Harriet McEntee and her pony Archie have been having an eventful time recently. Following her sponsorship by HJ Logistics, Harriet gives us a brief insight into the excitement of competing in local events after being diagnosed with scoliosis (a curvature of the spine).
“Since a very young age I’ve always loved horses and ponies and prior to my diagnosis I used to ride for The British Young Riders Dressage Scheme (BYRDS)”. After sitting in the crowd at various carriage driving competitions, actually being the one out in the centre of the arena seemed like a distant dream. Sure, just watching from the sidelines was fun enough, but what would it actually feel like to be out there with my pony Archie?
In 2018, I decided it was time to find out!
My journey began with a series of lessons in carriage driving which gave me not just the experience, but also the confidence to enter my first competition. Throughout the indoor driving season, I entered several local events in Kent and absolutely loved every minute of it. Not only did I qualify for the championships at Keysoe, I was over the moon to finish 3rd. I also took part in the ‘South-East Challenge’ and won a shield for the Novice Pony section.
Spurred on by this early success and the thrill of competing, I’ve now been well and truly “bitten by the bug”. I regularly take part in many outdoor driving trials, including the one-day event at Ashfields as well as the two-day events at Windsor and Blandings. More locally, I really love competing in both the Pleasure Driving and Exercise Vehicle classes, having done so at Kent County and Smiths Lawn.
Not long ago I competed in the Exercise Driving class at Kent County. All turnouts were well presented and extremely talented, making the class very competitive. Even so, Archie and I were still able to achieve 2nd place. Archie was amazing and behaved brilliantly, despite getting his white socks a bit dirty even before we entered the arena 🙂 After such an enjoyable day, it was time to relax and unwind by treating myself to a bit of shopping and, of course, lots of ice cream!
A dream come true
Undoubtedly, The British Driving Society (BDS) show at Windsor Great Park has been the highlight of my year. Archie and I began the day with the Junior Whip, an age 10-14 class in which I finished 3rd. As you can imagine, competition was fierce at such a prestigious event and the standard of all those who took part was extremely high. It felt amazing to compete at this level and I even picked up a few useful tips from one of the judges! Going from sitting in the crowd at previous events here to coming in the top 3 inside the arena with Archie was so special to me and I could hardly wait for the next event… and neither could Archie, despite being a tad nervous in front of such a large audience.
My next event was the 4-wheeled Exercise Vehicle class. The diversity and size of the field seemed daunting, ranging from Shetlands to Cobs of 10hh to 16hh and I wasn’t overly optimistic about my chances of success. Nevertheless, Archie rose to the occasion and we were pulled in 4th, a result that far exceeded my expectations considering it was such a strong class.
Highlight of the day
Taking part in the parade is a memory that I’ll cherish forever; it’s not every day that you get to see the Queen! Archie and I had the pleasure of trotting past the Royal Box and it’s difficult to describe in words just how excited I was (although the huge smile on my face was a bit of a giveaway). I think Archie sensed this too and broke into a canter as we passed the white picket fence.
I’ve had the most thrilling journey over the last year and despite still considering myself a novice, am immensely proud of what I’ve managed to achieve – I still have to pinch myself sometimes just to make sure I’m not dreaming! The support I’ve had from friends, colleagues and family have been incredible and so many people have been there for me all the way through to help me make my dream come true.