The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) proposals to increase membership and entry figures have been met with reservations from its affiliated clubs.

The BHDTA’s restructure of fees and class format is designed to attract new blood to the sport by lowering entry costs and bridging the gap between novice and advanced level.

The changes include creating a compulsory introductory membership fee of £70 for novice qualifiers; dropping the £37 horse and pony registration charge and levying start fees of £10 for club level qualifiers, rising to £60 for national level teams classes.

“We believe it will be much less expensive for new members to join,” said BHDTA treasurer Derrick Mayes.

The idea is that those who will attend events infrequently will pay less pro rata. But, at a meeting of club chairmen, chaired by the Midland Driving Trials Group’s Chris Doughty, club representatives were unsure whether the proposals would work.

Currently, club membership is around £30, which entitles competitors to enter all classes run by that club. The new class structure includes the creation of pre-novice and novice divisions at club level.

“Novice qualifying events will be at club events, so new competitors will now have to pay BHDTA membership of £70 in the first year, £38 for groom’s membership, plus an entry fee, of about £50, and a start fee of £10,” said Mr Doughty. “If they want to go to national events the following year, they will have to pay full membership of £135, the groom’s fee, an entry fee of around £135 [and start fee of £20]. In my opinion, this will make numbers lower at national events.”

Other class format restructures include creating intermediate, open and advanced classes at national event level for singles.

  • This news report was first published in Horse & Hound (19 October, ’06)