Friday, June 20, 2014: Harnesses are oiled and rubbed to a leathery sheen. Buckles are polished to a glistening sparkle. Carriages are washed and hand-dried to gleaming perfection. Families dress in their finest raiment, throwing the scene in the heart of the Eastern Townships of Quebec back in time to a gentler age. The horses, alert, highly trained and beautifully groomed, patiently await the moments of glory to come… the Driving event at the Bromont Equestrian Park.
The CAI 2* is a three-day event combining dressage, marathon (cross country), and obstacles, and is a qualifier for North Americans for the World Championships. Events such as these keep the traditions and disciplines of the horse-and-carriage alive.
Dressage is a technical discipline involving a series of complicated movements (such as maneuvering the carriage in reverse), which are carefully scrutinised by the judges. Competitors, dressed for the part, are as beautiful to behold as the competition is difficult. After all, if one cannot control the horse-and-carriage properly, one should not be on the road.
Control is especially important when entertaining a young lady. A smooth ride is crucial to a congenial outing. Fingertip commands always impress a passenger. Showing off the horsepower of your “wheels” is a tradition that has been longer-standing than you might think.
Going to market was not a mundane chore, but a small adventure. The anticipation of seeing if the newest bolts of cloth had arrived from the Orient. A chance to share in the latest gossip. Perhaps a special treat of afternoon tea at the only hotel in town… mmmm, cucumber sandwiches and petit-fours.
Day-to-day life was slower then, a rhythmical trot, a gentle walk. I was lost in this beautiful era; I must apologize if you were looking for the scores of today’s event – you can find them at http://www.parcequestrebromont.org. At the end of the day, as I made my way to the parking lot, a part of me hoped that my car would have been magically replaced with a horse-and-carriage. Sadly, it wasn’t. Perhaps the lady in red would give me a ride?