There is a whole new social world to be enjoyed with carriage riding – and you don’t need to own a horse, says Clare Turner.
Where was the original boot or dashboard? What was the original rally car? The answers lie in carriages and the sport of carriage driving.
Please pardon the pun, but there are many routes in to driving. Often people start by ‘breaking in’ an outgrown riding pony (with expert help – available via British Driving Society or British Carriage Driving)
Those that don’t have access to a horse or pony of their own may enjoy helping at local events, becoming grooms or ‘backsteppers’ to a local driver – social media is always a good place to make contact with local driving groups to find drivers needing an extra pair of hands. It’s also possible to book carriages and drivers for all sorts of occasions – a driving lesson, a picnic drive for a birthday, a prom night, weddings and funerals. One of the local companies for this is Highsteppers at Pallington.
Make new friends
The social aspect means that there are always two people on the carriage, more if you have
a bigger carriage – so there’s always conversation to be had and people to meet as you drive.
Carriage driving is a diverse and accessible sport, catering for all ages, and to both able bodied and disabled the benefits of time spent with animals and out in the fresh air speak for themselves and carriages provide access for everyone equally.
There is also the historical aspect of driving. Many vehicles and the harnesses that you may find in the show ring at county shows are antiques, fully functional and beautifully presented for the event. ‘Mr Private Driving’ is a marvellous source of education, particularly for those interested in showing, and he is endlessly entertaining for armchair supporters of the sport.
Join the community
It is absolutely the best way to travel, you can’t beat bowling along with a friend and a lovely horse or pony trotting along in front and maybe a carriage dog at your wheel!
In short the driving community are a group of like-minded people who enjoy the sport and want to have fun with their animals.
There are all sorts of carriage driving activities from rallies, sports driving, scurry driving, showing, fun days, carriage dogs, fancy dress, long reining – most involve picnics and all include friendly faces – maybe something to consider for 2022.
by Clare Turner, Skylands Coaching & Training Centre