Lillico Supported Rider, Harriet EcEntee tells us all about her carriage driving competitions over the last few months, from Kent County Show to parading in front of the Queen.
In January 2018 I was given the opportunity to take up carriage driving, after being diagnosed with scoliosis (a curvature of the spine). Since that first lesson with Sara Howe, I am glad to say, that I have come a very long way. I competed all throughout the indoor driving season in the Kent region, I was fortunate enough to qualify for the championships at Keysoe, where I came 3rd! I also participated at my local ‘South-East Challenge’ events, winning a shield at the championships for the Novice Pony section. I currently participate in outdoor driving trials, including a 2 day events at Windsor and Blandings, and a one day event at Ashfields.
Recently, I have enjoyed competing in Pleasure Driving and Exercise Vehicle classes, at Smiths Lawn and Kent County. I have had many wonderful experiences with my pony Archie, and in the past month we have been very successful…
The BDS show has been the highlight of my year. For Archie and I, the day started with the Junior Whip (ages 10-14) class, in which I was 3rd. All turnouts were incredible and it was a very strong class, it was lovely to see so such talented drivers, and get some pointers from the judge. As soon as we entered the arena there was a rush of excitement, I know Archie in particular let the atmosphere get to him.
My second class was the 4-wheeled Exercise Vehicle class. It was wonderful to see so many turnouts of such high standard. It was quite a mixture, from Shetlands to Cobs, 10hh-16hh! When I realised the size of the class my hopes of achieving a place in the line-up faded, when I was pulled in 4th I couldn’t believe my luck. I was so grateful to be placed so high in such a strong class.
The highlight of my day was the parade, trotting in front of the royal box, watched upon by the Queen, was one of the best moments of my driving career to date. The experience was incredible, even if we did break in to canter as we passed the white-picket fencing! As we trotted through I was beaming from ear-to-ear, I’m sure that day will be one of the most memorable days of my life. I am so proud of how far I have come with all of the support from my fellows, and I am very grateful for all of the wonderful events that have given me the opportunity to compete in such spectacular venues, even as a novice. The BDS provided such a wonderful annual show and it was lovely to go from being in the crowd to driving my own turnout at such a magnificent show.
The next show in our busy calendar was Kent County, where I competed in the exercise driving class. We were lucky enough to be placed 2nd, a great result in such a competitive class, all turnouts were immaculate and very talented! The day proved to be very successful, with a fab result, lots of shopping and plenty of ice-cream. Archie was very well behaved, even if he did get his lovely white socks rather dirty before we even entered the arena!
Photo credits to Paul Orchard Photography