Arden runs Dartmoor Driving based at Michelcombe near Holne. It's
only April and already he's reporting a busy start to the 2005 season
writes Monica Ellis.
Johnny and his team teach people who seek out their skills, not
only from the southwest but internationally, too.
Arden with one of the traps
usually start by driving just one horse in the course of a weekend's
tuition, but Johnny reckons it's quite feasible to be able to build
up to driving a pair.
There's no need to worry, even if you're not so sure of your abilities,
because the vehicles Dartmoor Driving use are fitted with a second
set of brakes and reins for the instructor to take over if needs
what do other drivers make of a 19th century vehicle on a twenty-first
motorists are happy to slow down and wait to pass a horse-drawn
vehicle, with motorcyclists and lorry drivers in particular being
I'm a fairly old man myself, a lot of our worst offenders are the
old couples that will pass you on the corners," said Johnny.
the young boys with the motorbikes are as good as gold!"
surprisingly, the moor's own wild ponies seem nonchalent about a
horse attached to a wheeled vehicle, but that's not the case for
horses with riders.
we meet a ridden horse, he will be very frightened of a horse and
carriage," said Johnny. "But the Dartmoor ponies don't
pay us any attention whatsoever."
you're bitten by the bug, you can even buy your carriage from the
Ardens. They import most of their stock from Poland, where horse-power
is still frequent in rural areas.
a Dartmoor man through and through
a Dartmoor man through and through.
He grew up near Chagford, and enjoys sharing both his skills, and
his knowledge of the moor.
history of mining, local legends, or his encounter with the "Beast
of Dartmoor" may all crop up in conversation. You can learn
a lot on a jog along the lanes of Holne Moor with the wind in your
first horse-driving job was during his National Service with the
Army. It was his job to collect dog food with a small trap to supply
the local training kennels.
those days he's enjoyed competition, winning a National Novice Single
Championship, but now it's the pleasure of spending time with his
horses, passing on a lifetime's worth of skills, and sharing his
love of Dartmoor that Johnny Arden enjoys most.