New Season 2022

Cherry Park Driving Group is regrouping at present. We have our beloved pony, Jim, who is now 20 and finding his job a bit onerous, particularly at the moment when after a very dry April the ground is as hard as iron.  We have been very fortunate in acquiring a new pony, Bluey, very kindly donated to us by a lovely couple in Suffolk. He is learning how to be an RDA driving pony at the moment and so we are not holding driving sessions for the time being.

However, we still have activities for our participants to become involved with which will give them a better understanding of the discipline of carriage driving when we are able to start. As it is the Platinum Jubilee Year we are planning to include celebrations in our activities.

Plant Sale

In the meantime, an extra pony needs extra funding and we held a plant sale and cake stall on the 22nd May to help raise some funds.  Many thanks to all those who volunteered their time and effort on the day, and also to the gardeners who contributed plants and the bakers for their efforts in stocking the cake stall. Our total fundraiser raised nearly £900 for Cherry Park Driving Group.

We are grateful to all those who purchased on the day and supported us. We trust you enjoyed the day.

Update 29-05-2022 – We are pleased to say that our plant sale final total rolled in at £1019.00 and counting! Thanks again to everyone who supported us.

Looking Back at a Memorable
National Championships 2019

Today, Friday 10th July, we should have been in the ring at Hartpury taking part in the 2020 RDA National Championships, with Sandra competing in the Open Class using single reins.  Alas, that was not to be and we can only contemplate what further triumphs Sandra might have achieved this year.  My heart goes out to all those disabled drivers and groups who qualified for the Championships with high hopes of personal achievements only to have them dashed by the coronavirus. 

So, instead, I thought we would revisit the scene of last year’s victory and take a pictorial trip down memory lane.  I have written about it in previous blogs so won’t go into details here.  If anyone wants to remind themselves of my reports then revisit the blogs from April (2020) and September (2019).

We are a resilient bunch and can only hope that we’ll be back next year to carry on the good work.

Best wishes


p.s. Are you aware that we have a YouTube Channel? It’s accessible from Smart TV’s, Smart Phones, Tablets and PCs. Check it out here.


Summer at the Yard

Hello to everybody,

Life is still throwing challenges at us, there have been changes to the covid restrictions but none that makes it feasible to start group driving.

Mother Nature on the other hand has been in full flow.

Very young ones. We think there are 3.
Very young ones. We think there are 3.

For many years we have always had swallows nesting in the stables, rearing their young quite happily amongst the horses comings and goings.

Then for 2 seasons running all the young were lost to the magpies before they even fledged.

Understandably the swallows gave up on the yard and we didn’t see them for 2 years.

This year one nesting couple returned. They made their nest up on the beam in Ruby’s stable. We have nurtured the 3 young that hatched, we found one tiny little one in the bedding one morning and between us managed to get him back in the nest. A couple of days later we found 2 on the floor. Again they were returned to the nest. In fact we left a ladder in the stable so we could nip them back in quickly, bearing in mind we do have a yard cat! Eventually our babies have escaped the attention of the magpies and have fledged, sitting on the beams and 2 flying today.

Poo picking this morning ... watched by a young Sparrowhawk
Poo picking this morning …
watched by a young Sparrowhawk

Such a small event in the world, but so important to us and the swallows. Hopefully we will see them return next year.

Dear Jim continues his pampered life style. He is looking so well, I really hope our group members will be able to visit soon.

Best wishes


A Word From Jim

The Swallows in Rubie’s stable.

I have been out-and-about looking after Jim. I thought I’d let Jim tell his story of what he’d been doing during Lockdown, (see below).

While I was going around the yard I spotted signs and sounds of summer with swallows nesting in Rubie’s stable.

“Hello to my adoring fans, I hope you are all well and looking forward to seeing me again.

My human slave mentioned that I had been furloughed. That caused my ears to prick! Was I now to be racing at the local track? Apparently I was thinking of furlongs, it would seem that the world is in a bit of a pickle and I wouldn’t be driving with my group. Well, that didn’t last long. Human slave decided that I must continue to drive in the field, it has been fun, we have done cones, and I can turn my hooves to a figure of eight and a straight reinback.

Then one day the riding tack appears! It would seem that as I am so marvellous a young lady who has grown out of her pony has come to see me.

Now this is fun; I am totally being fussed over; there are even more kisses and cuddles. I have been hacking through the woods going out with those dopey Welsh Cobs. I still go in the carriage, apparently to keep me ‘ticking over’ as the human slave is keen on this, and I am happy to oblige.

My new girl slave is called Jess and she and her Mum entered me in a riding dressage competition. We all know how much I love a competition, especially when I win.

Perhaps you can all see me performing.

As you can see I am in a very happy place, but I miss you all.

Roll on when we all meet again.”


“Jim” the cat.

While I was checking on the Group’s bits and bobs stored prior to lockdown I found somebody who’d made himself very comfortable on the benches!

Memories From Childhood

Man’s best friend has been associated with our family since long before I was born.  My roots are in Scotland (just) and from the 1920s to the 1950s my family lived in Cults, at that time a village on the north Deeside Road into Aberdeen.  I wasn’t old enough to remember it in great detail but my Dad seemed to have an affinity for calling his dogs “Glen”, usually a border collie  and my first story was related to me many times over the years.

In the 1930s my Grandparents lived down the road in the village of Bieldside and their property covered approximately one acre.  They had a petrol station and their home was situated on the main road, roughly centred on the boundary.  The story goes that Glen had a regular routine.  He’d sit on the side of the road until the traffic was clear, cross to the white line and proceed to walk down the line until he reached the property’s boundary whereupon he’d cross back over, do a circuit around the property, cross back to the white line and come back full circle.  Apparently all the local drivers knew him and he wouldn’t budge from the white line until he got to where he was going.  Aberdeen has grown of course since those halcyon days.  Cults and Bieldside are now a full part of the metropolis and “countryside” is much further out-of-town.

My second story concerns another “Glen”.  By this time Hilary and I were growing up in the West Midlands and were lucky to have countryside around us in the form of Sutton Park but my story is one from the back garden.  My parents had bought a dog, Glen; I think for Hilary.  Not a collie this time but a first-cross Foxhound if memory serves.  It was fashionable in the late 50s early 60s to have wire boundary fences.  We had a French window that looked out across the back garden and an open field (until they built a school).  Next door lived a black cat.  Well the dog used to go crazy on sight of the cat and insist on going to see it off.  He’d never catch it and probably wouldn’t have known what to do with it if he had, but the cat knew this and would sit on her side of the fence quite close, demurely watching as Glen raced up and down the garden.  When he stopped she’d very carefully poke one paw through the fence and very slowly, deliberately, clout the dog across the nose.  He never learnt and always fell for it every time.

My last story occurred in the late 70s after we’d both left home.  Mum and Dad were still living in the West Midlands and they had been invited to stay with Hilary and Paul for a short break.  Anyway somehow they ended up shopping at Harrods!  The first I knew of this was when they dropped into my work in Slough on their way home where they showed me this gorgeous puppy.  A pedigree Border collie named “Glen” of course.  The picture is when he was much older but he had a lovely temperament and I think he was always my favourite even if he belonged to my parents and wasn’t mine.

This “Glen” went on to father some puppies, one of which my parents kept. Flicka had a very different character and she demanded much more attention than her Dad!

I hope you enjoy the anecdotes.


Appreciating our Volunteers

You may be aware that this week has been designated National Volunteers’ Week and although we have not been able to go about the business of giving our disabled drivers their weekly sessions, those volunteers who are able to have been doing their best to continue their duties to our Group. 

There are many things I could say but I have just received a most timely message through RDA UK from our President, HRH the Princess Royal, whose words will resonate with us all, (transcript below with original at the bottom of the page).

Thank you all for your loyalty, enthusiasm and dedication.  We shall be back together again in the fullness of time.

In times like this, the contribution of volunteers to communities and organisations is more important than ever. Despite the fact that almost all RDA activity has shut down, I have been encouraged and heartened by people’s determination and willingness to carry on supporting their Groups and the local RDA network. Whether this has been making the effort to stay in touch with others, finding new ways to engage riders and drivers or helping to look after the animals, it is all making a difference to ensure that when we are able to, we can resume our work that enables disabled people enjoy the therapeutic benefits from being around horses, ponies and donkeys.

So in Volunteer Week, I want to say Thank You to you all – we are extremely grateful for all you are doing to support RDA.”

From: RDA UK []
Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 10:28 AM
Subject: Letter from RDA President to Volunteers

Jim Triumphs Again!

Hello Everyone

Something lovely happened this week and it’s all down to Lesley so this blog really belongs to her.  In her own words:

“A little while ago the BDS (British Driving Society) ran an online photo competition for the best head shot of a harness horse.  The winner would have the photo painted as a portrait by the judge, artist Anna Claire.  I thought there were so many photos of flashy cobs it would be nice to see a good, honest driving pony, so I sent a photo of Jim.  There were 133 entries….and I WON!!!!  Sooo exciting…Jim can win things without even leaving his paddock!”

Our Pony Jim

Well, I’m pretty certain Jim didn’t choose the photo and complete the competition form so it might have had something to do with you too, Lesley!  The photo chosen is the one from our website and we should say thank you to Ash Black who took the photo originally.  Thanks also to Gemma who always turns Jim out so immaculately on these occasions. Check out the British Driving Society (BDS) Facebook page for the report.

At a time when life is so trying, it is lovely to have something to celebrate and who better than our precious pony to lighten our day.

More from me next time.  This one belongs to Lesley and Jim.

Best wishes


In Reflective Mood!

Hello Everyone

Are you aware that today is the May bank holiday (what we oldies used to call Whitsuntide)?  Normally, everyone would be glad of an extra day off but at the moment it seems that every day is a day off (apart from the wonderful NHS and key workers of course for whom a day off would be very precious indeed).  Does anyone else feel as though the days are running into each other?  I had almost forgotten that we have just had a weekend!

Harbour Sky

As you can tell, I’m in a reflective mood this week.  I am very fortunate to be able to walk my dog, Trixie, around the harbour every day but this morning, for some reason, I was particularly struck by the clarity of the air, the intense blue of the sky, the bright glare of the morning sun, the loudness of the birdsong, and the silence in the atmosphere. 

The saying is that every cloud has a silver lining and it’s just my thought that the coronavirus, dreadful and deadly as it is, might be the saving of the planet in many ways.  What else could so swiftly and easily have lowered pollution, made people appreciate their surroundings and their neighbours more and remind us of how we can adapt ourselves to any eventuality when the need arises.  Difficult as things are at present, sooner or later life will return to some semblance of the way it was before coronavirus and those special moments of peace, the weekly display of gratitude to our key workers and the kindness of our supportive community will become a precious memory, although it is hoped we will all try to continue in the same vein.  What I’m trying to say is that whilst acknowledging that for many it is a time of anguish and anxiety, we should cherish the good things that have come out of this crisis and try to hold onto them.

Well, having come over all profound, I’ll lighten up and give you the answers to the Harness Quiz last week.  I’m sure that it was a doddle to those of you who are experienced whips but for the rest of us, I hope it was educational and that you were able to name some of the parts correctly.  Do let me know how you fared.  The Comments section is there for your feedback or you can email me if you prefer.

Jim in full harness.
Harness Quiz – Answers
1. Backband and breeching
2. Parrot clip on the backband
3. Terret on the pad
4. Crupper
5. The bit is a Mylar, and it is Jim’s
6. Liverpool bit
7. Rolled traces – something some us need to practice!
8. Quick release tugs
9. Breast collar, with traces attached.
Jim the cat … at 9 years old!

It was lovely to read Lesley’s updates in Comments last week about the yard and good to hear that Jim is in good heart.  One day we will all be able to meet up again and resume our weekly sessions … but not just yet!  Lesley tells me that Jim the yard cat had his 9th birthday recently.  He has lived at the yard since he was born and I imagine is relishing the peace and quiet!   

No pet “tails” this week, I’m afraid.  I’ll try again next week.

Please remember to complete the RDA survey, members, if you can.  If nothing else, it will provide a snapshot of this unusual time.

Best wishes


VE Day under Lockdown

Hello everyone.  I hope you are all staying well and finding plenty to keep you occupied in this our eighth week of lockdown.  I know they are apparently easing restrictions but if you look at the small print there isn’t actually a lot more that we, and I’m guessing you, can do that we haven’t been doing sensibly already.  Venturing out to the shops seems a rather scary move to me at present having been isolating for so long!

I hope you were all able to participate in the VE Day celebrations in some way.  Paul and I did our bit as you can see from the photos.  Although we couldn’t get together with our neighbours, we could hear them and it was a most enjoyable experience.

RDA News

I’m sure that you are all champing at the bit to get up to the yard, see Jim again, and recommence our weekly driving sessions.  Sadly, that won’t be the case for as long as we have to maintain social distancing since we inevitably have to be at close quarters with our disabled drivers and each other.  I have received various bulletins and updates from RDA UK which are most helpful for guidance.  The gist of their message is set out below.

Extract from RDA UK Update

Last Sunday’s announcement by Boris Johnson has given some indication of a move towards ending lockdown, however it has not brought in any new measures that could have an impact on RDA’s ability to restart most activities. In addition, devolved governments are clearly maintaining the lockdown stance for the immediate future. Our advice, therefore, is that groups should remain closed at least for the next three weeks, with some very specific exceptions, as below. As always, as and when new information or guidance is issued, we will update our position accordingly.

This, of course, is the simple response, although in reality there are many things which would need to be put in place before we can consider recommencing our activities and they are most unlikely to be fulfilled in three weeks’ time!  Your committee will meet when the time is deemed right and we will keep you updated on all decisions.

In addition, sadly but inevitably, we have heard from Miranda Purves that the Sands Farm Qualifier in September for the 2021 Nationals has been cancelled.   It is hoped that a Qualifier will take place eventually at a time when it’s deemed that Covid-19 is no longer a threat but it’s by no means certain.  All of life is uncertain at the present time so I’m afraid we must just grin and bear it.  The utmost priority must be for everyone to stay safe and well.

More Quizzing

Well, that’s enough doom and gloom for the moment.  With a view to the future and starting up again one day, the long-awaited Harness Quiz is set out below.  Lesley very kindly took photographs of various parts of Jim’s harness.  All we need you to do is Name that Part!  And if you can remember where each part goes, even better. I will provide the answers in my next blog.


We will take a trip down pet memory lane again next week.  Please do let me have any memories of pets past and present that you would like to share.  Photos would be good too.  I’m afraid my Tess passed away last week and is now enjoying the happy hunting grounds in the sky.  I have fond memories of her long life and can’t be sad that she is now forever young again.

Best wishes


More “Tails” from Cherry Park

Well, another week of lockdown means another blog from yours truly! 

I expect you’re all dying to see the answers to the Horse Breeds Quiz (see below).  It was quite a challenge with much lateral thinking required so I hope you managed to find a few breeds in there.

Answers to Horse Breeds Quiz 

  1. Dutch warmblood
  2. Tennessee Walking Horse
  3. Cob
  4. Cleveland Bay
  5. Suffolk Punch
  6. Dartmoor
  7. Shetland
  8. Mustang
  9. Irish Sports Horse
  10. American Paint Horse

At the yard, Lesley’s leg is recovering nicely from her recent mishap and she has sent a video of her driving Jim whilst (in her words) “holding reins, whip and phone” just to remind our disabled drivers how driving looks!  Such expertise from Lesley and Jim being an angel as usual.

We have a lovely “tail” this week from Sally who sent the following story of her beloved horse,  Venus.

Maple Venus in her heydey

“Maple Venus was my Norwegian Fjord mare. She came into my life as a yearling as a result of the dispersal sale of the Maple Stud in Cranleigh in 1985. I originally bought her as a companion to my ¾ bred mare but I had no idea she would turn into such a super horse.

She won the Championship at the breed show as a 2 year old and then had a successful in hand showing career. She had a fantastic jump so we had fun doing masses of sponsored rides – the photo was taken in front of Petworth House. She was such a fun ride. Bombproof but on her toes and liked to bounce around and buck! I had the pleasure of having her in my life for 33 years.

Maple Venus in her twilight years – aged 34

The second picture was taken on her 34th birthday in 2018 – just 3 weeks before I sadly lost her. She was my once in a lifetime horse. “

Thank you, Sally, for sharing your beautiful horse with us.  RIP Venus.

I promised you a quiz about harness.  Look out for it next week.

Stay well, stay safe.

Best wishes