Weekly Feature

2017-03-16 / Local News

East Aurora Driving Society to participate in EquiFest 2017


The East Aurora Driving Society is gearing up for another season of horse-drawn carriage fun. The group will kick off the season with a presentation about the sport during EquiFest 2017 on Saturday, March 18, at the Hamburg Fairgrounds.

“What we want to show people is it’s not all fancy,” says Barb Hager, secretary of the East Aurora Driving Society.

The driving society is composed of a group of people who gather to enjoy and educate others about horse-drawn vehicles.

“So many people say, ‘Oh it’s so fancy,’ because they’re so used to seeing the pleasure drives and everyone in their fancy hats. Driving is more than that.”

The demonstration at EquiFest will teach people what driving a horse involves, from the different parts of a harness, to the proper fitting of the harness. There will also be a booth set up to educate people interested in the club.

Hager says getting the cart to the fairground can take some work.

“Lots of people will put the cart in the back of a pickup truck, so the horse will be in the trailer and carts will be in the back of the truck.” She says some people will just put the horse and the cart together in one large trailer. Both the carts and the horses range in size, from miniature horses to large draft horses. Hager says the amount of work needed to transport the equipment could be a reason the sport is not very popular.

“There’s more to it than just riding a horse, where you just have to get a horse somewhere with their saddle.”

Hager says the club is holding several events this year in an effort to recruit younger people to the group. One of those events is the East Aurora Driving Society schooling and driving show, which will be held on Sunday, June 11, at Knox State Park.

Hager encourages people who have never participated in the sport to come to the show and gain some firsthand knowledge from professionals.

“We’ll have people there that will help them make sure their harness fits properly,” she says, adding that judges will be on hand to provide feedback about their riding.

For those looking to train their horses to pull a cart, Hager says groundwork is essential. She suggests people hook the horses up to the harness only and let the horse get a feel for it before attaching the cart.

“You really want to have a quiet, safe horse so that they understand what their job is. The more groundwork, the safer they are.”

Hager hopes EquiFest will help clear up the misconceptions some people have about driving, including the idea that expensive gear is needed to enjoy it.

“As long as you have a safe harness and the horse is happy, it can be a lot of fun without a lot of expense,” she says. “People [in our group] are more like the backyard drivers that just want to have fun, get together and go on a trail ride.”

The East Aurora Driving Society will hold its demonstration from 2:30 to 2:45 p.m. in the Agriculture Discovery Center demo ring at the Hamburg Fairgrounds, 5600 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg.

For more information on the East Aurora Driving society, visit www.eastauroradrivingsociety.org.

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