Training For Trials
Ashfields Carriage and Polo Centre
26th & 27th November 2011.

The second Training for Trials weekend supported by Sport England and the BHDTA was held very successfully on the 26th & 27th November 2011 at Ashfield?s by kind permission of Mr Terry Chambers and hosted by Zoe Morgan and Wilf Bowman-Ripley.

There were four UKcc coaches on hand throughout the weekend, Level 3 coaches Minta Winn and Wilf Bowman-Ripley and Level 1?s Maxine Ingham and Rupert Barnard. Mark Ingham, an FEI candidate Course Designer was also on hand throughout the weekend.

Interest in the weekend was huge and unfortunately numbers had to be capped at 19. There was a large range of abilities, from weekend drivers who were looking to take up the sport, drivers who came with their backsteppers to learn how to progress to the next level and people who were just looking to take up the sport.

There was a number of indoor interactive workshops provided throughout the weekend. Maxine and Rupert covered Correct Dress, Harness types and Maintenance, Dressage and Cone Preparation, How to Backstep Safely and Marathon Timing. Mark gave a very interesting talk on course design and how courses are flagged and what to look out for on a marathon course. This was really well received with many people asking if they could now come onto the BHDTA Club Course Designer Clinic - course designers of the future maybe?
The weather was very kind over the weekend and although cold, was bright and sunny which made the outdoor workshops which Minta and Wilf covered very pleasant. Minta covered the warm up and warm down on both days and had the drivers practicing the walk section up and down the driveway as part of their warm up routine. This is a section of the marathon which is often overlooked when practicing for competition and walk times improved dramatically over the weekend.
Wilf was based in the indoor school on both days and covered dressage on the Saturday and cones and obstacle driving in two separate sessions on Sunday. These were interactive workshops with Mark and Wilf letting the participants plan and make their own cone course before driving it a number of times in the lesson with Wilf. The improvement in each driver?s times and accuracy throughout the session was amazing and the drivers now know how to build a course at home and the correct distances with which to practice.


The afternoon session was obstacle driving, which was based on the same format as the morning session with the drivers and backsteppers building and designing the obstacle with Mark and Wilf?s help. They then each planned their route before driving it a number of times. Each driver?s route was then discussed to see how, or if it could be improved. The people who weren?t driving worked the timing equipment, recorded the times or picked up the balls as they were knocked down. This made for a very inclusive and interactive day.

There was also a very interesting tour of the Ashfield?s Carriage Equipment Shop and Carriage House, which houses Terry Chamber?s beautiful collection of original Road Coaches, Roof Seat Break, Doctors Carriage, Brougham, Hansom Cabs as well as a huge array of modern vehicles and harnesses. On Saturday evening Ashfields hosted the East Anglian Carriage Driving Group AGM. This also included a quiz night and complementary supper, very kindly provided by the EACDG. Competition was fierce and team Wizzy Women won!

The weekend was a huge success and the UKcc coaching system is one that clearly works. The interaction and feedback during the all the sessions was inspiring, not just for the participants but for the coaches too. In summary, a successful and rewarding weekend for all.

Here are a few of our feedback comments :

  • A very enjoyable and informative weekend. I hope to compete in the New Year.
  • A very positive weekend, good fun and lots of idea?s to work on.
  • Great weekend, good balance between theory and practical.
  • Very enjoyable weekend. Thanks.
  • Brilliant, enjoyable weekend. Thanks.
  • A very enjoyable weekend, Thank you!

Maxine Ingham