Pleasure driving is the all encompassing term for, quite simply, driving for pleasure. There are many organised drive outs giving beautiful scenery and great company. The only equipment required for pleasure driving is a safe, clean and well fitting harness, a safe and appropriately sized exercise vehicle and a horse or pony correctly broken to drive and going in a safe and relaxed manner.
Picture by Flash Horse Photography
Horse Driving Trials is the 2/3 day eventing of the carriage world.
Phase One - Dressage
Dressage - Performed in much the same way as a ridden test the dressage test is designed to test the obedience, suppleness and schooling of the horse as well as the accuracy and skill of the driver. This phase is always completed first whether at a 2 day club event or 3 day National.
Phase Two - Marathon
Marathon - This phase is what most HDT drivers live for. Its an adrenaline pumping, water splashing and all out mud throwing thrill ride. It consists of either a 3 or 5 section marathon including tracks and roads sections, trot sections and walk sections all timed to be performed at set speeds. The last and final section is the obstacles. This is usually up to 10km and includes around 6 obstacles. The obstacles are often built using natural materials which may include water, to form a series of gates which must be driven in the correct order as quickly as possible. With different options for routes this requires great skill and confidence from the driver and immense agility and obedience from the horses.
Phase Three - Cones
Cone driving would be the equivalent of the show jumping round in a ridden three day event. After the exhilaration of the marathon great skill is required to settle the horses back to a highly disciplined phase. The object is to drive between two cones with only cms to spare without touching them and within the time allowed.
As well as the obvious thrill of the event, HDT also usually comes with the opportunity to drive on some of the most stunning and exclusive estates throughout Britain. Add to this the unsurpassed social aspect and comradery of the sport and you have a recipe for a thoroughly great weekend away.
Private driving is a traditional sport boasting some of the most elegant horses and carriages. At these events you can see history returning with the immaculately turned out and perfectly matched turnouts. The height of elegance and beauty.
Coaching is the traditional transport of the bygone era. From the Royal Mail Coach to the Town Coaches and Hearses there is rarely such an impressive sight as a team of powerful, well trained horses in action.