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Events Reports

October 2009

Taking part in the Channel Cup

Channel Cup

I had never been to Ashfields before but this year the young drivers camp ran just before the International Channel Cup which I wanted to enter. It was a wonderful place to train as however much it rained the ground seemed to stay dry.

Chris and I camped in our horse trailer while Jack had the luxury of a stable. There were four trainers and each took 2 drivers at a time for a lesson in the morning and again in the afternoon. So they had a very busy timetable! Sarah Jane Williams (Cooke) was my trainer. The lessons were tailored to the individual ponies and drivers needs but obviously with the Channel Cup competition demands in mind the training was geared to helping us do well.

FEI test 3 is a great test which requires one handed circles and a 3 metre rein back . Oh the joys of having a stallion! so much impulsion ... but not quite what the judges were looking for! A near miss with a horse much larger than Jack on our entry set us off with airs above the ground – probably not giving an initially good impression! What a shame we weren’t doing Classical dressage! After settling in his halt he was then enticed by the attractive whinny of a tiny German filly positioned directly behind the judges car at C - this led to much impulsion and love calls from the ardent stallion who had warmed up so beautifully and been one of the star pupils in training ! A very disappointing 14th towards the bottom of the class! Some felt this was harsh and told us so but the Netherlands judge was unmoved by overt displays of romance ….

Channel Cup

Now there was everything to go for in the other phases especially the obstacles. We felt we had nothing to lose especially after we had been tipped to be in the top 3 after the dressage . This was the first outing in a competition for our second hand singles carriage after setting it up with very helpful training with James. The carriage has luxuries like independent shafts, delayed steering and being designed for a pony not a pair means Jack is much closer. No longer is my turnout the same length as a Gelderlanders! We also put in studs as the
grass was very greasy. There were fast times set on this derby course with trot phases between tricky cones sections and then full pelt round an obstacle.

The cones course was very technical not favouring a long striding pony. The obstacles were all very solid indeed and included bridges, buildings and arches. I was nervous that my stallion, who believes he is 16.2 hands would slow to walk to duck under the arches as he had at a previous event, but I needn’t have worried. Jack was totally absorbed and focussed and he flew round the obstacles at canter with flying changes and smooth turns to keep up his speed and accuracy. I could hear the commentary – “fastest in the class” – but at the presentation was thrilled not only to have won the class but the Derby Cup for the best marathon round of the 45 competitors. Jack was several penalties ahead of the nearest contender . This also brought us up to 7th and we had a good final cones round with one time penalty. I wish he hadn’t stopped to go to the toilet!

I knew he was desperate and had given him countless opportunities beforehand so I now sympathise with parents and teachers when small children want to go the moment they set off in the car! The cones brought us up to 5th in the class and the Welsh team were a brilliant 3rd, ahead of the Irish the French and the German teams.

It was a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to defending my Derby title at the next Channel cup to be held in Germany.... Being an
International event the competition has the added dimension of Nations Night which was a good social gathering with lots of new friendships
Definitely a highlight of 2009 for us!

Channel Cup


16 August 2009

One-Day Event at Tan House Farm

Due to insufficient entries, the Club's One Day Event at Tan House Farm, Berkeley was scaled down to a training and fun day.
Ten drivers had the opportunity to drive a judged dressage test, a cones course, and three obstacles as often as they wished. It was a
perfect occasion for new drivers, new back steppers and new horses to try their hand in a low key atmosphere. As a result both novice
and more experienced participants enjoyed a fun and beneficial day

The dressage test was last season's indoor test, familiar to many but here driven outdoors on grass. It was good to see course designer Alan Hodges back in action. He had set a smooth flowing cones course albeit with a testing turn on a slight slope at gate 10. Alan used the Copse as obstacle 1, straightforward but intimidating for a novice driver as trees and roots are not knock downs! Obstacles 2 and 3 were spacious
and inviting out in the open field and offered drivers a variety of good routes.

There were no placings but each driver received a special Forest of Dean club rosette at the end of the morning when we all enjoyed a buffet lunch. We were made to feel very welcome by the kind hospitality offered by the Macdonald family who allowed us to drive in the fields of their lovely farm. Very many thanks must go to Janet, Major and Mrs. Macdonald, and all the helpers who made this successful day possible.

21 June 2009

Pleasure Drive & BBQ

The Pleasure Drive held at John and Wendy Weaver's farm up on the Cotswolds on 21st June was an outing hugely enjoyed by the small band of carriage drivers who took part. John estimates that he has 9/10 miles of mown grass track on his farm for carriage driving ...all off-road.

The terrain is gently undulating so the slopes are excellent for fittening horses and ponies without ever looking too daunting. Our horse certainly relished the experience of being able to motor along on cruise control on such wonderful going. We set out individually as we were ready (no convoys!) and we drove for one to one and a half hours to suit ourselves. After washing down the horses and settling them down in the field by the garden where we could see them, we settled down to do justice to a veritable feast.....an American supper style barbeque complete with cake and pudding.

It was an extremely pleasant and relaxing way to spend a summer's afternoon and to have a chance to chat with fellow enthusiasts.

16 June 2009

On 16th June, nine drivers and their supporters enjoyed the second evening event of the summer .

This series of friendly competitions is organised by James Broome and takes place at Cricklands. Following the format of an "inside-out" event, the dressage is driven in an arena on an artificial surface, then the cones course is set up on grass in a flat smooth field. After a quick breather, there is a mini marathon during which two obstacles are driven twice.

On this occasion the water was obstacle 2 and 4. Drivers could choose either to take a route that was mainly watery or to take one that involved no wet feet for anyone. It certainly provided a lot of laughter and fun.

The Open Horse Class was won by Modris Kesans. Sue Johnson driving in her first ever competition took the Novice Horse rosette. Also in a class of her own was Janet Macdonald with her pony pair, achieving the best dressage score of the evening and an excellent overall score.
The Novice Pony class welcomed some newcomers which was good to see. They in fact performed more like seasoned campaigners, Wendy and Mark posting the two fastest times of the evening in obstacle 4. Wendy won the class from Chris in second place and Mark in third.
Sam Allen won the Open Pony class driving consistently well through all the phases. Erica Rye was chasing in second place and John Weaver was third.

2008 / 2009 Indoor Series
At Cricklands – 8 March 2009

Twenty six turnouts took the opportunity of a last outing before the end of the indoor driving season and for some the championships. The weather at times was atrocious!

Good dressage scores were a rarity. Unsettled by the stormy weather, many horses and ponies were determined to execute their test looking out over the rails of the arena in spite of drivers' best efforts. The cones course proved challenging, the inclusion of the bridge providing
some extra interest.

Ainslie Turner with her pair of enthusiastic Shetlands achieved the best round here, going clear with only 2 time penalties.

In Novice pony John Weaver driving his Eriskay pony Kelpie, realised his long held ambition by recording his first ever win. Erica Rye was his nearest rival

The Open Pony class was fiercely contested the top three being divided by only 2.2 points. This was a well deserved win for Tony Clarke driving his chestnut cob Fred. Colin Cornwell was second and Emily Ham third. The pony classes gave the more experienced brains a good day!

Janet Macdonald enjoyed a decisive win in the multiples class driving her little mares. Chris Legate-Baggs was second and Modris Kesans third. Janet's score was also the best overall of the morning. Joseph Adams with his team of grey ponies and Jacqui Pillinger with her
tandem were marked individually. Joseph's fast ponies seemed to stream round the obstacles and posted good times. Jacqui's ponies having only their second competition outing travelled more steadily but now have another successful experience safely under their belt.

In Novice Horse Paul Smith drove intelligent routes in the obstacles to win the class by 42 points.

In the afternoon 11 turnouts stayed on to enjoy the speedy driving of the international format class. The Welsh team (being the highest placed Welsh drivers in their respective classes) - Emily Ham (single), Jonathan Rees (single), Gareth Roberts (pair) and Modris Kesans (pair).

2008 / 2009 Indoor Series
At Cricklands – 15th February 2009

Seventeen turnouts arrived to do battle at the David Broome Centre on 15th February. It was another fine day although some equines were likely less fit than a month ago due to the difficulties caused by the snowy weather of the previous two weeks. Almost half the field consisted of multiples there being seven pony pairs forward and one pony tandem. The latter was presented by Jacqui Pillinger returning to competition
after a long absence and is the first tandem turnout in the six year history of the Wales and Gloucester indoor driving rounds.

Dressage scores were impressive with over half the entry gaining a mark in the 20's.The cones course proved tricky, most drivers collecting significant tallies of time penalties. Initial perplexities, caused perhaps by the fact that the obstacles offered big choices of route and so
appeared intricate, were resolved successfully by the drivers as there were, in the end, very few errors of course.

A small Open Pony class was won by Colin Cornwell who was the only driver to take the twisty route down the arena side of obstacles 2 and 4, thereby knocking 8 and 10 seconds respectively off the next fastest times.He made it look smooth and easy too.

Jacqui's tandem took it steady on their first outing but looked very keen.

In the Pony Pairs Janet Macdonald enjoyed a fluent drive throughout even though she did take a whole cone with her....twice.Chris Legate-Baggs was second.

John Williams and Jonathan Rees were each in a class of their own to take Novice and Open Horse respectively.

Best overall score of the day was Colin's 178.6 points, earned by his nippy route in obstacle 2 and 4.

2008 / 2009 Indoor Series
At Cricklands – 18 January 2009

A slightly reduced field of 16 drivers competed at this qualifying round held at the David Broome Event Centre. However there was no lack of hard fought competition.

After a wet and windy night which left the prepared cones and obstacles partially demolished if not blown away, the day stayed fine and quiet. Reconstruction completed, the action got under way only a little behind time.

Erica Rye won Novice Pony with Jack, producing a good even performance through all three phases.

Sam Allen was close behind her in second place. As John Weaver wryly commented afterwards he would have won if only he hadn't been eliminated!

Emily Ham continued her dominance of the Open Pony Class, with her Jack, winning from Colin Cornwell by 3.4 points. However Tony Clarke again produced the best dressage score of the class and of the day.

Four pairs were in action in the multiples class, Janet Macdonald winning comfortably after putting up some excellent times in the obstacles.

John Williams and his reliable grey took the Novice Horse class. Open Horse went to Jonathan Rees largely due to his fast
obstacle times.

National Indoor Championships Finals


The Indoor Finals were once again held at Keysoe in Bedfordshire, this time in much better weather, such a contrast to the mud, wind and rain of last year. This event gets bigger every year and so was run over three days for the first time. There were 126 entries spread over 16 classes.

Most competitors arrived on Thursday and order was gradually created from the chaos of everyone setting up camp, deciding which way to park their lorry or trailer, putting up side-stabling and awnings, pitching tents or finding their stable if they had booked one. Amongst all this chaos, one of Colin and Hazel’s ponies developed colic and needed veterinary attention. Fortunately it was fine by the next day and went on to do great things. They had another little problem however, a couple of nights later when they awoke to find their awning had collapsed and the ponies were patiently standing with it resting on their backs!

As the building at Keysoe is now so large it can take two dressage arenas, everyone was able to do their dressage on Friday. Veterans, juniors, novice and small pony classes then did their cones in the outside arena. They had what most people felt was a very difficult course and so hardly anyone could make the time. The remainder of the classes did their cones on Saturday on a different course which was obviously designed for the teams and was much more open and therefore easier for single horses and ponies, who were then getting penalties for going too fast!

There were two obstacles for the earlier classes, which were driven twice, not re-flagged as was done for the open classes.
The highlight for our region came in the small pony class, which had been split into single and pairs, and both classes were in the arena together for the prize giving. An enormous cheer from the South West and Wales supporters went up when Hazel Fisher was announced the winner of the pairs and an even bigger cheer when Colin Cornwell was declared the winner of the singles. This reduced Hazel to tears, which
spread to most of the team back at camp with all the hugs and kisses that were going on.

Another highlight of the weekend was on Saturday night when we had the international team event organized by James Broome. Each team consisted of two singles and two pairs and had to drive a course consisting of two obstacles mixed with eight pairs of cones, a sort of scurry driving with obstacles. This was a fantastic evenings entertainment with a packed house, loud music, and everyone cheering and waving
flags to support their national team. Incidentally I think there was only one person waving a Welsh flag and he was English, but who cares!

Our thanks must go to James for the idea and for organizing the event and also to all the competitors who spent the biggest part of three hours hanging around outside in the dark just for their five minutes of glory. I nearly forgot - the winners were Scotland and the Irish were much the
best dressed team, although I am not too sure of their Irish connections!

It was a great weekend and I would recommend you try to get along to have a look if you possibly can


Sports Driving Indoor International

Three members of the FoDDTG were selected to represent Wales in the recent "Sports Driving Indoor International" competition at Keysoe.

Members Jonathon Rees, Emily Ham and Modris Kesans made up the team with former scurry champion Gareth Roberts who all put in strong performances on Saturday 4th April.

Jonathon Rees drove his hackney horse Rolo beautifully for three rounds. Mistakes were rare from this turnout and although the course favoured the smaller ponies, Jonathon's driving made the course look very flowing, even for the bigger horses.

Emily Ham, with her prolific winner Crossfield Glory, or Jack to his many friends, also turned heads. Emily's individuals performance put her in the top handful of drivers in this incredibly competitive field. Her final round was one of the best displays that I have seen from Emily
and her backstepper Chris Bambridge.

Professional wedding and funeral carriage driver Modris Kesans, still only in his first season of driving trials, showed that driving skill is driving skill. More used to sitting behind a pair or team of Frisian Horses, Modris drove Wendy Morris's pair of Shetlands and wasted no time
putting in solid rounds, with minimal errors over the three rounds. We can expect more to come from this turnout in the future.

Gareth Roberts, the only non-FoDDTG driver in the Welsh Team did what he does best, and was the fastest of all the pair drivers throughout the competition. His pair of Darkhorse Fred and Barney (great names!) were nothing short of breathtaking charging around the course
at incredible speeds. It was adrenaline driving at it's best!

The finals results were: 1st - Scotland, 2nd - Indoor Past Champions, 3rd - Wales, 4th - Ireland, 5th - England.


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