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Posted by Christine Armishaw on 21/03/2019.
FEI Carriage Driving course at The Unicorn Trust at Stow on the Wold, UK
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Nichols

Aussies Shine Bright at UK FEI Carriage Driving Course

Recently four of our Australian Carriage Driving Officials attended a FEI Course at Stow On The Wold, in the UK.

The course, which ran from 22 – 24 February, saw lots of learning for attendees FEI Level 3 Judge, Dorothy ‘Dot’ Willcoxson; FEI Level 2 Course Designer and Technical Delegate, Peter Harkness; and FEI Level 2 Judge Jennifer Nichols, who all maintained their notable FEI accreditations.

The fourth attendee, Ty Nichols, received a promotion to FEI Carriage Driving 3* Technical Delegate (TD), making Ty currently the only FEI 3* TD for Carriage Driving in Australia.

It would seem that carriage driving is an addictive sport...

Couple Jen and Ty both come from driving families and have been enthusiasts for a combined 61 years. They first got involved with the official side of things back in 2015, at a Tamworth Judges and TD clinic, while they were waiting for their young soon-to-be-driven horses to come of age.

Jen, previously a dressage judge, loves judging the dressage phase of carriage driving, and enjoys watching combinations move through the grades from Club to National to FEI events.

“I love watching the connection between horse and driver.” explains Jen.

The carriage driving gene has continued to be passed down the family. A standardbred has been a great driving horse for their 12 year old son Harrison, and 9 year old Isabelle is waiting to find her own ‘unicorn’ of a driving pony.

“Carriage driving involves our children now and also my parents who have helped Ty and I out with the horses since we came home from the USA 20 years ago.” said Jen.

The couple also breed Dutch Warmbloods for their own single and pairs driving.

Jen Nichols with son Harrison and his Standardbred 'Macca'

Dot Willcoxson has been involved with driving for 40 years, and apart from the time spent with her three children at pony club, this has been her sole equestrian discipline of choice. 

She has taken delight in being on the ground jury as a Carriage Driving Official at not one, but two World Championships in both France and Hungary.

Dot’s family has held driving events on their property, Witwood, since 1994 including international, State and National championships.

“I am delighted that the 3rd generation of drivers in our family has taken up the reins.” said Dot.

This year they are celebrating 25 years of continuous events. Witwood is the only venue with this claim to fame.

The group felt fortunate to be able to travel to The Unicorn Trust at Stow on the Wold in the UK. They got to further learn and expand on their skills, under the guidance of Level 4 FEI Judge Andrew Counsell.

With high level Officials in our midst and younger generations coming up the ranks, the future of Aussie Carriage Driving looks bright.

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