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…….Ooops! Things don’t always go to plan!

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Does my bum look big … ?

(The editor had full permission to print this photo!)

Somebody was lucky!

We would like to ask members of the public to report anything suspicious to our non-emergency number 0845 090 1234

so that an incident can be created and any enquiries can be followed up, or

contact Melanie Campbell on the number below:

PC 695 Melanie Campbell

Horsewatch Co-ordinator at Gloucestershire Constabulary Gloucester South Police Station - (Quedgeley)

Email: Melanie.campbell@gloucestershirepolice.uk

Phone: 0845 090 1234 ext 4182

I don't know how he does it, but James managed yet again to arrange good weather for the third IHDT event at Cricklands held on 16th December! Some of the turnouts took the trouble to dress up (we didn't I'm afraid) and it must have been a difficult decision to choose a winner as some were really good, but Team Toby took the prize this year as Christmas pudding, Christmas tree and Father Christmas combined!

Kathy and I were once again, very pleased with Robbie, and due to the top guns not being there and the ones that were had a problem with their navigation, we managed to win the class!


I know it's a busy time of the year, but if you have not renewed your membership, please do so NOW. We would hate to say goodbye to you. You can get a renewal form off the website, or I can email you a copy.


Wishing you all a wonderful and safe New Year.

 

 

THE THRILL OF TRAINING YOUR OWN PONY TO DRIVE

By Jane Hendy


Let it be said that free advice is something you should never ignore..... and when training a young pony to drive any advice is good advice when you are completely new to carriage driving yourself!


Over the summer I have been working hard with John and Wendy Weaver to produce my 3 year old dark bay Section B mare (Penwood Tiffany) to potentially drive and compete in the Spring/Summer of 2013. Tiffany came from the sales as surplus to requirement stock and was sold to a lady in Swindon who wanted her for showing. After a season of being shown in hand as a 2 year old she was put up for sale by her previous owner on Horsemart.


Having had a glass or two of red wine one Sunday evening, as you do! and scouring the internet for something I could potentially drive as a Novice single pony I discovered Tiff and that's where the story begins. I bought Tiff back in August 2011, she was just 2 and a half and very narrow, no back end to speak of and incredibly mischievous but something about her personality and her super trot made me think that she would be worth a risk and a week later she arrived on my yard.


The hard work then began, turning this cheeky little Section B into something that I could drive. Having ridden since I was young I have been used to bringing on young ponies to ride but I had absolutely no idea where to even start with breaking a pony to drive. I didn't even have a harness!


John and I set to work with all the long reining work required, it seemed to take forever but the advice I have had from John was to take your time, do it properly and don't cut corners. Tiff continued to show great progress and loves working and learns quickly so we then progressed onto blinkers and fitting a harness. Luckily for me John's very good friends Tim and Mary who are both experienced drivers, saw Tiff grazing in John's field and with one look from out of the kitchen window said " We have a harness that will fit that". It fitted like a glove so that was
another tick off my list of things to buy!


We then set about "bomb proofing" Tiff. So with her harness fitted and tyre attached, we then found a battered old shovel and dragged that up and down the concrete yard making an absolute racket, the sound would have drowned out a pneumatic drill at full throttle (well nearly!) Tiff just carried on taking no notice. Several more weeks past and she kept improving so then we both felt it was time to take the next step.


One horrible rainy miserable Sunday in September we drove Tiff over to Wales in my super new lorry called Lancelot - which I purchased from Erica back in the summer. Lancelot took us over the bridge to Tony and Viv Clarke's lovely cottage. There must be an element of madness in us Carriage Drivers you know, who would want to get up at Stupid O'clock on a Sunday in the driving rain and cold and take a youngster to learn how to pull a carriage? Tony and Viv were very welcoming with tea and biscuits and then we set to work with Tiff in the arena and Tony's amazing "Sledge". I know this Sledge is legendary with FODDTG members but I had never seen it and I was very impressed. It was all made out of Hazel and very light with runners on the bottom.

After a while we then decided Tiff was ready and we "Put To". We all stood there holding our breath, but Tiff was lovely and walked off with the sledge in tow in the driving rain. It was just an awesome moment for me as all this hard work which seemed relentless at times just paid off and she proudly then trotted around with the sledge on the back. John's two wheeler came out of retirement in the back of the garage! and we gave Tiff her first outing around his fields. I was so excited. I hope that over the nasty winter months I can still educate Tiffany and look forward to seeing what she can do next spring.

My sincere thanks go to everyone who has helped me to produce my own pony to drive. However, Katie (John's Eriskay) and I will always have a special bond and I look forward to continue to drive her at various events as she is a real superstar in my eyes.


 

How hard can it be to get the Red Rover Trophy?
By Sue Johnson

The answer is VERY HARD !!!


I decided that I would set myself a challenge and that this year I would try and get my Red Rover. I think I should have spoken to a clairvoyant before I set out on this challenge as if I would have known what life had in store for me I probably would not have started.


As many of you know I have Multiple Sclerosis which is enough on its own to put up with but this year I was thrown another low baller when in March I had a heart attack! This would mean more medication, more trips to hospital for more tests and more time off work so less income. Not to be put off I carried on regardless and the one good thing the physios told me was that carriage driving was good for me as it helped with my core balance and also my mind as it got me out of the house.


Whilst at convalescent home in May I fell over and badly bruise my knee due to my poor balance. In July I went out with the Junior British Team to Austria as a supporter and what happens...on the first day of my trip I fall over and battered my knee. It did not stop me, as the saying goes "No pain, No gain".


Of course the weather this year has been atrocious and so many shows have been cancelled, I had to travel great distances to find Red Rover Classes that were still running.


Then in August I fell over again and broke my wrist. Luckily the hospital plastered it with my fingers free but due to the pain it made it very difficult to drive Coachman style. Without the damage to my wrist and because of my MS I have poor feeling in my hands so Coachman is a definite challenge but now I was really going to suffer. Not only that but trying to get my big Cob X Shire bathed and prepared for a show is very difficult with a plaster cast on as it mustn't get wet! Keeping it dry this summer was going to be a challenge just with the weather. My wonderful hus-band came to the rescue with an ingenious idea and put a leg gaiter on it which then had to be squeezed inside my already tight show jacket, but it worked.


Of course there was another hurdle to cross...Insurance!!! Would the BDS insurance cover me at events? Would my car insurance allow me to drive to events when my back stepper couldn't get me there? This was where luck was on my side. Thanks to my GP agreeing there would be no problem the insurance companies agreed that I would be covered. Thank God for small mercies.


And finally how many miles did we have to travel to get to compete in the Red Rover?...1632 miles. I dare not work out the cost in diesel!!!


1st Red Rover drive - 2 Jun - Kenilworth Show, Stoneleigh, Warwickshire
2nd Red Rover drive - 3 Jun - Wiltshire Area Spring Show
3rd Red Rover drive - 1 Jul - Alton Agricultural Show, Hampshire
4th Red Rover Drive - Sun 29 Jul - Eynsham Park Show,
Oxfordshire
5th Red Rover Drive - Sun 5 Aug - Alternative Stourhead Horse Show,
Devises, Wiltshire
6th Red Rover drive - Mon 27 Aug -Cricklade Show Nr Swindon, Wiltshire
7th Red Rover drive - 2 Sep - Brinkworth County Show,
Nr Swindon, Wiltshire
8th Red Rover drive - 8 & 9 Sep - Victoria Foods Carriage
Driving Extravaganza, Bristol
9th Red Rover drive - 16 Sep - Foxham Show Nr Calne,
Wiltshire
10th Red Rover drive - 23 Sep (a show postponed from August)
Brinkworth Horse Show, Nr Swindon, Wiltshire

 

Cones Practice Day and Picnic - Sunday 12th August 2012
By Angela Cherrington


One day while working I was complaining about the rain (again!) and how my waterlogged land meant I had been unable to do any cones training with my new pony, Gina. I was at Sarah George's yard and she kindly said that I could use her field to set up some cones once her haylage was in. It seemed a shame to have a set of cones set up in a big field for just me so I explored the idea of run-ning some kind of event. It quickly became apparent that this was really not going to be on, due to insurance requirements, so the next idea was to explore whether I could hold a closed club event. I made enquiries with Felicity and Erica and the go ahead was given.


I have a set of cones but didn't have any numbers so I set about making a set of cone collars with black numbers on white background as per IHDT rules and I bought some yellow tennis balls in Poundland (£1 for 4). I made a measuring stick and devised a few different courses on paper with careful reference to IHDT and BHDTA rules. Club members were invited by email to come to the field from 11am to 4 pm and half a dozen people expressed interest, with some others replying that they were unable to come due to other engagements.


The day before was a glorious sunny day. I made a site visit and the ground was mostly perfect go-ing with a few wetter areas which could be avoided. There was such a lot of space that I decided to set up a dressage arena as well, as I already own tread in markers.
I marked out the dressage arena using the straight hedge as a guide and a measuring wheel for the distances. I used tent pegs to temporarily mark the positions for the dressage letters as I didn't want to leave them out overnight, and some guttering at the corners. Having spent ages in a past life try-ing to mark out arenas for Pony Club, I was very pleasantly surprised that my arena looked straight, the corners square, and the markers level when I had finished! Using one of my pre-drawn plans I then marked out a cones course using short canes stuck in the ground to mark the position of each 'gate'.


On Sunday morning I woke up to torrential rain, which was rather a disappointment, even more so when thunder and lightning started later, but I decided to carry on and see how things developed. Everything had been loaded in the horsebox the night before so there was just the pony to get ready. Lizzie, my groom and helper, arrived and we loaded Gina and set off. It was very disconcerting to see huge puddles right across the road and I became very anxious about how wet the field would be when we arrived.


We set out the dressage markers and set up the cones course and found the ground was quite squidgy in places, but I thought it would be safe to drive on if people were sensible and also felt that we would not rip up the ground, so decided to go ahead. A couple of people had had to drop out so there were five turnouts expected, including mine but unfortunately Erica's horse-box broke down on the way and sadly she didn't make it, so that left four of us – plus quite a number of family and friends, and a few dogs.


It was my plan that this should be a relaxed day and it turned out to be exactly that. The large field was great for people to put to and warm up and then drive the cones course or practice in the dressage arena just as they pleased. I drove Gina for a short time at the beginning then put her away and concentrated on timing people, interspersed with eating food, drinking tea and chatting. The idea of the timing was so that people could get a feel of how they need to drive their particular animal in competitions.

I was very pleased with Gina who was great at the cones. It seems she hadn't been in a 4 wheeler before I had her and has only seen cones, without numbers, a few times. I also have to get used to the bigger Dartmoor carriage which feels like a tank to me after my little Bellcrown, and much bouncier. I have been driving Gina in a two wheeler since I bought her and have had only had about three ten-minute drives in the four wheeler.


Sue Johnson brought Toby, and Kathy Reynolds was backstepper and car driver for her. Sue and Toby were really good at the cones as always and I really enjoyed a turn as backstepper round the cones. Toby is powerful compared to the small ponies I usually drive and Sue has independent suspension on her seat, which felt strange when it moved as I was holding onto the bars on the back of it. Kathy then had a turn at driving Toby, while Sue backstepped. Kathy really enjoyed it – the big beaming smiles rather gave it away!


 

 

 

 

New member Maggie Martin brought her lovely little mare, Black Beauty, with Jane Gillman back-stepping. Beauty was a gypsy road racing pony at two, and had some issues, but has had retraining, and gets lots of ridden work as well as driving, and Maggie was thrilled with her as she negotiated the cones like a professional. She is a lovely pony and the experience gave Maggie confidence for their first event at John Weavers coming up the next week.


Another new member, Cathy Stevens, brought her beautiful ride and drive horse, Timo. This was the first time they had done cones together but after driving them Cathy felt sure that Timo had done them before. They made a beautiful picture going round the course. Cathy also said it had given her confidence for future events. Both Maggie and Cathy took up driving through the 'Driving Back to Sport' project funded by Sport England. They were both already accomplished equestrians but I have to say that they drive extremely well. Well done to both of them.


We were fortunate that the weather cleared up and we had a lovely sunny afternoon. I moved a few of the cones gates to new positions but apart from that the ground held up fairly well. As well as the cones driving, it was lovely to just be relaxed and take our time and have an opportunity to socialise and chat about driving things and anything else under the sun. At competitions people are preoccu-pied with what they have to do and where they have to be and there is often not much time to get to know people. Everyone seemed to have a lovely day and I felt that it had been very worthwhile.


I was very grateful that no one left any mess and people helped to clear up all the equipment.

 

My Busy Summer by Emily Ham


Thanks to my new lorry Hammy has hardly had a day at home and is now referred to as Trucker Ham. I've had an amazing time over the summer starting with our journey of 1300 miles to Austria taking Jack to compete in the inaugural FEI Youth Championships. Being selected for Team GB was wonderful and I was lucky to have Chris as my invaluable backstepper and Sue as our super support! Weiner Neustadt was a very smart venue in a very pleasant town that we were able to explore in our occasional free time. The Opening ceremony and Nations Night were great occasions with good camaraderie between all the competitors and their supporters. There were even drivers from Russia who borrowed ponies to take part. Trucker Ham soon had his alias of Hammy Ham (the name on his press officer pass) widely known as he tried to arrange internet access from the organisers so we could send home the daily blog that was composed into the early hours each night in our lorry. Internet failure, or maybe the lack of persuasive powers from the said Hammy Ham, meant we ran up a humungous bill to send the blogs using the mobile phone instead!


The British Young Drivers taking part, included Isobel who competes with Hazel's Chelsea Bun, had an amazing competition with a massive haul of individual medals and Team Gold. It was really exciting for us all to be swept along by their success. It was extremely wet and muddy by the weekend of the FEI marathon and the cones.

For the first obstacles Jack's times were really quick and I was hopeful of a podium place for the marathon ...then disaster! Sliding into a wooden post I buckled the delayed steering and locked up a wheel. Jack heroically sledged me round on three wheels to complete the obstacle but the help required to free the wheel up was deemed outside assistance and on completing the marathon I was disappointed to find I had been eliminat-ed. I was very proud of Jack for how he performed throughout the event and he gave it his all in the cones after delays meant he was out for two hours in the cold rain and for a long time we were in the lead. I was really pleased that Jack and I were able to represent our country and proud to be awarded my FEI badge.


Since our return Jack has focussed mainly on showing with 2nd in a big class at The Royal Welsh and winning the Supreme Driving Championship at Brecon County Show. We also had a lovely weekend at the first Welsh Attelage held at Picton Castle. My friend Jen was my lady passenger for the weekend and together we had a wonderful time, really enjoying the sense of grand occasion and dressed up in our finery to attend the evening Champagne reception (removing the muckers that were essential to cross the quagmired stable field and slipping on Cinderella slippers at the castle door!) Jack was wonderfully behaved and in spite of the wind and rain seemed to enjoy the seven mile Routier, springing up the steep hills in collected canter pulling his antique Ladies phaeton. His cones round was faultless and we were asked to give a short driving display between competitors to entertain the spectators.

I am inspired to go to The Attelage at Cutts with Jack and Jen – so am booki ng up my lorry crossing! I am taking Jack to Chatsworth Show to try to get the HOYS qualifier and he is off to the BDS Championships in October. Versatile as ever on the way to Chatsworth he will be driving in the scurry event at Welshpool and through the winter will do all the indoor trials.


This wet muddy summer has brought home to me that Jack tries his heart out in the big outdoor trials but against full up 14.2s it will always be quite a challenge for him On my way home from Austria mum facebooked me that James had put Alfie on the BHDTA forum and he seemed the perfect pony to compliment Jack by taking on the big outdoor Nationals.

James kindly gave us first refusal so the day after getting home I was driving Alfie and just fell in love with him! With little chance to practise in between and with a succession of different carriages Alfie has competed at St Forts and Erddig. This weekend everything came
together for us and thanks to Alfie I am now the BHDTA Young Drivers Champion (19 – 25 years). We were double clear in the cones and he was just brilliant in the marathon which was very sticky due to torrential rain meant the mossy ground was very heavy going. I was glad of the extra horse- power!

We won a shield!! the size of Alfie's head for the Best Marathon of the Championships. ..... Roll on the Windsor National

Team Toby try out 2 Day Driving Trials
By Sue Johnson

In the three years that I have had Toby we have tried a lot of new things from Showing, to TREC, Sponsored Drives and Indoor Driving Trials.

Over the years Toby has got fitter and we have learnt to trust each other so now for the big challenge … a Two Day Event.


Having read the rule book from back to front and back again and questioned everyone I know about this next big step, I had decided that this year would be the time to give it a go. James Broome had helped me with lessons during the winter where we had decided I should have a goal to work towards and it was decided that I should try and get my BHDTA competency card which meant competing in three two-day events without being eliminated. The "E" word had been a bit of a thorn in my side in the past with my memory not being so good because of my Multiple Sclerosis but the gauntlet had been thrown down and the challenge was on!


Kathy Reynolds (who also had never done a two day event) and who usually back-steps for Erica Rye, agreed to accompany me to the Midlands Driving Trials Groups event at Lincom Farm. Kathy would be able to help me with the driving to get to the event as we had put her on our insurance so I wouldn't be too fatigued.

I contacted the Midlands Driving Trials Group and told them this would be my first event and they very kindly arranged for me have a buddy to show me the ropes. When we arrived at the event Paul Hart (the person the Midlands Group had arranged to be my buddy) introduced himself to me and showed me where everything was. This was very nice as it took the pressure away from worrying about where everything was and what time I should be doing what. Once Toby was safely ensconced in his stable it was time to set up our tent before the next downpour.


I had time to walk the cones course and the dressage a few times on the Friday evening which enabled me to feel happier about what I was letting myself in for the next day. I am only used to doing 10 cones as in Indoor Driving Trials so having to cope with a course of 20 was going to be a challenge for my bad memory. The rules state that the back stepper can't walk the course so I wasn't even able to run it by Kathy, I would just have to cope.


After a night of rain we awoke to a dry morning. I fed Toby at 0630 hrs and whilst Kathy was getting the kettle on I walked the cones course again. I was trying to remember all that James had taught me about driving at them straight and holding Toby up so he didn't fall in on the corners, this really would be a test for me as well as remembering the course. Being first on I wouldn't even be able to watch anyone else!
At the allotted hour Paul came over and we harnessed Toby up and put him to his carriage. It is amazing how nervous you can get which does affect your dexterity for doing up the harness. Smartly turned out in our best bib and tucker we made our way over for the standing presentation. I learnt a lot during this part of the event about how turnout for Driving Trials can differ from BDS showing but it was a good experience and the judge was very pleasant and helpful as she explained her reasoning behind her comments.


We had twenty minutes left to warm Toby up before our dressage test. As soon as the steward called us over I acknowledged him and we went in to the arena to do our test. Toby decided to do a spook at X as he had not been in an arena where X had been marked with sawdust before. (First lesson to self – spend time driving Toby over sawdust markers). The going was very tough as the ground was very sodden with the amount of rain we had had. Toby decided to throw in a deviation to the test when he went through a big muddy area. Bless him! At the end of the test we thanked both judges and left the arena. Even though it was not one of our better tests I was very pleased with Toby as he had tried his best for me.

On to the cones!!!! "Hold Toby up and keep him straight" James words where rattling around my head!. We trotted around the course as I didn't want to rush it and smash them all down. Speed was not on our agenda, just getting around without being eliminated. I got a bit lost half way through and had to swerve to get to the next cone and didn't get it straight hence I knocked it down. At the end of the course we had had three balls down which considering I had only started driving with extended axles last week I was really pleased with.


After lunch Kathy and I were taken around the marathon course in a 4X4 to work out our routes for the obstacles. Very kindly Claudia Bunn took me around again on her quad bike which helped a lot. I really was finding walking the course very tiring. (Second note to self – buy a quad bike if I am going to do another two day event).

Paul sat us down with cups of tea in his caravan to discuss the marathon timing system which was so useful as Kathy and I
really didn't have a clue how to work it out. The evening was a finished off with a wonderful DIY BBQ. Delicious salads where
provided and it was a great social event.

We won a red rosette for the dressage test which was a lovely surprise.


On Saturday night the heavens really opened. All I could think of was how wet and slippery the course would be in the morning.
At 0745 hrs Paul took me around the course again on his quad bike to refresh my memory, then after a very nice bacon butty from the catering van, time flew and we were ready for the off at the start of 'A' having collected our green card. Toby was raring to go and I kept telling him to calm down or he would burn up all his energy before the end of the course. The first kilometre he did spot on time, but for the rest of the course he was adding 10 seconds to each kilometre. I wasn't particularly bothered about the timing but it was a good guide on how much fitter I need to get him. The challenge was to ensure we went through all the compulsory flags and drove the obstacles correctly without being eliminated!!!

The walk section was very hard for Toby as he prefers to plod rather than walk even
though we have been working on the rhythm. To keep him going I started singing nursery rhymes to him. They were the only songs I could think of at the time. The obstacles were great fun but by the time we got to the second water obstacle Toby was pooped. He plodded though the water and made it very hard for himself. I kept pushing him on but just before we got to the last obstacle I caught my whip in a tree and the end came off!!! I was able to persuade Toby to keep going by talking to him verbally encouraging him. On the last kilometre home we realised we were being caught up by another competitor so we signalled to them to pass us as I didn't want to hold anyone up. As soon as they went by Toby found he had a second wind and didn't want to be left behind so he trotted all the way home in their slip stream.


Once at the finishing line we were elated. Now we just had to wait for the results to see if we had gone clear. Toby was washed down and he really enjoyed a roll followed by a good munch of grass. Then it was time to pack up our trailer with all our gear and dismantle the tent. Paul and his wife invited us for a cup of tea to talk over the event. They said we would probably never have to deal with such heavy going at any future events; this had been exceptionally hard due to the bad weather.


At 1515 hrs it was time for the prize giving and I was thrilled to see that although we were slow we had gone clear and not been
eliminated and we got another red rosette. I was on cloud nine and so proud of Kathy for seeing me safely around the course
and as for Toby … well he has always been my hero and he is now my Super Star!!!


I can honestly say that if anyone is thinking about trying a two day event then try it with the Midlands Driving Trials Group.
Everyone was so helpful and friendly, Paul Hart and his wife especially who entertained us with cups of tea in their caravan and
made it such an enjoyable weekend despite the wet weather.

 

Team Toby's Busy Wet Weekend

AKA Diamond Jubilee

Aren't friends fantastic? On the Saturday of the Jubilee weekend my hubby Chris drove me all the way to Kenilworth for a show there and my good friend Sue back stepped for me culminating in me completing my first Red Rover drive of the season. The weather was foul and poor Toby got covered in mud. We also competed in a BDS cones course that day...no cantering allowed, and we came third. We travelled home and missed the long traffic jams on the motorways and then spent the evening cleaning Toby ready for Sunday's show.


The next morning we had another very early start and my friend Neeliegh agreed to back step and we drove to Wiltshire for the BDS Highworth Show. The weather was even worse than Saturday's downpour. The rain came down like stair rods. My Tweed outfit was soon soaked through but that didn't matter when we competed in the Exercise vehicle class. I hadn't realised it was a qualifier for the Osborne Refrigerators 4 wheel exercise class at Driving Addington until we were given the qualifying rosette. I was absolutely thrilled!!!


We then came 4th in the Private driving class which I was very happy with as we weren't last and we were up against Mr. Osborne himself and his turnout was amazing. With a ringing wet black jacket and bowler we were the only ones in this class that continued in to the next class that was the Private drive with Show drive. Luckily they agreed that Toby could lead the drive (which is where Toby prefers to be) As soon as we hit the roads the heavens opened and this time they threw down hail stones. Toby's back was white with them but he was hot to trot and full of energy so completed the drive in style. The icing on the cake was when the judge said we had controlled the drive very well and that Toby had behaved impeccably and she handed us the silver trophy and red rosette. We were also given the Red Rover rosette so that was number
two in the bag...only another eight to get this season to qualify for the Red Rover Trophy.


On the last day of the Jubilee long weekend another good friend, Kathy (Erica's back stepper), came out with me so Toby could compete at the
Cricklands show. As it was in hand there was no way I could run around the arena so I became Kathy's groom and she did the showing and the running. Yet again the skies opened and we all got very wet but it was worth it when Toby and Kathy won the Best Driving Type and came second in the Best Condition class.


So it rained and we got wet. The Queen Reigned and long may she do so.


At the end of the day it was an amazing weekend for Toby and thanks to so many friends who helped me have so much fun.

Sue Johnson

 

On Top of the World


It is always a big surprise and pleasure to find that only one hour's trailer ride away from home near Stroud we can unload in a vastness of downland with not a building in sight and the larks singing their hearts out overhead. So on a cool grey May morning we set off to do a sponsored drive in aid of The Kennet Valley RDA Driving Group, an event excellently organised as usual by Hazel Woodbridge of the Wiltshire BDS and her team.


The start was on the Barbury Castle Estate and the drive was well supported by a variety of turnouts. Putting to always seems very relaxed on these occasions as I am not trying to remember cones courses and obstacles. As soon as we were ready we reported to the start and after being reminded of all the fauna which might jump out at us, and possible rabbit holes which we might trip us up we set off. Mac could just see the horse ahead off us so set off very keenly until the pull up the first never ending downland hill steadied him. The route took us up on to the Ridgeway. This ancient track way is indeed well named as I think we could probably see home if we could have stood still long enough with a telescope. However with a enthusiastic cob in the shafts this was not a time to linger so Mac, Zara and I enjoyed a three mile stretch of
good going on top of the world. It was superb. It just did not last long enough! We subsequently learnt that we just missed the excitement of a loose horse escaped from a field on this part of the route!


All too soon we left the Ridgeway and descended a long narrow valley. It was here that we caught up with a couple of other turnouts which Mac was desperate to over take but it simply was not possible because of the steep banks on either side. He had to be patient until we reached a farmyard at the bottom. We passed them as politely as we could in the circumstances (Mac was feeling strong by now) and once safely clear enjoyed a long, long stretch on a quiet farm drive at a brisk trot. Again all too soon, we came to the road and were back on the Barbury Castle Estate. The grass was longish here so the going was softer and slower but we tackled the long pull steadily and before long knew we were back on the top and not too far from the finish.

We met the three turnouts that the RDA group keeps at Rockley nearby, all three horses looking like happy dependable strong types. What a very worthwhile project! This was Mac's final excitement of the outing, trotting up to the finish with them. What a great outing, with wonderful scenery, friendly people and fantastic carriage driving.

Elizabeth Pilkington

 

What a brilliant way to spend a Sunday!


Toby and I have travelled quite a way during our friendship of the last three years and today was going to be magnificent. I had booked us to take part in the Windsor Charity drive. Due to a hiccup in my health (a heart attack) I thought we were going to miss out, but a very kind friend (Kathy) came to our rescue and offered to drive us to Berkshire for the event and back step for me when we got there.


The weather forecast was not good as it promised heavy showers, but I think someone was looking kindly on us as we had sunshine all the way. It was an early start as it was a two and a half hour drive to get there. This was extended as when we got to the Severn Bridge, we found it was closed so we had to take a detour over the new bridge. Kathy drove and I slept which was very good as it gave me the chance to recharge my batteries in time for the event.


Windsor Great Park is the only Royal Park managed by the Crown Estate. It was once part of a vast Norman hunting forest which was enclosed in the late 13th century. It covers 4,800 acres of parkland, which includes a Deer Park. It's varied landscape of formal avenues, gardens, woodland and open grassland make fantastic driving country.


When we arrived it was very well marshalled from the road to the lorry park and we were soon putting too and ready for the tack check. The lady who was checking we were safe looked at Toby and asked "Do you mind me asking, what is he?" I wanted to say "A horse", but I decided against it and explained Toby's Cob x Shire breeding. She said he looked stunning and stated that his brilliant white socks wouldn't be that colour for long once we got out on the park. We handed in our green card at the start which was alongside the Guards Polo Grounds and we were off.

It was a sandy track to start off with and we were enjoying the scenery by Smith's Lawn so much that we nearly missed the first obstacle. This was called "The Alexander Devine Triangles" and Toby trotted around it like a star. We were smiling and laughing so much the steward passed a comment about us being so happy. Well who wouldn't be, the sun was shining, we were out in the fresh air and we were having fun. We negotiated obstacles two, three and four safely before taking the long route track and entering the Deer Park.


James had told me about an occasion he had had when competing here for the first time and he had come across a herd of two hundred deer, complete with stags in full antler eyeballing his ponies. Well we trotted along and came across a herd. We did a quick count up and there were approximately 100 strong, so we decided James might have exaggerated a little. We were at the 6km point when we came down a slope on rutted ground and were faced with...yes you have guessed it, James's herd of two hundred! Two of the stags were fighting stood on their hind legs, it was an amazing site and Toby (who can be spooked by one deer in the forest) took it all in his stride, gave them a glance as if to say "Get out of my way!" and just trotted on.


The ancient oak trees in the Deer Park where amazing. The size of the girth was huge and they must have been hundreds of years old. Just driving passed them made me think of how many horses and carriages they had witnessed passing under there branches of the years.


Those of you, who know "Plodding Toby", might not believe this but the Tobemeister was really track-ing up and trotting on and we overtook six other turnouts on route. At the 8km gate he had caught up with some more and there were a group of children on a sponsored walk at their drink station who were asking for a lift. We stopped to chat with them and to explain that we couldn't give them a lift so they offered us a drink. Toby was given an ice cream tub of bottled water to refresh him and Kathy and I were given bottles of Lucozade and packets of Polo's. We then posed for photos with them. They thanked us for stopping as none of the other drivers had stopped. We said our goodbyes and trotted on past Isle of Wight pond, The Village and stopped again for a photo shoot on The Long Walk where we could see Windsor Castle to one side of us and the statue of King George III on the copper horse on Snow Hill on the other side of us. Cameras appeared from nowhere and the tourists snapped what they said was a wonderful shot.


Obstacle five was called "Nine Pines" because that was what it was. Nine quite tightly planted pine trees which Toby weaved through at the trot. Obstacle 6 was the hardest as it was one of the solid obstacles called "The Zig Zag" It was tight but fun and we took it steady to ensure Toby was safe. Next we had a walk section as it was a slippery road followed by a good trot up the hill out of the plantation and to the finishing line. It was here that we heard the sad news that someone driving a pair of ponies had had an accident at obstacle two and the air ambulance had been called in. The obstacle was called "The Air Ambulance Rotor"!!! We were told that the carriage had turned over and the driver had
broken her ankle, but we didn't hear anymore.


We carried on through the lorry park to the cones course where 20 cones where waiting for us. Toby was still full of energy and trotted on around them. At this point the air ambulance took off but Toby wasn't bothered by it. I only had two cones down and Toby was still full of energy so Kathy had a go at driving Toby (for the first time) around the cones. She did very well and only had a few more down, but numbers don't matter, we had fun!!!


After un-tacking, washing down and Toby having a good roll it was time for him to relax and have some grass. We had been so lucky with the weather as the sun shone for all of the drive and the rain only came as we were packing up to go home. We had driven on varied terrain from heavy going sand tracks to forest paths, from tarmac to rutted slopes. The day had been so well organised and everyone was so friendly. I am so grateful to Kathy for taking me there as it was wonderful to get out in the fresh air and enjoy such a great drive.


 

Introductory Safety Competence Assessment

This is a reminder that new members should undertake this test before competing at any events organized by the club. This can be arranged by contacting either Janet or James and can be undertaken before the start of an event or at a convenient time to suit all parties.

see Introductory_Safety_Competence_Assessment.pdf

 

Our Backstepper Training day 5th Feb 2012


After the Saturday snow Sunday morning dawned early in Chalford with the dripping of a thaw and slushy roads. After a 6am call with Elizabeth we decided to go ahead and carry on with the day. At 7.10am with Mac loaded and ready to leave we checked the website and all was well. We were on our way. Who would have thought it after the weather of the day before!


As we came over the bridge and turned off the motorway, which was eerily quiet, we noticed that we were driving in to much colder weather and on to untreated icy roads. Turning down the road towards the Centre we realised we were either the first to arrive or the only ones to arrive. But once in we looked back and to our relief we saw another trailer coming through the gate. Phew!


But sadly the excitement was short lived as the driving was cancelled. Sue kindly came down in the Landover, helped us sort a stable for Mac and the other horse, then drove us up to the pavilion where everyone else had arrived for the session. (I quickly popped to answer the call of nature first but having never been here before, ended up in the broom cupboard thinking it was the loo! Hopefully no one noticed me grubbing around for the light before realising I was in the wrong place!)


After a cup of coffee we sat down and James took us through the three main sections:


 Safety
 Horse Welfare
 Stable Management


Each one was informative and interesting.


Backstepping is a totally new sport to me. I do it very part time as I work full time. It has became more and more clear that even for someone like me, who was born on a horse, carriage driving and all the components that go in to preparing to drive can be quite daunting. To me the harness looked like a load of spaghetti when I first saw it and I am only just getting to grips with it now!


The session then moved outside where we had the chance to stand on the back of a few different carriages and practise moving about on them. Easy when the carriage is not moving. I can't wait to try the 'big' lean whilst going over a bump! (Mental note to oneself - More practise needed.)


We then moved to the arena and James showed us how to tackle two different obstacles. This was a real eye opener as we realised that we needed to re-think the route we would normally take as we had been taking too many 'less than 90 degree' turns which, although looking quicker, would actually be slowing us down. Another one to watch is the 'straight line' as the temptation is to go from slow to very fast back to very slow and expect the horse to know which way he is going to have to turn at the end. Better to stay on a left or right gradual turn if you can.


Unfortunately the surface in the arena never thawed (even with David's sterling efforts to harrow with the tractor whilst testing James' ability to shout loudly!)


Poor Mac then got loaded back in to the trailer and driven home where we turned him out in the field for a nice roll.

Team Toby

Despite the bad weather TEAM TOBY has still been out and about in February. Here we are leading a drive on the highways and by-ways.


If anyone fancies doing some rally drives then either go to the Wiltshire BDS web site or the Powys BDS web site for dates of future drives.

 

CATCHING THE DRIVING BUG !

Hello Everyone.


As the "New Kid"! on the block I wanted to say how impressed I am with your organisation and thank everyone for being so kind, welcoming and supportive.


I have had a burning desire to learn to drive for years and it was pure fate or destiny, that my local Vet told me about John and Wendy Weaver who he knew owned driving ponies and were fairly local. Well, they couldn't have been more local, as they live a mile up the road from where I keep my own horses! I had actually ridden past their farm for 6 years not knowing that they too, were following their dreams and competing with their Eriskay ponies.


So....... one frosty morning back in October, I drove past their yard and saw them getting their ponies ready to go out for a drive around Badminton. I screeched to a halt, wacked the car in reverse and leapt out of the door, much to their surprise! Having convinced them both they needed a Project ! I arrived two weeks later eager to give this "Driving lark" a go !


John kindly took me under his wing and has been very patient and allowed me to take the reins and drive around the fields of the Badminton Estate. Having flattened most of his cones the first time, I didn't think he would ever invite me back, but he did !

I can honestly say carriage driving is even better than I e ver expected! I have nick named John "Super Wheels Weaver" due to his fantastic results so far with the adorable Kelpie, (who I also need to thank for putting up with me trying to learn the basics). Having been to two events with John, I am so grateful for the Advice and Guidance I have had from him and everyone one in your club on how to get started, what to buy, how to do well and more importantly how to have fun and enjoy it.


One of my ponies is a Shetland so Ainslie and Sarah have been so helpful in giving me advice. Janet used to teach me a long time ago
when I was in the Berkeley Pony Club and we reached the National Pony Club Show Jumping Championships, so its lovely to be able to
watch her and her ponies now and see how it's done!


So thanks everyone for your kind words and help and if you have any old bits of harness lying around that would fit a Shetland or a
Section B then let me know as I would like to try and get my ponies started ready for next year. I am also on the look out for a decent
carriage and exercise cart too!

All the best – Jane Hendy - aka John Weaver's Backstepper !


(Jane is obviously hooked and has now joined the group as a fully paid up driving member, so we will be seeing more of her in the future!)

 


MY OLD GREY MARE (John Weaver's story)

We first met when I made a visit to a rare breeds farm in Kent in the spring of 1997. I was instantly smitten, it was a case of love at first sight, although I must say that her hair was not so grey then. After a short period of getting to know each other I found out that her family came from the little island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides and that for centuries her ancestors had lived in most of the western islands of Scotland.


It was soon decided that she should come and live with me, and so I drove down to Kent to collect her. We then decided that it would be nice to start a family, and over the next few years three little darlings appeared, a boy and two girls. Time has moved on and two of the darlings have left home, the boy now lives in Scotland and the youngest daughter in Somerset, in a village called Stretcholt, whilst the eldest daughter still lives at home with her mum. There are now at least five grandchildren (although with my advancing years I find it increasingly difficult to keep count)


Now with the kids off our hands our thoughts turned to other ways of occupying our time, and the idea of carriage driving seemed very appealing. We enlisted the help of some driving friends, who after several months managed to make us understand how to sort out of all the bits of harness, how to balance a two wheel carriage and how to handle reins coachman style. We were then allowed to potter around the farm and practice our new found skills, although we did manage to tip our back stepper off twice when we encountered such things as black polythene bags or pheasants that leapt out of the hedge.


About a year later we met a lady called Jacqui Pillinger who suggested that we might like to try something called Indoor Driving which she said was great fun, so we decided to give it a try and entered an event at the Hand Stadium. We arrived with our two wheel trap not really having any idea what we were doing but did manage to knock most of the obstacles down, which we soon realized was not what you were supposed to do.


However we were now bitten with the bug and so we got a four wheel carriage because we could see that these went much faster and didn't knock the obstacles down. Over the last six or seven years we have had a lot of fun, we now go a bit faster and don't knock things down so often, but the real bonus has been all the friends that we have made, and we thank you all for your help and support over the years, and for the cheers and sometimes the jeers as well.


Now that I have retired we are hoping to spend more quality time together which means that we might even be able to go even faster and enter more events, both summer and winter. It is nice to now be able to draw on my very limited wealth of knowledge to help someone else to learn to drive and enjoy it as much as we have.


In case you are wondering she is called Kelpie, well most of the time!!!

 

American Supper 20 January 2012

I believe it was Erica's brainwave that the club should enjoy its annual winter social event in the form of an American Supper. What an inspired idea!


The venue, Broomie's Pavilion at Cricklands Showground, was very generously offered by James Broome and the thirty or so people attending simply brought food to share and their own plates, cutlery and drinks. It did indeed seem very simple. The banquet however was not at all simple as everyone had contributed a culinary delight. There was a choice of cold salmon, chicken, Indian style specialities, salads, a cheese board, and hot sausages to name but a few of the dishes. The display of puddings was worthy of an award and all of them a slimmer's dream (or maybe nightmare!) There were trifles, fruit crumble, pavlova, mince pies, cheesecake and more. Contrary to my husband's theory that there would be far too much food, very little remained to be taken back home at the end, so I think it can be safely assumed that everyone enjoyed the feast.

There was certainly plenty of laughter and conversation in between the eating and drinking. At the end of supper the raffle was drawn. Before we had a chance to draw breath, there followed live entertainment provided by some talented club members. Sue Johnson, dressed for the part, sang about how no one loves a fairy when she's old. It was so heart rending that I hope someone gave her a big hug afterwards.

Angela Cherrington, scarily dressed for her part as an assistant to the surgeon who deals with a particular part of the human digestive tract, raised lots of laughs as she provided us with some "insider" details, in rhyme, of the hazards faced by practioners of this occupation. Angela also read a poem written from the horse's mouth as it were, about how anxious humans seem to get when loading a reluctant equine into transport. I will remember next time I have a problem.

James then recounted some of the troubles, such as tyre blow-outs, encountered on the long, long journey to the Championships in Slovenia, He managed to make them sound a lot less nasty than they were at the time with his wry lyrics and soothing guitar music. The story of the cat will enter folk-lore, I am sure. James also amused us with his songs and he accompanied his delightful daughter on the guitar whilst she sang.


It was a relaxing and informal evening, with good food, drink and company, which is always a successful formula. The chance to have a chat without being preoccupied with animals, dressage, cones and obstacles was certainly very welcome.


 

Indoor Horse Driving Trials Keysoe

To our two club members who took part in the finals at Keysoe on
the last weekend of March - MANY CONGRATULATIONS.


She's done it again ! - Janet Macdonald has won the Pony Pairs class
with her lovely ponies Sweat Pea and Amber , by a very close margin,
with a score of 184.49 out of a class of 11.


Emily Ham came 4th in the Open Pony Class with the stunning Jack,
out of a class of 10 with a score of 178.65.


Very well done!

 

Our Stewards

 

The Life of Leo

I was born in Somerset but apparently I was the wrong colour so I was sent to market. This was very scary for a young lad. I moved house a couple of times before ending up in Gloucestershire. I was quite poorly and unhappy as my feet and teeth were neglect-ed and I was full of worms. I was also sharing a field with some big girls that bashed me up regularly. Luckily Ainslie and James came and bought me (I think they just felt sorry for me really!) and took me home. Coincidentally, I now live just twenty miles from where I was born.

They realised that I needed to see a vet, a farrier and a dentist and between them they soon sorted out all my problems. They introduced me to Woody, who can be a little domineering but nowhere near as bad as those girls!


When I became fitter and stronger Ainslie, James and Woody taught me how to pull a cart which is brilliant fun. We have a varied schedule. If we're lucky we go to the beach and we love it there. Sometimes we go to friends' (we have loads of friends) homes and drive out with them or they come to us and we can show them some of our beautiful countryside. Occasionally, we get special tasks like taking pretty girls to prom concerts or delivering Father Christmas to the school. Now and again we go to Sainsbury's to shop. This is a good way to try to reduce our carbon hoof print!


Sometimes we get ridden and taken to gymkhanas. These are tremendous fun and we always win loads of rosettes. But what we enjoy most of all is coming to Cricklands, especially now we have a new job as a tandem team. I have to be really brave and obedient and quite patient when Ainslie tangles us up, but it really is the best job in the world and we all enjoy it immensely.


We all know that we are educationally disadvantaged but as our sole objective is to have fun I think we probably over achieve!

Para equestrian training event at Stow on the Wold
No! Disability won't stop me enjoying myself!!!


So I've got MS. (Multiple Sclerosis).

I could give up and become a couch potato and spend the rest of my life moaning about what is wrong with me, or I could carry on enjoying life. Not a difficult choice really. I carried on riding as long as I could but my poor balance and many falls made me make the decision to give this up. I was not going to give up horses altogether though so I learnt to carriage drive instead.


I have been having great fun over the past two years doing all sorts of events such as showing, doing BDS rally drives, Trecs and driving trials. The term "Jack of all trades master of none" comes to mind! Last month I went along to watch the juniors and para equestrian championships at Henbury Hall with Emily Hamm. Although it was a very wet weekend I thoroughly enjoyed it and I was left in awe of the competitors and their ability to compete alongside able bodied. What other sport can you find this happening?


I met up with Margaret Brockie and she told me the next training event was taking place in the first weekend in October at the Unicorn Centre in Stow on the Wold. From that moment I decided I needed to attend to try and learn how to bring Toby and myself on in this sport. I arrived on the Friday night and settled Toby in to his stable. (It was very plush). My accommodation was not so posh but at least I found a use for the pop up tent that had leaked like a sieve at Henbury Hall. I set it up inside Toby's trailer so it was very cosy. I then met up with everyone else who was there for the weekend and we all enjoyed a fish & chip supper together.


Someone had obviously had a word with him upstairs about the weather as we were blessed with the most glorious sunshine all weekend. (Obviously making up for the weather at the National Championships).


The individual lessons we had with Sarah Howe or Rachel Stevens where brilliant. My Toby can be very lazy and has quite a few bad habits that I have not been able to correct, but Rachel soon taught me how to sort him out and to sort my bad habits out as well. "No washing lines for reins!" Difficult when you have little feeling in your hands but when you see other drivers with more severe things wrong with them it puts things in perspective and you just get on and do it.


After a great lunch of Gazpacho and sandwiches we continued with another lesson in the afternoon. It was tiring for me, but Rachel and
Sarah must have been shattered as it was a full day of teaching for them in intense heat. It was great being able to watch everyone else's lessons as you can learn so much from this

.
Saturday night started off with yet another great meal produced by Fran. We had beef bourguignon followed by bread and butter pudding all washed down with lashings of Cava that I had taken along. Sarah entertained us with the tales of the trials and tribulations of Team GB's trip to Slovenia for the World Championships. From the logistics of getting there, to cats stowing away on James Broome's lorry. It was fascinating to hear what it is like to compete at such a high level and representing your country. How proud all the competitors must have been.
After a good night's sleep I went to check out Toby and found that he had managed to keep his stable clean by pooing in to his water bucket, how bizarre!!!!


Following another scrumptious breakfast it was time to do some more training around cones and obstacles. Nick and his wonderful coloured cob had never done anything like this before as he had only done show-ing. However, he was soon hooked and driving as if he had been doing trials for years. Ann who is partially sighted and had been driving her single pony all weekend said she wanted to have a go at driving
tandem!!! She got on board and her hubby wanted to take the reins off her, but this was not going to be. Ann took up the reins and drove
Amazingly. It was a fantastic weekend of fun and learning. I have made many new friends of both the two legged and four legged variety. Not just horses but dog's as well as some of the drivers had canine partners to help them.


I am so glad I went and can thoroughly recommend this group for supporting and teaching anyone with any disability.

LogoForest of Dean Drivings Trials Group

 

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