A Timeless Tradition: Pleasure Driving Returns to Pinehurst for the 14th Year
It's a sight you could have seen 100 years ago antique vehicles hitched to elegant carriage horses sporting spit-and-polish harness with whips (drivers) dressed in traditional pleasure driving attire. Over 25 turn-outs drove through the village of Pinehurst past cottages dating back to an era when carriage driving was the main mode of transportation. Residents of Pinehurst held lawn parties, giving guests a glimpse of a by-gone era. The 14th Annual Pleasure Marathon, which traditionally is held the Sunday morning of the Carriage Classic in the Pines, took place June 7 under overcast skies after two years of rain on marathon morning. The drive through Pinehurst was the culmination of two days of pleasure driving at the Pinehurst Harness Track sponsored by the Moore County Driving Club.
Jen Ozley, a member of the Moore County Driving Club, walked away with the lion's share of awards driving Willard Rhodes' pair of Dutch Warmbloods. Ozley was presented with the Milton Long Memorial Trophy for Best Overall Pair of Horses and she also was awarded the Jim Simpson Trophy for highest placed Moore County Driver.
Ozley won four out of the five classes she entered: turnout, working, reinsmanship, cross-country obstacles and reverse psychology obstacles to earn the Pairs Championship.
"I'm so lucky to be able to show such a nice pair," said Ozley. "We've been working pretty hard and it showed. It's always fun when you have nice horses. I had no idea about the Jim Simpson trophy. It was a lovely surprise. And it was nice for Willard as he loves to win."
Rhodes drove his pair of aged (over 10 years old) horses, which he purchased four years ago in Holland, in the Pleasure Marathon on Sunday.
Sharon Granito took her maiden voyage driving a four-in-hand of horses and won the Multiple Championships with her Friesians, which she co-owns with her husband Jim. The horses were put to an antique Summer Phaeton built in 1896.
Granito and her passengers sang songs on marathon day, reflecting the joy Granito receives out of reaching a life-long goal of driving a four-in-hand in a pleasure driving competition.
"I was hoping I could do this at some point in my life. God has given me many blessings in life including these wonderful horses," said Granito who has been driving a four-in-hand for just six months. The Granitos have owned the aged Friesians for two and a half years. The horses were originally imported from the Netherlands.
Kelly Valdes was the Open Pair Pony Champion and the Pony Marathon Champion driving Claire Reid's pair of Welsh ponies.
Dr. Tom Burgess of Bridgewater, Va., who trains with local professional driver Wiebe Dragstra, was awarded the Concours D'Elegance by judge Toddy Hunter for the most elegant turn-out. Burgess drove his pair of Friesians put to an antique Healy Spider Phaeton.
Marcie Quist of Vass was Single Horse Champion, driving Hal the Hackney. Briana Ek, granddaughter of Eleanor and Tom Gallagher, was Junior Champion. The Novice Championship went to Bonnie Hines of Pikeville, N.C. The Open Single Pony Championship was awarded to Rebecca Jones of Efland, N.C.
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