History of Carriage Driving
Whilst it is hard to put an exact date on when horse were first driven it is believed it was around 2,500 BC. Chariots were used in war, transport, agriculture and combat.
Early American settlers used wagons to move their belongings across the plains.
From there the steam train took over being faster and a smoother ride
History of Driving Trials
Horse driving trials was first started in 1968, when Prince Phillip initiated the writing of the first rulebook for the sport. It is has moved with the times, with carriages getting more complex, however over 40 years later it still follows the same format.
Driven dressage is very similar to that of ridden dressage
Completing a set of movements that show the horses precision and paces
Marked on accuracy, obedience and the paces it is often likened to horse ballet
Driving the horse and carriage through narrowly spaced pairs of cones within a set time (each cone has a tennis ball placed on top), the aim is to get around the course as quickly as possible with the least amount of balls knocked off the cones.
The time set for each course depends on the class, with trot for beginners and canter for those in the higher classes.
The marking process is similar to show jumping.
A supple horse and a steady hand to allow for precision are needed.
The Marathon stage is the final stage and involves navigating 4 to 6 obstacles, with gates lettered A-F, in the fastest time. Each gate must be taken in turn.
This is a fast paced, exciting discipline that tests the judgement, and skill of the driver; and the horse’s ability to turn tight quickly.
A quick thinking and well balanced backstepper is also required along with body protectors for safety.
Not just for drivers!
No horse or pony but still want to get involved?
Every carriage must have a groom or backstepper.
For the dressage and cones stages, the backslapper is there to assist if anything goes wrong.
In the marathon stage they are there to help to navigate the obstacles and keep the carriage upright by moving from side to side (similar to a side car on a motorbike).
A good backstepper is worth their weight in Gold!
Everyone regardless of their physical ability can enjoy driving, from country drives to driving trials everyone is on the same footing and compete as equals.
All horses and ponies regardless of their size or breed can take part from miniatures to Shires everyone is welcome (of course there are different classes to make sure its fair with Very Small Equines (VSE), ponies and horse classes available).
Don't want to be on the carriage? No problem we are always looking for helpers to build and take down the courses and help with stewarding and scoring.