New England Equestrian Center of Athol announces Driving Days

  • Dot Rourke of Ashby participates in Driving Days with her pony, Mojo, at the New England Equestrian Center of Athol. Contributed photo

  • Spectators and participants enjoy Driving Day at the New England Equestrian Center of Athol. Contributed photo

  • A participant guides his pony between cones at Driving Day at the New england Equestrian Center of Athol. Contributed photo

Staff Report
Published: 8/9/2022 3:33:54 PM
Modified: 8/9/2022 3:30:37 PM

The New England Equestrian Center of Athol, a municipal, multi-use 250 acre horse park in Athol (wide area use) developed and managed by the non-profit New England Equestrian Land Conservation Corporation, has expanded its activities and events this summer with NEECA Driving Days. A few inspired horse and pony drivers have worked to develop a driving area in the park, and have been holding a series of clinics. The drivers, their equines, equipment, and helpers gather on designated Mondays for lessons/coaching from local driving champion/instructor Devin Burdick of Stonebrook Farm.

Morning finds them in an arena for practicing skills. This is the dressage work, where the drivers direct their equines in formations with regulation speed and precision. Everyone brings their lunch, gathering for a social and rest interval.

Afternoon class is for working on agility in the cones course and obstacles. A number of deviously set pairs of cones, numbered, must be navigated in order as quickly as possible at real driving competitions; however, the NEECA drivers are building skills. Hitting a cone, or forgetting one often gets a disappointed yell from the driver, and laughs from the folks watching.

An obstacle is a group of high solid objects (plastic barrels are used here) arranged to be driven through in alphabetical order (picture a small maze). Afternoons are fun, with shouting, laughing and encouragement. Many of the ponies and horses seem to enjoy practicing the courses, and try to go faster.

The next driving dates are Aug. 15 and Sept. 12. There is a practice competition being scheduled for early October, with judged dressage, a 2K marathon with obstacles, and a timed cones course. Anyone who has attended at least one Drivers Day may enter.

Equine lovers, or other interested folks are welcome to drop in and observe.

This activity is open to drivers with horses, ponies, minis, donkeys, and mules. To join the group, fill out a registration, provide a current Coggins Test, and sign the NEECA liability waiver. $60 for the day.

For more information contact Althea Bramhall 617-678-9300 or althearealtor@gmail.com


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