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Weekends in New York - Olaf Nyby Teaches Carriage Driving in America
by Susan Andrews

The Cherry Valley Carriage Association (CVCA) of central New York State in the United States was honored to host Norwegian carriage driving instructor Olaf Nyby for his first American clinic this past year. The CVCA conducts two driving clinics each year for the education of its members, usually inviting a top US clinician to teach. At the urging of one of the members, the club contacted Olaf to instruct the first weekend-long clinic of the year, scheduled in mid-April. He was such a hit with the participants that the club broke with tradition to set up a third clinic for the year, and invited him back to New York for a mid-October clinic. He became the first instructor to conduct two clinics in a calendar year for the CVCA, and he is scheduled to do more clinics in 2001, as well as private lessons.

Olaf gave his first clinic on April 15 and 16, 2000, at the Suwinski farm in Ithaca, New York. The clinic offered individual lessons to the drivers over the two days, with participants having the option of taking one or two lessons. Spectators were invited to audit the lessons throughout the weekend. Instead of sitting or standing at ringside, Olaf invited the auditors to come inside the arena to listen to the instruction and to question him. As he instructed each driver in how to improve their driving, he explained a lot about equine behavior and discussed the traditions of carriage driving. Many of the long time drivers were pleased to learn more about their favorite sport, as were the novices. For most in attendance, it was the first time a clinician had actually explained the how's and why's of carriage driving and the theory behind driven dressage.

Olaf's humble approach to horsemanship combined with a great rapport with horses had the audience in awe of his craft. Those present were pleased to find themselves in the presence of a truly great horseman. And, Olaf found that the New York drivers were eager to learn and to improve their reinsmanship. It came as no surprise that by the end of the first day, the auditors were asking for a second clinic in which they could participate. Before the weekend was over, it was agreed the Olaf should come back as soon as possible for a second clinic.

The CVCA scheduled another weekend long clinic with Olaf for mid-October. The clinic was formatted differently from the first, offering group lessons to the participants instead of individual lessons. Drivers would work through four session over the two days. This clinic format had not been offered before by the CVCA and was new to most of the members. By the time Olaf arrived back in the US for the clinic, sixteen drivers with eighteen horses were signed up for the weekend. This set a new record for clinic participation for the CVCA. And there was a waiting list as well.

The clinic was scheduled for October 14 and 15, 2000 at the Cazenovia College Equine Facility, a first rate facility offering a large indoor arena, as well as outdoor arenas and a full sized dressage ring. The facility held the inter-collegiate national finals in 1999, hosting the best collegiate riders in the US that year.

After an introductory dinner on Friday evening, Olaf instructed drivers and horses through the four sessions over the weekend. All drivers began by long-reining their horses during the Saturday morning session, before hitching for the afternoon session. In the break between the sessions, Olaf worked with the college's driving students. Saturday ended with a dinner reception, in which members of the CVCA were invited to meet and talk with Olaf.

The clinic resumed on Sunday with sessions on relaxation and cones. By day's end most drivers and horses showed a marked improvement in their driving skills. Everyone was pleased with what they had learned, and left the clinic asking when Olaf would be back to teach again.

On Monday, Olaf's last day in New York, he was invited to teach a class to first year equine study students at Cazenovia College. He lectured on what to look for when purchasing a horse and discussed some of the feeds and hays used in Norway. After touring the facility (something he did not have time to do earlier), he journeyed east to Morrisville, New York. There he toured the equestrian facilities at the State University of New York (SUNY) Morrisville, where equine studies are offered in harness racing, draft horses, Western riding and reining, hunter-jumpers and equine reproduction. At the conclusion of the tour and while he was watching the Western students train horses, Olaf was offered the chance to ride one of the school's top reining horses. Spinning and sliding to a stop, it was a great way to end a glorious weekend in New York.



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