POLISHING OUR SKILLS (and a Daring Rescue)

Driving Samba, Cecilia Kirks

POLISHING OUR SKILLS (and a Daring Rescue)

United States Driving for the Disabled hosted another training clinic October 10-11, with Team USA coach and trainer Sara Schmitt, organized by USDFD President Diane Kastama. The venue was Kismet Farm, the beautifully appointed stable of Tracy Bowman, a disabled carriage driver, in Martinez, California. Access Adventure sent our young trio of mares Stonewall Calypso, Samba and Minuet, along with Randie Boardman, Rebecca King and Michael Muir. Our students Cecilia Kirks, Caroline Strongman and Judy Smith were also enthusiastic participants.

It was our first opportunity to bring all three mares at the same time for two nights away from home. We were very pleased that they each performed with focus and poise, away from their sisters. This is a big hurdle to jump, and an essential test to pass for their future in competition.

Randie prepared each mare by ground driving throughout the property, including the indoor and outdoor arenas.

Mike then drove all three, and used Minuet for his lesson with Sara. Randie performed with Calypso, while Samba was driven in turn by Cecilia and Judy. Caroline borrowed the Haflinger Maurice for her lessons.


Driving Samba, Cecilia Kirks

Therapeutic Driving Student Cecilia Kirks Driving Samba


Cecilia Kirks and Judy Smith

Therapeutic Driving Student Judy Smith With Team USA Trainer Sara Schmitt


Michael Muir, Randie Boardman, Navigator

Michael Muir, Randie Boardman, Navigator Driving Samba


Kismet Farm lacks reliable cell phone service, and we were hard to reach. The Wine Country Wild Fires were raging out of control, with Jon Duncan and Mary Lou Fazel frantically trying to reach us to rescue the Percherons Peggy and Debbie from the approaching flames. The mares’ Napa pasture was directly in the path of the inferno, driven by relentless high winds from the north.

When we got word of the disaster unfolding, we abruptly left the clinic to attempt a rescue of our threatened work horses. We reached Napa with an empty trailer to find Redwood Road closed due to the fire. This was the only path to the Shikowitz’ family farm where the Percherons graze. No amount of pleading with the police guarding the road would gain us access.

Access Adventure volunteer Susan Hassett, with Randie Boardman, led us to downtown Napa where fire evacuees begged for official escorts to rescue pets and livestock. We were led by a sheriff and an animal control officer past the road block to the Shikowitz farm. In dense smoke from the approaching flames, we loaded Debbie and Peggy, along with the Shikowitz’ horses Duke and Misty.

Ours was the last truck off the mountain.