Bill loves his horse and carriage
WE’VE all seen the ‘I (heart) NY’ t-shirts, but few of us have seen someone proud enough to sport one that states: ‘I (heart) Horse Driving Trials’.
If you go to Broadwater BP and meet service station owner Bill Hicks, there is a good chance you will see him wearing his.
Horse driving trials involves a horse, or horses, pulling a carriage. The sport falls somewhere between equestrian events of the Olympics, and the harness racing you see at Harold Park raceway.
This makes horse driving trials unique. It is the only equestrian discipline where you can compete on an equal footing from 14 to 70, male and female, with ponies and horses.
It is also Bill’s sport of choice.
So much so that last month Bill pitted his horse Penny’s Folly up against some of the best driving trial riders in the country at Bungendore, east of Canberra.
The event saw Bill and the other drivers compete in dressage, a timed cross country course and cone driving phases.
The dressage phase shows off a horse’s schooling and obedience, while the cone driving replaces the show jumping event of other equestrian disciplines.
The cone driving is about manoeuvring the horse and carriage through a series of obstacles like a thread through the eye of a needle.
With such a high level of skill required, Bill was happy with his performance.
In front of international judges, and up against 15 other competitors, Bill and his wife Patsy secured a first and second place.
“We didn’t go too badly,” he said.
He certainly didn’t, considering Bill doesn’t ride full time and the event was set to international standards.
Bill made the switch to horse trial driving and is now mixing it with the best in the business after looking for a change.
“Patsy and I have done most horse sports and were looking for something different,” he said.
“Now we have a sport we can do together and that suits us just fine.”