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?
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.