Saddle up for trials | News, Sports, Jobs

BROOKFIELD — Carriage drivers recently entered the ring at the Brookfield Saddle Club grounds, giving riders the chance to introduce new horses to competition.

The Brookfield Saddle Club is a small non-profit riding club that holds shows and competitions on 4.7 acres off Bedford Road.

Becky Salinger and her daughter, Emma Cigany, both from Ashtabula, marked their first appearance in the competition in which the horse-drawn carriage driver traverses a series of obstacles without knocking tennis balls off traffic cones.

“It’s a new hobby that I’ve taken up and love doing. It’s the first time we’ve done the combined driving event with our horse, Mildred. The key is to ride the course as quickly and accurately as possible without dropping the tennis balls. This is a timed event and a precision event. There is a penalty when you hit the tennis balls,” Salinger said.

Cigany said she stood at the rear of the car and helped navigate and maintain the car’s balance when making sharp turns. This prevents the cart from tipping over.

Louise Fraser of Hampton, who has driven a carriage for 12 years, said her horse, Ares, has been used for fox hunting, so he is embarking on a new career.

“Our horses are both beginners for this,” Salinger said, noting that Fraser was the one who got her interested.

Salinger has been driving for four months.

Fraser said it’s important to make sure the cart wheels don’t hit the cones. She said there is usually an 8-inch clearance for wheel width.

“Some courses start with 8 inches clearance and then it starts to drop 2 inches,” she says.

Jeff Grossenbacher of Edinburgh, event coordinator, said that whenever a horse show is scheduled and the weather is not cooperating, fewer people attend.

“We would have had more participants, but the weather changed that. A guy usually brings several horses. Those who are here can have fun and train,” he said.

Grossenbacher said the annual event was held in Randolph in Portage County and then moved to Brookfield. He said horses compete all over the United States, with the local event offering workouts.

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