‘Five Minutes With… Chris Orchard, scurry driver
Chris Orchard is a show jumper turned Scurry Driver. She represents the Orchard Scurry Team, and won her Scurry race at HOYS last year with her ponies ‘Touch’ and ‘Go’, together with groom Charlotte Kenton.
Chris says she has many people to be thankful for in the course of her equestrian career. Her father raced motorcycles quite successfully in his teenage years, and Chris recalls that it is from her Dad that she learned to be competitive. “He gave me that determined will to win, and instilled in me that loosing was not an acceptable alternative,” Chris tells us.
“Sadly my dad was an asthmatic, so although I grew up on a farm in Lincolnshire, a pony was out of the question; I didn’t realise my dream until I was twenty, had left home and moved to Kent,” she remembers.
Chris’ fabulously-named riding instructor, Psyche Dell, patiently taught Chris to ride, from the basics of riding, including lots of the fun pony club activities that Chris says she missed out on by starting to rider later than her peers, right through to competitive show jumping. “She also bought my first pony, and taught me all the technical stuff. But I think the most important thing she taught me was not to give up; when you fall off, get back on; if it bolts with you, stick with it; don’t let the pony get the better of you; if you get it wrong, do it again till you get it right. Psyche taught me more of that determination that you need as a competitive rider or driver to be successful”, Chris says.
The scurry driver’s show jumping pony, Beau Geste, taught Chris two important things. “The first is how to win! As that’s all he ever did, he was wonderful; I could just whizz him round a jump off course, and no turn was too tight for him. He also showed me how to take the shortest line between jumps in a jump off course; he was the best and he just showed me what to do, a lesson that would turn out to be invaluable when I later started to Scurry, which is all about the shortest line,” Chris recalls.
“Top Scurry driver Bill Hundley, of the Rycroft School of Equitation, taught me everything I needed to know to Scurry drive, but after I had done quite a few competitions with moderate success, the most valuable thing he taught me was that I had to trust my ponies; that made all the difference and enabled me to step up and take my first HOYS place,” Chris adds with admiration.
Chris loves the ‘black and white’ nature of scurry driving. “It is not like showing, where you rely on someone’s opinion; it’s more akin to show jumping, where the rules are clear and you either win or you don’t with no grey areas,” she states. Chris adds that horses are a great leveller. “There are not many sports where you can compete equally with members of the royal family; I certainly didn’t ever think I would be out walking a course with HRH Prince Phillip, but I did just that!”
Chris concludes by telling us that, after all this time, driving the ponies as pairs and also as a four in hand team, the thing she still love the most about them is the simple pleasure and privilege of owning, looking after and having such a close relationship with these fantastic equines.
I couldn’t live without…
“My Wahl Clippers and Trimmers. Quiet motors, quality blades and minimal vibration make the Wahl range ideal for all horses; while the concentrated show preparation and coat care range offers value for money. You only need to look at the photos of my ponies to see that the grooming products work; and you can see they are all constantly clipped and trimmed to perfection.”