It’s funny how summer creeps up on you but fall seems to happen overnight. There’s a very clear morning when you wake up and the light just feels different, the days are all of a sudden a little shorter. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s still possible to find yourself sweating it out while your horse is equally ruing the day he grew that winter coat in preparation for some sort of Irish October storm but nevertheless, the beginnings of fall are upon us.
The Allure of the Carriage
Spread throughout the Central Coast, there’s a group of equine enthusiasts striving for excellence whilst representing our region across a multitude of disciplines.
One such athlete is Tasha Wilkie, a highly decorated combined driver. Wilkie and her sidekick Van Dyke IV (Danny), an overgrown German Riding Pony, are preparing to embark on a months-long adventure to the East Coast in a bid to qualify the pair for the USEF team to compete at the FEI World Driving Championships for Single Horses in Pau, France in September of 2020.
A relatively young sport, combined driving was developed in the 1970s by Prince Phillip to mirror the cavalry derived sport of Three Day Eventing. Consisting of dressage, marathon and cones, the sport has gathered popularity across Europe. The hub of the sport in the United States is in Florida where combinations such as Wilkie and Danny will base themselves for months on end in an effort to compete in USEF sanctioned events (the governing body for almost all horse sports in the United States) and take part in USEF Developing Athlete Clinics, Wilkie being a member of that squad.
One of the biggest struggles for any combined driver on the West Coast is the lack of USEF shows, forcing the likes of Wilkie to uproot from their family to pursue the dream of representing her country at major championships.
The logistics alone involved with combined driving are mind blowing. Wilkie admits “it takes a village” to organise and transport the amount of gear required plus the carriages (yes, more than one is needed, like having a jumping saddle and a dressage saddle!).
Wilkie credits her success in training on the west coast to some local facilities such as Twin Rivers Ranch, Linda Fairbanks’ Paso Robles based establishment and Ann McClure in Arroyo Grande, all providing facilities to condition and train.
This will be Wilkie’s third trip across the country — in 2018 she and Danny competed at the Katydid CDE, Aiken SC finishing Reserve Champion North American Intermediate Single Horse at the Championships. Preparations are in full swing for her return to Poulin Equestrian South in Ocala Fla., the home of Larry Poulin (Wilkie’s trainer). Poulin himself a highly decorated US representative, being part of the USET World Championship Driving Team and having attained his USDF Gold Medal in Dressage.
The first outing for the pair back east will be the CAI** at Katydid in Aiken, SC. You can find scores and results for Wilkie and follow her adventure at katydidcde.com.
The goal is to return home for a quick visit for the holidays before embarking on the winter season in Florida, showing FEI Advanced for the selection committee ahead of team selections next year. We wish Tasha and Danny all the best on this amazing adventure! If you want to get involved in this sport, which Wilkie describes as “exhilarating,” be sure to check out the local Central Coast club Brass Oak Driving Society at brassoakdriving.com.
Horse Camping in Montaña de Oro
The Coastal Mounted Assistance volunteer group is organizing an amazing weekend of fun this October. Explore the large number of trails from Hazard Horse Camps within the state park. Get to know the beautiful beaches, enjoy the views from high above the vast landscape and explore the forests over four days. There are even guided trails available for those unfamiliar with the area. Reservations include a stall for one horse, a campsite (including one vehicle and trailer), one barbecue ticket (Sunday) and a poker hand (Sunday Poker Ride).
Oct. 3-6: Fall Classic Quarter Horse Show and EMO Ca. State Championship, Paso Robles Event Center, 2198 Riverside Ave, Paso Robles. Class schedules and form available at PCQHAFallclassic.com.
Oct. 12-13: Harvest Special Schooling Show, Paso Robles Horse Park. Schooling jumper show at the beautiful Paso Horse Park. Kick off the fall season with this fun, low key show. Visit pasorobleshorsepark.com for entry details.
Oct. 10-14: Coast Mounted Assistance Annual Poker Ride, Montaña de Oro State Park Horse Camp, total cost for four days $75, pre registration required. Visit the Coast Mounted Assistance Montaña de Oro Facebook page for registration forms and more details.
Oct. 17-20: Paso Pumpkins and Ponies, inaugural “B” rated show at the Paso Horse Park. Visit pasohorsepark.com for entry information.
Oct 19: Golden Hills Farm Open Schooling Haul-in Day, 9 a.m. to noon. Fee $15. Check the Golden Hills Farm Facebook page for registration opportunities. Located at 8455 Creston Rd, Paso Robles.
Oct. 25-26: SYVCH Cow Horse Show and herd practice, NRCHA approved. Catch some great action at the third and final show of the series. Spectators and competitors are encouraged to wear pink on Saturday. The SYVCH will donate the office fees for each competitor wearing pink to the Cancer Foundation of Santa Barbara. Show entry details can be found at syvch.org.
Oct. 27: Twin Rivers Halloween One Day Event, a fun schooling show with great prizes and costume contests. Visit twinrivershorsepark.com for entry premium.
Oct. 30-Nov. 3: Paso Park Fall Classic, the second classic series of the year. This is the first week of a two week USEF “A” rated series. Visit pasorobleshorsepark.com for entry and visitor information.