Mike has been lucky enough to drive a number of talented ponies over the years, each of which has been influential in developing his driving career.
Pumpkin, a bay Shetland from Germany, was kindly on loan to us from the Schettler family for several years. A veteran of the international driving scene, Pumpkin became the lynchpin of Mike’s tandem, pairs, unicorn and team turnouts. On his arrival he quickly settled in with the rest of Team Warford, and took no messing in the field from Blackie, putting him firmly in his place on several occasions. He was also ridden by both Linda and Anna, and enjoyed hacks in the Cheshire countryside as well as driving.
In harness Pumpkin formed a formidable pair with Brownie, and together they became unbeatable, winning almost every competition they entered! In his first season with us Pumpkin helped to take the Indoor National Pairs title, won several national qualifiers and was Reserve Champion in the Pairs class at the National Championships at Windsor (all with Brownie).
In 2012 he competed at the Indoor Finals at Keysoe in March, both in tandem and as a pair with Blackie and Brownie. Once the indoor season was over, Pumpkin became one of the wheelers in Mike’s team of four, where his experience, pulling power, and sensible nature were all invaluable. The team made its debut at the Mostyn club event, and never looked back! In 2013 he was part of Mike’s Shetland team that took the reserve championship at the BC Nationals.
During his time with Team Warford, Pumpkin also competed in ridden dressage, and on his first outing to Beaver Hall he managed to beat Blackie (much to Anna’s disgust) with 71.9% in the prelim! As well as taking part in dressage competitions, Pumpkin was also particularly good at giving pony rides and helping to bring on other new drivers. With Linda he helped to teach several beginner drivers the ropes and was always as patient as could be with his novice charges.
Pumpkin returned home to the Schettler family at the end of 2013, and is greatly missed by all on the yard. His little quirks (such as ALWAYS getting down to roll the second his harness was off at competitions!) often made us laugh, and Mike would like to thank Uta, Karolin and Kathrin Schettler for entrusting him with the loan of such a special pony.
Buttons became our ‘fourth pony’ at the start of 2012. After a long search for number four, it turned out he was right under our noses all the time! Owned by Heather Hulme, a friend from the Chester group, Buttons was another extremely experienced driving pony like Pumpkin. He had enjoyed much success with Heather’s children, and most recently with her granddaughter Charli as a single pony.
He had also been driven in both a pair and a tandem before, and absolutely nothing phased him. Bombproof on the road, he was a great mainstay in the team and did more than his fair share of the pulling if left to his own devices. His strength was unbelievable for such a small pony, and he was always ready and willing to get on with the job in hand.
Buttons lived with us for two years, and during that time, like Pumpkin, he became as much a part of the family as Blackie and Brownie. He quickly became fond of his new little unit, and was never happier than when all four of the team were together, either in the field or in their side stabling at competitions.
As Mike has moved on to focus on his new team, Buttons is now living with another friend and Chester group member, Penny Wear, and continues to enjoy much success as a single turnout. We see him regularly at club events and it is lovely to see him doing what he loves and giving so much enjoyment to a new driver as he did to us.
D’Arcy (Coedywen Mister D’Arcy)
We very sadly lost D’arcy in January 2012. D’arcy played such an important part in Mike’s driving career and he gained vital experience both at home training and competing. He was an amazing pony and he shall be very much missed by us all.
Mike and D’Arcy’s achievements included winning the Junior National Championships twice in their age group (in 2010 and 2011), along with numerous wins at both club and National level as a single pony.
D’arcy was bred by Jan Fair. A registered Welsh section D, he was by Valentine Musketeer out of Aberconwy Nell Gwyn. Having watched Mike driving Brownie and seeing their many successes, Jan approached Mike and offered him the opportunity to drive her pony.
Although D’Arcy was already experienced in a carriage, he had only minimal experience in the demanding sport of driving trials. This opened new horizons for Mike as a larger pony will find the distances and times easier to attain. They spent many hours training hard to get to know each other and this investment in time and effort paid off. Both Mike and D’Arcy possessed a flair and enthusiasm for driving, and together they were an unbeatable combination, albeit one that was sadly cut short.
D’Arcy was also much-loved by the rest of the Hodgson family, and as well as driving with Mike he took part in showing, hacking, jumping and farm rides with Louise, and Mike’s older sister Emma.