The watchwords of our carriage driving program at Touchstone Farm are SAFE and FUN. We know that driving has the potential to be dangerous as there are no small accidents in driving. However, we also believe that with careful planning, quiet horses, well maintained vehicles, quality harness, knowledgeable teachers, and appropriate driving facilities, these dangers can be greatly minimized. While we recognize that the unpredictable may occur, we can assure you that every precaution will be taken to keep everyone safe and happy.
We know that most of us come to driving because we want to have a fun, enjoyable and pleasurable experience. We are looking for a social experience which is interesting, challenging and creative. While some of our drivers may wish to compete, this is not the emphasis of driving at Touchstone Farm.
Our instructors are each thoroughly grounded in some phase of the driving world. All of them are committed to giving instruction in a positive and constructive manner. They believe that ‘slow and steady wins the race’ in driving. With careful progression of activities and exercises, each student is able to progress nicely at his or her own speed. Much hands-on learning happens whether it be on the rein board, doing ground driving, or walking a cones course. Our instructors are also willing to demonstrate how to perform a new skill. Appropriate warm up routines developed for the horse will be taught. Our instructors know the Touchstone driving horses well and work hard to match the right student to the right horse. Safety, success, confidence and enjoyment are the foundation for each lesson.
Our horses are the other key ingredient to our driving program. We believe that their training and overall excellent temperament make them well suited to their job. They are all actively involved in our riding and camp programs, mounting both able-bodied and challenged riders. They are acclimated to the hustle and bustle of lessons and having lots of people around them. They know the word WHOA. We are fortunate to have so many experienced, even-tempered horses in our program.
We also believe that having the correct harness and teaching vehicles are critical for any driving program. All of our vehicles are 2-wheeled, “easy entry” vehicles. We favor these carts because it is essential to be able to easily enter and dismount from the vehicle. Our harnesses are all inspected regularly so that they are in good repair. Appropriate fitting of the harness is also of the utmost importance to our program.
Furthermore, we believe that it is important to have the right facility to promote safety, effective learning and fun. Touchstone Farm has a classroom where students meet to get the lesson plan for the day’s drive. The Farm also has a good, quiet place to harness up the horses. Our harness room has each harness marked and ready for a particular horse. The barn aisle is a great place to begin the lesson. We then have a beautiful indoor arena so the environment for the beginning drivers is very contained with a minimum of outside distractions. With a variety of ring sizes and shapes, to the lovely driving field, to the dirt roads and byways, we can offer a nice progression of driving areas to meet the growing skills of each driver.
Finally, we have enough ‘boots on the ground’ to help support new drivers. With good teachers and people to serve as headers, leaders or cheerleaders, each driver has a team of people to help keep the experience safe and successful.
With these key elements in place, we believe that our students and horses will gain confidence, learn with ease and become proficient drivers. In an atmosphere of professionalism, warmth and attention to detail even the most timid driver will thrive at Touchstone Farm.