Very Happy Campers!
BDS Wales ran their 2016 Young Driver camp in late August and everyone agreed it was a fabulous experience!
The event was again kindly hosted by John Bulmer at Monnington Court, Herefordshire. The wonderful facilities which allow large numbers of young drivers and adult helpers to camp in the grounds also have the use of a wonderful “ snug”, which is a wing of the great house with catering and washroom facilities and a huge table and comfy chairs. Stables are provided and the use of the indoor school, grounds and the “polo” an immaculate grassy enclosure off the large stable yard with a circular track around the perimeter. The whole venue is breathtakingly beautiful and ideal for camp activities with so much safe space for working with the horses and for relaxation and group games.
The Young Drivers included two youngsters from Herefordshire and three from Shropshire for the first time in addition to the BDS Wales Young Driver Award participants. One Young Driver came along to watch and has subsequently joined the BDS!
Schoolmaster turnouts were brought for the young drivers to drive. Jill Bravery’s Ginger and Gwenda Kesans’ Trooper returned by popular request, and were joined by Anthea Birch’s Merlin who excels at driven showing with his competent whip Rhian Ralph , now 18, assisting. Simon Kesans brought his big experienced commercial horse, Brencis and Wendy Morris brought her delightful Shetlands who long reined as singles and drove as pair and tandem.
Each day was filled with enjoyable learning experiences covering all the basics of harnessing (singles and pair and for the experienced drivers also tandem), putting to, carriage maintenance, whip and rein handling with everyone practising coaching hand and using it confidently for the majority of their driving.
The competent older juniors also learnt much about schooling the driving horse from the ground as well as in the carriage and enjoyed building on their skills in tandem driving. Simon Kesans brought a full range of bits and carriage house equipment to discuss with them, and demonstrated how to measure for and fit a full collar.
Simon’s evening quiz on the second day was a great hit- with groups keen to identify the items they had discussed and enjoying the humour of spotting what was wrong with Simon’s outfit for going lungeing!
Everyone played a full part in caring for the horses – getting down to the stables before breakfast, throughout the day as well as before bed, to make the horses had everything they needed. There was grooming before fitting harness and washing off after exercise, as well as feeding, watering and mucking out duties – everyone working well in small mixed age groups.
The youngsters themselves were also extremely well fed, Anita worked non-stop at food prep and was without doubt the most popular adult at camp! BDS Chairman, Michelle Peters, assisted her admirably, whilst also caring for her newborn baby who at only five days old must hold the record for the youngest member at any BDS camp!
In addition to the 16 young drivers, there were 12 supporting adults including three parent helpers. Everyone mixed really well together across the ages and were a pleasure to be with. As a special treat the Young Drivers were allowed to use the beautiful private indoor pool to cool off on the first evening. Special thanks got to Trudie and the Monnington team for making the event so special.
There was a lot of organisation to hold three days of camp and so many driving activities. Emily Ham, who set it up but was unable to attend due to being unwell in hospital, was thrilled that it ran so smoothly and was so much enjoyed by everyone. Camp wouldn’t run without the generosity of BDS members in bringing their turnouts and giving so much of their time and expertise to help the young drivers. The enthusiasm of the youngsters makes it all worthwhile. It is wonderful to see them grow in confidence and skills as well as making great friendships.
In fact camp was so successful next year’s is already being planned!