HOYS here we come! - Scurry Driving Blog

By: Horse Deals

HOYS here we come! - Scurry Driving Blog
 Speed and determination as Janette and her ponies qualify for HOYS

Janette Baker-Watts is a first time driver for the Osborne Refrigerators Scurry Driving Team.  Janette and her ponies, Lady & The Tramp, are having a great season so far and we find out just what they have been up to in the latest instalment of their blog.

So what have you been up to since your last blog?

Most recently I competed at East of England, South of England and the Hickstead Derby.  Obviously Hickstead was my favourite show because I qualified for HOYS by coming 3rd in morning qualifying class and came 4th in the championships which were held in the main ring during the afternoon. 

How does it feel to know you will be competing at HOYS?

It feels amazing, but I have to say, Lady and the Tramp have never failed to qualify for HOYS each and every year they have competed.  Prior to me taking the reins they have qualified for HOYS with three different drivers, so I was just so relieved I hadn't let them down by breaking their outstanding record. 

How do you cope with competition nerves?

I do get really nervous. I worry about forgetting the course and I worry about the technical aspects of the course. The box element of the course is the part of the course I really hate. I hardly ever get the box right at home, even though my ponies can do it with their eyes shut! It’s my interfering which quite often means I hit the cone and I find I am already panicking about the box before I even get to that part of the course, so I have really got to develop a more positive attitude towards it.    

Do Lady and the Tramp get excited when they know they are about to compete?

They are just so professional; honestly, they are so cool, calm and collected.  They are a pleasure to take to a show.  They are so chilled in the collecting ring, they often just go to sleep, and they totally ignore all the other excited ponies around them.  As soon as it’s time for the round, they are instantly awake. I am sure when we go into the ring they are listening out for the bell with me! As soon as they hear it, they really start to take a pull and they adore the atmosphere of a cheering crowd.

What’s your typical weekly routine? How often do you practice with the ponies?

I work full time as an Executive Assistant for a Football and Rugby Club Owner, so I only get to train with the ponies during the evenings and at the weekends.  Their lifestyle is very natural; their owner Gareth Roberts is very strict that they live out all year round with their best scurry pony friends Darkhorse Fred & Barney.  They have wonderfully large fields.  In the summer months, they do all come into their stables at lunchtime so they have some time off of the grass and get some rest before they are exercised in the afternoon / evening.  Gareth is very clear that the ponies training is varied, so I only actually drive them round a course of cones twice a week. The other days we put them in a large marathon carriage and we all go for a hack.  We are very lucky; we live in a beautiful rural area of Hertfordshire with great road and off-road hacking.  The ponies love the change of scenery and it’s also great fitness work.  

What’s the ponies favorite post competition treat?

The ponies competed with Gareth Roberts as his small pair of ponies for many years.  When the ponies reached 20 years of age Gareth decided that he didn't want them to work at such a fast place anymore (if you have ever watched Gareth Roberts in the ring, he is very fast!).  He drives to the limit and achieved great success with Lady & The Tramp for many years, so their treat honestly is when Gareth gets back in the driving seat at home and takes them round a course.  They love it! They turn wild, they rear, they snort, and they try to take off.  The relationship between Gareth and those ponies is very special, if Gareth praises them after one of my rounds, that is their favorite reward.   They thrive on him showing them attention.  Other than Gareth’s praise, they love carrots, but they do get carrots everyday in their dinner and as treats at home, so they are not just competition treats!