British Young Drivers' Easter Camp 2017

4 May 2017

by Emily Viller

Unfortunately this year I couldn’t get time off work to attend the Advanced Young Drivers training camp with my own pony (life as a student midwife is busy!). However I was lucky enough to go on foot to a day of each camp to help out.

The camp took place on 15-17 April at the Unicorn Trust Equestrian Centre in Gloucestershire. I arrived on the Saturday morning when the AYD training was on its last day and everyone had thoroughly enjoyed their time.

Coach, Anna Grayston, had worked her magic and everyone had learnt a lot from the experience.

Not only this, but Saturday was crossover day meaning all of the British Young Drivers were arriving ready for their training, which commenced the next day.

All of a sudden the beautiful Unicorn Equestrian Trust became very busy with excitable juniors and their wonderful ponies everywhere!

The AYD’s had their obstacle lessons that afternoon which were great to watch, however I quickly became occupied with Katy Stewart’s fitness session with the BYD’s.

We discussed the importance of our own fitness as well as that of our ponies; the circuit training seemed to tire me out a lot more than the younger juniors whom still had bundles of energy at the end.

They had a busy afternoon and were tasked with learning the parts of the harness with Sarah Jane Williams and Sara Howe and had a team competition to see who could put the harness back together in the quickest time.

It was a really fun way of learning about the harness and they all understood the importance of each individual part. We had some spare time in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to discuss the horse inspection.

This year the British Young Drivers National Championships will be held at Sandringham.

This even involves a horse inspection and with many of the drivers having never participated in an inspection before, we thought it would be a good idea to have a practice.

Ellie Wallace kindly lent her lovely pony to help demonstrate what an inspection entailed as well as how to do it well and how not to do it!

We discussed having a lose rein so that the rein ‘smiles’ encouraging the drivers to not hold their ponies tightly as well as how to present yourself and your pony.

It was then time to put what they had learnt to practice as they all went to retrieve their ponies and their ponies’ passports.

Katy Stewart acted as a vet to give a more realistic experience.

We were also lucky enough to be joined by our sponsors, Baileys Horse Feeds.

We discussed the importance of nutrition and got the chance to label the parts of the horses’ digestive system.

That evening it was time for all of the juniors to come together for dinner (cooked by the amazing Fran).

Crossover day is great as it is one of the only occasions where all juniors get to spend time together, 48 drivers; parents and coaches had dinner together that evening!

After dinner we all played games in the arena including an assault course with the obstacles and stuck in the mud.

I was definitely ready for bed after this so we all did last checks for the ponies and went back to our lorries for an early night ready for training in the morning.

Lessons began early in the morning with coaches Sarah Jane Williams, Sara Howe, and Sarah Garnett (affectionately known as Granny).

The morning’s lessons featured dressage. The first lessons give the drivers a chance to get to know their coaches, they all made great progress.

We all met for lunch before cones lessons in the afternoon. It was a busy day but everyone learnt lots and had a great time.

That evening was time for chaos to take over the Unicorn Trust for the annual BYD Easter egg hunt. Unfortunately, I had to get back to university so it was time for me to leave.

The next day featured a world cup style competition, which I was very disappointed to miss but I am told it went really well and everyone had an amazing time. It was the end of another Easter Camp.

BYD’s now have the season ahead to look forward to featuring the Junior Championships at Sandringham and the training clinic at Ashfields in August.

I look forward to seeing everyone soon and hope you all have a great summer season!

Emily Viller



Related stories: