Ok, I’ll have to admit, this was a fun video to make! You might want to watch it with captions on, though. There was a lot of wind noise.
I thought the “Professional driver on a closed course” tag was a fun nod to car commercials. That said, if you’re going to go blasting through the woods with a big pony like this, you better know your pony, and what you’re doing.
This is Mimi, who I started in driving quite a few years ago for her person Kathy (who’s holding the camera for me in this video.) Mimi loves a good romp through the woods, but is also a very quiet natured horse. That made her a natural choice for this video, as apposed to Pilar the Haflinger you often see in classes and videos of mine.
Pilar is a great pony, but, a little more… spirited. She’s also a tank. You put a spirited tank in a scenario like this, and you’re tempting fate. Do I worry that I wouldn’t be able to stop Pilar if I had used her for this video? No, I’ve stopped her plenty of times before. In fact in one of our earliest experiences together she took off with Kathy and I. So I know I can stop her… most likely… probably… well, as long as we didn’t catch a bad bounce… and as long as Pilar didn’t decide she was in control… caveat, caveat, caveat.
The point is, why tempt fate? If you’re going to go out and do some cowboying around, there’s no need to be dumb while doing it. Yes, we do let Pilar stretch her legs out on the trail from time to time, but it’s not when there’s someone hanging off the side of the carriage with a camera while the driver is focused on getting a point across while making good eye contact with said camera. Pilar’s sense of adventure dictates that we have all hands on deck when there’s speed involved.
You’ll also notice that we never really hit the afterburners in the video. Sure, we’re motoring right along, but little miss Mimi has a bigger engine than that!
That’s something we reserve for training hazards in a rather carefully planned out routine. We build up to the speed exercises through a well defined lesson plan. We also use much less real estate, since hazards don’t actually involve cantering a half-mile through the woods.
At the end of each hazard, we quickly transition to the walk. That way, Mimi knows that anytime we’re doing the “go fast” work, it’s always followed up by the “settle down” work. You can see the fruits of that labor in how willingly she returns to the walk for me with very little effort on my part.
So if you’re going to go out and have some fun like this, just be smart about it. Oh, ya, and make sure you have the skills on board to rein things in if they do get out of hand. You don’t want a few minutes of fun to result in a lifetime of regret.
Check out the Runaway class if you want to learn more about keeping things safe while you’re out there having fun.