PONY POWER: It all began when Jack, our youngest son, grew out of Buster, his 11hh hunting / pony club pony. PICTURE OF BUSTER AND JACK HUNTING Buster needed a new job as he wasn’t ideal as a small child’s riding pony, I put him in a carriage and we pottered around the lanes for a year or two. Then we had a go at club trials for a bit of fun, paying pocket money to my reluctant kids to back-step for me. The trials took us round the southeast, Sevenoaks, Windsor, and Goodwood. We had the most amazing time learning together, generally coming home with ribbons and so the addiction began…

From competing ‘outside’ we had a shot at ‘indoor’ at Flemish Farm, Thames Valley and later at Merrist Wood College going onto qualify for the National Championships at Keyseo. KEYSOE IMAGE The pony always gave me 100% but I felt he lacked in strength and power. So now I was at a cross road, to either start a young horse to drive or look for a second pony to pair; A horse would inevitably mean Buster would be shelved.

One of my goals was to compete at Sandringham two day driving trials, so, on a whim, one afternoon in May 2012, I contacted Mrs Mountain and plucked “Twyford Niblet” out of a field of 50 hairy welsh ponies, barely halter trained, I loaded her in the lorry and brought her home! A 5 year old blank canvas - I got to work leading her off the big horses, exposing her to the world, lunging, long-reining, soon progressing onto pulling a tyre. She was straight forward and biddable. Within three months she was in a single carriage and going really nicely.

It’s now a year on and Buster and “Nib”are totally inseparable. During this time Claire Wigmore sold me her granddaughter’s immaculate pairs carriage and with the assistance of Sara Howe and Anna Greyston, one afternoon the ponies were in and away.

Gently the ponies learnt their new job and seemed to really enjoy what was asked of them. I tried Mrs Nibs out as a single a few times in the ‘indoor’ trials and then as pairs, MERRIST WOOD INDOOR PHOTO followed by a couple of open pairs in the outdoor Windsor club events in the summer. The difference in strength and power is a great feeling as is working as a team. Brilliant fun!

However, not sure exactly what the ponies career would be, I got in contact with Chris Orchard who enthusiastically took me under her wing and showed me the ropes of scurry racing. Before you can say ‘Jack Robinson’ the ponies became Dodge & Weave, I was enrolled with the Osborne Scurry Group, which kicked off at Southsea on a glorious sunny spring morning. We did a gentle round to find our feet and by the afternoon the crowds were thickening as were the noise levels but both ponies remained focused as we went onto the second round. The next scurry event was Surrey County Show, (sharing the warm up arena with top class showjumpers – interesting!) followed by Hickstead Derby PHOTO OF SCURRY and onto Hickstead International, finishing with Edenbridge and Oxted County Show. Each event the ponies became more confident and a little braver as did the driver!!!! Absolute madness and maximum fun!!

During the summer Sandringham was lurking on the horizon and although a big ask, the ponies were schooling nicely, they were bouncing fit, so I entered Sandringham two day club event as a jolly. The ponies produced the best dressage test to date PHOTO OF SANDRINGHAM DRESSAGE  followed by a double clear in the cones putting us well in the lead. Both ponies were awesome. On day two the ponies (with a bit of encouragement going through the water), SANDRINGHAM WATER gave me 100% through the obstacles. She was green but positive and I couldn’t have asked for more. Driver error concluded 2nd place nonetheless they did me proud.