Fans of Driving Can See Plenty of Driving Action at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair
RELEASE: May 14, 2009
AUTHOR/ADMINISTRATOR: By Sara Cavanagh
Four-in-hand driving, evoking images of the past, will be featured evenings from Monday through Friday at the Devon Horse show and Country Fair, which runs May 21-30. Driving is also featured on Sunday, May 24, when the Carriage Pleasure Drive, arriving in the Dixon Oval at 2 p.m., begins a week of adult competition following three days of junior classes.
The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair benefits Bryn Mawr Hospital, to which it has donated more than $13 million over its decades of association.
Seven four-in-hand coaches are entered at Devon, headed by Holland & Holland Park Drag, owned by Misdee Wrigley Miller of Paris, KY, who is also the whip. Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Waller’s Park Drag, with Harvey Waller as whip, last year’s reserve champion, had been champion for three of the previous four years and will return to try to win back the tricolor.
“Driving a four-in-hand is considerably harder than driving a pair or a single,” said James F. (Jaimie) O’Rourke of Unionville, PA, who is featured on this year’s Devon poster driving Phyllis Wyeth’s Private Road Coach at Devon last year.
“First, you’ve got four personalities in your horses, rather than two,” said O’Rourke. “And you’ve got four reins to handle. A lot goes into rein handling.”
“Driving a four-in-hand is like driving a tractor-trailer,” said O’Rourke. “You do a lot of thinking ahead. It’s like going from an economy car to a race car.”
In four-in-hand competition, entries must be driven to a road coach or a park drag, and the horses are usually Warmbloods, Hackneys or Gelderlanders. The hitches are inspected for cleanliness of animals, harness and vehicle and general appearance of turn-out. Men are expected to be dressed in formal attire, while ladies should wear a hat and gloves and be covered by a lap robe. Grooms must be attired in appropriate livery.
While the coaches are put through their paces, coaching horns sound calls from the past that indicate to other vehicles that they are overtaking to pass or turning right or left.
Miller also won the Championship Drive-Off with a four-in-hand put to a Shooting Brake in the Carriage Pleasure Drive.
O’Rourke is driving his own pair of Dutch Warmbloods, Marciano and Ircoville, in the double harness section of the Carriage Pleasure Drive, a competition he has won twice.
O’Rourke, who helps organize the driving competitions at Devon, has been driving for over 45 years. “I drove a Studebaker runabout hitched to a Shetland pony at the North Shore Horse Show on Long Island when I was 5,” said O’Rourke.
Judging in the Pleasure Drive begins at noon at St. David’s Church on South Valley Forge Road, followed by a four-and-a-half mile drive to the Devon show grounds. Vehicles will also be observed along the road. Many houses en route to the show grounds host elaborate picnics to enjoy while viewing the passing parade.
Scurry driving for pairs is competed Monday afternoon, and pony pairs compete in Pleasure and Scurry Driving Monday evening, followed by their championship. Other driving competitions are scheduled on both afternoon and evening schedules throughout the week.
The Country Fair features boutique shopping for all ages and tastes, as well as a great variety of foods and midway games and rides. The boutiques offer the latest in fashion, sporting clothes, silver and gold jewelry and beautiful hats as well as classical pieces ranging from paintings, prints and sculptures to hand-painted furniture with horses and dogs, leather goods, antiques and more.
The art gallery features paintings and prints by many local talented artists, and the souvenir shop offers Devon Horse Show apparel, collectibles and the cookbook, Appetizers at Devon
Food is available for every taste, ranging from hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, pizza, ice cream, pitas, tea sandwiches and specialty coffee drinks to gourmet din