Sara Howe of Bradbourne Carriage Driving Centre in Sevenoaks, Kent competes both nationally and internationally with her team of driving ponies, representing Great Britain at the World Pony Driving Championships on four different occasions. In addition to competing, Sara regularly teaches people how to drive. Realising that her pupils were missing out on the fun of competing Sara organised here own competition and here she takes up the story…
“I wanted to let my pupils enjoy the fun of competing. In my eyes they are all winners as they have just successfully competed in a driving competition, which many of them would never have dreamed of six months ago. The age of those tacking part ranges from eight to about seventy-eight, proving that there is something for everyone with carriage driving and you are never too old to try something new.
The show was possible because of my wonderful, versatile Welsh section A ponies, whom I adore. Each one is typically cheeky, like all small ponies, with bags of character, and a very large heart. My ponies are Jack, Fidget, Shuffle, Pip, Xander and Josh and they too span the age range from about ten to nineteen.
They are my competition ponies that I compete nationally with at carriage driving competitions across the country. They have represented Great Britain at four separate international World Pony Championships and have a Bronze FEI medal. They work together so incredibly well as a team with each pony knowing its job inside out. Sometimes I ask them to drive as leaders (the front pair) and sometimes as wheelers (the back pair) sometimes they are on the left of the pole and other times I drive them on the right. Whilst they and I have all got better at the dressage phase of the competition, I would say we all prefer the cross-country and the cantering around the obstacles fast!
What I love about these ponies is that one weekend they are doing that for me and the next day they are teaching novice drivers to carriage drive. I use them all to teach my clients how to drive, sometimes in the ménage and other times around the roads. Usually they are then driven as singles with a much smaller and lighter carriage. Instantly the ponies just seem to adapt, they seem to know that they must just plod safely around and allow the clients the time to master the skills. They are good in traffic, thank goodness, as it seems to be getting heavier and faster all the time.
I decided to offer my regular clients the chance to compete in a small competition in my ménage using the ponies. A total of 20 people took part, with each pony driving at least twice. The drivers really enjoyed having something to practice in the lessons and knew they were aiming towards the competition. Each pony safely took the two different drivers through a dressage, cones and obstacle course. Some of my clients were so nervous and a few even looked like they were going to be physically sick! But they all managed to drive the show successfully thanks to the ponies and I am looking forward to offering them all another show soon.”
If you are interested in learning more about this sport then take a look at www.howe-to-drive.co.uk or email on email@example.com Driving really can be for everyone whatever your age and ability.