Try Driving Day with Chris Ainscough at Thompson House Equestrian Centre.

28 November  2021by British Carriagedriving


On the 28th of November, 12 enthusiastic participants braved the cold and headed to Thompson House Equestrian Centre in Lancashire for a Try Driving Day hosted by Chris at Thompson House Equestrian Centre and supported by Bennington Carriages and Zilco Europe.

Everyone introduced themselves telling the group where they were on their individual carriage driving journeys. The group included two keen under 18’s, a range of people who had no experience of driving whatsoever and some who had put together a turnout themselves at home with little or no professional help.

The first session was a discussion about the ideal starter turnouts including harness, carriage, horse/pony and role of the back stepper/assistant followed by a demonstration and hands on experience of how to put on a single harness correctly and safely.

This was followed by safe putting to and taking out of the carriage and again members of the group got hands on experience at trying this under Chris’s guidance.

Bennington Carriages had provided vehicles and these were discussed highlighting the differences - pros and cons of two wheelers, four wheelers and fun bug vehicles.

Lunchtime provided some welcome respite from the cold despite the indoor facilities and then it was onto the afternoon’s activities.

Each member of the group had a short drive of one of Chris’ schoolmaster ponies, for some this was the first time sitting on a carriage and ‘having a go’ and for others it gave a short opportunity to ask specific questions relating to their own driving and receive some feedback.

During this time the others were able to watch each other and also have a go on the ‘rein machine’ whilst Joyce Carrick, one of Chris’ long-term pupils, was on hand to give simple pointers on things like clarity of verbal commands, correct use of the whip whilst maintaining the contact and safe mounting and dismounting of the carriage.

Following the drives it was back into the warm to watch a PowerPoint presentation on the different disciplines within the driving world including Pleasure Driving, BDS Trec, BDS Showing, Attelage de Tradition, Harness Racing, Scurry Driving and Competition Driving. These were simple overviews into each discipline with short explanations and videos.

At the end of the presentation there was much enthusiasm within the group with different members enthused by the different disciplines. The different ways of getting into carriage driving were discussed - through lessons and instructors, becoming a back stepper for someone, volunteering at a local club or getting your own turnout.

Each participant then left with an information pack including diagrams of parts of the harness, a list of basic driving dos and don’ts, details of different carriage driving associations within the UK, information on carriages from Bennington Carriages, Zilco brochures plus other goodies.

Everyone who attended had a lot of fun, left feeling inspired and with more knowledge than when they arrived and better prepared to continue their journey into the carriage driving world.


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