The beginning and ending of the
Double L Miniature Horse Driving Drill Team ...................................................................(final update 3/16/16)
This group was started back in 2002 during a student presentation day at the Double L Equestrian facility in Richmond, IL, when 4 driving students took 3 minis and a pony hitched to carts and put them through the same drill routine the riding students were doing on horseback. It turned out so well that the group submitted the video clip to the Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI . and were accepted to perform in 2003.
Back then, we thought we were the only ones who had thought of driving minis while doing a drill pattern. In 2006, we discovered that there were more groups out there, including the Mini Mystiques in Arizona. There are now 2 more groups in this area, one having split off from ours in 2004 and the other more recently formed in the next county.
The drivers used to be youth ranging in age from 8 to 18 years old. Now we have adults driving also, as they want to join in the fun! They come from a radius of about 45 miles around the Double L facility. Some are members of 4-H groups in different counties in Illinois and Wisconsin. They all practice 2-3 days a week during the season and though some do not own the horse they are driving, they all spend time at the barn each week helping to care for them. The team practices at Double L Equestrian in Richmond, IL, where the team was first started. During the spring and summer, they participate at local shows and drive at their county fair. The drill team has helped them hone their skills, since it requires precision and control, while they're still having fun.
The miniature horses they use measure 34” to 38” tall at the withers and range in age from 3 to 14 years old. They started out with a couple of minis that were 32" tall, but found that they had a hard time keeping up the pace and if the footing was soft, it was even harder for them to keep going. Some of the horses were already trained to drive when they were acquired (some were donated to the team) and others were trained by their drivers/owners or by the coach (Linda Lanzer). The drivers and horses all seem to benefit from driving on the team, as it breaks up the monotony of going round and round the arena and they learn to drive under many conditions and with various distractions. They also drive in some parades and occasionally go on trail drives.
After the Midwest Horse Fair performance in 2003, they also performed in July at the Double L Drill presentation day (where they got their start). Their theme matched that of Midwest, which was 'Horses Through History'. Each driver represented something to do with horses. There was an Indian girl, Frontier girl, Renaissance girl, Roman, Pilgrim, Cowboy, Jockey, and Conquistador.
Then in 2004, they performed at Midwest again, at the presentation day and then at the Holistic Animal Health Fair in Barrington, IL., where they amazed the audience with their ability to manuever the carts through a drill routine set to the music from Riverdance. The drivers were dressed in green Celtic dresses with silver trim, to go with the Midwest theme 'Silver Year of the Horse Fair'.
In 2005, they performed again at Midwest, the presentation day and added some drill competitions. The theme this year was 'The Circus Comes to Town', so they dressed in shiny silver and pink outfits and added feather headdresses to the minis. In June they drove at the Wild West Rodeo Days in Union Grove, WI and while there, competed against riding horses in the drill competition, placing 1st in youth and 3rd in open. In August, they performed during the ‘Night of the Horse' at the Northern Illinois Horse Fest in Belvidere, IL and then participated in the Midwest Challenge Drill Competition, taking the overall crowd appeal award against 16 riding teams. They also placed 1st in their division.
In 2006, they appeared in March at the 4-H Horse Judging Regional Contest, again in April at the Midwest Horse Fair, and in May at the Harvard Milk Days drill demo. They competed at the West20 drill competitioin in East Troy, WI in June, taking 1st in their division. In July, they performed at the Double L Presentation day and in August they competed at the Door Co. Fair and took 2nd place in their division. Then they performed and competed at the IL Horse Fest, in Belvidere, IL and took 1st in youth. They were invited to the Iowa Drill Championship in Sept, but due to some sick minis, they chose to stay home. Their final performance, with 4 new members, was for the Holistic Animal health fair in Grayslake, IL. Their theme this time was Argentina (Horses Around the World) and the girls dressed in red, white and black with red trim on the minis.
In 2007 the theme at Midwest Horse Fair was Rock, Roll and Ride, so the girls dressed in poodle skirts, bobby sox and scarfs, driving to music from the 50's. The performances and competitions were the same as 2006 and the placings in the competitions were also. At the end of the year, they added a demo for the Hooved Animal Rescue and Protection Society (HARPS) benefit picnic, surprising Lisa Dent (US99 country radio DJ) with their ability to manuever the minis and carts between and around each other.
In 2008 Midwest Horse Fair used the theme 'Dances with Horses', so the girls got shiny silver dresses accented in blue and drove to techno dance music. The team had some extra fun this year at Harvard Milk Days with the driving show, where they tried their skill in the cones obstacle driving class. The drill competitoins this year were West20 in June, Door County and N. IL Horse Fest in August and a new one at the Walworth County Fair on Labor Day. They placed 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st, so they were pretty happy. New this year, they are now donating most of their winnings to organizations that help kids. St. Judes Hospital, Bravehearts Therapeutic riding and Special Olympics are recipients so far. Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) is also on the list.
In 2009 they decided to go with permanent team costumes of black pants with silver stripes, royal blue slinky tops and silver vests. Since the Midwest Horse Fair theme was 'Super Horse', they added red capes and used music from different superheroes. The crowd loved it! The team appeared at several demos again, 2 parades and 3 competitions. With the new costume, adults and maybe even some boys or men will join them. The big excitement this year was the trip to Kentucky Horse Park to perform at Breyerfest for 3 days in a row!
In 2010 the events were fewer, as the economy has hit everyone. The Midwest Horse fair theme was 'Let the Games Begin', so they tied olympic 'torches' to the back of the carts and used music that had to do with games and competition. In May they were asked to perform during the St. James Homecoming celebration at the DuPage forest preserve. They were sure a hit there! There were a few more performances and a parade, but no competitions. We'll see what 2011 has in store for the team.
2011 was busy starting with the Midwest Horse Fair. The theme was 'Stargrazing', so they used glitzy red shirts and put glittery 'Oscar' trophies on the carts, using music from show business and movie themes. Then a demo at the 4-H judging contest at Fox Valley, followed by a demo at the St. James celebration. During the summer, they joined the Midwest Renegades in Woodstock, IL to raise money for and honor our war veterans. Then in August, they performed at the McHenry Co. Fair and at the first Horse Days in Belvidere, finishing up the season at the Walworth Co Fair drill competition.
2012 turned out to be a very slow year. The team performed again at the Midwest Horse Fair with the theme 'Horse Heritage'. This time they dressed as coal miners and made the carts look like ore carts, since many minis were brought over to work in the mines. Music was coal miner tunes. That was the only performance that year, as many of the members started moving on to other things. They did participate in the Mundelein, IL July 4th parade and planned to do a demo at the Hooved Animal Humane Society, but it got rained out.
2013 was a little busier. They started again with the performances at Midwest Horse Fair, with the theme 'Horses and Heroes', so the carts had boards on them to represent our armed forces veterans. The music was excerpts from each of the 5 branches of service (Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard). During the summe, they again joined the Midwest Renegades to honor the veterans and in August, they performed at the Hooved Animal Humane Society picnic, this time without the rain.
2014 was sadly the last year for this group. It started with the best costumes of all at Midwest Horse Fair, for their 12th year in a row there. The theme was 'Horse Tales', so they came up with a story of Pegasus horses saving a town from marauding dragons. Half of the minis were dressed as Pegasus and half as Dragons. Two of the drivers were very talented and made the costumes for both. Another talented driver came up with castle walls and torches for the stalls. In June they gathered enough drivers to do 1 last drill competition and in July, performed at a 50th anniversary celebration in Spring Grove, IL. The final public performance was at the McHenry Co Fair, doing an in-hand drill routine with 4 young people.
The economy and changing lifestyles seems to have spelled the end for this team and other local ones as well. Weather in this area tends to make it difficult for groups to stay together through the winter, as many don't have an indoor arena to work in.
The team would like to thank all the sponsors who helped support the team over the years, all the people who helped at the many events and of course, all the drivers who drove with the team throughout the 'run' of this group. There were many memories made and people helped along the way. It was a lot of fun!
Coach Linda will continue to update the picture and video pages, so that all the years will be shown here, on Facebook and on youtube.
Copyright ©2011 www.doublelminis.org.