It was a bright sunny day, although a little warm, with temperatures peaking at 93°F. Courses were set up with much appreciated heavy-labor efforts from volunteers on Thursday and Friday. Then the courses were cleaned up with more help on Sunday.  There is literally a small army of volunteers – too numerous to list here.

Middle Tennessee Pony Club kindly allows the Carriage Club to use their dressage ring. The club owns enough cones to have a full 20-pair cones course. Each competitor’s vehicle was measured to make sure the cones were set to accurate competition clearance widths.  Marathon is a lot of work to layout, measure distances, and stake markers.  The Iroquois Steeplechase infield and meadow are really great to work in, but a little bit small for a full marathon course which would be 12-14 km.  However, the shorter distance worked out well, considering the warm weather, and provided the experience without the endurance test mileage for the greener horses.

Ten drivers participated in divisions ranging from Preliminary – VSE, Single Horse, Single Pony, and Team to Training – Pony Pair, Single Pony, Single Horse. They came from as far away as Paris, KY,  Strawberry Plains and Greenback, TN to as close as Franklin, Brentwood, Lebanon, Nolensville, and Christiana, TN.

Rebecca Jones and Mossbar Gold Jet won the Single Horse Training Combined Test. Kathleen Carey and Hero won the Preliminary VSE Combined Test. 

In the Training HDT (dressage, cones & marathon), Linda Wood, driving Star and Buck, was the winner in Pony Pair. Karen Smith driving Blaire was first in the Single Horse, with Wilbur Sensing and Blue Ray coming in second. Rachel Nicely and single horse Lady Lou won the Preliminary HDT. Jeanette Haislip and Henning were first in Single Pony, while Pam Gaston driving Rolllingwoods Third Rock were second.

In the Preliminary HDT, Rachel Nicely and Lady Lou were first in Single Horse. Jose Hernandez driving Ritza, Roma, Chase, and Prince were first in Horse Team. And Laura Grimes and Alibi were first in Single Pony.

Evidently folks thoroughly enjoyed the drive, as competitors wrote: “Wonderfully fun event! Thanks to everyone who made it happen and to the great group of competitors….Thank you for a fun event! We had a great time!”

Middle Tennessee Carriage Club is hosting a Driving Derby on September 19 at the Cannon Carriage Driving Center at Valhalla Farm in Woodbury, TN. A Driving Derby is a carriage-driving competition of speed and accuracy, where drivers compete over an arena course that is a combination of marathon and cone obstacles. 

Find more information about this event and the club at their website: www.midtenncarriageclub.organd on facebook.

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