Carriage Driving Stars Step Out At Midlands Equine
driving stars Dick Lane and Gary Docking will be showing the crowds
the full extent of their skill at this year's all-indoor Midlands
Equine Show, due to be held at the Three Counties Showground, Malvern,
on 8 and 9 March.
Lane represented Great Britain in the World Equestrian Games in
Spain. Last year was a good season for Dick, who finished second
in the points league of the National Horse Driving Trials circuit
and third at the National Championships.
at Cranleigh Show
was introduced to the sport of carriage driving by Pippa Bassett
and has worked his way through from single, tandem, pair and finally
to horse team. The team of Lipizzaner geldings that Dick drives
has represented Great Britain on two occasions when they were owned
present, Dick is preparing for the next World Championships in Hungary
in 2004, but he will be taking time out of his busy schedule to
put on a good show at the Midlands Equine Fair. As part of hiss
et he will introduce the horses to the crowd, and take them through
the procedure of harnessing up and putting to, explaining about
the harness and the carriage. He will also build an obstacle in
the arena and drive it with the team. Anyone can ask him questions
about the sport, and for one lucky visitor there will be the opportunity
to ride the course with Dick.
at the Fair will be Gary Docking (photo left), one of the sport's
most colourful characters who has earned himself the title Mr
a start far removed from carriage driving - as a red coat at Butlin's
- Gary now runs a superb yard with 16 boxes, 40 acres of land, an
outdoor school and a soon-to-be indoor one as well. As a Light Harness
Horse Instructor (LHHI) Gary is qualified to teach carriage driving.
He is also a respected judge and has judged as well as given lectures
and clinics in the USA and Australia.
have been used as transport for centuries, but the modern sport
of horse driving trials only came into existence in 1968 when HRH
Prince Philip formulated the rules for the new sport.
driving trials take place over a three-day period, and according
to the British Horse Driving Trials Association it is the only equestrian
sport where competitors can compete on an even footing regardless
of their age, sex or the horses or ponies they drive.
first day is devoted to dressage, which consists of a sequence of
set movements driven from memory: these are designed to display
the schooling and obedience of the animal.
Judges look out for accuracy of the movements prescribed in the
dressage test, which includes circles, half-circles and serpentines,
driven at various speeds and paces - from walk to extended trot.
Other manoeuvres include circles driven one-handed, serpentines,
halts and rein-backs (reversing).
Each movement is awarded marks out of 10. At the end, all points
are added and the total is subtracted from 150 (maximum score) to
give the final mark. The competitor with the lowest mark is therefore
the winner of the dressage phase.
Further penalties may be added for errors of course or dismounting
of grooms. All turnouts must carry a groom (two grooms for teams
of horses or ponies) who must remain seated throughout the test
and may not speak or sign to the driver.
The marathon takes place on the second day, when competitors drive
the five timed sections of the cross-country marathon course. The
last stage is 10 kilometres in length and includes up to eight obstacles
which must be driven at speed. The obstacles are often built up
around natural features and are made up of a series of lettered
gates that must be driven in order. Different routes within the
obstacle course leads to tight turns that require a great deal of
judgment and skill from the driver if the course is to be competed
with the minimum of time penalties.
A veterinary examination may be carried out during the halts, where
horses and ponies will be checked for pulse rate, respiration, dehydration
or injuries and any which are deemed to be unfit shall not be allowed
The third and final day consists of cone driving. This element of
the competition equates to the show jumping phase of a ridden event
and test the skill and competence of the driver as well as the suppleness
and obedience of the horse. The objective is to arrive, in a set
time, through narrowly spaced pairs of cones with only centimetres
to spare on either side of the wheels.
are awarded for exceeding the allowed time or for dislodging any
of the balls that are laced on the cones. Further penalties will
be given for errors of course or for the groom dismounting. If a
driver manages to drive the course within the allocated time and
without hitting any cones, he will have driven a "double clear"
and will incur no penalties.
for the Midlands Equine Fair are available in advance from Contour
Exhibitions & Events by calling 08700 115007 and advance booking
discounts are available. Further information and leaflets are available
by calling 01884 841644, or by logging on at www.contour.uk.net.