Yesterday, before the hay truck arrived (see my previous post), I got to indulge in a favorite annual event--the local Sunday drive and picnic hosted for people who enjoy travel by horse-drawn vehicle. I don't happen to own a driving horse, but am fortunate to have friends who do. I look forward to any chance offered to take the lines (it's poor form to call them "reins") and be the driver of a vehicle. Especially at this event, which involves driving through woods and mountain meadows. It's not every day that most of us get to test our horse-driving skills at all, much less outside the confines of a training arena or a track.
I learned the rudiments of driving as a kid, when my paternal grandfather was still alive. He kept a team of draft horses, even after his days of horse-farming were over, and trained his saddle horses to drive, too. He also was an avid collector of harness and horse-drawn vehicles. These days, I enjoy seeing what people come up with for driving horses and rigs for the Sunday drive. I've seen everything at this event from four matched spotted draft horses hitched to a fancy buckboard, to a lone mule pulling a manure spreader!
If you ever want a lesson in how different horses have a different feel to their mouths, sit up behind two or more driving horses and feel their mouths through the lines. There's nothing else quite like it.