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The Carriage Commentator

MEET THE TEAM

Discover the names and faces behind The Carriage Commentator

SARAH DANCE

Editor in Chief

Sarah Dance - Editor in Chief

The Carriage Commentator’s founder and editor in chief Sarah Dance (Needham) is an authority on all areas of carriage driving having been involved it all her life.  Raised on a farm in Aberdeenshire, she has always driven and ridden, and aged 16 won the British Driving Society’s Harpers & Queen junior scholarship, collecting the certificate at the Horse of the Year Show in London, driving the family’s famous Shetland pony Freddie.  A regular driving trials and showing competitor, she was the Scottish Junior Whip champion on several occasions and an active member of the Aberdeenshire Pony Club.  Her mother is senior judge Jane MacInnes LHHI and stepfather is Ewan MacInnes, who drives the ‘Royal Highlander’ coach, based at Maryculter Carriage Driving Centre.  On her father’s side, Sarah is related the coaching legend, Sylvia Brocklebank, about whom she has written a great deal. 

Sarah worked with coaching teams in Bavaria during her gap year, then studied History of Art & Anthropology at London University before joining Christies in Glasgow. She then approached Thimbleby & Shorland in Reading, who run the world-famous carriage sales, and suggested she take over from John Mauger when he retired – which she did.  She was in charge of the specialist auctions for sixteen years – their first female auctioneer, and the youngest partner of the firm – and undertook a Fine Arts Valuation degree course to become a chartered surveyor.  Sarah married her business partner Richard Dance in 2005, had two daughters Gabriella and Francesca, and as a busy mother, withdrew from the day to day running of the sales in 2009, but remains as a consultant to T & S.  In recent years she returned to her early passion for the written word and studied creative writing at Oxford, producing a novel during the course.

For nearly 30 years, Sarah has provided specialist commentaries on all types of driving activities and in 2022, was the voice behind the live FEI TV commentary for the FEI Four-in-hand Championships in Pratoni, Italy and the FEI Driving World Cup finals in Leipzig, Germany.  She is the FEI’s Driving correspondent and writes their competition reports and press releases, as well as historical features and stewards’ guidelines.  An occasional judge and sponsor of all sorts of driving, she is also called upon to drive teams of horses on film sets when required.  She is the District Commissioner of the Vine Pony Club and a liveryman with the Worshipful Company of Farriers.  For the last ten years she has produced and driven four spirited Welsh Section A mares in all combinations, and in April 2022 became the Indoor Driving National Pony Pair Reserve Champion.  She lives in Hampshire with the family, horses and ponies, dogs, guinea pigs and many chickens, and when time allows, is also a keen skier.

In 2023 Sarah became the Chief Driving Steward at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, with responsibility for the Coaching and Show Driving classes.  She also voiced the FEI Driving World Cup finals in Bordeaux, France and the European Four-in-Hand and World Para Driving Championship in Exloo, Holland for FEI TV.  She was the Moderator for the FEI’s Driving Forum in Kronenberg, Holland in April which focused on Equine Welfare in sport and Social Licence to Operate.  

MINTA WINN

Chef d'Equipe

Minta Winn - Chef d'Equipe

The Carriage Commentator’s co-pilot and chef d’equipe Araminta Winn is one of the country’s most successful carriage drivers and an authority on all areas of horsemanship and driving.  Born in the south of England but raised in rural Ireland, she had an unconventional upbringing, being home schooled.  Having always had a ‘gift’ with horses, she and her brother Jasper rode and drove as children.  As a teenager, she brought her tandem of ponies over to England and competed at the BDS Show at Smith’s Lawn and soon after won the overall championship with a team of ponies.  For much of her career she has produced driving horses and turnouts for herself and a wide range of clients, who have gone on to enjoy success in all disciplines.  As a protegee of Sallie Walrond, she went on to win all the major showing titles and many national driving trials titles, with all combinations, from singles to teams. For 10 years she ran the driving centre at Dounhurst in Sussex and there she raised her son Rupert who, after studying at Warwick University, now works in the motor industry – he is also a course builder and drives.  

Together with Sally Taylor, she authored the book ‘Learning to Carriage Drive – A Step by Step Guide’, a publication which is still in demand.  Before writing for The CC, she regularly produced articles for other publications on all areas of driving and training.

Minta trained in Ireland as a harness maker and has returned to the craft, providing a range of high quality leather goods and turning her hand to all sorts of repairs. She is a LHHI, UKCC level 3 coach, senior BDS and BC judge, President of the Tandem Club and currently chef d’equipe to the British horse pairs team. She is an event organiser as well as being a much sought-after trainer, teaching both newcomers and seasoned competitors, and is especially interested in the psychology of both the horse and driver. She also specialises in teaching and bringing on junior drivers.  In 2022, she became the Indoor Driving Veteran National Champion.  Based at Ashfields in Essex where she also runs her leatherwork business, she travels whenever possible and in autumn 2022 judged in Southern Ireland at their National Championships and at the Villa Louis Classic in Wisconsin, USA.