This year again, I am very pleased to say that our AIAT is in good health having had an excellent season with you all!
Its good that our concept of harnessing tradition is attracting more and more participants, which proves its interest! As Coco Chanel said to some of his friends, who were worried about seeing his most emblematic models reproduced on the street without his permission: "If they copy me, it's good!"
Keep our family atmosphere, help the newcomers to AIAT to grow and keep in mind that our main energy needs to focus on our traditions.
In 2017 join us as often as possible to share the warm and friendly atmosphere, which is the mark of our association, without ever forgetting the purpose of our meetings: well turned out for our own pleasure and that of all those who find so much joy in sharing our beautiful equipages.
I wish you all, dear friends, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Christian de LANGLADE AIAT President
Winter, a wonderful time for sledges!
By Andres Furger
Winter is the period when the sledges come out, not so often today but especially in the past.
During the winter of 1828-29, Charles X reigned over France at the time of the Restoration, the aristocracy still turned out - as during the Ancien Régime - richly decorated sledges during outings to the Bois de Boulogne until late at night !
An English aristocrat, Lady Blessington (1789-1849), recounts in her book "The Idler in France", published in 1841, an outing in sledges through Paris and its surroundings, to which she personally took out two, one in the shape of a swan and the other in the form of a dragon.
Lady Blessington, therefore, beautiful and charming, was the head of a well-run series of libraries, and very attached to the world of art, cared for three: her husband, probably homosexual, she had an affair with Alfred, Count Orsay (1801-1852). His sister had married the Duc de Guiche, owner of the swan-shaped sledge mentioned above. This high society lady particularly enjoyed romantic getaways sleigh, the perfect example in the above watercolor (1860), after a painting of Henri Ainecy, Earl of Montpezat (1817-1859), from the famous series "Horses and Cars".
It is assumed that the count had himself been a "gentleman driver" and was inspired by past extravagances, still perennial in all memories! Hence the cover of tiger skin and harness in red morocco described by Lady Blessington. We also see that the driver (coachman) drove with long reins from the rear seat.
There were light sledges, as in a detail of a painting by a Swiss artist, Christoph Kuhn, about 1760, shows well. Again, in the shape of a swan.
The tradition of group outings of the Ancien Regime was maintained until about the end of the 19th century. For example, among the engravings of the cartoonist Baslez, between 1860 and 1870, a dragon-shaped three-person sled with a harness richly decorated with bells.
And books of Crafty (Victor Géruzez 1840-1906) there are walks sketches sleigh in the Bois de Boulogne, including the one below, where the passenger is seated as before in a crate with a ram's head, covered with snug, a large sheepskin, the coachman driving a nice pair of grey horses from the back seat.
For some, winter is a period of inactivity when the days are short and the weather less favorable to the usual pleasures of the carriage!
But you must take advantage of any situation, and the love and care of the horses do not take into account weather conditions ... but you enjoy the activity and so drive as much as possible!
If your horse, your pony, your donkey are confirmed, winter is for them as for you a period of relaxation and pleasure and the time to assimilate of their knowledge.
If they are novices, they have lots to learn. The winter months between the September and March is an ideal time to put them to. There are no flies, cooler weather, no interurtions because of competitions etc so avoiding the stress.
To clip or not? I incline not to clip out our horses, but limit the growth of the coat, by putting on a rug in the evening from the end of August, then in September an extra light liner and a warmer one still when the weather is inclement. The full coat will resist the friction of the harnesses better and your horse will not get cold with a full coat plus a rug, when you put them out for a few hours grazing.
Horse work You will work your horse according to what you consider necessary, bearing in mind that if you make it sweat, it will be necessary to pay particular attention to drying them off, perhaps by walking quietly for a good quarter of an hour.
If it rains or you can dry it off, by rubbing it down with straw, and sponging off only replacing its rug when it is completely dry. In fact. I often noticed that a regularly worked horse only "moistens" slightly and then dries very quickly when walking home.
I am certain certain that the winter slower more reflective, more relaxing work, is the optimal way to train and improve it. Competitions are won by the January work, not by that of the month preceding the competition.
May is a bad month for the horse, during which it will be wise not to ask him much, and April to near the beginning of the season, it is during the winter months that is the most favorable time to school and prepare of your horse.
Likewise for cars, it is time for repairs and adjustments!
Getting out in the cold The driver must be warmly dressed.
The style of gloves is paramount to driver comfort.
I have tried different kinds of gloves: the mitten, the five-finger normal glove, the three-finger check glove (with three fingers and thumb lined with sheep’s fleece).
After having harnessed during long periods of intense cold, when thick gloves makes harnessing difficult, I prefer a glove with fingers lined with silk or wool and long enough in the fingers to enable you to curl the fingers up from time to time and warm them up together. You then hold your reins with one hand for a few minutes and then you change hands. I do not imagine that you will do complicated movements in the cold so this exercise is easy to perform during a good trott ...
When you go out with in a "frostly" cold, you will notice a more impetuous impulse of your horse. Not a problem, it is a normal reaction ... it is you whose impulse may drop with these winter conditions, but when home by a good fire on your return, the memory of the progress of your horse will quickly let you forget a good hour in the cold !!!