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“I Can Do That”

by Bob Funkhouser

Each season new riders and drivers are introduced to the show ring and for the most part young people are making those debuts. There’s nothing quite as satisfying, however, than when an adult makes the bold move and ventures into the land of competition against lifelong exhibitors.

The new hobby is always challenging and usually humbling for the mature, successful person. For Carolyn Daigle of Ft. Kent, Maine, the urge to get into the show ring after years and years of being a horse show mom/wife, came to her while sitting in the bleachers at the 2003 Bonnie Blue Horse Show. Ask anyone around the Fairfield South tack room and they will tell you she is now a driven woman!

Carolyn is the wife of longtime owner/exhibitor/breeder Rick Daigle, who along with son Ricky has shown the family’s Valley Show Horse entries throughout New England as well as on the national scene with their longtime trainer Jannie Giles. When Giles relocated to California the Daigles sent horses with her and then kept some close to home to show with Gary and Marsha Garone’s Fairfield South.

“We [the Fairfield South gang] were at Bonnie Blue last year and I was sitting in the bleachers with a few friends from the barn and a Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony class comes in,” recalled Carolyn. “I saw these women driving and all of a sudden I said, ‘I can do that.’”

“Word got back to the barn about what Mrs. D said faster than she did,” said Gary Garone. “We all laughed because she had never shown any interest in doing something like this.”

They talked about it and last winter she started jogging a few horses at Fairfield South. First Carolyn drove a western horse. Then she moved up to a lesson horse until she had the confidence to go to the next level.

“I saw Gary jogging this pony one day and I absolutely loved him,” said Carolyn. “When he was finished I walked over and asked if I could try. Gary let me drive Matchmaker and I was hooked! I’m having a lot of fun right now.”

The Daigles purchased the Cherry’s Dream Boy son and Mrs. D had her sights set on the UPHA Spring Premiere. Every other weekend they would make the eight hour trip to Fairfield South and stay two or three days at a time driving everything she could.

“I had no interest in this before,” said Carolyn. “This is a big turning point for me. Marsha and Gary have been so awesome. I always followed Rick around and felt a little out of place just because I wasn’t into it the way they were. Now that I’m doing this, I feel a part of the group.”

At the recent UPHA Spring Premier Rick showed Matchmaker in the qualifier to allow Mrs. D a little more practice time in a horse show environment. It was a winning debut and now Mrs. D really had something to live up to. In the end she was up to the task and made a great first-time drive to win the Hackney Pleasure Driving Pony Championship.

That week she also purchased Wild Lolita as her practice driving horse and earned top ribbons with her in ASB Show Pleasure Driving.

“I never thought I could do something like this,” she continued. “I never competed in anything, I was always a spectator. I have a wonderful pony and that helps. I’m learning all kinds of news things like when I passed a horse for the first time in the ring. That was a big thing.”

“It has been a great learning experience for both of us,” continued Gary. “This lady never held reins before. Never sat in a buggy. I didn’t know if she was physically able to do this but she has been gung-ho about everything. It has been a very short time for her.

“She came back from the horse show and drove both horses like she knew what she was doing. Getting in the ring gave her a lot of confidence,” said Gary.

It’s hard to tell through all of this who is smiling the most, Mr. D or Mrs. D.

“I can’t tell you how great this has been for Rick and I to do together,” said Carolyn. “It is so enjoyable to do this as a family.”

“I think I’m in trouble. We’ve unleashed a monster,” laughed Mr. D.

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