Driving is popular and pairs particularly so. A local taster day focusing on finding out about driving an experienced Shetland pair attracted a record number of junior and adult drivers, keen to learn and take up the reins.
The day was organised by the local branch of the British Driving Society but similar days are also hosted by clubs affiliated to British Carriagedriving and lessons with a pair can be arranged at an approved centre or with a qualified coach.
Welsh driver Wendy Morris kindly brought along her well established pair who she has driven for many years as pair and tandem and more recently as wheelers for her Shetland team. The two ponies are affectionately known as “The Cherubs” have been involved in fancy dress fundraising for the Welsh children’s cancer charity LATCH, as well as excelling in many a show ring and earning Wendy her coveted tandem bars.
Shetlands — being small but exceptionally strong – are ideal to pair up, as then they can take several adults out driving even over hilly terrain. Wendy has completed many drives and driven Trec events easily completing eight miles over the Welsh hills.
The pair, and team, have also enjoyed indoor and outdoor club driving trials.
After finding out about the ponies, the eager learners at the training day were able to harness up and long rein with Wendy alongside advising.
According to her “fit bit” Wendy walked more than four miles during the hour long session. Long reining is so useful in getting the feel of the pair and the knack of keeping them together — especially on the turns where the outside pony must make up ground compared to the inside pony, yet keep calm and focused. This was also a useful time to establish the voice commands that the ponies were used to. Smiles grew more and more broad as the long reiners gained confidence.
The ponies and Wendy then enjoyed a well earned break while everyone had lunch watching the useful DVD “Double Up!” by Jane MacInnes.
After this everyone drove well-schooled single ponies to improve rein handling, transitions and smooth turns before having a good go at driving the pair. Wendy sat alongside to give advice and had ultimate control with dual reins. However she found her learners so attentive that she was able to let them keep control while walking, trotting, halting and changing the rein.
The atmosphere was amazing and progress very positive. Pairs for pleasure driving and competitive driving is truly satisfying and rewarding. Everyone was buzzing with excitement from the experience and all agreed Shetland pony pairs are a lot of fun!