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The History of Horseboarding

In 2004, unaware of the far-reaching effect this seemingly routine event was to have on his life, Daniel Fowler-Prime went to train some horses for a friend.

One afternoon, horse training having finished for that day, "Watch this" said his friend and proceeded to tie a rope to the back of a car (driven by his sister), climb on to a mountain board and race around the field. The fun did not stop there but continued with the participants tying the rope to the door frame of the car and then jumping off the board through the window!

At the end of the day with the group standing round the mountain board, Dan was turning ideas over in his mind. " Could you tie it to the back of a motorbike?" he said "Can't see why not" came the reply.

There followed one of those moments in history when, although barely recognised at the time, the seed of a great idea is born. Dan looked at the board and then up at the stables, back to the board, and back to the stables, back to the board again and said. "Could you tie it to a horse?"

But the light was fading and there was no way to answer the question that day. However, that question, along with others - "How would the horse react?" "Where would you attach it?" "What would it feel like?" "Would it be safe?" - stayed at the back of Dan's mind until later in the year when the brother and sister from that first "board towing" encounter came to visit him at his home in Maidenhead.

Then, as far as we know, for the very first time, a mountain board was attached to a horse. The horse was the now legendary Rohan.

The first experiments went well. Dan and Rohan successfully towed a boarder at a good canter around the field. Following this early success, Dan, already working professionally as a stunt rider, and his brother, Tom, started playing further with the idea, trying to find a use, or application for this new skill they were learning.

During one of these experimental sessions Dan started playing with the idea of boarding behind the horse with no rider or direct control of the horse. This at first did not go so well -Rohan just trotted randomly around the school . Another experiment involved Tom lunging Rohan while Dan was tied to the saddle via the towing handle. This, predictably, -(it's easy to be wise after the event!) - led to Rohan cantering faster and faster, and the centrifugal force catapulting Dan out from the lunge into his first "heel tap", cracking his head on the floor . Tom, with Rohan by his side, looked down at Dan and asked if he was OK? Dan replied "I think we need to start wearing pads!."

So armed with this new and important piece of the puzzle, (protective equipment needed) Dan looked back at the pieces already completed, applied his knowledge from his experience of trick riding, and started working on the "loose tow" - the art of getting a horse to run in a straight line without a rider whilst towing a person on a board.

After the first successful trial of this Dan (mind working overtime again) said " "Wouldn't it be cool if you could loose tow and then vault into the saddle? No- even better, wouldn't it be cool if you could loose tow a surf board along the beach and then vault into the saddle!?"

Once again, the seed of an idea was to remain dormant in the back of Dan's mind until early in 2005 he commissioned a photo-shoot on a beach in Cornwall. The main aim of this was to shoot trick riding in the sea - but he hoped also to obtain some photos of the then unnamed horseboarding.

Dan, however, forgot to bring the mountain board. This, as it turned out, was a fortuitous piece of absent mindedness, as, faced with not getting the shots he wanted, he walked into a kite shop in Newquay and asked if he could borrow a mountain board for a shoot on the beach.

The manager was not willing to lend one from the shop, but offered the loan of his own personal board. Always one to push a situation one step further, Dan replied "What I would really like to do is to tow someone on a surfboard behind a horse!."

Horse surfing After discussion, it was agreed that the shop manager, Matt Smith, would be on the beach for the shoot, with mountain board and kite board to try out horseboarding and the still untested " horsesurfing".

The shoot was a complete success, shown left. Dan got all the photos he could have wanted. The press picked up only on the horsesurfing shots but by the end of that year those photos of "these crazy guys in England" had been seen all over the world.

In the following year, 2006, the first ever Horse Surfing competition was held in La Baul, in France, organised by Harold Quintes (a well- known kite surfer) Who, unbeknown to Daniel and the rest of the world had been horsesurfing since 2004 . Part of that competition was the first Horseboarding Drag race.

Over this year and the following years, Dan, Tom and Harold continued to develop the sports of horse boarding and horse surfing. Dan perfected the loose tow on the mountain board, and performed it with a kite board for the Extreme Sports Channel 2007. They gained more and more press coverage. Then in 2008 Dan organised the first horseboarding / horsesurfing competition at the Skegness X-fest, shown left. Originally just a horsesurfing event, it was at Harold's recommendation that the horseboarding was included.

Horseboarding in SkegnessThis event, run under the rules of the Extreme Horse Riding Association (EHRA) was the first of its kind.

Rohan, the first horse to experience horseboarding, came second in both the horseboarding and horsesurfing competitions, gaining him 6 points, and becoming the overall champion horse for that year. Arron Topham won the overall Boarder award having the best scores from both events.

This competition was a milestone, and in the following year, 2009, Daniel organized the first National Horseboarding Championships.

The 2009 competition should have featured four events, held across the country, including at the Nass Extreme Sports Festival. Unfortunately due to a lack of funds the final that year had to be cancelled. This left the Trophy with team iHorse – Rohan again.

Throughout 2010, while horseboarding activity still continued, it mainly consisted of Dan promoting the sport through lectures and demos at colleges and other interested venues.
In 2011 the second National Championship was held, this time with five events, including the Three Counties Show (Malvern) It was won by team iHorse again-. featuring the seemingly invincible Rohan.

2012 saw the third National Horseboarding Championship, sponsored by 8th Day UK, with seven events and a total of £1000 prize money. The championship was won by team Dead Pigeon. (Rohan having been retired at the end of the previous season, aged 19).

And now to 2013. With the popularity of the sport growing rapidly, Dan and his brother Tom Kilroy formed a dedicated organisation to develop the sport and take it forward, HorseBoarding UK.

Under this banner, 2013 was horseboarding's biggest season to date. It included eight events, held over eighteen days of competition, with prize money totalling £6,000. It features competitions in the two standard disciplines, the Drag Strip (a 100 metre dash), and Arena Boarding (negotiating a series of "gates" around a course, against the clock) to find one National Horseboarding Champion.

The 2014 horseboarding season kicks off in May 2014 - see details of all the rounds.