21 carriage drivers and their back steppers, mixed with wall to wall sunshine and brilliant driving conditions made the perfect receipe for a very successful event to mark BHS Access Month in Hampshire.
Held at Tenantry Farm, Rockbourne, on Sunday, 6th May 2018, ponies and horses of all shapes and sizes – including Shetlands, Cobs, Dartmoors, Heavy Horses and carriage dogs – together with their carriage drivers and back steppers enjoyed a 6 mile interval drive around the beautiful farm belonging to Rob and Ailsa McLeod. This was followed by a competitive cones course and a 6 sets of skills which looked easier than they drove!
The brainchild of Kayti Harvey, supported by Gail Johnson (both carriage drivers and BHS Hants Committee members), the event attracted competitors from Hampshire, Somerset, West Sussex, Dorset and Berkshire who were members of the BHS, BDS, South Downs Harness Club, White Horse Harness Club, Heavy Horse Trials Club and the Dorset Harness Club. There were four classes including multiples including pairs, a tandem and carriages with dalmations (traditional carriage dogs) as well as single horses or ponies.
The winning harness club team was the South Downs Harness Club.
Our thanks go to our team of volunteer stewards, photographers and superb caterers. Also a special thanks goes to Linda Swain from the British Driving Society who kindly undertook the vital role of checking harness before drivers were allowed onto the course.
The BHS looks after the interests of all equestrians and the importance of protecting safe routes to access the rights of way network applies to horse drawn vehicles as much as horse riders. Working with county and district councils, BHS Access and Bridleway volunteers help local authorities to understand the requirements of horse drawn vehicles and the need to maintain the surfaces of byways to enable them to be used by carriage drivers. As we all know, once a surface becomes rutted it is generally too dangerous to use thereby forcing carriages onto the road network.
We would recommend that carriage drivers investigate becoming a member of their Local Access Forum. Whilst these Forums will generally have a horse riding representative, very few have carriage driving representatives. These forums are statutory bodies that provide advice to local authorities on rural matters.