In Depth: No Ordinary Carriage Ride

Oct 13, 2016

Horse-drawn carriages can often be associated with romance and a longing for a bygone era.  After all, what could be a more relaxing way to take in the sights than behind a couple of horses trotting up street and down alley?  But as Samantha Lederman reports horse drawn carriages, more specifically carriage driving is a mainstay in equestrian competition.

That’s the sound of a driving pair navigating the water obstacle during the marathon phase of the 2* Kentucky Classic CDE. Set up like the Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event it runs over four days with three phases - dressage, marathon and cones but obviously instead of just a horse and rider competing, there’s a whole lot more equipment, and expense involved. Carriages, harnesses, horses plural… Lauren Cashion has been driving for 17 years, and explains that it takes a great deal of skill and finesse to graduate up the levels.

Misdee Wrigley-Miller is one of the top drivers in the USA and represented her country in the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France. She has just finished the marathon phase.

Cashion is hopeful that Tryon NC will win it’s bid to host the 2018 Games and bring world class driving back to North America.

Wrigley-Miller agrees with Cashion. She was also a volunteer & organiser at the 2010 Games which kick started her professional driving career and would like to see them return to the Horse Park in 2022.

After volunteering several times at driving events, Laura Forbes is hooked and has taken up the sport herself. Today she’s timing the competitors through the water obstacle and tells me she’s sharing a pony and harness with a friend, and has bought a second hand carriage.

There are all shapes, sizes and ages of drivers competing today, driving single horses, pairs and the ultimate four in hand. Wrigley-Miller, who is also a Saddlebred World Champion rider says that diversity extends to the horses too.

Wrigley-Miller will be testing that connection once again at the Hermitage Classic in Goshen, Kentucky in a couple of weeks time.