Black Prong Equestrian Village is excited to add its first pleasure driving show to the coming carriage event season! The inaugural Black Prong Classic Under the Oaks will take place on March 4-5th, 2023, and will provide the carriage driving community in Florida a rare opportunity to showcase their talents, traditional attire, and unique carriages.
“There are so few pleasure shows anymore, and there is only one other pleasure show in Florida,” said first-time show organizer, Janet Carswell. “The Classic Under the Oaks will provide drivers who are in Florida this winter season another opportunity to utilize their antique carriages and show off their style.”
Pleasure driving pays tribute to the historic use of horses and carriages as transportation. The vehicles used in competition are usually actual antique or antique replica carriages. Many pleasure classes are judged heavily on turnout, or the overall elegance and presentation of the horse, carriage, and driver. While the other carriage events at Black Prong are judged based on a specific set of performance criteria, in pleasure classes, performance is generally a smaller percentage of the overall score, with greater weight given to presentation.
“This is the first pleasure show at Black Prong, and it will be a totally different format from the CDEs, CTs, and Derby series that have been here before,” Carswell said. “The pleasure show is about the traditional, and elegant side of driving, rather than the sports side of driving. We are doing the Concours d’Elegant award as well, which is an overall trophy for the driver who brings the most elegance and ‘wow’ factor to all their classes over the weekend.”
The Classic Under the Oaks will bring exciting new classes to Black Prong, including the two-part picnic class. In the picnic class the horse, carriage, and driver are judged first in the arena and then they unhitch their cart and set up the picnic supplies they have been carrying with them and are judged on picnic presentation.
“You’ll see China, crystal, caviar, candles, and linens, it’s really amazing,” Carswell said. “It’s so different than the combined driving events, that’s why I am so excited that it’s going to be here! The outfits and hats you’re going to see, they will be totally dressed to the nines.”
Other fun classes are the carriage dog class and the costume class. In the carriage dog class, the dogs are groomed and judged alongside the horses and drivers. In the costume class, drivers dress up themselves, the horses, and the carriages all according to a theme and are judged on overall creativity.
These unique classes are fun to watch, and spectators are encouraged to attend the event! The schedule has been arranged so that there are interesting or unusual classes spread across the weekend. There are also some sport classes like the gambler’s choice and scurry cones classes that are mixed in with the presentation classes so there will still be plenty of action to watch on both days.
“Pleasure shows have never been done at Black Prong before and it is an element of carriage driving that I think our community will enjoy and will provide drivers an opportunity to participate in something fun and different,” said Michele Markward, General Manager of Black Prong Equestrian Village. “These classes are something special and we think it will just add to the beauty of Black Prong to have these events here.”
While this is the first show Carswell has organized, she has been driving for many years. She has spent the last few years preparing to take on being an organizer by participating in training programs with ADS and USEF as well as apprenticing and volunteering at every carriage event in the area.
“I want the competitors, officials, volunteers, and spectators to leave the weekend feeling excited to come back again next year,” Carswell said. “For drivers, I would say, be on the lookout for the prizes we are going to give out, you won’t want to miss them, or this opportunity to participate in the first of what I hope will be a long-running event.”
Some classes to look forward to!
- Carriage Dog
- Scurry Obstacle
- Ladies to Drive
- Gentlemen to Drive
- Trade and Commercial
- Picnic Class
- Your Route/My Route
- Costume Class