The British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) has issued a written warning to a competitor and removed a judge from its lists following an incident at Sandringham Driving Trials on 27 June.
Judge and instructor Anne Chambers was on pony fours driver Ray Aziz’s carriage while he was working in for the dressage phase.
As Mr Aziz was called into the arena, a steward noticed Ms Chambers dropping an object on the floor. When it was recovered, it was found to be a length of wood with a wire brush attached to one end.
By the time the technical delegate, driving director and a senior judge had been called, Mr Aziz had entered the dressage arena. He was stopped and confronted by the three officials.
Mr Aziz was told he had been disqualified from the competition and that he was to leave the showground immediately due to a breach of the BHDTA’s rules on cruelty and animal welfare.
BHDTA chairman Tony Bache said: “The implement was being used to stop the ponies leaning on the pole of the carriage. It takes a lot of training to stop horses and ponies doing this and they were obviously trying to use this method as a short cut.”
Philip Bateman, driving director at Sandringham Horse Driving Trials, added: “The use of such an implement is totally against the rules, it is cruelty. Mr Aziz was brought into the arena and disqualified there and then and asked to leave the showground in front of more than a hundred people.
“It was the first time I’ve ever seen something like this happen.”
The BHDTA council have sent Mr Aziz a warning about his conduct and decided that no further action would be taken against him at this time.
“We thought the public humiliation was punishment enough,” said Mr Bache.
But Ms Chambers is not a paid up member of the association, so cannot be disciplined.
So the BHDTA has removed her from its judging lists and told her that any application for membership from her in future will be declined.
Ms Chambers told H&H: “I’m not prepared to say anything publicly at this time — there has been enough mud slinging as it is. But I am deeply offended by the way the matter has been handled.”
H&H tried to contact Mr Aziz but he was not available for comment.
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (24 July, ’08)