On Monday 15th July Ben and I went down to Swingletree Farm, near Diss, to have a horse and cart road driving assessment day. The day involved about 6 hours of road driving between us both and we each drove two pairs of horses. The first pair was two 17hh grey coach horses and the second, 14hh Connemara ponies. The day was great fun and a very enlightening experience; we both learnt a lot and gained considerable driving knowledge. The purpose was for the assessors at the farm to judge our skills base and inform Richard Dalton how long they believed it would take us to pass the road driving test. This test and future road driving experience will be completed after the main summer season at Gressenhall, as during the next six weeks, both Ben and myself are going to be extremely busy. Despite our full schedule we will still be taking the time to fill in our evidence forms for our qualification, proving that we have undertaken certain horse based activities (such as grooming), a set number of times to deem us experienced enough to be awarded with our diplomas at the end of our 18 month apprenticeship.
Ben and I have also recently completed our Brushcutter course, which was a full day of taking apart the machinery, looking at its engine, learning how to replace its parts and then experiencing the correct and safest way to use it on our site. On top of this we have also swapped around our rotas in order to have one of us working every Sunday of the summer holidays so that we can offer a better and more satisfying visitor experience over the weekend.
I love the driving aspect of my job. Getting to drive the horses around our farm track with passengers riding behind is brilliant, and it’s something I have always enjoyed about this museum. My mum was having a dig through old photo albums recently and found this photo of me when I was 7 years old, standing by one of the previous Suffolk Punch’s and with Richard Dalton driving. It’s a small world! Underneath this photo there is a shot taken of me now in the same place, just look how different it is!
Our time is very busy and yet extremely satisfying here at the museum, and now we have been here for almost 3 months it’s great to be able to start seeing changes in and around the farm, the horses fitness has improved, the crops have grown (and so have the weeds!) and the amount of people on site has increased. These changes are fantastic to watch and be a part of, and they make working here that much more enjoyable!
Skills for the Future Heritage Farming Apprentice.