Little Everglades International CDE Rises to the Challenge



Little Everglades Ranch

took on a huge challenge in hosting an International qualifying event as their first ever CDE driving competition.  They seem to be meeting that challenge head-on with this beautiful grass arena that one of the judges said “was probably one of the finest turf dressage arenas in the world”.  There is a big turnout of Four-in-Hand drivers since this is one of the qualifying events for the team drivers hoping to represent their countries at the World Equestrian Games. With drivers from USA, Canada and Germany, this is truly an international event!

Just think of driven dressage.  With the teams you have one driver with four horses and just four reins.  All four horses should go on the bit, be supple in their bend, show working, collected, and extended gaits!  Many times the drivers must also execute all the above with all four reins in one hand!  Next time you think doing shoulder-in is difficult on your riding horse just think of these drivers that have the front two horses (called leaders) doing shoulder-in down the long side while the back two horses (called wheelers) are going straight ahead!  And they do this with only the reins, voice, and whip!  There must be some magic involved.

Thursday, January 28, 2010, 9:00am. The first driver of the first day of the first Little Everglades International Combined Driving Event is trotting into the dressage arena.  The dew on the emerald green turf sparkles in the bright sunlight of this cloudless day.  The temperature is quickly warming up and jackets are being shed.  This starts off a full day of FEI tests from Single Pony to Four-in-Hand Teams.  

Part of that magic is the drivers, grooms, and owners who love driving horses and ponies.  These equestrians are happy to share their love of driving with anyone interested.  Just start asking questions and soon you will be up on someone’s carriage for a demonstration drive.  Carriage drivers will help you with advice, lend you equipment, get you out of a ditch, and tell you tall tales about how fast they can do a hazard.  

Friday at Little Everglades will be another splendid day of dressage with the singles and pairs Preliminary and Intermediate tests.  Then Saturday, with the ladies beautiful dresses and hats and the men’s stately suits and top hats retired to the tack room, the drivers will take on the challenge of the Marathon course.  That’s the time for hard hats and a good vest as hooves will be flying and the carriage wheels sending up rooster tails of dirt as the drivers negotiate the hazards. Stay tuned!

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