Lifelong learners meet mini horse, explore Aiken’s carriage museum

Submitted photo Earl Simmons explains the various types of vehicles in the carriage museum.

Several USC Aiken Academy for Lifelong Learning members assembled at the Gerde Carriage Museum at Rye Patch for a live demonstration on preparing a horse for competition in the fast-growing recreational and competitive sport of driving horse drawn vehicles. This was the second session in a two-session Lifelong Learning class Rein In On Carriage Driving in Aiken.

In the first session, instructors Pixie Baxter and Peggy Dils, of the Aiken Driving Club, presented an introduction to the sport including its history, the type of animals used, vocabulary and traditional attire.

Riggs, a mini horse whose full name is The Big Rig, was there with owners Earl and Jane Simmons. The Simmons showed details of the equipment used and what goes into harnessing the horse to the gig, or small cart.

Riggs was cool, calm and collected as Earl put each piece of the equipment on him and explained how it worked and protected the horse from injury. He explained that Riggs weighs about 300 pounds and can easily carry twice his body weight.

Jane took Riggs for a ride to demonstrate how the reins and whip are used, and Earl explained the different types of vehicles found in the Gerde Carriage Museum.

Students also learned about the 12th annual Katydid Combined Driving Event to be held through Sunday, and were invited to attend as part of the general public. Admission to the event is free.

Over the weekend, there will be competitions in several categories – Dressage, Obstacles and Timed Cones – and awards will be given in each category.

For more information, visit or call Dils at 803-295-6785.

Katydid Farm is located at 359 State Park Road in Windsor.

This was just one of the many interesting, informative and unique class offerings for the fall semester and Academy members are looking forward to the spring semester’s exceptional offerings. The spring catalog should be available around Dec. 1.

For more information on the Academy for Lifelong Learning, call Amy Westra at 803-641-3741, email or visit www.aikenlearn