Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Driving. That is ALL

Did we talk about this? It's been a work in progress for sure. But we seem to have some things figured out! Matter of fact, both Jasmine and Phillippe have even shown in driving classes this year with their first CDEs yet to come! I started the year with a pretty peppy and cooperative pony. Jasmine had a good idea of driving and was pretty confident, just not refined. The donkey, however, was a little different... He was pretty convinced that he really didn't need to cooperate with me or respond to my polite requests. I was disheartened because driving him was something I wanted to do so badly!!! But he was a brute! Thank goodness I have friends, amazing, wonderful friends, who have experience both in driving and with long ears. Sawatzky Equine team had hosted a clinic in early spring - late winter, it was months ago now, for ponies and littles beginning driving. We put the crew in the trailer and headed up! I was gifted with some wonderful tools that included both equipment and a mindset shift. I'll tell you, by the end of the day, I had a LOVELY donkey who was cooperative and relaxed. From there, we've been sailing with consistent and steady progress, so much so that we've participated in a second green driving animal clinic, driving classes (and won 2/3) in this spring's Alberta Donkey and Mule Club show, have driven at a local eventing facility including successfully navigating through their water hazard, participated in a "fun day" hosted by my local driving club chapter, again getting through water, and also cones, gates and a dressage arena! We now regularly do 5 km conditioning drives down the road, much to the delight of the neighbours.
Jasmine has become quite consistent, so much so that I can hand her lines over to green drivers and feel confident that they will have a positive driving experience on their own. Ali's done a great job with her. Although that pony is FORWARD, she's got places to get to, she's super confident, but she's not intimidating. Every once in a while I still get to take the lines on her as well.
Plans from here, as I mentioned, to experience our first CDE. I'm not sure that a donkey can be competative, but the fact that he's game to try is everything! It makes me delighted that we can just go out. I'd had some health complications at the beginning of the year that made riding not the safest idea for me, for 6 months... But!! I had the littles to drive. That saved my sanity, I think. I had figured that driving would be a fun retirement hobby when my body is not up to climbing into the tack anymore. I just didn't realize I'd be additing it to my life this early! Driving is a blast. The littles are so fun and I can't imagine ever not having this in my life. Happy Horseing!