Driving in Denver March 26 2014, 0 Comments

I just got back from a visit to a good friend in Denver, CO, and wanted to share my experiences there. I know there's a lot going on in the news about the NYC carriage horses (and everyone is entitled to their own opinion), and I got a chance to first hand visit - and drive! - one of the carriage horses from Denver/Golden. It was such a great experience, that I thought I'd share with all of you. If you've never had the chance to drive before and happen to have a friend with a carriage horse, I highly recommend it. Such a neat experience!

While out in Denver, I got to spend the day with my friend in Golden, CO, one of the original "Old West" cities that has amazing sceneryand just so much to offer. My friend drives carriages, and took me to the farm of the owner so I could meet some of the horses and, weather permitting, go out for a drive. Fortunately, despite some wind, the sun stayed out and it was a nice enough day, so after meeting and greeting the horses, we started to tack up Jackson to the cart and headed out down the street to the park. Did you know that in Colorado, may of the local parks have horse corrals as well as dog areas and kid areas too? Very cool! One more thing to love about CO.

Anyway, we hitched up Jackson, and my friend drove and showed me some of his movements. I've driven before, but only small horses/ponies such as Haflingers in a surrey which is a much much smaller getup and dynamic than a full sized draft and even a small cart - well small compared to the carriages anyway. It was a lot bigger than the pony surrey! She taught me some of the voice commands, and Jackson demonstrated how they use a movement comparable to a mounted leg yield to make tight turns, versus using the lines for a more gradual, sweeping turn. I have to admit, I was impressed with how maneuverable this rather large animal was! And while I own a Clyde/TB cross that I use for dressage and eventing and hunting, the thought of any animal that big being able to be that maneuverable while hitched to a cart of any type was definitely impressive.

Then....she let me drive! I was a tickled as a kid at Christmas, and again impressed with the responsiveness of the horse. He was soft and "on the bit" if you will, while constantly alert to his surroundings, steady and solid as they come, and still attentive to my every movement and request. If you don't think you can have the same connection with a horse while driving as you can while riding, I have to tell you, you're sadly mistaken. It was a new experience for me - the Haffies I drove were always just "Amish broke" with the basics - so driving a true trained carriage horse was an absolute delight!

That was definitely a highlight of my trip, and of course being a horse person, a great new experience to have! And while I can't speak to some of the controversy going on with the carriage horses in NYC, I can say that the horses I got to meet in Golden were all fat and shiny and happy and absolutely loved what they do for a living. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend you check them out: Denver Carraige Co. Give Jackson a carrot for me while you're there, and tell them CJ sent ya! ;)