Driving at the Showcase of Champions: a meeting place of British and American driving, larger breeds and miniatures.
I had my first experience of a miniature horse show last week and what an amazing atmosphere. I can truly say I’ve rarely seen so much glitz and glamour as at the Missina Showcase of Champions! The array of prizes, the luxurious rosettes and the attention to detail in decor really had the WOW factor.
I don’t own a miniature horse (although I am now seriously tempted to!), so I took my lovely elegant Welsh Section C Crossfield Glory, aka Mr J, with his ladies phaeton to strut his stuff in the driving classes open to larger breeds.
It was most interesting to see the American style of driven showing and the show vehicles popular with small breeds; the Shetlands and miniature horses.
British carriages were well represented and there are new carriages being brought out especially for this market with the Bennington Mini Magnum and recent Mini Magnum GL — an even more luxurious show carriage.
There was a separate class just to showcase American driving and I was struck by the flamboyance of some of the outfits.
Hats are not mandatory and the lady whip could be attired in far more elaborate costumes than we tend to use in our British Concours D’Elegance classes.
A popular American style carriage for miniatures is the closed or arch wheel style show cart and Estate Show cart. These have a very distinctive style with a black foot basket which looks smart and would definitely stop spray and dust from the ground dirtying your clothes and footwear. There is usually a high gloss black finish with a black patent boot and dashboard. The wheels can be wood or are often wire with fine pneumatic tyres. The shafts and swingletree are usually hand painted with pinstriping in burgundy, black, gold or silver, depending on the base colour which is often glossy black but may be varnished wood. The carriages are low to the ground but not everyone is agile enough to step in over the footwell so it is possible to find easy entrance show vehicles where the seating and back panel ingeniously swing open. The seating can be incredibly luxurious — often sumptuous tufted velvet. This is true too of the very elegant four-wheeled viceroys built for miniatures. Show harness is very refined in its proportions to set off the elegant paces of the miniature horses.
There was a great atmosphere and the driving competitors were all enjoying the experience of showing off their steeds of various sizes in front of judge Gary Docking.
Gary therefore had very different turnouts in the majority of the ten driving classes on the Thursday. We entered open British Driving, the antique or vintage vehicle and Concours.
Mr J and I had a wonderful day in the sunshine out on the outdoor arena and were pleased to get two second places, and best of all, to win the Concours D’Elegance (pictured top). This was Mr J’s first show this year as I have been focussed on driving trials with Alfie, and in fact Mr J’s last outing was the regional HDT at Windsor in June.
What a versatile and talented pony he is — loving his showing but also able to turn his hoof to a great performance in big horse driving trial events!
Mr J had to stand in for Alfie at Windsor as the big cob had trodden on himself in the stable and got himself out of doing some work for a few weeks! Mr J, being the superstar that he is, did a lovely dressage and cones to stand first coming into the marathon which I then messed up by missing a gate in one of the last obstacles and getting us eliminated! *Hangs head in shame*
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As we love all the different driving disciplines we stayed over at the Missina Showcase of Champions and competed in the driven cones with the Revolution three phase carriage.
There were some very speedy miniatures in this class. We stayed in trot but whizzed to victory and he won another of the stunning first place rosettes. Then to prove his beautiful manners and paces he took my dad, who is in his first year of driving, round the course clear. A delighted dad got his very first show rosette at the most amazing of shows!