Saturday, 14 August 2010

Bannedwaggon trip

Obama and I travel to prove a point. We enjoy it, but we tend to have what I consider a good reason to set off, an idea to try, and a vehicle to test. Our first trip was from Brecon to Birmingham, to prove that I can train ponies, and that the Saddlechariot Mark 10 could cope with whatever I might throw at it. The vehicle test was the easy bit. The Mark 10 Saddlechariot  towed a trailer with all my eccentric camping gear through everything.

Birmingham was the target because I wanted to show the guys at the Balsall Heath City Farm, that the Saddlechariot worked, which they pretty much knew as they had seen it a couple of times on Henry, the original saddlechariot pony. But I wanted to show them Obama, trained with a training system I invented to work in City Farms.

The system started really simple. No weapons. I am a useless teacher and the thought of thrying to teach kids how to use weapons gently, appalled me, so I decided to train Obama without weapons. No whips, no spurs, no bits. If it could hurt him, I didn't want it.

But weapons are about more than equipment. Instilled fear is a weapon. If I hit you once with a knuckle duster, you will concentrate when I just slide my hand into my pocket. So I decided that deliberately frightening the pony was also out. Anyone can make a mistake. My Croc slipped off when I was training, Winston, a fairly lunatic mule, so I picked it up. His look of abject terror is with me still.
I trained Winston to cope with double decker buses, express trains, JCBs and artics with air brakes easily in a couple of weeks. Joggers, shoppers, office workers sloping out for a crafty fag, still terrify him. But then he hasn't been hit by lorries, buses trains or diggers. Just by people holding things.

So the Brecon Birmingham trip tested a vehicle and a training system. Exeter to London is just more of the same. The Bannedwaggon has been on the stocks for ages, but it was when working on the agricultural row crop variation of the saddlechariot that I realised how to build the Bannedwaggon, a wheelchair enabled, one person, safe, pony drawn vehicle.

To add to the fun I am taking along a non horseman, and a non driving pony. The team is Lee, a non horseman till early July, me, Simon Mulholland, darling of the equestrian set, Obama, who has taught me how to work with ponies, and Tikki, Tim Tyne's pony who doesn't like going in vehicles, who arrived with me on Tuesday, so we can set out on Sunday. And the standard Mark 10 saddlechariot and the Bannedwaggon.

This is Saturday morning, and I haven't finished building it yet, the rain is tipping down and I hate welding in the rain. But it is a stunning vehicle. The last prototype was pure magic to drive, but just a bit cramped for a wheelchair. So after a rebuild I have more space for the wheelchair, a stronger frame, and less overall weight. It just keeps getting better.

Lee, Tikki, Obama and I will drive to London, without whips or weapons, with a wheelchair enabled vehicle so I can drive solo, down Rotten Row, whipless, bitless, in a wheelchair, safely. It's known as product testing.

To see some of my marginally more organised rants, try these links. If all else fails, try hitting them with whips. It works with horses, doesn't it?

No comments: