Lore Home, age 85, competing in the Devon Horse Show’s Carriage Pleasure Drive for the 50th time, drove Sunny Acres Ebony Night to the Single Horse Four Wheel win. Photo by Bob Moseder
This year marked the 50th time Lore Homer of Oreland, Pennsylvania, competed in the Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive. During these five decades, she drove three of her Morgans as well as a few horses belonging to friends. For most of these drives, her husband, Bernie, and her daughter, Karen, accompanied the now 85-year-old whip. Other times, friends from the horse world joined her.
Lore made her first entrance through the white gates of the Wanamaker Oval on the Devon Horse Show grounds in Devon, PA, in 1964, sitting in a Brewster Bronson Wagon. The vehicle was pulled by her three-year-old Morgan mare, Turnpike Kay Date.
In the late 1970s, she started competing with her roan Morgan gelding, Dawnhill Storm Cloud. He won the Single Horse Four Wheel division of the drive eight times. While competing, Stormy was usually hitched to either a Croydon Wagonette cart or a Brewster Wicker Lady’s Basket Phaeton.
And this year, for the tenth time, she drove Sunny Acres Ebony Nite, her black Morgan gelding, through the same gates, now called the Dixon Oval.
When Lore purchased Ebony, he was the reigning four-time Grand National Morgan Parade Horse Finals Champion. He adjusted well to his new role of a carriage driving horse, and won the Single Horse Four Wheel division of the Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive numerous times, including this year at the age of 21. He also won the Single Horse Scurry class this year for the seventh year in a row.
Fifty Years Ago
Lore had read about Devon’s Driving Marathon (as the five-mile drive was originally called), in the local newspaper. Most horse enthusiasts in the Philadelphia area knew about the Devon Horse Show, and if they didn’t attend as an exhibitor, they went as a spectator.
Originally this drive was open to four-in-hands only. The first year, the participants gathered at the Radnor Hunt Club for lunch before they hitched their teams and drove to the Devon Show grounds. When Lore first entered in it in 1964, the hitching and preliminary judging was held at nearby Blackburn Farm, when the drive was open to all turnouts. This continued until the hitching area was held at nearby St. David’s Church, and then in the past two years, the hitching has taken place in a business parking lot across from the show grounds, and on the side streets near the show grounds. Then the preliminary judging took place in the Dixon Oval, before the exhibitors took off on the five-mile drive through the surrounding countryside, before returning to the Dixon Oval for final evaluation and ribbon presentations.
Starting with her strong innate abilities with her horses, Lore learned more about driving by asking questions, watching others and reading. Since her humble beginnings, she has continued to learn from her years of various experiences, and talking with others involved with the sport she loves so much.
Because of her success, Lore continues to give an annual carriage pleasure driving clinic for the Brandywine Valley Driving Club. For the last 20 years, she also has been employed by the City of Philadelphia to test the city’s carriage horse drivers, so they may earn a license. Lore also is a licensed judge with the American Driving Society and the United States Equestrian Federation, and a technical delegate for pleasure driving for both organizations.
To condition her horses for the annual Devon Carriage Pleasure Drive, Lore drives her horses one hour, every other day of the week, for five miles each day. She drives them on the roads of Springfield Townships, just outside the Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy areas of Philadelphia.
If family or friends want to take an enjoyable carriage ride, Lore will load up the horse and carriage and drive to nearby Wissahickon Valley Park or Valley Forge State Park. Once she unloads horse and carriage, and hitches, there are miles of groomed trails in both of these parks that she can use. It’s no wonder her friends come back often to spend time with Lore driving through these beautiful parks.
Her horses are used to driving with traffic and seeing people with their pets along the way, so they are relaxed and trot along happily on the Devon drive. Home owners surrounding this five-mile drive plan picnic lunches and set up lawn chairs and blankets on their front lawns so they can watch the beautiful horses and ponies, hitched to gorgeous antique vehicles. It’s become a great tradition for the locals as well, who invite family and friends to come watch this incredible event pass in front of their properties.
“Devon is a very prestigious show,” Lore said. “It’s also the closest show for me to attend every year. When you’ve been doing this as long as I have, you make many friends who enjoy doing what I do, so it’s always fun to spend time with them at Devon every spring.
“When at Devon, I also enjoy shopping in the boutiques and walking around Devon’s Country Fair area.”
Even though she turned 85, Lore plans to continue to compete in this event for as many more years as possible, because “I love my horses and I love the sport of carriage pleasure driving,” she concluded.