In January, the newly organized Hawaii Carriage Driving Society sponsored a week of carriage driving clinics on the Big Island.
Trish Demers, a professional carriage driving instructor and driving horse trainer from California, provided the instruction, as 20 carriage-driving enthusiasts took advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn and experience the proper methods of harnessing a horse, selecting the appropriate carriage and carriage-driving techniques.
Clinics were held in the Hilo and Kona area to accommodate all interested. Gary Grisham of Kohala provided a beautiful pair of Fresian horses for those who wanted to learn to drive a pair of horses. Karen FitzGerald of Hakalau provided Ruby, a Haflinger-Morgan mare, for those who were interested in driving a single horse.
At two evening potluck dinners for the participants, one in Hakalau and one in Kona, Demers made a PowerPoint presentation on carriage types, harness types, history of carriage driving, scenes of the joy of carriage driving, and scenes of what not to do — all very informative and interesting.
Many of the participants have mini horses, regular horses and/or donkeys they want to teach to drive, already drive and wanted to improve their skills, or were complete beginners. A great time was had by all and many new friends were made, said spokesman John FitzGerald.