Rebecca March (Bex) and her pony Elwood (Woodie), sponsored by Ideal Equestrian, were selected to represent Great Britain at the FEI Driving World Championships for Ponies. Back in 2016, Bex was competing at Novice level and had a mad idea that it would be amazing to compete at the World Championships. Although she was brought up driving, it was purely for fun. She used to drive her Gartconnel Welsh Sec A at home around the farm and go for picnics.
At the 2015 National Championships, her mum was driving tandem and had a bet with Jamie, Bex’s now husband, that they would try and qualify next season. Fast forward to 2021 and she’s competing against the best combinations in the world.
“It gave us something to aim for. It was great to make that goal a reality.”
Bex on being selected for the World Championships
Bex is a brand ambassador for Riding & Harness Stuff and sponsored by Ideal Equestrian. We loved following her journey and time at the World Championships. Find out how Bex and Woodie got on.
In this event report:
- Preparing for the World Championships
- Travelling to the Event
- The Team
- The Kit
- The Event
- What's Next?
Preparing for the World Championships
To get prepared for the event, they attended a training clinic with Jan de Boer. With so few in-person training sessions since pre-Covid, it was a great opportunity to get some help. Getting organised and packed is a real team effort since both Bex and Jamie work full-time.
Leading up to the journey to the event, Woodie spent his days going to the sea to do some work in the water. Before starting his career in carriage driving, Woodie pulled a Gypsy caravan for over 500 miles around North England and Scotland. He’s a headstrong 14.1hh Gypsy Vanner Cob and gives Bex everything.
Travelling to the Event
Based in Scotland, Bex and Woodie had a long journey ahead of them to reach Haras national du Pin in France. First, they travelled south and stayed in Canterbury ahead of the vet check. Once they got the all clear, they boarded the ferry to France before finally reaching the event.
Woodie happily stabled on his way to the World Championships
Woodie and Bex looked super smart for the trot-up and were cleared. That afternoon was the opening ceremony and then nations night. In true Scottish style, Bex and the team contributed some whiskey, shortbread and of course some British Pimms!
“The event was a real step up with a great atmosphere. The venue was everything you could want.”
Bex on the event
Jamie March, Bex’s husband, was the backstep for the marathon and cones. He’s great at helping to pick routes in obstacles.
Carol Boswell, Bex’s mum, drove the lorry and was the backstep for the dressage.
Rich Lumsden, Bex’s mum’s partner, helped keep them all fed and also entertained Zara when Bex was getting ready and competing.
Zara March, Bex and Jamie’s 18 month old daughter, kept them all in check!
For dressage, Bex uses her mum’s brass leather harness. It’s the same harness she used when she was a teenager.
They use an ECC marathon and presentation carriage.
We chatted with Bex to hear her thoughts on how each phase went.
“The day before we had a 3 minute slot in the area and it drove well. However, on the day it was much heavier which meant Woodie had to pull and we lost some of our movement. It was a safe test and a good way to start.”
Walking the marathon:
“The obstacles were long and technical. A real step up from anything we had done before. It was a long course that was going to be tough. I thought once we got passed the first 2 we would be OK.”
Driving the marathon:
“We drove the first two obstacles carefully. The third we didn't break early enough and had a near miss. Looking back on the photos we were incredibly lucky not to tip and all end up wet. Woodie literally pulled us out of trouble. That meant an extra loop in the water, which cost us. It also really shook my confidence. We tried to put it behind us but it wasn't the round we had hoped for. However, we learnt a lot.”
Avoiding taking a dunking in the water!
“Again, the most technical course I've ever driven and on a surface which we're not used to. We knew the time would be tight so had to keep moving. We decided to make the most of the opportunity and go for the tighter turns. It was a fantastic experience and we went clear with time faults. Although there were only one or two double clears, so I was really pleased.
Overall, we didn't finish where we had hoped. However, we have taken away a lot and being able to compete against the best in the world was a fantastic opportunity. One we hope to do again.”
Woodie will get some time to switch off and do some different things. He’ll do more ridden work and some jumping before starting light schooling again in a month.