Midlands Driving Trials Group is organising a class for small ponies and newcomers at three of its events this season. The class will cater especially for ponies that stand 11hh and under and drivers who are new to the sport of outdoor driving trials.

To be held on the Saturday of Widmerpool (20 June), Offchurchbury (4 July) and Moreton Morrell (1 August), the new class will embrace all three phases of driving trials at a level to ensure a positive experience.

Using a dressage test, based on the one used for Precision and Paces by the Indoor Horse Driving Trials, in a small arena followed by a course of 10 cones, competitors will then have time to learn the four obstacles before embarking on a shortened marathon course. Turnout is informal marathon wear with hard hat and all who complete will receive a rosette.

Horses and ponies of all shapes and sizes are welcome to come and have a go - the only restriction in the Newcomers section is that drivers must not have competed at Novice, Open or Multiple outdoor driving trials classes.

Non-members can join for the day for just ?5 in addition to the entry fee of ?30; this will provide them with the required insurance cover and Newcomer competitors can compete in the three events in 2009 before moving up to Pre-Novice level next year.

Following the success of last year, Midlands is to repeat the offer of a drive round the marathon course on Saturday morning for BDS and other non-competitive drivers. The drives will take place at both Catton Park events (11 April and 26 September) and at Offchurchbury (4 July). Those taking part can choose to drive all or part of the course (no obstacles) as preferred.

Each course is suitable for all although Catton Park is quite hilly and can be hard work if very wet. The course in April will be adapted to take into account fitness levels of horses and ponies at that time of year. The cost remains at ?15 per outfit and drivers must be members of the BDS, MDTG or the BHS for insurance purposes.

Further information and downloadable entry forms will soon be available on the Midlands website: or send an SAE to: MDTG Entries Secretary, Jodders, Soudley, Market Drayton, Shropshire TF9 2SB.