Carriage Drivers from across the Riding for the Disabled’s South East Region were out in force recently at their annual show at Felbridge Show Ground, East Grinstead.
The show drew competitors from across Surrey, Sussex and Kent, who went head to head in the three disciplines of dressage, driving through a course of cones and showing.
The day started with John Tierney from East Park RDA (Newchapel, West Sussex) winning the Condition and Turnout with Slatyford Spartan, while Norman Watson from Happy Landings (Nr Horsham, West Sussex) won the Assisted Whip Class driving Misty.
Lisa Disborough from Stella Hancock Group (Worpleston, Surrey) was brought in first for the Novice Whip driving Maisie and the showing classes ended with the Open which was won by Tracey Spencer from Heron’s Ghyll (Whitesmith, East Sussex) driving Nutmeg.
Prizes for the Showing were presented by Bert Wiegman, Master Wheelwright of the Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights who were the day’s sponsors.
“As Wheelwrights we are really pleased to be able to put our charitable funds to good use in providing a bit more mobility – and carriage driving definitely gives a freedom to these drivers who might not always feel it” he said.
“Today has been very humbling and I’ve been so impressed by what these competitors have been able to achieve!”
In the dressage, Maria Wilkinson driving Murphy from Stella Hancock won the Novice while the Open went to Amanda Hardy fresh from her second place at the Nationals driving Flash from Happy Landings.
It was the boys’ turn for success in the cones with Greg Cooper of Heron’s Ghyll winning the Novice driving Lottie and Trevor Edwards of Happy Landings pipping everyone to the post in the Open driving Eddie.
Stella Hancock Group won the shield for the group winning the most points throughout the day.
“My thanks have to go to the wonderful work of the teams behind the competitors, who are tireless in their time and support as well as our sponsors, The Worshipful Society of Wheelwrights” said the Show’s organiser, Miranda Purves.
The Worshipful Company of Wheelwrights is active in the support and development of the wheelwright’s craft and a list of practising wheelwrights in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is available.
As a founding member of the City & Guilds of London Institute, the Company has for more than a century been involved in the training of apprentices.
Carriage Driving in the RDA celebrated its 40 anniversary this year, having been offered first at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst when donkeys were used. Competitors ride with an RDA Whip as an instructor, who has to pass rigorous and vigorous assessments to be qualified, as do the ponies and horses.