So you think you might like driving trials?
Perhaps you have an outgrown child’s pony you can’t bear to part with, you are no longer able to ride for health reasons and can’t bear to give up on your passion for horses or maybe you just love the idea of driving.
But carriage driving is all about dressing up and parading around the show ring or trotting down country lanes, isn’t it? It can be…..but there is so much more on offer if you want the excitement and thrill of cross country along with the grace and precision of dressage. Not forgetting the amazing comradery found in the sport and the opportunity to visit some of the most exclusive and stunning estates in Britain.
Hopetoun House – home to the Hopetoun House International Driving Trials
So what’s it all about?
New drivers often comment that one of the most noticeable things about Driving Trials is how friendly and welcoming everyone is. There is so much on offer and so many ways to get involved, you needn’t be a driver or even own a horse or pony to get involved. Events are always looking for helpers and stewards whereby you can still get involved and enjoy the lovely family spirit of these events.
We are one of the few, if not the only, equestrian disciplines that still allows horses to be stabled at the owner’s lorry. This creates a wonderful camp atmosphere where groups of people can come together to enjoy the atmosphere and relax and socialise.
Depending on the level of event the format may vary slightly but all events will contain three phases carried out over 1, 2 or 3 days.
Dressage – it is a myth that horse’s cannot be schooled to a high level in harness and if you are interested in dressage I am sure you will relish the challenge of communicating with your horse from behind rather than on board. This brings it’s own challenges!
Some of the top boys and girls performing at Aachen – FEi World Championships 2015
Phase 2: – Marathon
If you ask a driver which is their favourite phase you will almost certainly hear from the vast majority that it is the marathon that they love. Based loosely on the ridden cross country the marathon is a test of skill, endurance and training. We are very lucky to have the opportunity to hold our events on some spectacular estates and the marathon section gives us a chance to look around some of these estates. Depending on the level of event the marathon contains a section of tracks and roads which need to be navigated with a time window. The horses must be fit and the driver and navigator must correctly gauge the speed they are covering the course in order to arrive within the time window.
Following this is a halt and a vet check is carried out, no vet check at lower levels, to ensure the horse is fit to continue onto the obstacle section.
The final section of the marathon is also timed with a window which must be achieved to prevent penalties. In addition, this section contains up to 8 obstacles to be negotiated. THIS is what we do it for! Each obstacle is individually timed and the aim is to complete the obstacle by negotiating all of the lettered gates in the correct order and direction as fast as possible. The obstacles are walked beforehand to allow the driver to choose their preferred route which will best suit their horse and their level of experience.
This is how the best of the best get the job done
Phase 3: Cones
This is the equivalent of the show jumping phase in ridden eventing. Instead of jumping over we pass through trying not to dislodge a ball in the process. Penalties are given for a ball down as well as for not meeting the time.
So do we have you hooked?
For more information try looking for a British Carriagedriving Affiliated Club