February is here. Wow just think Spring is only a few more months away. That
gives us something to look forward to.
 For starters, Our first Board meeting was held in Carey, Oh at Splinters on
January 9th, 2010. We had a good turnout and we hope to accomplish alot
this year.
 Our first club meeting was held at Good Hope Luthern Church in Arlington, Oh
on January 10th, 2010 from 2-4pm. We discussed that we would like to have
different drives or different get togethers at different places as a club. If anyone
has any ideas please feel free to let me know.
 We have new members that have joined our club this year. They are:
Michael and Donna Long from Rawson, Oh. and Ronald and Sharon Hayhurst
from Bowling Green, Oh. So give them a warm welcome and we are pleased to
have them.
 The club will be selling decals. If you would like one please let Connie or Gary
know. The more we order, the cheaper they will be. We are also going to try to
sell apparel, blankets, etc with the club's logo on it.
 February 7th will be our next club meeting in Arlington at the Good Hope
Luthern Church from 2-4pm. Please try to come and voice your input on
what is going on or tell us if you have any different ideas. Everyone is free to
give opinions or ideas.
 February 21st will be the Horseman's Swap Meet at the University of Findlay's
Western Farm located on S.R. 68 just south of Findlay starting at 10am. The
Black Swamp Driving Club will have a booth there, so come by and check us out
and see what we have to offer, or just come by and say "hello".
 Here are a few things going on in March I thought you might be interested in so
you can set your calendars. March 5th and 6th is the Carriage Extravaganza and
Auction on 474 S.R.58 in Sullivan, Oh. This will be at the Windy Knoll Farms.
(419) 656-9126 for more information.
 March 7th will be our club meeting at Good Hope Luthern Church in Arlington,
Oh. from 2-4pm. March 9th in Mt. Hope, Oh there will be a Draft and Carriage
Auction. March 20th there will be a Halflinger sale in Mt. Hope.
  HEADS UP: The Black Swamp Driving Club will be holding their annual Safety
Clinic at the Hancock County Fairgrounds again this year in April. The date will
be announced at a later time. We will be having a horse shoeing demonstration, a
harnessing demonstration for beginners, a local vet will be here talking about
horse health, vaccinations,etc. Write your questions down so you can have
them answered. We are planning on many different things this year at our
clinic, so come and learn with us. Oh, and did I forget to mention...this clinic
is FREE!
 Here is a few tips on sleigh safety. It's called How to Hook A Horse and Sleigh
 1. Use a kicking strap-wear a helmet.
 2. Drive or ride your horse indoors or out before hooking him to the sleigh and be
     sure to focus and pay attention to their energy level.
 3. Leather reins are good to use. Good grip. Regualar driving reins are too short
     due to sitting lower and further behind the horse.
 4. Footing may be slippery and deep for both horse and handler. Best to have
     traction devices on your horse's feet. You can discuss this with your ferrier.
 5. SInce seating is lower, your vision is reduced. Which makess getting out in
     a quickly a little difficult. First time you hook, it is best to get in the sleigh
     before moving off instead of walking beside/behind the horse while he is
     hooked. If he starts to runoff, you won't be able to run with him in your
     heavy boots thru deep/slippery snow.
 6. Have a header hold the horse and break the runners free. They my stick to
     the ground.
 7. Sleighs don't go backwards very good, Carry a whip. For first hooking, put
     a halter over the bridle and have a helper up front with a lead on the horse.
 8. Turning is different. It requires bigger, sweeping arcs then with wheeled
     vehicles.
 9. Sleigh bells are fun, but get your horse used to them before using them.
     Don't use them on your first hookup.
10. Plan your route in advance. Things are hidden under the snow, so the
      uneven rooting can affect the confidence of the horse.
11. Snow conditions are not always the best for sleighing. Deep powder is
      wonderful, but tiring on the horse. Packed but not icy snow makes it
      easier. Ice crusted is dangerous. Heavy, wet snow makes the pulling
      harder.
12. Your horse may get tired faster. Depending on what you do with your
      horse, he may have lost some fitness. He may not be as strong.
13. Very, very cold air may be detrimental to your horse's lungs..not so
     much because of the temperature, but because of the dry air. They
     work hard pulling a sleigh, and are apt to breathe in deeper, pulling in
     very, dry cold air into their lungs.
14. Please look over your sleigh or have a professional help you. The sleighs
     condition is very important.
This was from the Author: Jeffrey B. Morse. If you would like to contact him
with any questions please call (413)698-3804. Or you can email him at
green@meads.com or www.green.meads.com
 If you can think of a drive or have any ideas for something unusual for us
to see or do, please don't hesitate to call me 567-208-3094 or email me at
john_and_steph06@yahoo.com . Please visit our clubs website that Angie
has set up at www.blackswampdrivingclub.com.