Think of the competitive sport of horse driving trials and you think of a spring and summer outdoor sport. In the past four years, however, the competition has been brought indoors, where it has flourished.

Competitive indoor carriage driving is not new. Indoor competitions featuring elements of the three-phase driving trials have been delighting spectators on the continent for some time, inspiring the Strongid-P National Indoor Horse Driving Trials Championship.

Dick Carey, mastermind of the championships, explains: “The original competition which gave rise to the Strongid-P Indoor Championships, featured the three phases of outdoor driving trials – dressage, obstacles and cones – but because the idea was to build up to an exciting climax the order of the phases was changed. Dressage still came first, but it was followed by the cones course, with two rounds of obstacles forming the finale.

One of the sport’s most ardent supporters, Dick Lane, national indoor champion in 1998-9 says: “The indoor championships enable drivers to keep ticking over and in touch with other drivers during the winter months. You can have fun and good sport at whatever level you like – you can literally take a pony out of the field and compete, or you can train hard and take it more seriously.”

“It¨s all about encouragement. This is an ideal way for novices and youngsters to begin competing, or for more experienced drivers to bring on new horses or do some training for the outdoor season,” explained Carey

“As organisers, we are in it for fun and enjoyment and we aim to keep everything relaxed. One thing you will never see at an indoor competition is a bowler hat – they are banned!”

For full report see Horse & Hound, issue date 9 November