Ellen Hockley, of Pritchard, steers her fjord pair Tammy and Indie under a tree during the marathon portion of the Cariboo Trails carriage driving event at Huber Farms in 70 Mile House on Oct. 1. Tara Sprickerhoff photos.

Tight turns at Cariboo Trails carriage event in 70 Mile House

Horses and carriages weaved their way through trees and cones at this year’s event at Huber Farms

In a dash around obstacles, under trees and trotting through fields, seven carriages competed in the Cariboo Trails Field Driving Trials event at the Huber Farm in 70 Mile House from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

Teams of one, or two horse carriages and their driver competed in three events each day: dressage, marathon and cones.

“For the small size of trial we had it went really good,” says Dennis Huber, who hosted and judged the events each day.

While normally the event attracts more teams, the event was one of a few left across British Columbia this summer after cancellations due to wildfires, smoke and other events.

“We wanted to make sure we had something, we could say, ‘Okay, we’re getting started again. The world has not changed on us that dramatically.”

The main Cariboo Trails carriage driving event, set to take place mid-July was cancelled due to wildfires. This fall and spring events hosted by Huber Farms are usually used as training for that event, says Huber.

“It’s just to train people up so they understand what the real event is like. In July you do the competition.”

For the dressage portion, drivers steer through a set pattern and are judged on how they drive it.

“Dressage is the execution. How well you drive a set pattern and use the arena and your hands and your aids and everything else,” says Huber.

During the marathon, horse and driver take a longer route through several obstacles. The animal must take the field portions at a trot without breaking stride to canter. The team loses points if they finish at a slower pace than determined by the size of their animal.

For cones, the route is shorter and horse and carriage must rapidly travel around a set course weaving through the cones in a certain amount of time. They are given penalties if they come in overtime or if they knock down cones.

Drivers could compete in two different levels, based on their experience.

Because the fall event is normally treated as a training event,Huber would talk with each driver when they finished each competition.

“Because I was the judge I would talk to them and say this is what you need to work on and you could see the improvement day to day and it was worthwhile,” says Huber.

“The thing is, this is so much shorter than the July event in distance so people drive it just a little bit differently and try and figure out how they’re going to win, and their figures are always wrong,” says Huber with a chuckle.

Teams came from around the South Cariboo, as well as Alberta, Vanderhoof and Pritchard. Some are newcomers to the event while others are returners, says Huber.

Each of the three events is done daily, with winners for each day.

Huber encourages anyone interested to come check out the Cariboo Trails events when they are happening.

“If people are contemplating driving they should come and maybe they’ll pick it up as a driving sport afterwards.”

Kathy Lemig of Sherwood Park placed first for the Level 1 competition during Day 1. On Days 2 and 3, Laraine Shedden of 108 won. For Level 2, Marion Roman of 70 Mile won all three days of competition.


@Tspricker
tara.sprickerhoff@100milefreepress.net

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Marion Roman, with navigator Kathy Helmig alongside, points Charlie towards the entry to one of the areas where they will have to navigate obstacles during the marathon event.

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