It's a ride home with real horsepower for schoolgirl driving star Megan, 10
Monday, 11 April 2011

Megan Wheeldon is a Young Driver, who most recently competed at the Indoor Driving Finals at Keysoe. She finished second in the Extra Young driver class.

The following story by Kelly Tyler was published in the Derby Telegraph and on the This is Derbyshire website on Monday, 11 April 2011.

NEVER mind the school bus, 10-year-old Megan Wheeldon drives herself home - in a pony and trap.

Megan is so determined to do well in horse driving competitions that she likes to get in as much practice as possible. Mum Tracey puts pony Skippy into his harness and they wait for lessons to finish outside the gates of Hulland Ward School. Then after a pat and the odd carrot for Skippy from Megan's friends, the youngster takes up the reins and drives the two miles home herself.

Photo: Megan Wheeldon heading for home after leaving Hulland Ward School driving her pony, Skippy.

Megan's diligence has paid off. She has taken second place overall in a children's class at the Indoor Horse Driving Trials UK and netted a red rosette for steering her pony around an obstacle course of cones.

Her mum, Tracey, said she drives Skippy to school twice a week to pick Megan up. The 46-year-old said: "It is a good opportunity for Megan to practise. "Because of the distance she has to drive in the competitions her pony has to be fit and so does she. They have to work as a team. "He shows off for her and looks really good. He is definitely her boy, not mine. In fact, driving Skippy to school is the only time Megan lets me drive her pony!"

Megan competed in the Extra Young Juniors class at the trials, in Keysoe, Bedfordshire. She said: "I really enjoyed the competition, it was a great day and Skippy was very good. I was pleased with coming second because last year I got third place. My friends at school like it when my mum brings Skippy and sometimes they stroke him."

Megan has owned 20-year-old Skippy, an Exmoor crossbreed, for two years and has been competing in indoor driving championships since she got him. To get to the UK trials she had to go through regional heats, which often saw her competing against adults. But Megan is used to pitting her skills against grown-ups, as she regularly practises with her dad, David, 45, a haulage contractor, who also takes part in horse driving.

The Wheeldons keep their ponies on land at their home in Hognaston, and days out at competitions are a family affair, with Megan and David in the driving seats and Tracey, a sign-language interpreter, acting as groom. As Megan has just turned 10, she is now able to compete in outdoor driving trials, with the first event taking place at the end of May in Tutbury. She said: "I'm really excited. I like being there as the atmosphere is always good. I'm most looking forward to the obstacle phase. That's my favourite bit."

Friends and family are proud of Megan and her achievements. "Everyone has been so supportive, the children at school made Megan a lovely card and were full of it when she turned up at school after the weekend," said Tracey. I can't tell you how proud we are of her. She has worked so hard and deserves it."

Story by Kelly Tyler, published in the Derby Telegraph and on the This is Derbyshire website on Monday, 11 April 2011.