Wednesday, 5 October 2011

British Driving Society Show

Karen took the horse team to the British Driving Society Show at the weekend to take part in a demonstration. Although she was still struggling with her broken toe, she was thrilled with the way Blackie went. It was his first time indoors, his first experience of music and his first experience of close up, applauding crowds and he took it all in his stride. What a good boy!


This was another practice event for the horse team and although Blackie misbehaved in the dressage this time out, they all went brilliantly across country, despite the dreadful ground conditions.  It was a good job they did, because Blackie managed to tread on Karen's foot whilst being harnessed and although she didn't realise it at the time, he broke one of her toes!!  It meant she was struggling to brake the carriage and at one point it slid on a muddy slope and hit a post hard.  The poor groom whacked her ribs and was struggling for breath, but valiantly carried on.   Karen went for the time on the cones course and  although they had 2 cones down, she was still pleased with the way they went.  Well done everyone under the circumstances!
Now both teams can take a well earned break until next year.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


Karen took her horse team to Escrick for practice, as it was Blackie's first outing after his injury.  They went really well on the marathon and were clear in the cones, but had time penalties.  They were a second over on the time, which they could have made if Karen had allowed them to gallop to the finish, but as she was being cautious with Blackie, she took it steadier.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Escrick Horse Driving Trials

Karen will be taking her horse team to Escrick this weekend for practice.  Results will be posted on her website.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

National Championships, Windsor

Karen won the Pony Four-in-Hand National Championship at Windsor and would like to thank everyone who supported her, especially Ray Aziz for the loan of his ponies.  See website for further photos and results.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

National Championships - Windsor

National Championships, Windsor. Karen was 3rd in the Dressage on a score of 65.02 and 1st on the Marathon with a score of 90.57, so she is currently lying 1st. Fingers crossed for the cones!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

National Championships - Windsor

Karen is competing Ray Aziz's pony team at the National Championships this weekend.  They came third in the dressage and did a brilliant marathon.  Results will be posted on the website.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Horse Drawn Funeral

Karen did a horse drawn funeral with the greys in Birmingham last week.  Not sure the boys thought they looked good in pink!

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Six in Hand Horse Drawn Funeral

Karen did a six-in-hand horse drawn funeral yesterday in St Helens.  It was a traveller's funeral and as the family insisted on walking in front of the hearse to the cemetery, the traffic in the town centre ground to a halt.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Bakewell Show

Karen came 2nd at Bakewell Show with a black hearse and team of black horses.  One of her coachmen, Grenville, came 4th in the pairs section with a silver hearse and pair of dappled greys.  They were both featured on the BBC regional news programme.  See website for details and more photos.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

What a Day!

Yesterday we had 3 horse drawn funerals  in one day; a black hearse with team of blacks, a white hearse with team of greys and another black hearse with a pair of blacks. Karen even managed to drive the two team funerals herself.  It was a logistics nightmare but we managed to turn out 3 hearses, 10 horses and 5 horse boxes!  

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Catton Horse Driving Trials

Karen came 2nd at Catton Horse Driving Trials at the weekend and so sadly will not be part of the team going to the pony world championships.  She did, however, take new horse, Wilaan, in her horse team for experience and was delighted that she took everything in her stride.  Including when a loose horse hurtled into her portable stabling and joined her for a few minutes until rescued by the groom!  For results see website.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Road Driving Certificate for Commercial Operators

Karen has been awarded the British Driving Society Road Driving Certificate for Commercial Operators of Horse Drawn Vehicles for a team of horses, as well as a pair, and has applied for membership of the Professional Carriage Masters Association for her Horse Drawn Hearse business.

Catton Horse Driving Trials

Karen will be going to Catton Horse Driving Trials on Thursday.  She will be driving the pony team, but will also take her own team to give the new young horse, Wilaan, a taste of the sight and sound of a driving trial.  Results will be posted on her website as soon as possible.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Sandringham Horse Driving Trials

Karen took the pony team to Sandringham and finished 2nd.  The new pony, Jade, went very well and Karen was really pleased with her.  She had to leave her horse team at home as Blackie has a paddock injury and will be out of work for several weeks.  He has had his stitches out now and is on a little walk exercise each day, so hopefully it won't be too long before he is back in work. See website for results

Monday, 30 May 2011

Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials

Karen finished 2nd at Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials at the weekend.  She was only beaten by half a penalty point!  For more details see website

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials

Karen is off to Hopetoun Horse Driving Trials this weekend to drive Ray Aziz's pony team.  Results will be published on her website next week

Ashfields Horse Driving Trials

Karen with one of her new horses, Blackie, at Ashfields Horse Driving Trials.  Although he hesitated when he first went into the water, he was fine for the rest of the obstacle.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Horse Drawn Hearse at Derby Cathedral

Hagrid and Egor with the horse drawn hearse at Derby Cathedral today.  Grenville was driving his Aunt Doreen to her funeral.  See for more photos.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Horse Driving Trials

As Karen has 2 new young horses in her competition team, she will only be taking them to a few horse driving trials for practice.  The photo shows the new boys getting their feet wet.  She has been offered the drive of Ray Aziz's pony team for the season.  See her website for photos

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Kora enjoys stealing the attention from her three friends at a horse drawn funeral and making them jealous.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Warwick and Windsor

Warwick and Windsor, two of the grey horses that pull the horse drawn hearses, had a day out yesterday.  They went to Lancashire to help out as team leaders pulling a wedding carriage and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Awi the Funeral Horse

Hi.  I'm a carriage horse and I work for Karen Bassett pulling her horse drawn hearse with my partner Kora.    I'm a 10 year old black,16.2 hh Silesian horse and have lived with Karen since I was 5.  She found me in Poland when she was looking for horses for a client.  It was a very windy day when Kora and I came into the farmyard and we just stood right next to some flapping polythene without batting an eyelid.  Karen instantly decided we would make wonderful funeral horses and bought us.  My one weakness is that I need Kora as my security blanket and cannot go anywhere without her.  I also like to canter all the hills we go up, even if The Boss says there is no need, as it is just a slope!  For more photos of me, check out Karen's website

Monday, 14 March 2011

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Carriage Driving in the UK

 The typical picture in one’s mind when thinking of carriage driving is usually either one of a rag and bone man with his horse and cart or of a Victorian era horse drawn carriage. However, International Carriage Driving is sanctioned by the Federation Equestrian International (FEI) as since they state that ‘horses were driven long before they were ridden’, and Carriage Driving became an equestrian discipline in 1970 and as a result it is one of the oldest competitive equestrian sports that is still practised today.  

 It must be admitted that carriage driving is not one of the nation’s most popular sports and even if someone decides that they would like to participate in carriage driving, it can also prove extremely difficult to know where to start and they are left asking several questions: where do I go to learn? What equipment do I need? How much will it cost? Is this even the right sport for me?

Basic Information
 In Carriage Driving, the traditional ‘rider’ is replaced with a ‘driver’ who is seated on the carriage behind the team of horses (which can be made up of either two or four horses).

 In modern horse driving competitions, there are three parts: Dressage, Marathon and Obstacle Driving. Dressage is made up of a sequence of compulsory figures performed inside an arena measuring 100x40m. Competitors are judged on the smoothness of the exercises, the obedience of the horse, positioning and impulsion. The Marathon on the other hand is conducted outside and consists of an 18km route including natural obstructions and sharp turning points and the final phase, the Obstacle Driving (or ‘Cones’) phase is designed to test the fitness and suppleness of the horses by requiring the driver to negotiate a narrow track marked with cones with balls balancing on top.


Thursday, 10 February 2011

Carriage Driving

Horse drawn carriages are nowadays used for leisure rather than necessity. In days gone by, a horse drawn carriage was the main form of transport used by people from every walk of life. Horse drawn vehicles were used in cities, on highways, on country lanes on farms, in fact, everywhere. There were many different types of carriages, from simple carts and wagons to city coaches, fashionable barouches and horse drawn cabs.
Nowadays carriage driving is something which people do as a sport, for leisure of for use in carriage hire companies. Horse drawn carriages are seen as something romantic and traditional. Horse drawn carriages are quite popular for weddings, and white, silver or even pink carriages are becoming quite a popular option. A horse drawn carriage gives something of a fairy princess feel to a wedding, or any other kind of event. Carriage drivers also can compete in carriage driving events. These can be both professional and amateur. Many people enjoy carriage driving as a leisurely activity and take part in country fairs and show at game fairs. Another use for carriage driving is at open air museums where people from re enactment groups use their horse drawn carriages as part of their show.
As you can see there are many reasons why carriage driving is still a fairly popular sport. However in order to be able to drive your carriage competently, it is often necessary to take a few lessons. Carriage driving takes some effort and it is essential that you feel confident and in control. Make sure you find a good teacher with plenty of experience in teaching. A good carriage driving teacher will be able to help you drive to the best of your ability and enable you to take your carriage out in public, with safety and confidence.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Horse Drawn Funeral

Horse drawn hearses are used for funerals in many countries. Wherever they are used they give an impression of respect and tradition to any funeral. Horse drawn funeral traditions vary according to the country or community in which the service is held, for example Asian funerals are very ornate and symbolic whereas Amish funerals are simple, peaceful and traditional.
Horse drawn funerals in Britain are generally quite traditional. People may choose to hire a horse drawn hearse as a mark of their appreciation and respect of the deceased. A traditional black hearse is often used, however white and silver hearses are used in cases where one is searching for a less sombre effect, perhaps for a childs funeral.
In Japan, funerals are usually held in the Buddhist rite. For Buddhists, the death of a person marks their entrance into a new phase of life, as a reincarnated being and the funeral focuses on preparing the deceased for their rebirth. Many traditional rituals are carried out before and after the funeral and then the body is carried in a hearse to the crematory. Japanese hearses are very ornate and resemble a miniature golden temple. They can be both motorised and horse drawn.
Funerals held in Amish communities are quite different to funerals of other cultures. Most cultures focus on the deceased whereas Amish funerals are focussed on God in relation to God allowing the deceased to remain with him for eternity. The funeral itself is quite simple and takes place in a home or a barn, as Amish communities do not worship in Church buildings. After the funeral the body is carried away in horse drawn hearse, never a motorized hearse, to the burial place. Four friends of the deceased are given the responsibility of preparing the horse drawn hearse, digging the grave and preparing the funereal room. The whole ceremony is simple and peaceful.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Horse Drawn Hearse Funeral

When a family member or close friend passes away, it is a difficult enough time for everyone who was close to them, without also having to fret about funeral costs. However, it is possible to ‘send them off in style’ without having to break the bank. Horse drawn funeral hearses are a traditional, reasonably priced, service which can provide a memorable and dignified send-off for any loved one.

Where can I find a provider of this service?

Karen Basset offers such a service in and around Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. The team of experienced drivers, dressed in traditional Victorian livery, provide a competent, trustworthy and reliable service, reminiscent of a bygone era.

What will be provided?

Normally, she provides a pair of black Silesian or Hungarian horses, turned out to a high standard in English leather harnesses, pulling a black replica Victorian horse drawn hearse. She does, however, specialise in teams of four or six horses, either black or white.  A gun carriage is also available, as are silver or white hearses, for the funerals of young people or anyone who requires a less sombre ambience. For the white and silver hearses, Karen usually provides a pair of French Arab grey horses, a pair of dappled grey horses and a pair of Lipizzaner which, like the black horses, are trained to stand quietly and be extremely reliable in traffic.

The horses usually wear black, white, pink, blue or purple plumes made from ostrich feathers but other colours are available if desired. They can also wear black or white drapes if required.

Additional Services
There is also a range of additional services on offer in order to give each funeral a special, unique touch. These include using a team of four or six horses to pull the hearse, the provision of two liveried outriders and even providing carriages for the mourners to ride in. Each of these can be provided by special arrangement.


Sunday, 16 January 2011

Carriage Driving : Karen Bassett

If you are interested in taking lessons in carriage driving, you may experience difficulty in finding a qualified and experienced instructor, as it is quite an unusual sport. However, there are instructors and establishments able to give carriage driving lessons to individuals. Among them is Karen Bassett, a leading international horse team driver. She has been driving carriages from a very young age, and has won various awards. In 1995, she was the first woman ever to win an international four-in-hand carriage driving competition.
Many carriage drivers are  happy to offer lessons for complete beginners to advanced drivers for single, pair, team and tandem who  encompass every phase of driving trials, private driving and other showing classes, coaching and BDS pleasure driving.
As well as hourly lessons, Karen will undertake 1 or 2-day courses, day clinics for groups of between 4 and 8 and lecture demonstrations. All courses can be tailored to meet your individual needs.
To take lessons from a competent and inspiring instructor will certainly point you in the right direction towards becoming a skilful carriage driver yourself.
Once you are able to drive carriages with confidence, you can use your skill both for both leisure and competition. Many carriage drivers enjoy taking part in carriage driving trials and competitions. For those who are just carriage driving for fun, you can participate in amateur carriage driving trials, which are run by local horse driving clubs.
Many people wish to hire carriages for weddings, funerals, corporate functions and parties, as a horse drawn carriage adds a romantic, dignified, and elegant feel to any occasion. Re-enactment societies also require carriage drivers to work at open air museums. There are many other uses for the sport but overall it is a fun and interesting pursuit.
Natalie Eastaugh is the Internet Marketing Specialist for
If you wish to find out more on carriage driving as well as information about Karen Bassett, go to 

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Carriage driving

In the past, horse drawn carriages were used as part of everyday life in all societies. From simple carts used on farms, to expensive coaches in the city, drawn by many horses, carriages were a major form of transport. For this reason, many people would have learnt how to drive carriages.
Carriage driving is not such a necessary skill nowadays, and therefore, not as popular as a mode of transport. However, many people enjoy carriage driving as a sport and a leisure pursuit.  Horse driving trials are a fun and competitive way to use carriage driving skills. These are run from amateur level, by local horse driving clubs, through to national and international level, for those who take it more seriously. Carriage driving is also used for horse drawn carriages at weddings, funerals, open air museums, County Shows, Game Fairs and other functions.
Learning to drive a carriage requires some basic skill and patience. It is possible to take carriage driving lessons, a necessary procedure if one is to drive a carriage safely and correctly. There are several private teachers and establishments who offer lessons, including Karen Bassett.
Lessons are available for complete beginners to the more advanced drivers, for a single horse, a pair, team and tandem, where every phase of driving trials, private driving and other showing classes, coaching and pleasure driving are encompassed.
Lessons generally last for an hour and some establishments even undertake 1 or 2-day courses, day clinics for groups of between 4 and 8, and lecture demonstrations.
To drive a horse drawn carriage is a useful, entertaining and even money pursuing skill. You can take yourself and others back to a more simple and romantic era, take part in carriage driving trials and sports, use your skill to run a horse drawn carriage hire business, or to simply have fun.