“Horse people,” remarked a fellow equestrian instructor a while back, “still buy books,” and surprised, I realized she’s absolutely right. Mind, my local library reports a decrease in Kindle-read literature, but a surprising 16 per cent increase from last year on books borrowed – all good news for writers, authors and publishers, horse books and otherwise.
With research on driving literature (a must now), and feeling my way into the beginning-to-learn section and discovering which authors to collect and read, I’m super-thrilled to learn that the ‘local’ authority High Country Carriage Driving Club has arguably one of the finest collections of books on this subject in North America, available on loan to members. My! Have Mops and I lucked in, people advising what to read and books to borrow in that process. More on this as I find my way.
And, heavens, another ‘coincidence’ happening (except, of course, the Buddhists will tell you there is no such thing!) when visiting the local second-hand furnishings store (proceeds to Family Community Social Services so a feel-good factor there too), artistically arranged on a prominent coffee table was Doris Ganton’s apparent classic (and just-what-we-need I found out later), her Breaking and Training the Driving Horse most handily priced at $2. On an adjoining sofa lay The Anatomy of the Horse, A Pictorial Approach which was snapped up too, technical, clear beyond belief – another $2 of outstanding value and where gratitude factors scorched up to maximum.
For those whose luck isn’t on the same overdrive factor right now, for out-of-print and secondhand books try clicking onto www.alibris.com where volumes on just about anything are accessed on an international scale. This is one supremely useful website, albeit perhaps a very dangerous one!
I hadn’t, I admit, realized how incredibly selfish my equestrian life has been in concepts until now, as Doris Ganton details in her introduction. Most of us, she robustly suggests, are realizing a poor half of the potential of our horses, noting that when a horse is trained to drive his ‘usefulness is vastly increased.” One’s horse can be driven on country roads, or pull a stoneboat hauling loads in front pastures say (yes, I know this one and floating, or harrowing all those dratted mole hills!), or double as the garden tractor pulling a cultivator. “Tremendous enjoyment” she writes, “can be obtained as you take friends and elderly people along for rides through the countryside where before your saddle horse was limited to carrying you alone.” I find myself nodding involuntarily (and enthusiastically) as she continues, “He can also perform in the increasingly popular three-phase driving events where skill, stamina, ability and training combine to test your prowess…..A good driver is a thrill to watch and the art of driving is just as full of enjoyment, thrills and challenging as is riding.”
Dangerously indeed I’ve been fossicking online for driving videos and instructional segments, with one stunningly filmed – in slow motion – Combined Driving video highlighting the world’s best sliding through obstacles with scant half inches to spare demonstrating extraordinary skills needed for this discipline. Check it out here. It’s the same crazy methodology I used researching when, aged 45, I took up rock climbing and I know where that got me – 80 foot up limestone chimneys! Me and adrenalin are life-long acquaintances.
What Mops will think of my addiction remains to be seen. According to Lynn Jupp of the High Carriage driving group I talked to earlier this week, she’d rate ‘a very self assured’ horse as a prospect, one who’s “calm and confident.” Right now I think he has that – I like, very much, this youngster’s mind and there’s this weird knack I’ve had in the past for finding good horses that excel in competitions that suit them as individuals. Am I right? Let’s see what evolves as we move through poles, travois and onto wheels over these next months.