Carriage Driving Course Slated for February 6-7,2016

Professional trainer Fred Merriam instructing a student on long lining a Morgan mare belonging to Lynda

Professional trainer Fred Merriam instructing a student on long lining a Morgan mare belonging to Lynda Jowers (Photo: Karen Wolfsheimer)

The Florida Whips, in cooperation with Santa Fe College, will again offer the “Baxter’s How to Teach your Horse to Drive” Course, on the weekend of February 6-7th, 2016. This popular course, first organized by the late Metta Baxter, will take place at the University of Florida IFAS Horse Teaching Unit. Metta Baxter was a vital part of the carriage driving community and was instrumental in starting the course over 2 decades ago. It was her aim to share the knowledge and enthusiasm of the local driving community with newcomers interested in learning about the sport.

The course is an intense 2 day event aimed at those equestrians interested in learning the basics of driving, harnesses, vehicles and safety. Beginners, as well as those drivers who want to expand their knowledge of carriage driving, are encouraged to participate. The facilities at the University of Florida IFAS Horse Teaching Unit that will be utilized include their covered arena, heated classroom and driving areas around the Unit.

Day 1 will start with lectures on various types of harnesses as well as parts and functions of the harness in the morning. A lecture on various types of carts and carriages, discussing advantages and disadvantages of each, will be presented. Safety while driving is a major aspect of the course to ensure minimal risks to horse and driver. Various safety devices as well as safety techniques will be emphasized.

Lynda Jowers instructing a student

Lynda Jowers instructing a student (Photo: Karen Wolfsheimer)

The afternoon session will include “mock” driving setups where participants can learn the “feel of the reins”, learn what a “half halt” feels like, and learn how the “whip” is used as a driving aid to direct the horse.

This year, Gary Michael Yeager, a well-recognized trainer and coach, will demonstrate how to long line a horse in harness in preparation for “hitching” the horse to the carriage or cart. During this popular session, participants are allowed a “ hands on” opportunity to ground drive a horse.

Elizabeth Rieselman sharing the basics on harnessing

Elizabeth Rieselman sharing the basics on harnessing (Photo: Karen Wolfsheimer)

Day 2 continues with a demonstration of how to “hitch” a horse to the carriage. Following this demo, participants will have the opportunity to ride in carriages and actually drive a variety of horses/ponies and carriages/carts.

Various opportunities for question and answer sessions will be available both days in the lectures, demos and participation sessions. All harnesses, horses/ponies and carriages/carts are provided by members of The Florida Whips. All that the participant needs to bring is enthusiasm and a helmet. Coffee and donuts are provided to start each day.

Registration for the course can be done online starting January 6, 2016 thru Santa Fe College at www.sfcollege.edu. Directions to the Horse Unit as well as nearby accommodations will be provided upon registration.

If online registration is not an option or if you have any questions you can reach a Florida Whip for assistance at wacahootakj@gmail.com or 225- 767-9615. Participants are limited to adults 18 years of age or older. Course fee is $52 per person.




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