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In September, 1980, issue #1 of Driving Digest made its debut. It was published by Catherine Tyler of Brooklyn, Connecticut. The subscription rate was $9 for six issues, or $1.50 for a single copy.

Efforts to locate Mrs. Tyler by the time this issue went to press were unsuccessful. We wanted to learn what her inspiration was for starting a magazine about carriage driving. The Carriage Association of America and the American Driving Society were already publishing their own magazines to a fairly small group of enthusiasts. No doubt the frequency (6 instead of the 4 published by the CAA and ADS) and the cost (cheaper than association dues) were incentives, particularly to a readership that wasn’t interested in collecting or competing.

The early issues were printed entirely in black and white. The design was straightforward. Those were the days before desktop computers and graphic design programs were developed and affordable which now enable publishers to work from home and produce stunning four-color publications. The term “cut and paste” was literally how publications were designed when Driving Digest was launched.

Content covered a wide range of driving. In January 1990, feature articles such as these titled, “The Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive,” and “Mules Keep Weston Nursery Well-Cultivated” indicated that Driving Digest reached out to the draft, donkey and mule communities as well as light horse and pony drivers. This issue also covered shows for draft horses, coaching at the Royal Winter Fair, coverage of five combined driving events including an international CAIO in Waregem, Belgium, carriage sales and club activities.

Soon Driving Digest was sporting color front and back covers and the occasional color photo in the interior. The cover design varied, often set in a landscape format to accommodate the horizontal images of horses and carriage. A black border was used more and more frequently.

Driving Digest was published many years before the Internet existed. Print was the preferred means of advertising carriage and driving related products to a national audience and Driving Digest had more pages of advertising than either The Whip or The Carriage Journal combined.

In the mid-80s, a series of articles by Sandy Rabinowitz was published and following an agreement with the publisher and author, was published in book form by the American Driving Society. “Driven Dressage with the Single Horse” became a best seller with many thousand now in print.

Issues often included reprints from old books and publications whose copyrights had expired.

The Who’s Who of Driving was a popular section, inviting readers to send in their own photos. A decline in participation from the readers put this section on hiatus for a while. Today, the Who’s Who has been renamed the Driving Digest Family Album and is once again a popular feature.

At some point in the mid to late 90s, Thom Mezick, a subscriber and newbie carriage driver from New London, Ohio, noticed that publication had become infrequent. Mezick, a life-long newspaper man, owner of a printing company, and one-time publisher of the magazine Dressage and CT, was ready to retire. Curiosity led him to phone Mrs. Tyler and offer to purchase Driving Digest. She did not accept his offer and that was OK with him, as he looked ahead toward retirement. When the masthead changed to an address in Nevada, curiosity again caused him to phone, and interestingly, Mrs. Tyler returned his call, not from Nevada, but from Connecticut. A few issues later, the masthead showed Carriage House Trust as the owner, Mezick assumed the Driving Digest had been sold and gave up his interest. However the frequency remained inconsistent. When Mezick received a call asking if he was still interested in purchasing the publication, his response was “No.” After several more phone calls asking Mezick to make an offer he “caved in and offered what I felt was a cheap price, knowing full well that it was below their asking price.” And thus, the publication’s masthead was changed to New London, Ohio.

My retirement from the American Driving Society as Executive Director happened in 2006, however I continued to edit their publication The Whip until March 2008. At that time, Mezick approached me about taking over editorship of Driving Digest, a position that I accepted gladly, happy to be able to keep in touch with the driving community. A few changes were made as a result, new regular columns added, but much remained as it had been in the design department for many years.

Shortly thereafter, Mezick began talking seriously of retirement again, and he needed to find a buyer for the magazine. We had batted around the idea of my purchasing Driving Digest, but serious negotiations did not begin until 2012. In March 2013, Pringle Publications became the third publisher of Driving Digest. With free-rein to make Driving Digest into whatever I chose, Linda Yutzy was brought in to give the magazine a new look. No doubt, some were shocked, but the changes were largely met with enthusiasm from our readers. The real stamp of approval came in June 2015 when Driving Digest was named Best Overall Publication for material published in 2014 by the American Horse Publications.

The sport of carriage driving has changed greatly in the last 30-plus years, as has this magazine. What will issue #400 of Driving Digest look like in 2049? I hope you’ll be around to find out.

Contact Details

Driving Digest Magazine
PO Box 120
Southern Pines, NC 28387

(910) 691-7735

Email: ann@drivingdigest.com

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