Meet "Ash" - my 12 yr old Haflinger gelding. He is a lesson horse extraordinaire, who has taught many, many children and adults to ride, and who was also part of Saddle Pals Therapeutic Riding program for quite awhile. Ash is now embarking on a new career - that of a driving horse!
Ash's new job description has come about as a result of a project that my friend, Rolf Laessig, is involved in - which is the restoration of a 100 yr old carriage (photos will be in another blog when the carriage is completed)! So..... if we are going to have a carriage at Blue Fountain Farm, we need a horse to pull it! Since Rolf has been riding Ash for many years, and since Ash has such a steady and willing nature, he seemed like a good candidate. OK - so that's all well and good - but none of us around here have ever really done any driving (except for the one time I drove Jozsef here about 13 years ago!).
So, (drum roll)............ enter Joe Kasza ............
Joe is a neighbor and friend who is famous for his driving skills, and who has been kind enough to come over every morning for the last 2 weeks to help us train Ash to drive. Joe learned to drive in his native Hungary, and, as many of you may know, Hungary is where my belated Jozsef came from. An interesting bit of "Small World" information that came to light recently involving Joe and Jozsef has to do with the horse pictured above - the one nearest the camera. Conversano (aka Leo) is now a riding horse owned by my cousin, Laurie, and he is out of the same mare in Hungary as Jozsef! She was 24 years old when she had Leo! None of us knew that when we bought him from Joe - we found it out when we looked at Leo's papers. But, I digress! Joe does combined driving - a very exciting and exacting form of driving, involving a form of cross country..........
as well as dressage - look at the unison of these two horses!!
Needless to say, we feel extremely lucky and honored that Joe is helping us in our humble ambition to put Ash to this special carriage that Rolf is lovingly restoring.
The first step in Ash's training involved getting him used to the feel of a harness on his body - as well as training us to put it on him!
Rolf (on the left) and Joe putting the harness on Ash for the first time.
Then came the ground driving, and Ash getting used to having someone being behind him....
Rolf also gets a turn at ground driving Ash -
Ash takes everything in his stride, and by the third day, he gets ground driven from the barn to the arena for his lessons, instead of starting in the arena....
|Ash takes to his new job with pleasure!|
Then it's time to hook him up to a "Double Tree" so we can pull things, but first Joe drags it around Ash so he can get used to the sights and sounds, that are coming.......
The next day (a much cooler one, as you can see from our dress), we hook Ash up to a little training cart - the first time he actually has shafts alongside him - and again, he's a champ!
I led him around at first, but soon, he was on his own! The tire is to add a little weight to get him ready for the cart.
What's wrong with this picture????
Today was the most fun, so far, as we hooked Ash up for the first time to a cart that we could actually drive, instead of walking around behind him all the time. It was also the first time that Ash wore a bridle with the blinders on, which he acclimatized to right away.