FOCUS: Sandy Elphick drives horse Flicker as coach Bill Wicks watches in the background at the Horse Driving Trials Club’s recent event at Rappville.
FOCUS: Sandy Elphick drives horse Flicker as coach Bill Wicks watches in the background at the Horse Driving Trials Club’s recent event at Rappville. Jennifer Boyle Dark Horse Studio

Get in, sit down, get taken for ride

IT'S a little bit quirky and it has been described as the most fun you can have sitting down.

The sport of horse carriage driving is making a resurgence on the Northern Rivers and the best part is that you don't even need to own a horse to get involved.

It is a sport that suits horses of any size, from tiny miniatures right up to huge Clydesdales.

The driver sits on a carriage drawn by one, two or four horses, and the events in a combined driving trial are dressage, a cross-country marathon and obstacle cone driving.

While combined driving has been internationally recognised by the Federation Equestre Internationale since 1970, it has been relatively unheard of here.

The Horse Driving Trials Club is based on the Northern Rivers and they are now seeing an increase in the number of people interested in their events.

Secretary Patsy Wicks of Broadwater said the sport was "huge" in Europe.

"This weekend we are having a three-stage event, with dressage, obstacle driving through cones and a cross-country marathon, which is about 12km long and has six obstacles," she said.

"You need to do it in order, so it can be a bit of a memory test for some of us.

"It's good fun. It's hilarious because you literally have a backseat driver in your carriage, so you can imagine what it's like with husband and wife teams.

"More and more people are starting to get involved.

"We have regular coaching days around the area, so people can come along and check it out."

This weekend's carriage event is at Grafton, and is sponsored by Jennifer Boyle from Dark Horse Studio.

She said the club was also looking for more members.

"What's so amazing about this horse sport is that you don't even need a horse to get started," she said.

"There's a groom/navigator/timekeeper needed on the back of the carriage, and you can easily get totally involved without ever having to have a horse and carriage of your own."



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