The British Combined Pony Development Program Has Some Great Ideas

Thursday, September 14, 2017
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Jill Holah Chef d’Equipe Team GB Minden 2017 © Kriszina Horvath/Hoefnet.com

Great Britain like the USA was unable to furnish a full team for The 2017 Pony World Championships, but still produced an individual Gold in Pony Pairs.

Tara Wilkinson and Emma Burge’s ponies were a direct result of the British Combined Pony Development Program. Already gearing up for 2019, they are running an Open International Forum at Ashfields on October 7 to start the process.

Jill Holah, Chef d’Equipe Team GB Minden 2017 laid out the problem and possible solution in an appeal of the British Carriage Driving Facebook page.

Many British Carriage Driving members will be aware that Great Britain was unable to send a full team to this year’s Combined Pony World Championships at Minden, following the illness of one of our squad. This highlighted the fact that this time around we had very few drivers putting their names forward for selection.

The GB individuals who competed at Minden all performed magnificently, and of course Tara Wilkinson won gold in the Pony Pairs category – an amazing feat at her first senior Championship. Indeed it is the second consecutive Championship in which Great Britain has headed the Pony Pairs (Anna Grayston won in 2015).

So undoubtedly we have the quality and talent, just not the quantity. How can we remedy this situation?

Tara Wilkinson with Emma Burge's ponies in the victory round

Tara Wilkinson with Emma Burge's ponies in the victory round ©Mary Phelps

BC has a brilliant junior programme which is gradually feeding young talent in to the senior programme, but we are aware that it is perhaps daunting for drivers already competing at senior level to make that next step to go international – How much does it cost? Is there lots of paperwork? Am I good enough?

We have also been very fortunate in the pony squad to have three owners who put their ponies at the disposal of talented drivers, and I believe these owners get as much fun and pride out of watching their ponies competing at the top level as the drivers themselves. Is this something you might consider?

We also had a syndicate funding the campaign of one of the drivers – is this something you might be interested in setting up?

To try and promote the thrill of international participation and start a Development Squad for 2019 and beyond, we are running an Open International Forum at Ashfields on Saturday 7 October.

If you think you have some talented ponies, why not bring them along and have a free lesson/evaluation with one of our Team Coaches Wilf Bowman-Ripley, who, together with Anna Grayston, will advise you if they think that you and/or your ponies have the potential, and give some guidance on a training programme for when you restart in the Spring.

Or perhaps you think that you yourself have the talent but at the moment are short of ‘pony-power’, come along and show us what you can do!

Otherwise why not just come along, meet our fantastic ‘support team’ and members of the Minden squad and have a chat with the people with all the experience to advise you.

We hope to form a Development Squad who can meet at regular intervals for training and appraisal with a view to getting experience of foreign competitions with lots of help and support along the way. Why not join us on 7 October? Please initially contact me at j@holah.me.uk.

The Ashfields day is FREE and includes tea/coffee all day. Lunch is available for £5, but MUST be booked by 2 October at the latest.

Jill Holah

Chef d’Equipe Team GB Minden 2017