On Saturday March 11th Hereford BDS organised for the first time a Master Class at Kings Equestrian Centre Bromyard.
My follow up is significant having been closely involved with the organisation of the event, having been a ‘student’ and having the opportunity to listen to the behind the scene ‘gossip’
The extensive planning was managed by Mr Kay Walton AC for Hereford. The aim of the event was to be both educational for participants and interesting for spectators. All those who have been intrepid enough to organise events will be able to imagine the hard work before and on the day, sleepless nights and days filled with anxiety. At a time when carriage driving events are struggling for interest and lacking participants to run this new venture was undertaken with trepidation.
We were delighted and would especially like to thank Gary Docking who agreed to be our ‘Master’ of the day. The interest was immediate and entries quickly filled available space. The enthusiasm for help especially with novice horses resulted in two sessions for this group. The classes also included Novice Whip, Improving horse and Whip, and an amalgamation Show/Presentation and finally the multiples Class. Long before the day we were full and unable to accept late entries this being something of a novelty in the driving world.
Participants were asked to complete and return not only an entry form but a profile supplying background information about their whole turnout – Whip, groom, carriage and horse. This proved too much a challenge for a few! but it enabled Mr Docking to help answer specific issues and aspirations.
No pony or whip went away without having learnt something he managed Shetlands, Welsh, Arab and cobs, from the novice Whips to the very experienced. Each entrant was given individual attention with good humour and astute insight. As he assisted our young driver member his aside comment to my little Dartmoor Mare that “Patience is a virtue!” was spot on! He gave much helpful advice clearly many of us still had lots to learn to achieve good rein contact and explained how, if we can get it right, it will help many difficulties. He gave advice on training for all aspects of performance ranging from good outline, correct bend, impulsion and how to pacify the over enthusiastic.
In each class Mr Docking entertained and educated with the skill that could only come from a lifetime of varied experience. There was no aspect of carriage driving including carriages, harness and outfits all came under scrutiny and constructive and positive advice was given. We were pleased that the substantial number of spectators remained engrossed and many stayed throughout the day. Even the more critical members in the audience agreed he spoke with great wisdom.