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Solway Indoor Driving Competitions

The first competition of the new indoor season took place on 19th October at Newton Rigg Equestrian Centre, Penrith. We run four classes – Open, Novice, Junior and Multiples – all qualifiers for the National Championships at Keysoe next April.  The Novice class was won by Finlay McCrae driving Watson. Louise Kaiholm won both the Open and Multiples classes and the best Junior was Thomas Smith.  At the November competitions Louise continued to shine in the open pony (Stephie White snapping at her heels!) and tandem classes. Finlay is dominating the novice class and Matthew Powell tends to take top spot in the junior class. With two more competitions in February, qualification for the championships at Keysoe is still all to play for!

New Indoor Driving season under way!

The 2019 – 2020 indoor driving season started in October. The first date for our club (The Solway and North Cumbria Driving Club) was October 19th. All competitions are held at the Newton Rigg Equestrian Centre, Penrith. These are fun 3-phase events that form part of the national series overseen by the Indoor Carriage Driving Company and are run under their rules. The phases are Precision & Paces, Cones and Obstacles. For detailed information go to www.indoordriving.co.uk.  Entry fees are £35 for adults and £28 for children – entries close 5 days before each event. Either contact us direct or enter via the indoor driving website. All dates are on our events page.

Autumn e-bulletin

A quick round up of news from the last few months in our latest COF e-bulletin 9-19.

British Carriage Driving National Championships – August 2019

Having successfully completed qualifying competitions during the year, Chariots trainers Stephie White and Louise Kaiholm travelled to Bywell in Northumberland to take part in the annual championships held as the culmination of the outdoor carriage driving season. Ably supported by trainer and groom Kimberly Porteous, along with other members of the Chariots volunteer team, they raced through the three phases – dressage, marathon and cones – over the weekend. Louise started well winning the dressage phase of the Open Pony class and held on to her lead throughout the competition to finish as British National Open Pony Champion 2019. Steph’s dressage was challenged by gale force winds, but her marathon round was a cracker and she fought her way back with a second in both marathon and cones phases to finish as British National Pony Pairs Reserve Champion – the highest placed open pony pair of the competition. Steph has now achieved a reserve championship at both indoor and outdoor competitions, while Louise now has a number of champion titles in her collection! Their achievements reinforce the fact that the training at Chariots of Fire is of the highest level.

Witton Park Club competition – 3/4 August 2019

Four para-drivers and a team of trainers from Chariots made the trip across to Witton Castle near Bishop Auckland for the two day North East Driving Club competition. All drove in the ‘short format’ class which also included 8 able bodied drivers. Finlay McCrae had the best final result finishing third overall after a cracking marathon. He was followed by Sarah, Graham and Charlotte in fifth, sixth and seventh respectively. Excellent result in a closely fought class.

Dumfries and Galloway Driving Club 2-day competition – 13/14 July 2019

For the first time Chariots hosted a 2-day club competition for the Dumfries and Galloway Driving club – dressage and cones on Saturday, lovely marathon through local countryside on Sunday. This inaugural competition was blessed with good weather and a great success, hopefully to become part of the annual calendar. Overall winner was Pat Watson with disabled driver Sarah Gemie winning the novice class. The multiples class was won by Jen Bernard and the junior class by Chariots driver Matthew Powell.

Arena Challenge 7th July 2019

A great selection of drivers and riders at this competition – even a donkey who came all the way down from Edinburgh. The novice class was won by Wullie with Watson and the junior class by Finlay also driving Watson. Five riders took part in the games that were added on to the challenge course, the winner being Jack with Timber.

Falkland Club Competition – 8/9 June 2019

Four of our disabled drivers travelled north to Falkland for a two day club competition organised by the Scottish Carriage Driving Association. Sarah led the Novice class from the start driving Strawbs with Graham close on her heels. They ended up 1st and 2nd respectively! Matthew was the only competitor in the junior class so also came away with a red rosette! Charlotte and Dash had a mishap in the cones but still had a great marathon. All ponies coped well with a very scary water obstacle!


Arena Challenge 2nd June 2019

Our first Arena Challenge of the season was a battle with the elements! It poured with rain and blew a gale but our hardened competitors were not fazed! The riders got the worst of it in the morning and the class was won by Drew closely followed by Laurie. There were then four driving classes. The largest which was the junior class with 10 competitors – the overall fastest round came from this class which was won by Thomas driving Loggi. Sarah won the novice class driving Strawbs and the open class was won by Stephie with Neptune. We were delighted to welcome a cracking small pony pair of mini-Shetlands who came all the way from Kendal for their first arena challenge. They have a great future in driving!

Hopetoun House National Driving Competition – May 2019

Louise and Stephie had a terrific weekend at Hopetoun. Stephie won the Pony Pairs Class with her lovely pair of Dartmoor Hill Ponies, Neptune and Orlando, and qualified for the British National Championships in August. Louise also won the Open Single Pony class with Ruth Martin’s pony Storm, also qualifying for the Championships. Louise also came 3rd in the Advanced Pony Pairs class – taking it easy this time with a new pony for the marathon! A great start to the competition season.

Open Day – 5th May 2019

Our open day was a great success! Loads of activities and smiling faces!

Dalemain Club competition – 12th May 2019

Four drivers with additional needs to part in the club competition at Dalemain House near Penrith on May 12th. Graham Smith won the Novice Class and Finlay McCrae won the Junior class – not bad!

Success at the National Indoor Championships – 4th-7th April 2019

The Chariots team had a really successful weekend at the National Indoor Championships near Bedford – the culmination of the winter series of competitions, this event had 130 competitors from all over the British Isles. We took 7 drivers, 8 ponies, 7 carriages, 2 artic wagons, 2 camper vans, 1 caravan and numerous members of families and friends to support! The results were terrific – Louise now holds the titles of National Indoor Tandem Champion and Reserve National Open Pony Champion, and only just missed out on the supreme championship by two points.  SDU driver Matthew Powell finished 4th in the Novice Junior class, a huge achievement with Finlay McCrae not far behind. Sarah Gemie, Charlotte Thomson and Graham Smith all competed in the Novice class.  Sarah was joint first after dressage and cones and achieved one of the best cones rounds of the day. None of them finished in the rosettes but all drove brilliantly and had a great time.

Solway Driving Club Indoor Competitions

The last competition of the indoor competition season run by the Solway Driving Club has been held. All the champions and some of our disabled drivers have qualified for the National Indoor Finals at Keysoe on April 5 – 7. Good luck to them all!

Outdoor season about to begin …

We are now heading for a busy summer of competition. Our trainers will be out competing around the country from the end of April – hoping to qualify for the National British Carriage Driving Championships in September.

Arena Challenge competitions at Chariots of Fire:

We will be holding 4 Arena Challenge competitions between June and September at Chariots. These are fun competitions – a course of cones and two obstacles to be driven (or ridden) as fast as you like! Go to our Events page for details of dates.


Grant funders

Thanks to The Holywood Trust, The Robertson Trust and Awards for All for supporting the work of Chariots of Fire with grant funding. It is invaluable for our work with young people with disabilities and additional needs.

We can also now supply recycling envelopes for ink cartridges etc through Recycle 4 Charity.  Contact Rosemary for envelopes. SDU can get £1 per cartridge – that soon adds up!

Sports Driving Unlimited Wheels to Freedom Appeal

Despite all the best efforts of the charity in trying to raise finance in a myriad of ways, we are always short of available funding. Rosemary and Liza spend hours completing grant applications and volunteers hold events, raffles etc. Can you help at all? Could you organise a fund raising event? Do you know anyone who might like to donate? Do you have any different ideas that we might not have thought of? Do you know of any charitable trusts that SDU might not have discovered yet? If you think you can help in any way at all, please contact us. Phone Rosemary on 01576 610544 or email us. There are a variety of ways you can support SDU while you are shopping too, using Amazon Smile or the Easyfundraising website. Both will give a small percentage of what you spend to our charity. You can also donate direct through Localgiving.

Dartmoor Hill Pony Association

Many of the ponies that we use for all our driving (and riding) activities are from the Dartmoor Hill breed. These are the most fantastic ponies with wonderful natures. Gentle, strong, gutsy, beautiful paces – there’s nothing in the smaller pony world to beat them.  They really need support though – they are vital for maintaining Dartmoor’s landscape and provide pleasure for visitors. But there is little general market for them and with indiscriminate breeding, too many foals are born. To save them from suffering, many are simply shot each autumn, which is a tragedy.  The solution is simple: contraceptives for the mares, Ponies on the Pill, but the Association urgently needs land to achieve this. Please take a look at their website (http://dartmoorhillpony.com/) and support them in any way you can.