The end of May signals the time for a visit to the Mecca for traditional carriage driving enthusiasts, Cutts. This year was a huge milestone for Christian and Antoinette Langlade as it was the 20th AIAT event that they have masterminded at Chateau Cutts, the glorious estate about an hours drive north of Paris. Cuts is the birthplace of this Association that has captured the spirit of the maintenance of the traditions of harness, horses and carriages plus driving skills in this modern era.
On the first day 80 equipages ranging from singles horses and ponies to various multiples from 11 countries presented themselves to the judges with the chateau as a stunning back cloth. This was a marathon day for the three presentation judges who between them made over 1200 judging decisions in six hours, a unique privilege with such a variety of equine breeds put to what is a living collecting of traditional carriages - it was exceptional.
Of course museums have their place, but to see so many carriages in use and immaculately turned out is breath taking. A sure indication that the passion for traditions in the carriage driving culture across Europe, and also further afield, is very healthy.
The second day of the event, the routier and cone driving sections, one might say was perhaps a little more testing for both the whips and the grooms - it rained and it rained again. Nevertheless spirits were still high after the previous evening's gourmet Gala dinner ensuring the majority of exhibitors maintained their smiles further fired up by Cutt's unrivalled Sunday buffet lunch. With over 300 diners another organisational achievement.
There was a bonus in the cones course for the drivers however as the well worn muddy track guaranteed no one had an error of course!!
The organisation of any AIAT event tests the enthusiasm of a large number of volunteers , both before, during and after the weekend, particularly in the wet. We are indebted to the Cutts team that have been the template for events in our sport for the last 20 years.