The equestrian community of Coto de Caza, which features a catchy phrase about practicing your "forehand" (tennis) or your "four-in-hand" (carriage driving) in its sales promotions, is making good on the latter.
Paula Brand, secretary of the California Coto Classic Driving Event, has announced that the event will return this year to the equestrian center at Coto de Caza.
Combined driving involves three phases of competition. First comes dressage, in which the driver guides his horse and carriage through a series of prescribed movements in an arena (the same way ridden dressage is done). It is judged on accuracy and smoothness.
Next comes the meat of the competition, the two-hour, cross-country "marathon." Competitors must negotiate a series of difficult hazards in natural terrain. The event concludes back in the arena with obstacle driving, commonly known as "cones."
Holly Pulsifer, an international driving course designer, said most driving enthusiasts have also been riders and that driving horses are often trained to go under saddle. What makes a rider forsake his saddle for the buggy?
"When you see the drivers sitting in their carriages for presentation (part of the dressage phase), you'll know why they drive instead of ride," she said. "There is a feeling of the elegance and beauty of what they have created, along with the sense of competing a well- conditioned animal. Driving is another whole dimension of horsemanship."
In the three days of competition at Coto, divisions will be offered for horses, small ponies and large ponies as either single entries (one horse or pony) or pairs (two).
Sponsored by the Heels and Wheels Driving Club, proceeds from the Oct. 7-9 event at Coto will go to the American Riding Club for the Handicapped.
For information, call (714) 687-5549, (213) 377-8761 or (818) 994-0949.
Happy trails to you: Although land development and increased costs for liability insurance have made public trail riding dwindle almost to extinction in Orange County, there may be light on the horizon.
The California Coastal Commission has given its approval to allow a permanent, year-round equestrian center at Crystal Cove State Park. In the past, only temporary stabling had been allowed.
People may once again be able to ride rental horses along stretches of the coast between Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, formerly the site of the Irvine Equestrian Center.
The Coastal Commission in May approved an amendment to the state Department of Parks and Recreation Public Works Plan, which will enable the Parks Department to seek commission approval for an equestrian center. It would house a maximum of 60 horses for the public rentals and would permit riding on the east side of Coast Highway, commission coastal analyst Liz Fuchs said.
"Without private boarding facilities (which the land-use plan does not allow), the Parks Department is going to have to come up with some creative ways to develop a totally public rental facility," she said.
The Parks Department had submitted a plan for the stables a year ago, but first needed the commission to amend its public works plan. Fuchs said the agency probably will submit another project plan for the commission's approval.
Local trail enthusiasts have reacted positively. Pat Bailey of Newport Beach, who now does most of her riding in San Juan Capistrano, said: "It has become virtually impossible to find horses to rent in Orange County. So many public stables have died out. The prospect of the Irvine Equestrian Center being revived is a good sign for all of us who enjoy trail riding."
Darlene Sordillo, an author of two books on horse training and competition, covers equestrian events for The Times. Her column appears every Saturday. Readers may send horse-related news to her at: Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.