Farewell to passionate carriage driver and countryman

  • Johnny Arden, the countryman and founder of carriage driving business Dartmoor Driving died on 25 July, aged 89.

    Mr Arden grew up on his family farm near Chagford, Devon, working the farm with horses. His father Major Bert Arden restarted the Mid Devon Hounds in 1936, and Mr Arden later helped as whipper-in and kennelman.

    After the war he went on to ride pointers as an amateur jockey while doing his national service. When he was injured in a fall at Newton Abbot he was no longer able to do active service, so he joined the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, working with dogs and driving horses.

    After the war he ran a hireling stables near Cirencester, and in the 1980s he returned to his beloved Dartmoor, where he was based at Michelcombe, Holne. He hunted with the Dartmoor, hosting meets for the hunt, and for the Dart Vale and Haldon Harriers.

    Mr Arden developed a passion for carriage driving early on and preferred it to riding. It was suggested to him that he could offer to take people out on the moor and turn his passion into a business, and Dartmoor Driving was later formed. People would send horses and ponies to Mr Arden to be trained to drive, and he taught many people over the years. He met his wife Marguerite when she spent a week on holiday learning to carriage drive, and in 1986 she moved to Michelcombe.

    Mrs Arden said her husband’s main love was “getting a team of horses out on the road and putting in the miles”. He spent more than 30 years sharing his love of Dartmoor and teaching people to drive. He was also a member of the Western Counties Heavy Horse Society. Dartmoor Driving scaled down around five years ago, but Mr Arden continued to enjoy driving up until last summer.

    He will be greatly missed by his family and the carriage driving community.

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