Emily Ham’s driving blog: an exciting team call-up

There is great excitement in Wales with preparations well underway for the first ever World Championships for scurry and trials at the Sandringham Game Fair in September. This is an exciting arena sport open to singles, tandems and teams of ponies, as well as the pony pairs you see in the usual scurry competitions.

As competitors can drive any four-wheeled competition vehicle, this means drivers like myself, who enjoy three-phase driving trial events, can use our marathon vehicles, while scurry drivers can take part with traditional scurry vehicles. In the pony pair classes you will see both types of vehicle flying round.

Scurry and trials competitions are run as arena entertainment at county shows and game fairs around Britain. The crowd enjoy cheering on ponies of all shapes and sizes as they tackle the timed obstacle course comprising cones, arches, barriers, flags and ramps. Music and commentary adds to the atmosphere for the crowd and competitors alike.

Emily Ham and Mr JIt’s really exciting racing through the cones and round the obstacles. The challenge is combining accuracy with speed. You need to avoid knocking down balls while keeping time penalties as low as possible. Mr J (pictured right) is tremendous fun to drive, can turn on a sixpence and really responds to a cheering crowd making him ideal for this type of competition.

The sport began back in 2012. It was founded by Ivor Williams and Carole Davenport, who are still the main organisers and driving force (excuse the pun!) behind it today. Carole explains: “We wanted to start something that was attainable for all carriage drivers, giving a weekend of fun with their pony or ponies. We didn’t want anyone to have to go out and buy specialist equipment and we also wanted it to be entertaining to a predominately non-horsey audience.”

They have certainly met their objectives. Newcomers are made very welcome and quickly become addicted to the atmosphere and social side, as well as the thrill of speed driving in front of an appreciative crowd. The sport has gone from strength to strength and they are busy throughout the season at shows across the country.

This year I took Alfie (pictured top) to the selection event for the Welsh team at Bridgend. At 14.2hh he is a full-up size for this sport. I found it much more of a challenge to keep his momentum up through the obstacles, which were tight for him, compared to driving Mr J. I was also a bit cautious as I didn’t have my usual experienced back stepper and could tell we were ‘light’ at times as Alfie surged round! He did me proud though. We came second in each of the mixed classes, being the highest place single turnout, and on Sunday (championship day) he won the single pony event.

So now we are busy preparing with the other Welsh team members. I will be driving Mr J for the team and we really cannot wait. Team kit is ordered — kindly sponsored by Tristar — and training is in full swing. We are all very much looking forwards to the inaugural World Scurry and Trials Championships at the Sandringham Game Fair on 12-14 September.

Emily