Driving on back roads, bitless

Standard
Getting ready to take me for my first drive...

Getting ready to take me for my first drive…

A lovely friend of mine owns two standardbred horses that were retired from harness racing.

Horses are her passion. She fosters, matches up, and finds homes for standardbreds.

She is a horse empath, a horse whisperer of sorts. She denies the horse whispering part, but she understands the nature of horses and uses this to build close, trusting relationships with her equine friends.

I have always loved horses but only had horseback riding lessons for a few months when I was a child. My single mom just couldn’t afford to continue. So I gave up the dream of ever owning a horse. How did we end up friends?

Charlotte is my knitting buddy. She is a master knitter with over 30 years experience knitting whose specialty is Aran designs. She cranks out at least five gorgeous shawls each year as well as many children’s sweaters, all custom designed for each intended recipient.

Did I mention that Charlotte is a professional writer? She is published several times a year in Hoof Beats Magazine. “A Revelation in Harness” is one of her stories available online.

Charlotte is notorious among those in her driving groups because she drives (and rides) bitless and without blinkers. She respects the instincts of her horses, builds trust, and communicates with them so that they are involved in the driving (and riding) process.

One day last April, Charlotte called and asked if I wanted to go driving. I grabbed my camera and said, “Of course!”

My first time in a trail cart. It is unnerving. I spent most of the time holding on, so I didn't take many photos.

My first time in a trail cart. It is unnerving. I spent most of the time holding on, so I didn’t take many photos.

And we're off!

And we’re off!

Rhythm is ready to be free.

Rhythm is ready to be free.

Rhythm and his girl enjoying April grass.

Rhythm and his girl enjoying April grass.

This was an eye-opening experience. When I was younger, I loved riding my bike everywhere, fast, and without hands. Older and less sure of myself, riding in the cart was a bit challenging for me. I don’t even like being a passenger in a car; I prefer to be behind the wheel.

When we got back, I asked Charlotte if they had carts for non-horse people. She smiled and said that they did. I am not the only friend or family member who feels a little uncomfortable in that small cart.

She has since acquired a much-larger, 4-wheeled cart that is in the process of being refurbished. I can’t wait to go for a drive in the new (used) cart. I will not only take photos, but video as well. Soon.

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