Friday, 22 August 2008


I have been trying for some time to split the Saddlechariot website in half, so those interested in what it does, and how, can look at that, and those interested in the history and philosophy can look at that, but I cannot get the division to make sense. I have finally realised that it needs a third section, to describe the extraordinary behaviour of the British Equestrian Establishment who for 8 years have pretended I don't exist, while allowing their minions to trash my business, and my life.
Click here to find out what they have done, and why. Otherwise the total lack of expert opinions, official demonstrations and media coverage looks very odd indeed. The fact that I have a brilliant vehicle for the disabled and no UK based horse or disability organisation will even look at it, is an awful lot odder.

So back to the Saddlechariot. First what it isn't. It isn't a Carriage or a Gig and I can prove it isn't a Trap because both the driver and the pony can get out of a Saddlechariot and you can't get out of a trap. Here is a video of getting off a moving Saddlechariot and removing the Saddlechariot at the same time, and not a servant in sight.

The saddlechariot is a SAFE, one person, pony (donkey, horse, mule, zebra) drawn vehicle, built to modern safety standards, built to modern animal welfare standards and quite specifically designed by me and not intended to look as though it was designed by somebody's great, great, grandfather.

It is fun, fun for ponies, fun for people.

It doesn't look impressive because I didn't build it so I could go out and impress people. It doesn't have huge, wooden spoked, solid tyred wheels so I can sit up high and look down on the common herd. It was designed between 2,000AD and 2,008AD and to a modern designer, big spoked wheels are big blunt scissors, just waiting to mangle limbs where children, dogs, ponies are present.

It is a chariot, not because it has been dressed up to look like Hollywood's idea of a chariot, but because it performs the functions of a chariot, a high speed, one person, unsprung, all terrain vehicle, which allows small ponies to pull adults at speed.

It doesn't need a groom because I don't have servants and I would look pretty silly carefully designing a vehicle, and then having to go down to the job centre to hire a groom to help me. If you have servants, there are hundreds of vehicles designed for people just like you.

And combined with Natural Horsemanship, it makes driving ponies and horses SAFE and EASY. I can put a green animal in a Saddlechariot in under two hours, without pressure, without cruelty and without any risk. I've done it a lot quicker but I like some leeway.

As a working class revolutionary, I have many failings. The wrong accent and an inherent dislike of hard work don't help, but the whole Saddlechariot website makes no sense without an explanation of why I am a (very bad) working class revolutionary.
Luckily Landrover have produced a viral advert which perfectly demonstrates the way the British Horse establishment trest those they don't like.

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Saddlechariot is different. Safety is the paramount consideration. And since I am scared of horses, ponies, mules and even donkeys, I assure you I am not going to build a vehicle that I can't get off easily, and that I can't remove from the animal instantly. This video of Boyd Exell driving at Aachen where he falls out of the vehicle, then both grooms fall out of the vehicle leaving four loose horses towing 600kg of vehicle through crowds of spectators. Alternatively, look at this video of me stepping off a moving saddlechariot and removing the vehicle from the pony. I could hang on to the reins if I chose but it makes the whole thing clearer if I just step off. Anyway a loose pony, with nothing attached is more of a threat to grass than anything else.

The safety is reflected in the engineering. The structure is TIG welded stainless steel, which makes for near zero maintenance. Design is modular so the saddlechariot can be adjusted to fit any animal from 7hh to 18hh and I can do bigger or smaller with a weeks notice. Not only does it fit any animal, it fits any driver over about 6 years old and balances perfectly without adjustment. That means NO weight on the shafts.

Lancaster University Engineering Department provided stress testing and advice to bring the Saddlechariot up top modern road going vehicle strength standards. There are no official tests for vehicle safety that I can discover. NFU Mutual Insurance describe the saddlechariot as "a glorified horse drawn vehicle but with extra safety mechanisms fitted" and accept it on a satndard horse policy without need ing a groom. NFU Mutual also provide insurance cover for the British Driving Society whose vehicles do require a groom.

The harness is my own design utilising a unique aluminium collar with sheepskin cover. This provides a perfect fit and a bearing surface between the collar and pony that stops any rubs. The latest versions have an integral swingle tree in the collar which makes life even easier for the pony at speed across rough ground.
The saddle is double hinged, has 20mm closed cell foam padding under sheepskin and there is no weight on the pony's back. The tailored padded breeching is built for strength

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Nelson Mandela and Mornington Crescent tend not to feature in horse drawn vehicle corporate blurb, but the Saddlechariot is different. For the last few months the Saddlechariot site has been a marvellous tribute to "caring conservatism" functioning as my own, online, "care in the community" so I could have a very public nervous breakdown. It makes a nice change from drunks lolling in the gutter to save the NHS a bob or two, now everyone can go global with their problems, paranoia and delusions, with the massive advantage that most of us don't then invade Iraq, Afghanistan and wherever it is that we are invading this week.
On his release from prison, Nelson Mandela said of those who had put him in Robben Island, and kept him there, "I don't hate them because if I hated them they would still be controlling me." Just listening to his reported words loo
sened the chains of hate that have been wasting my time, and wasting my life. My problems are nothing to those Mandela faced, and I am not trying to draw any parallel, merely expressing my thanks to Mr. Mandela for his example which has helped me so much.
Mr. Mandela's words allowed me to look at my problems clearly, not through a fog of hate, and I saw the British Horse Establishment in all their glory playing a rather more vicious and much less funny version of Mornington Crescent. For those who haven't enjoyed "I'm sorry I haven't a clue!" I can only say please listen to at least one episode. "Mornington Crescent" is a truly British game involving the four players on "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" saying the names of London Underground Stations until someone says Mornington Crescent. Humphrey Lyttleton chaired the proceedings introducing abstruse and arcane rules and rituals and the players endlessly questioned his jurisdiction and the fine print in the rules. The
joke is, that that is it. Once you know it is all a game, you can laugh at those outside the charmed circle who just can't get it, and congratulate yourself on your wit and erudition. But the charm of all those concerned, and their comedy genius made this simple formula a delight to all listeners for nearly thirty years. Yes, for thirty years a game with completely fictitious rules and no point, has entertained millions, and The British Horse Establishment over 80 years has done pretty much the same, with meaningless rules, archaic dress codes and snobbery.
The British Horse Establishment, if you are accepted, is, I am sure, full of charming and witty people, but to an outsider, it is "Mornington Crescent" without the genius and without the charm. Complicated and abstruse rules are insisted on with no background of logic, and once you are in the charmed circle, the rules no longer apply. The joy for those in the charmed circle is how easily you can keep out the riff raff.
For example, cantering on the roads
"No mater how much you enjoy cantering, remember the horse's well-being. The canter should only be attempted on suitable ground, otherwise the horse's legs will be jarred. Soft ground is best and you must never canter on a road surface." I was brought up with the absolute rule that you don't canter on the roads, until I went hunting for the first time, where all the people who insist you don't canter on the road are doing exactly that, but it is all right because they are hunting.
Blinkers are vital if you are going to drive a horse. The reasons why they are vital vary according to who you are talking to, but they are vital. The Royal Horse Artillery gave up using blinkers before 1857 and don't use them to this day. Are the Royal Horse Artillery particularly stupid and permanently crashing because of a lack of blinkers? Or is it possible that the rule is nonsense. Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty thought blinkers were a dangerous fashion accessory, and every small horsey girl reads Black Beauty, they just shut their eyes when they come to the bit about blinkers. One of my Lancaster university contacts said the reason horses have to wear blinkers is so they have the same narrow viewpoint as their owners.

On the right is a page of a book for novice horse owners. It might just make sense if you are completely ignorant, but those in the know are well aware that Thoroughbreds boast of their descent in the male line exclusively, and in the female line predominantly from ARAB blood. So you start a Thoroughbred at one and wait till the notoriously late developing Arab is 5 or six, you must either assume that the whole Thoroughbred pedigree is total nonsense or that the rules don't apply to rich and aristocratic race horse owners but must be enforced on any peasants.
Yes it is Mornington Crescent, it just isn't that funny. The reason they have to say that you can start Thoroughbreds at one combines tradition, stupidity and cruelty and is therefore supported whole heartedly by the establishment despite the fact that vets have insisted it is stupid and cruel since Captain M. H. Hayes FRCVS wrote "Points of the Horse" in 1903.
Pages 345 to 355 of this highly regarded work are a sustained diatribe against the January 1st birthday applied to all Thoroughbreds and the habit of pushing them to race too early. And guess what. Nothing has changed, but books now claim that you can start the Thoroughbred at one. Typical Mornington Crescent. Invent a pointless, idiotic rule, and insist it is both sane and sensible. But in the Equestrian establishment game, the horse is the loser.
Captain Hayes also comments on Showing horses. "A false appearance of flatness and strength of back and loins, and of roundness of barrel, may be temporarily given by "show condition" (excessive fat)." And guess what, to win at shows today, excessive fat still gets the prize. Since excess fat is the chief cause of laminitis, and laminitis is the major avoidable medical problem in ponies, and horses, you might think the show world would listen to common sense, but after 105 years they carry on regardless.

The Saddlechariot is different.

The Saddlechariot is different. This website over the last few months has been a classic case of "care in the community" as I have had an online nervous breakdown. It is all available on Blogger so those who feel I have been rude can read all about themselves as often as they like.
As I said, the Saddlechariot is different, forget all the usual boring "unique selling propositions," "unbeatable offers" and "massive discounts", here you just get confessions of mild (in my opinion) insanity. But a combination of Nelson Mandela, Richard Dawkins and "I'm sorry I haven't a clue's" "Mornington Crescent", has solved a lot of my mental problems. If this unusual concept doesn't interest you, you can go straight to the Saddlechariot pages and find out what it does when attached to a horse, pony, donkey or mule going through surf or city centres, across rivers or hills, pointlesslessly zooming around or providing a practical eco friendly power source. Click here for normality or continue the strange journey through a stranger mind. Nelson Mandela's comment that he didn't hate those who had subjected him to 28 years prison on Robben Island, because "If I hated them, they would still control me," has liberated me as well. The British Establishment, Equestrian section, have sent me to Coventry for 8 years, insulted me, trashed my product and done their best to destroy me but since I no longer hate them for it, they no longer control me. The relevance of "Mornington Crescent" should really confuse my overseas readers. Mornington Crescent is a delightfully funny game played on the brilliant "I'm sorry I haven't a clue" Radio 4 programme, which consists of four people taking it in turns to say the names of London Underground stations until someone says "Mornington Crescent". Humphrey Lyttleton presided, allowing arcane challenges and introducing random, abstruse rules. The fact that it was truly pointless was the joke, and it lasted for 30 years. The British Horse Society has lasted rather longer but is essentially the same. A series of pointless statements, weird rules, arcane challenges and the joke is that the rules don't actually apply to those who belong, only to those who want to belong, and when they finally get the joke, they can play it on the next generation who want to belong. Richard Dawkins is not just a brilliant biologist and enthusiastic teacher of Darwin's evolution and all the science that has developed from Charles Darwin's, I hesitate to use the word "revelations", but Dawkins has successfully challenged the God botherers with an analysis of their beliefs. The British Horse Establishment in all its ludicrous pomp and glory shares a vast amount with organised religion. Fancy dress and fancy language harking back to a golden age, an inherently exclusive attitude to those who aren't God's chosen people, or riders, and a self interested subsevience to the powers that be. But their power is entirely dependent on a belief that they know what they are talking about. Horsemanship is truly global, crossing every boundrary, every religious, cultural, ethnic and social barrier. So why should a bunch of upper class twit habits, dresscodes and language, control English horsemanship? 100 years ago 99% of horsemanship was working class horsemanship. Horsepower meant exactly what it said. The Equestrian Establishment has preserved every peccadillo of the upper class twit activities, polo, dressage, hunting, carriage driving, while relentlessly destroying all memory of the myriad skills of those who actually worked with horses. It is a joke, and a very bad one. I don't hate them any more, but I feel nothing but contempt for their attempts to exclude so many from "their" activity and to deny the "horsey" background of so many. I will take ponies to anyone who would like to work or play with them. I didn't start building Saddlechariots as a working class revolutionary, but I ended up as one, just another working class revolutionary but with a very unconvincing accent. I claim the British Horse Establishment make a series of pointless statements because I have read their books and heard their comments, and seen them in action. I was always brought up with the firm belief that you never canter on the roads. Everyone out hunting canters on the roads. Those who taught me "never canter on the roads" were the first to do exactly that out hunting. Why does "hunting" make it all right? Driven horses must wear blinkers. The Royal Horse Artillery stopped wearing blinkers, (or at least their horses did) after 1815 and before 1857. For over 150 years the Royal Horse Artillery haven't used blinkers yet they are considered vital for anyone who drives, according to the British Driving Society. Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty, considered blinkers a dangerous fashion accessory yet they are still de rigeur in smart driving circles. One of my Lancaster University friends suggested that "they fit blinkers to the horses so they have the same narrow viewpoint as their owners!" There is an aristocracy amongst horses and blood will always tell. Absolutely true. The General Stud Book, the Debretts of the equine world, recording the pedigree of those equine aristocrats theThoroughbreds, was started because the aristocrats involved in racing in England in the 1700's had such an appalling reputation for running ringers in weight for age handicaps, that some way of keeping those devious shifty crooks (aka the British peerage) on the straight and narrow was required, so they recorded the date of birth and parentage of these animals in a desperate attempt to keep their aristocratic owners honest. Incest is good. The breeding policies of the upper classes, when applied to their pets, mean they deliberately force their animals to mate at a level of co sanguinity that would be illegal if they practised it themselves, father/daughter, uncle/niece, anything goes if you call it line breeding. Such a shame that the actual description is incest. The Thoroughbred is the fastest horse in the world. This may be true, but why won't they let any other horses run against them? The exclusive nature of the racing world would put South Africa's apartheid regime to shame except for the fact that the horses and pionies don't realise they are being denied equality on the basis of bigoted attitudes about birth and class.

old webfrontpage

I am always advised to produce a nice simple web site that says what the Saddlechariot is and what it does, and if anyone knows how to produce such a website, I am listening. The Saddlechariot is a safe , fun, pony or horse drawn vehicle, accessible to all people and all ponies. The Saddlechariot is hated by the British Horse Establishment who refuse to look at the Saddlechariot or talk to me or even answer recorded delivery letters. To understand how a safe, fun, people friendly, pony friendly vehicle can attract the sort of vitriolic abuse it gets from people who have never need to understand the Philosophy .
Before we get onto the Saddlechariot and what it does, lets look at the people and ponies who will use it.

People love ponies and ponies love people. People includes all members of Homo sapiens, ponies all members of Equus caballus.
All Homo sapiens can interbreed, and have, and the result is you and me. I cannot in law discriminate against any of you, my readers, on the basis of parentage or physical conformation. If I insist on White, Anglo Saxon, able bodied, employees or customers I will be prosecuted.
All Equus caballus can interbreed and have, and the result is our ponies and horses. I will not discriminate against ponies and horses on any basis that would be illegal if applied to their owners.

Henry and I have just been working in Balsall Heath at the St. Paul's Trust City Farm. I call it working, but it was pure magic to watch the pleasure that Henry can spread just by being there. Henry was mobbed wherever we went, by all ages, all backgrounds. And over and over I was told "At home we had........" and home was Jamaica, or Yemen, Iraq, China, Ireland..............

With fuel going through the roof, and Global warming in every headline, pony power is the answer. For recycling projects, street cleaning, local deliveries, pony power makes cold economic sense. The goodwill in the community, something that unites all communities with a smile, that's just a free bonus, but may be worth more than all the other factors combined.

I was told endlessly that Henry was the first pony most of these kids had ever seen. That is a truly tragic statistic, but we can do something about it so easily. Bring ponies back to the cities, back to the people where they belong and always have. Ponies are urban animals.

Cities are full of statues to War Horses, as they ride roughshod over the vanquished, but those aren't the horses that people love. Millions remember the milkman's horse with real affection yet those have no statues. Possibly because no bronze monument could replace them, only flesh and blood will do. Henry is making a start and the Saddlechariot allows him to work safely in cities, on the beaches, at the Royal Cornwall Show. HRH the Princess Royal can look at the Saddlechariot, but Riding for the Disabled of which she is Patron have for 8 years refused to look at any vehicle I build or even talk to me. And if you want to know why, ask them, as I said they refuse to talk to me. The page on people may explain why.