Boyd Exell: why carriage driving is like being part of a happy family

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Ahead of this year's Royal Windsor Horse Show (10-14 May 2017), world four-in hand carriage driving champion Boyd Exell explains why his sport is so addictive — and what it's like bumping into The Queen

World four-in hand carriage driving champion Boyd Exell is currently in England training at Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club in Essex.

“What I love about driving is that I have four horses — that keeps me occupied and when I drive the team out it’s a bit like a happy family,” says Boyd.

“I love Royal Windsor because when we compete there we often walk our teams of horses down by the river, so we have the rolling green grass and the sun coming through the trees.

“You have a connection with horses — grooms who work with the animal have a connection when they’re handling them and I have a connection when I’m training with them,” he says.  “So I can feel a trust with my horses — I can feel down the rein if they’re feeling stiff, or if they’re expressive and wanting to show off.

“I’m especially proud of carriage driving because it’s Prince Philip’s love,” says Boyd.

“He designed a sport from three-day-eventing. So in carriages we still do the dressage phase of the competition which is on the Friday, on the Saturday we do a rough and tumble cross-country and the cones day is our third day of the competition — that’s just a test that you still have control after the previous day.

“It’s always nice to go around the corner at Royal Windsor when you run into The Queen,” adds Boyd. “She’s always standing in a very inconspicuous place and you don’t expect to see her.”

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The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix takes place alongside showjumping, dressage, endurance and showing at Royal Windsor. Spectators can also enjoy a range of displays, from the Musical Ride of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment to the Shetland Pony Grand National.

Don’t miss our full report from Royal Windsor Horse Show in the 18 May issue of Horse & Hound magazine

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