Driving is not as easy as some people make it look!
by Beth Edwards
About 50 people recently attended a clinic put on by Steve Bowers of Bowers Farm, Fort Collins, Colo. The clinic was held at the Adams county Fairgrounds the day before the Colorado Draft Horse and Equipment Auction.
The day included showing harness parts and what the purpose of each part was. The four driving disciplines were mentioned: draft horse use, pleasure driving, harness racing and show driving. Different types of harnesses, including leather, plastic and beta ” a harness with a nylon web core ” were shown. Harness demonstrations were given with class attendees asking lots of good questions.
Among the many topics Steve talked about was longitudinal alignment while driving (keeping the horses even, so that one’s not ahead of the other) and latitudinal alignment ” keeping the horses spaced so they can travel straight.
After lunch, Shillelagh, a Belgian owned by Jean Brandenburg of Platteville, Colo., was brought in as a demonstration horse. Steve showed some of his training methods and did a training demo for the audience.
After the clinic was over, Steve brought out his bicycles. These aren’t your ordinary bicycles. Four bikes are connected together and lines are threaded through them to simulate driving a multiple hitch of four horses. The driver is connected to the “hitch” by a belt that’s on a pole. You push the team to get it started and you have to handle the lines at the same time so your hitch doesn’t wreck or swing out of position. It’s tricky!
I got to drive the multiple hitch of four bikes and it’s not as easy as Steve makes it look! I figured this might be my chance, so I took the opportunity to get in a bit of quality training time with Steve. He helped me drive the bikes around one of the barns on the fairgrounds. I had to learn to hold all four lines and to keep the bikes moving in the correct manner. It was fun and something I’d recommend to anyone, just for the experience. (Even though people did tend to look at us a bit funny!)
For more information on the Bowers Farm, their training lessons or videos, you can contact them at: bowersfarm.com or call them at (970) 484-9419.
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