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The Carriage Commentator



the bds spring bonanza show @ bury farm - Sunday 9th May 2021

Our 'Man Off the Rails' Mr Private Driving takes a view from his unusually high perspective. Our grateful thanks to Paul Orchard for his wonderful images - May 2021

Private Driving Champion and BDS Chairman Neil Wray with Plains Royalty

The ‘Bonanza at Bury Farm’ was the self-titled opener to the much anticipated first BDS show for some time. The unprecedented and strange times we are living through did not (fortunately) dampen the enthusiasm and patronage for the (somewhat new) BDS management and those competitors who turned out in their Sunday best, it has to be said with renewed vigour and enthusiasm after all our respective confinements.

It strikes me, as it does many of us who are a tad seasoned and long in the tooth these days, that it is a different BDS show scene that we see today.  Perhaps in some areas quantity has mostly overtaken quality, but nevertheless everyone who buffed their boots, polished their brass and scrubbed the socks did themselves proud.  They turned up, showed up and smiled….. what more can you ask for?  We are all genuinely grateful to have a chance to meet up again and never more so when in the midst of our driving fraternity.

Luddington Maestro

The Hackney horses and ponies were ‘out- out’ (yes, it is a thing in the equine world too) and leading from the front, with a measure of controlled talent and sustained movement, was the oh-so-experienced Peter Vyse and his charge of some seasons now ‘Luddington Maestro’, an equine who belies all of his 19 years (with some time off for good behaviour). Maestro’s movement and the time taken in the air are second to none, but honourable mentions must go to Sue Barraclough who with a more controlled ‘Cledwyn Debonaire’ has clearly taken her time to get to the bottom of what makes this horse tick – and it shows.  Debonaire could not be in better hands and Sue seems to have found the key to most of her locks and realised the power.  Halebourne Hackney Stud’s ‘Tivoil Charming Prince’ is an attractive up to height roan gelding, accounting for himself well with an obvious mature attitude, and shown by one of the best showmen in the game, Jimmy Wenham.  Jimmy has the instinct while in the ring to see chance and use it to his winning advantage – on this occasion with only one glove worn! I hear a career change may be on the cards… watch this ‘Ace’!

With so much genuine talent out there and the ability to really wow perhaps not the crowds (not allowed just yet) but those of us with an appreciative eye, it’s a real shame that the HHS members and exhibitors would not support their own in- hand show which was held a week prior to this Bonanza, and therefore the event had to be cancelled. An argument could be made that the in-hand exhibitors and harness exhibitors are different tribes …. But not so with the Hackney boys …. SURELY?  We knock about in a very small world at the showing end of driving, even more so with the Hackneys and we all should support one another, shouldn’t we? …. Except sadly …… our own… which this event proved!

Junior drivers were out in force and in traditional vehicles (for a very pleasant change) and all looked to be going about their job in smart and tidy fashion.  It warmed the cockles of this old heart to see the potential and ability in abundance.  There might be a bit further to go with the correct turnout but it’s going in the right direction and it’s admirable and refreshing to see those coming along after us able and willing to ‘go showing.’  Now’s the time to keep stoking their enthusiasm and perhaps a golden opportunity for the BDS to run some show clinics and educate these young charges as to the whys and wherefores of how and what to do in the ring.

It was a personal pleasure to see my old friends Mole and Liz Edmunds back in the ring and leading the way, as they have done so often in the past. Both are masters of the show turnout and have consistently turned out at the top for many a year now, with many a different horse.  If a horse has to be ‘shut in’ properly, take look at this little lot … their conduct accounting for wins in class after class and with a tweak or two their new ‘top lot’ will go all the way.

Liz Edmonds with Leyswick The Real Deal

It will come as no surprise to you dear reader that Private Driving is my passion, and my life’s work.   In some hands it is being extolled and carried forth with aplomb and courage, but to others an attempt to climb the ranks and ‘buy a gig’ isn’t going to fully cut the muster.  PLEASE, for the love of the left hand, learn.  Yes, go on and do your exercise pleasure, novice and beginner classes which are a great foundation for what might come.  Yet be realistic with your expectations, sanguine about your results and think about how you have been judged, and why.  That way there’s a good chance your aspirations won’t wither and you, and your equine, can enjoy yourselves in the ring (nearly) as much as I have.

So, in conclusion, a good day for all concerned, run and administered well.  My juices are flowing again and I’m aflutter waiting to see what will be made of the rest of the much anticipated season …….. trot on my dears!

George Knight with Rowshill Silver Joker