Competition News - 2004
This page contains brief accounts of our 2004competitions
No more competitions this year because Tom had a bit of a foot problem.

07 November 2004 Indoor Event at FOD EC, Yorkley Gloucestershire.
Took Owen along for the ride and he had a great time.  We managed to persuade a light friend to backstep again because of the deep surface at Yorkley, thanks Helen.  The Transport manager spent the day helping with the organisation of the event.  In the end we were 2nd to Janet Macdonald in Open Pony and because of the lack of competitors were back home and cleaned up for 5.00pm.

31 October 2004 Indoor Event at Gracelands Equestrian Centre near Droitwich Worcs.
This was our first event of the new season and was a joint one between the Gloucester/Wales region and West Midlands so there was a good turnout of 27 entrants.  It was also our first event as a single in Open Pony since our tragedy with Boz so things were a little emotional when Tom not only got second best P&P (pipped by 0.2 of a mark) but also won the Open Pony class comprehensively and had the best overall score of the competition in all classes. What a superstar he is. We were fortunate to have a lighter weight friend of ours, Helen, to backstep for the majority of the event but she had to go before the end so the Transport Manager had to backstep the last two obstacles. Owen the Welsh Pony came for the day out and got a bit fed up but it's still early days for him.  We got 26.4 for a very accurate P&P and Tom showed some good paces.  The cones phase was clear of driving faults but we were 3 seconds too fast so we went into the obstacles on 29.4.  Sadly there were no obstacle diagrams provided even though this is the normal thing at an event of this type. We did some good times in all four of the obstacles and finished up with just over 160. The weather stayed fine and we were back home and settled down by 7.30pm.  Well done Tom. 

22 August 2004 ODE at Tanhouse Farm Berkeley Glos - FOD Driving Trials Group
This was an event for which we built the obstacle course and set up the cones so as expected all the obstacles were of the very highest quality in both their design and construction,  they all drove superbly as did the cones course which was both technical and exciting but retained a flowing feel. There were only two classes, Novice and Open and we came third in the latter,  this was no mean feat for our little chaps up against full size ponies and horses especially as the whole course was designed with single ponies in mind, and there were some high quality ones competing. The venue was very special and the weather was kind so it was a good day all round.

13 June 2004 ODE at Chipping Campden - Cotswold Driving Club
At this event we decided to drive tandem.  The ponies performed beautifully but were quite slow compared to their performance as a pair.  This convinced us that size of the animals is critical when trying to compete as a tandem and it is not somthing we expect to repeat, as with our 10 hh ponies it just is not exciting enough, it is fun though.

18 April 2004 ODE at Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire -  FOD Driving Trials Group
We went to this event to try our new carriage out and it proved to be a winner. We were very pleased with the way it performed and we had a good time right in the middle of the Forest of Dean.  There had been a lot of rain and our lorry sank about five inches where we were parked but a tractor pulled us out.  The weather was quite kind and only a little rain spoiled the day.  We had a good tidy dressage, a double clear in the cones and three good obstacles but one bad one where the driver got lost (again!). Our thanks are due to Hannah who backstepped for this event.

04/05 April 2004 National Indoor Finals at The College EC Keysoe near Bedford
We had qualified for the 2004 finals in the South West Area with six multiples class wins.  The journey up was in convoy with Janet Macdonald and Jane Perkins who were competing in the Open Pony class  we left after lunch and arrived at Keysoe at about 5.00pm.  When we had found a spot in the field, (the lorry hard standing was already full), we settled the ponies into their stables, had a bite to eat and an early night.  We were up with the dawn on Saturday and walked the P&P arena several times and then the walked the cones.  The P&P test was quite a busy one with an awful lot of things happening in a small arena and included loads of collected trot which our little ponies found quite exhausting.  The cones were in a fairly small area and there was not much room for manoeuvre because the course included a bridge and a box. We went into the cones as soon as we finished the P&P and at the completion of this phase we were in the lead of the Pairs class with a score of  38.4 which was 4.4 clear of second placed Barry Marshall.  That was it for Saturday so the ponies were settled down and we went to the presentation of the Area Rosettes where we were awarded the South West Area Championship, then for a meal in the cafe and we also watched the Juniors drive their first two obstacles in the indoor arena.  On Sunday we were up very early and quite tired after a terrible night of gales and torrential rain,  the lorry was rocking around and we had to get up several times to tie things down and later to roll in the awning which was making a bid for freedom.  We went into the first two obstacles and had two disasters in No1 where we almost had a course error fortunately this was corrected in time but involved a time penalty and then to cap that we had a ball down.  The second obstacle went well but because of the errors in No1 we were now in 2nd place and our lead of 4.4 had been turned into a deficit of 3.66 to Barry who was now in first place. The time arrived for obstacles 3 and 4 and the pressure was on.  No3 went OK, and then came the last.  We had been deliberating about our route and had made no firm decision when we went into it, a big mistake.  We went through A and asked the ponies for a sharp turn but they were going too fast for this and overshot, unfortunately in the opposite direction to our planned alternative route, so we went across the top of the obstacle, turned, and then missed the B gate because of our unexpected direction of approach.  There was not enough room to turn and go back so we had to go back through the A gate again turn around and then go back to B, everything was fine from this point and the ponies were really flying but the damage had been done and no recovery was possible.  The result of all this was that we dropped from a challenge for the lead to a final fourth place and that was that for another year.  We were quite gutted, but it was our own fault and Barry Marshall was a deserved winner because he kept going fast and accurately while we developed a dose of red mist.  The Indoor team did a super job yet again and there was a very excellent commentary which really adds to the occasion. The obstacles were much nicer than last year with many options available.  We were a little disapointed with the venue this year because of dirty toilets, some of which were blocked full, a very expensive cafe,  and the stables, again quite expensive, which we had to muck out before we could use them.  We hope there will be a change of venue for next years finals.

14 March 2004 Indoor Event at Adlington Equestrian Centre near Macclesfield
Another 0545 start for the last North West Region qualifier of the 2003/4 Indoor season.  We expected a lot of rain but we only got an isolated shower or two although quite a strong wind stayed all day.  There was a smaller than usual entry of thirteen turnouts but this made for an easy and relaxed day.  Our P&P was not very good with Boz doing all he could to evade instructions and Tom gawping at everything and spending more effort looking around than he put into behaving himself. We ended up with 37.0 compared with Sara Clough on 28.4 and Lesley Cox on 28.2 with her Tandem, so we were in third place in a class of three. The Cones were OK with John Broom setting a course with the open spaces at the start, this always throws us and although we were clear on driving faults we were slow by five seconds so we went into the obstacles with a score of 42.0 against Sara on 41.4 and Lesley on 36.2, still in last place but only just.  The obstacles were a fine example of what Indoor obstacles should be and we were bewildered by the number of possibilities that were available, well done John. All were driven well and we went into second place after the first two and then into the lead after the second two.  In the end we had 163.0, Sara was on 174.4 and Lesley got 188.2 but don't forget this was with a tandem.  We are being pushed harder every time now, and it's nice to have some real competition to stop complacency setting in.  This was the last qualifier event of the season for us, we have now done ten since last October and have not been beaten in any so that was quite pleasing.  The trip home was longer than usual because of roadworks and some traffic holdups on the M6 but we were still back by 1900.     

15 February 2004 Indoor Event at Hunters Gate EC, Byley near Middlewich Cheshire
This was an early start at 5.45 for our first visit to Hunters Gate.  We had rain on the M5 but the sun came out when we got to Cheshire and stayed all day.  The venue was easy to find and was noteable for being practically next to the big radio telescope at Jodrell Bank and we were treated to watching the dish moving around during the morning. The facilities were all fairly new and comprised a small but solid partly paved lorry park, a rubber outdoor arena and magnificent indoor arena which was full of natural light and had a fibre surface which seemed to be the same as the one at the Unicorn Centre.  The P&P went quite well and we were very pleased to get the best score of the competition regardless of class for our paces, unfortunately the precision was not quite as good and we finished up in third place with 29.2 although this was only 2.8 behind the leader.  The cones were set out and John Broom designed the course to have the fast,open bits at the start.  Because our miniature ponies have miniature legs we've got to canter a bit to make the time of 220 mts/min. so we had to start the cones at speed and the ponies were not too keen to slow down for the last bits, as a result of this we went 4 seconds too quick although we were clean on driving faults, so at this point we had 33.2 and had moved up to second place in our class.  The obstacles were next and the first two went quite fast! unfortunately we had a ball down and this kept us in second place with 95.2 and everything to go for in the last phase.  The second set of obstacles were driven well and except for a minor deviation of course in the fourth one, which was dictated by Boz, we were well pleased with our overall performance.  The presentations were all held at the end of the event when everything had been cleared away, and we had no idea of who had won because it was all so close.  In the end we managed to take first place in our class although only seven points seperated all of the multiples.. The whole event was run in the relaxed and efficient way we we have grown used to in the North West region and we had a super days sport.  The run back took a little longer than the run up because of the traffic but we were still back home and packed away for 7.00pm.

01 February 2004 Indoor Event at The Hand EC Clevedon near Bristol
Rough weather again but it cleared for Sunday morning and only rained briefly if very heavily during the afternoon.  We were due to be put on first so arrived early and had a P&P score of 30, our worst for some time.  The cones went well after a false start because the timers were not ready and we were not told to wait for a whistle before starting, we scored a round clear of driving penalties but with one time fault so we went into the obstacles with a score of 31.  The obstacles all went fairly well and we finished up with 144 and an easy class win. The low scores were due to some rather badly designed obstacles, one in particular (Number 3) effectively had only one gate as the others were either on the direct route in or out. The early finish meant we were home and packed up by 6.00pm and were able to have a proper cooked meal, this must be a first!

11 January 2004 Indoor Event at The Forest of Dean EC at Yorkley Gloucestershire
We were a bit aprehensive about the weather as this event is over the Severn Bridge for us and gales were forcast.  As it turned out there was even a tornado which came up the estuary but we did'nt see this until much later on the television news.  We hired a stable at the venue and this was a great help with keeping the ponies settled during the wind and rain we had during the day.  We started off well with a very nice P&P with both ponies behaving well for a change and we scored 17.8.  The cones were well driven and we got no balls down although we were one second over time so we went into the obstacles in the lead of our class with 18.8 penalties.  Obstacles one and two were OK, nothing special, but we were able to maintain our lead and we went into the last phase with a score of 78.8.  The ponies were a little tired because they found the surface to be quite deep at this stage so we decided to pace ourselves and give them an easy time, then a small disaster happened and we had a ball down in obstacle three.  This cost us five points so we were forced to go for it in the last obstacle. The ponies responded well and we put in a very fast time of 26 seconds and restored the status quo.  We finished up winners of our class with 141.8 penalties and also achieved the best score in the competition.

04 January 2004  Indoor Event at Adlington Equestrian Centre near Macclesfield

This was our first event of 2004 and we won it in style, taking the multiples honours and achieving the best score in the competition.  The drive up was uneventful and the weather was kind, staying dry all day, the drive back home was also pleasant and the new M6 toll road was very useful at reducing the normal queues to the point that we