Susan Dunne discovers more about about Driving Trials for the ever versatile heavy horse breeds.

The British Heavy Horse Driving Trials Club was set up about 25 years ago and was largely the brainchild of Rowena McDermott and her husband John. Based in Hampshire, Rowena was born into a family of Percheron enthusiasts. Having taken 10 pairs abroad in 1999 to participate in a re-enactment of the historic Fish Run from Boulogne to Paris to help raise the profile of the Boulonnais horse, they went on to form the club with a small nucleus of like-minded people.

Finding a role

The problem of preserving the heavy breeds and their rich agricultural heritage is one which every heavy horse enthusiast faces. With many native and heavy breeds classed as endangered by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust and some like the Suffolk Punch as critically endangered, finding a role for them in the contemporary world is crucial. Rowena says: “There are still quite a few heavy horses being bred for the show ring but in reality only a small number are successful, so then there’s the question of what do you do with them? “ Driving trials can be one way to keep these horses active as well as providing a means to having fun with fellow enthusiasts.

You can read the full article in the April issue of Carriage Driving.