World Pony Driving Championships 2013
British Carriagedriving news
At this weekends World Pony Driving Championships Rosanna Walters-Symons won the silver medal in the Single Pony class, while Anna Grayston got bronze in the Pony Pairs; Team GBR finished in 5th place, out of 9 nations.
Both Roger and Rosanna did excellent rounds. It was very tense and after their rounds we waited and watched as other people made mistakes bringing our drivers up the places. Anna managed to maintain her bronze position and Emma did very well and finished in a good place and now looks forward to Breda in 2015. A few mistakes from Sarah dropped her one place, but she has really enjoyed herself this weekend and has learnt a lot.
Roger was the fastest single driver in Obstacle 4, which had a very unusual prize of a 6 month old Pottok foal. It is a native French pony breed which makes about 13 hands and is used by the top French pony drivers. Roger won the prize and was presented with his foal in the main ring. It was completely unconcerned by the tractors and the applause. On Sunday, having considered all the options, Roger returned the foal to his breeder with thanks to him for his generous prize.
The course walking for the cones was 8.00 to 9.00 and the single pony class started at 9.15. The organiser provided the practice cones and no additional ones were allowed, so it meant the practice arena did not get filled up with masses of cones. The cones course had 2 slaloms and a wave and the time was set so that you had to really push on.
Roger and Rose were the first British competitors of the day. Roger did a clear round with 0.6 of a time penalty. Rosanna also did a clear round but was about 9 seconds too slow. There was one double clear which meant that Roger came 3rd in the cones. The end result gave a silver medal to Rosanna and Roger moved up to 5th overall.
The scores were all fairly close, so it was a nail biting finish with Holly (the vet) needing to get her calculator out as none of us could do mental arithmetic under stress. Emma and Anna were next, with the Pairs class following on from the Singles. They both collected a few penalties but Anna had a good margin and managed to keep her bronze medal position.
Sara tackled the course in a positive fashion but she did not make the time and had some balls down. Susan worked hard to keep her team in shape through the twisty course. Unfortunately they both lost a few places in this phase.
We had 2 old hands as pony team members, Rosanna who has been successful in the junior team, and 3 new team members. Looking at what contributed to their success, they cited the following (in no particular order):
4 sessions of team training with Boyd in the 6 months leading to the show
Having Boyd out in Pau with the team
The excellent back up provided by Nicola Kentzer (sports psychologist) in the run up and during the event (by phone)
The great team spirit headed by Jill (chef d'Equipe) who worked tirelessly attending meetings, answering questions and briefing drivers
Constant help and support from Holly and Nicola (vet and physio), who were cheerful, positive and did lots of the background tasks that enabled Jill to get on with her job. They were at the halt on marathon day and ready to help at the end of the marathon where heart beats were taken and carriages weighed before the ponies were released. They then had a full on job checking all the ponies on Saturday evening as well as Sunday morning as described above.
Ian and Heather Watt came to help the Howe camp, but Ian was roped into every other maintenance task and was terrific at liaising with the French electricians.
The British supporters who came out also need a mention - they were nearly as noisy as the Dutch and believe me that is loud. Their support was much appreciated.
All the team members and back up crews who lived in close proximity to (at times) rather stressed individuals, the grooms and helpers all kept their cool and made it a friendly supportive camp.