Last summer Standardbreds trotted and paced their way to county fair harness racing glory at the Lycoming County Fairgrounds, but this year, they’ll be facing a whole new form of competition. The Susquehanna Valley Whips & Wheels Pleasure Driving Show and Horse Driving Trial will take place at the Hughsville, Pa., fairgrounds on June 29 and 30.
Horses of all sizes and breeds will compete to show they have the best presence, obedience and way of going that is appropriate for a pleasure driving competition. On Saturday, drivers will be polishing not only their harness but also their driving skills as they compete in reinsmanship, obstacles and turnout. The last day of the show will see a different focus as driven dressage, cross country and timed obstacles take center stage for the driving trial.
One of the highlights of the Pleasure Driving show is the Bohemian Holiday Timed Obstacle Horse Champion Memorial Award. Bohemian Holiday was born in 1983 and never made it to the racetrack but she was an exceptional horse with a heart of gold. Her favorite discipline was carriage driving, and speed classes, like obstacles, were her best classes.
“What her driver (me) lacked in navigational skills she made up for in the speed of the course,” said owner Kelly Pentz. Bohemian Holiday died in 2006 at the age of 23. The award is presented in her memory to the horse/driver combination that has the fastest combined time in the Horse Division obstacle classes.
Kelly would love to present the award to a Standardbred. She came close last year when the 12-year-old Albert Albert gelding, Against the Best, was in contention. He was very competitive in the Town & Country Obstacles but a bobble in the Pick Your Own Route Obstacles cost him the award. As more and more drivers learn about pleasure competitions hopefully the Bohemian Holiday Timed Obstacle Horse Champion Memorial Award will be won by a Standardbred.
The USTA and the American Driving Society have teamed up to present Standardbred breed awards for those involved in competitive driving. Since 1996, the Standardbred Equine Program has worked with off-the-track Standardbreds and their owners to educate the general public on the many disciplines at which Standardbreds excel once they are retired from racing. For more information about the SEP at the USTA, visit standardbreds.ustrotting.com, or send e-mail inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about competitive driving, visit the ADS website at www.americandrivingsociety.org.