FEI World Pony Driving Championships
Minden, Germany
15-20 August 2017

Team GBR travel blog
by Ben Freer


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Thursday 17 August

Thursday at Minden brought the pairs dressage competition.

Tara Wilkinson is Great Britain's only pairs driver at the championships and her allotted time was 1506, meaning plenty of time in the morning for walking hazards.

The four-in-hand drivers, Sara Howe and Roger Campbell, together with their backsteppers had a course walk with Boyd Exell and Wilf Bowman-Ripley, whilst the backsteppers also began to familiarise themselves with the marathon Section A and Section B routes around the compact site here at Minden.

When the time came for Tara's dressage, she and her ponies produced a very good test for which she was rewarded with a score of 51.38 for 7th place going into the Marathon phase.

Photos by Amy Mundell

Soon after, the preparations began in camp for the evening's nations night - always the most popular social occasion of any Championships where all competing nations bring food and drink typical of their country to share with their international compatriots.

Great Britain's offering included Gin and Tonics, sponsored by the Cotswolds Distillery, a variety of juices and soft drinks sponsored by Luscombe Drinks and popcorn sponsored by Potlebay popcorn. There was also the usual offering of Pimms and Eton Mess - always very popular favourites!

Amongst the international offering was cheese fondue from the Swiss, ravioli from the Italians and KFC from the Americans, together with an assortment of unknown tipples from all nations!

Minden's nations night is infamous for the show that is put on later in the evening - various people are picked out from the crowd by the organisers and given consumes and half an hour to rehearse a given routine.

This year, Frank Campbell, Clare Campbell, Tara Wilkinson, Rosanna Walters-Symons and Ben Freer, together with Brit Jack Ralph who is working on the event team in Minden, were picked out and given the Rocky Horror Show as their piece to perform in front of hundreds in the main party hall at Minden.

Amongst the other performances in the variety show we're Eric Prydz's call on me video, Greece and performances from Tom Jones, ABBA and Britney Spears. The party went on into the night - likely a few sore heads on Friday. Stay Tuned...

Dressage results - Pony Pairs


Wednesday 16 August

Wednesday brought the first day of competition, specifically the singles dressage.

It was a hazy morning for Great Britain's Rosanna Walters-Symons' dressage, who was third on of the day.

Rosanna Walters-Symons. Photo by Amy Mundell.

Rosanna's pony, Hurricain, produced a good test albeit marred by a couple of small errors, for a score of 62.83.

Initially it was felt that this score was a little harsh on the part of the judges, but as the scores streamed in through the day it became apparent that the judges were marking quite low anyway.

Robert Buck. Photo by Amy Mundell.

Second on after lunch was Great Britain's second single pony driver, Robert Buck. Robert and his pony, Thorneyside Emperor, also produced a good test with a few small errors for a score of 57.39.

At the end of the day, the leader was German driver Herbert Rietzler on a score of 50.67.

Dressage results - Pony Singles

The evening's social calendar brought the infamous Minden grooms games - a three lane relay race through the packed party hall.

Great Britain were well represented by Ben Freer, Frank Campbell, Amy Mundell, Philippa Howe and Emma Michelmore.

The team were unlucky to be drawn against the home favourites Germany in the first round and so finished second with a strong performance that would have won any other heat. Unfortunately though, that result meant that the team didn't progress.

The party went on into the night for some, while others headed to bed to prepare for Thursday - Pairs Dressage Day.


Tuesday 15 August

Tuesday at Minden was trot-up day, with everyone up early(ish) to plait and pamper ponies for the judges' delectation.

This was also the first time that the drivers could showcase their new outfits for these championships, to include navy blazers, ties/scarves and straw hats!

Thankfully, all TeamGBR ponies were passed without a hitch on what was a very hot and humid morning in Germany.

Tara Wilkinson

Following the trot-up came the obligatory team photographs whilst everyone was still in their Tuesday best, skilfully taken by our team photographer, Amy Mundell.

Much to Chef D'Equipe Jill Holah's delight, not one shirt was found untucked despite the sultry conditions!

Rosanna Walters Symons

Roger Campbell & Sara Howe

Having breathed a sigh of relief that both the trot-up and photos were done, after lunch all of the drivers took to the training field with Boyd Exell and Wilf Bowman-Ripley.

The singles and pairs also had individual time in one of he two preparation arenas. With the temperatures high and a long week ahead, sessions were kept short and sharp!

Tuesday evening brought the opening ceremony, for which everyone was bussed down to Minden town centre. The nations gathered in the historic square together with the locals who found themselves caught up in an international fiesta!

Nation by nation, the athletes were called up onto the stage and individually introduced to the adoring crowds whilst the Chef D'Equipe waved the country's flag from the window of an ancient building high above.

After the weight of the jubilant, dancing host German team almost collapsed the stage, the Drivers and their guests were invited for drinks and canap? in the bar of a high-end department store in the middle of the town, where there was plenty of beer, champagne and fighting the Dutch for the next round of currywurst!

Wednesday brings the singles Dressage, with Rosanna Walters-Symons on at 0922 and Robert Buck on at 1356, so they'll be in bed relatively early whilst the others finished what the champagne started!

The pairs dressage for Tara will be at 15:06 on Thursday and the fours dressage on friday, with Roger at 13:48 and Sara at 15:09.

You can see all of Amy Mundell's photos from the Championships, plus regular updates on results and other happenings on our Facebook page.

Follow Team GBR on
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Monday 14 August

Go to part 1 of the team blog