NZ's Newest Equestrian Sport to Feature at Ride the Rhythm
Ride The Rhythm Media Release 10 January 2012
New Zealand’s Newest Equestrian Sport to Feature at Ride the Rhythm
The fast and furious sport of scurry driving has recently become the country’s newest equestrian sport, receiving formal recognition from Equestrian Sports New Zealand (ESNZ) as a horse sport in its own right. Scurry NZ, the sports founding body, is set to demonstrate the high speed action of scurry driving at Forsyth Barr Stadium, when it takes part in the equestrian programme at Ride the Rhythm on Friday 1 February.
Jill Stephenson, one of the founders of Scurry NZ, says the demonstration at Ride the Rhythm will have huge crowd appeal. “It’s a very exciting and thrilling sport to watch with horse drawn carriages travelling at speeds of up to 30ks per hour. It’s fiercely competitive with all age groups up against each other, from 12 year olds to 70 year olds.”
Based in Canterbury and now in its second season, Scurry NZ has forty registered members including 63yr old great grandfather, Brian Shanks from Dunedin, who will be the oldest competitor in the scurry demonstration. Brian and his 9yr old miniature appaloosa nicknamed Spot, qualified for Ride the Rhythm coming second at the Canterbury A&P Scurry in November last year. Brian is looking forward to the event at the stadium.
“It’s just such a huge buzz. The nerves set in for a start but once you’re off, you’re off. The course can be done in well under a minute, sometimes in 50 seconds, and the crowd get really worked up because it is just so exciting. Spot is also popular with the crowd because he is quite small, just 34 and a half inches high, but is extremely fast.
“It will be brilliant to take part at the Stadium as well and hopefully will encourage more locals to take up the sport.”
Jill Stephenson, a British expat now living in Christchurch, says the sport is huge in the UK.
“It’s a big attraction at many UK shows and involves pairs of ponies pulling a lightweight, four wheeler carriage around a course of cones just wider than the carriages. Each set of cones has balls balanced on the top and any balls knocked off incur penalties. The winner on the day is the turnout with the fastest time after adding penalties for any fallen balls.
“Here in NZ we have transformed the UK rules to make scurry driving available to a wider range of drivers and anything from a single miniature horse to a team of Clydesdale horses can compete. We also allow individual racers and two wheeler carriages. In time we envisage that like the UK the fastest turnouts will indeed be pairs of ponies.
The Scurry Driving event is the fourth on the programme at Ride the Rhythm with the expected start time at 5.15pm. Following the equestrian events, British pop group, The Hollies, give their only South Island concert on their ‘50th Anniversary World Tour.’