Hackney Junior Day at Ashfields Carriage and Polo Club


There was clearly a need in the driving world for a relaxed and informative day for junior drivers, as indicated by the cheerful crowd which came to Ashfields on a cold, spring day.  And it was the talented and enthusiastic Jessie Dudley Apicella who headed up the project, which was enjoyed by 30 children from all over the south of England.  

As the Hackney Horse Society’s Junior Ambassador, Jessie is well placed to communicate her knowledge of training, showing and handling to the next generation.  She was supported on the day by the Society’s Chairman Barbara Stockton, and President, Pauline Peters, as well as a loyal team of friends and associates who shared the teaching and training.     

The morning saw the children being divided into three groups governed by their age.  New friendships and allegiances were quickly made as they sat up in Viceroys and Gigs, examined fine harness, took turns on the rein handling machinelong reined and trotted up a show horse. In the afternoon, they waited patiently in the arena for a turn to sit up behind the multi-championship winner Aghaderg Stand & Delivery (Paddy), and his larger stablemate Brookeborough Hijack.  For some children, it was their first experience of being so close to the horses and carriages; for others who already drive or ride, it gave them a glimpse of just how varied the sport can be. 

Most of us had learned about the occasion via social media – the wonders of Facebook – and my daughters, aged 9 & 11, were keen to sign up.  Although they both drive regularly, the girls felt that they gained so much from driving Paddy “who was really quick”.  They also appreciated listening to Jessie’s dad Geoff talk passionately about the harness he’d made and the carriages they exhibit. 

What was particularly special about the day was how convivial an occasion it was.  The children all went home with big grins and armfuls of goody bags, and said they’d like to do it again.  The parents and families had a chance to catch up with old friends, or make new acquaintances.  The team at Ashfields generously donated the use of the facilities which were ideal, and Wilf and Zoe were on hand all day.  But most of all, the day united many in the driving world who stem from different disciplines – there were families from HDT, the BDS, heavy horses, coaching, indoor trials, as well as showing and the Hackney Society.  It was a reminder that teamwork and harmony are always better than politics and division. 


Thank you Sarah for sending in a write-up about the Hackney Junior Day. It was amazing to see such a turnout, juniors of every age and experience. This also shows how something can get such a reaction online from minimal advertisement, the limited spaces quickly filled with avid juniors as well as many “former-juniors” who would have loved such an opportunity when they were just starting out with their driving activities.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Dance.
More photos can be found on Paul Orchard Photography’s Website.

Horse and Hound Article: https://www.horseandhound.co.uk/news/youngsters-get-chance-drive-hoys-champion-day-681726?fbclid=IwAR0QYS312iytgJV_HBg3nmT0BCZOaKCa5rt1mJJYW3f3g5wC-NyW4CFDFbE