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Woodchurch Driving Group at Stone Circle Livery Yard, Redbrick St, Ashford, Kent

A day with Woodchurch Driving Group as the carriage driving section of Riding for the Disabled Association celebrates its 40th Anniversary. There is a lot of work to be done to ready the ponies and assist the drivers - a willing team of volunteers helps out throughout the day. In preparation there is grooming, harnessing and hitching to the carriages to be done. Specially adapted or built carriages are used and accessed by the drivers with ramps, lifts or steps according to the type of carriage and ability of the driver. Each driver has an able bodied assistant who holds an extra set of reins for use if assistance is needed. Once the teams of driver and pony are ready they leave the yard and drive out to practice their driving skills in the beautiful gently sloping open grassland with surrounding woodland. They take it in turns to do a timed course driving between cones with tennis balls balanced on them, incurring time penalties for any dislodged balls. At the end of the day there are ponies to be unharnessed and washed down, harness to be cleaned and everything put away. Despite the hard work it is friendly and immense fun.

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