Emily Ham’s driving blog: A world of new opportunities

  • I am tremendously proud and thrilled to have been chosen as the commissioner for junior members for the British Driving Society (BDS) on the recommendation of Caroline Dale Leech, MBE. I am very excited about the opportunities my new role gives me to encourage more young people into driving.

    Melita Powell

    Melita Powell

    The British Driving Society is an excellent place to introduce your young family members to driving and is incredibly good value at just £15 annual membership for under 18 years. This amazing price covers insurance and quarterly colour magazines as well as the opportunity to join in all the BDS activities.

    There is no minimum age for junior membership as by using dual reins a competent adult has the overriding control and even the youngest driver can actually take up the reins – provided they have a secure footrest to brace themselves from tipping forwards.

    As well as junior training days and camps there are showing classes, pleasure driving activities and the chance to take part in TREC competitions. Cones driving is very popular and really helps drivers to improve their steering as well as having great fun.

    Pony Club training

    Jack Kedward, 11, Junior Show Champion

    Jack Kedward, 11, Junior Show Champion

    The new initiatives with the Pony Club means that the BDS will assist any club which is interested in running the two new driving achievement badges. I am sure there are many keen young riders who would go on to try carriage driving if they realised that by joining the BDS they would be able to use schoolmaster turnouts at training days and also enjoy the full range of hands on activities by teaming up with experienced drivers.

    There are many examples in the driving world of a keen junior who has been “ adopted” by an older driver who is happy to share their experience and welcomes an extra pair of hands to help with taking out the pony in the carriage.

        Emily Ham with young driver Khyra Payne and her pony Charlie on a Mid Wales BDS training day

    Emily Ham with young driver Khyra Payne and her pony Charlie on a Mid Wales BDS training day

    Some of our most successful current young drivers in the showring and BDS young drivers scholarship scheme use a BDS member’s turnout. Rhian Ralph,17, and Josiah Rowlands have formed such partnerships and each has enjoyed great success and has gone on to win the young drivers class at Addington – the BDS National Championships and the Brian Sims National Scholarship – without their own turnout!

    Other youngsters have had their pony club ponies broken to drive and find, as I did, that in driving you can achieve great results through building on a sure foundation of good practice. The BDS provides this excellent grounding and teaches safety and skills that are the building blocks to competence.

    A welcoming community

    The driving fraternity are extremely welcoming – not only drivers and organisers but the carriage driving press. All the editors are keen to hear about young drivers and support young driver initiatives.

    Horse and Hound are also extremely influential and through this blog are actively getting our message out to their worldwide audience of keen equestrians.

    Through internet technology we can communicate so easily. Over the months ahead I hope to build up a support network of young drivers and would welcome them and any supporting adults contacting me so we can organise and coordinate activities and build new initiatives for young people in driving.

    Get in touch

    Why not also drop me a line to let me know what you would like to do and achieve. I am here to help and very keen to build up the young drivers network and be your voice within the driving community.

    Emily Curnock driving a Shetland pair at a training day

    Emily Curnock driving a Shetland pair at a training day

    Please contact me by email at EmilyRHam@gmail.com

    Remember it’s only £15 for junior membership so why not get membership sorted for the coming year by contacting The British Driving Society, Eadersley, Church St, Wingfield, Eye, Sussex, IP21 5QZ; calling 01379 394612 or download the membership form from their website.

    If you join the British Driving Society now for 2015 you also get the rest of this year free. What other Christmas gift could be better value?


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