Combined driving also known as Horse Driving Trials is an equestrian sport involving carriage driving. In this discipline the driver sits on a vehicle drawn by a single horse, a pair or a team of four. The sport has three phases: Dressage, Cross-country Marathon and Obstacle Cone Driving and is most similar to the mounted equestrian sport of eventing. It is one of the ten international equestrian sport horse disciplines recognized by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). Driving became an FEI discipline in 1970.
The FEI classification system denotes driving competitions as Concours d'Attelage (CA), which may be either National (CAN) or International (CAI). A National Event is limited to competitors of that nation, who shall take part according to the regulations of their National Federation. Foreign athletes may take part by invitation. An International Event must be organised under the FEI Statutes, General Regulations and Sport Rules, and may be open to competitors of all NFs. CAIs are primarily for individual Athletes. However, at World Championships, competitions for national teams of three or four members run concurrently with the individual competition.
There are two categories of international competitions - CAI-A and CAI-B. The CAI-A category denotes a higher level of organisation and facilities provided.
Normally, it is assumed that a CA classified competition is for horses. If pony classes are involved, the letter P is added to the classification (e.g. CAIP-A). Numbers denote the arrangement of horses in the class (e.g. CAI-A 2 is a competition for horse pairs, whereas CAIP-B 1/2/4 is a Category B competition for ponies - singles, pairs and four-in-hand).
World championships are denoted as Championnat du Monde Attelage (CH-M-A). There are three World Championships for horses - Singles, Pairs and Four-in-Hand. These are held every two years, with Single Horse (CH-M-A 1) and Four-in-Hand (CH-M-A 4) Championships in an even-numbered year and Horse Pairs (CH-M-A 2) every odd year. In addition, a World Combined Pony Championships (CH-M-AP, which include singles, pairs and four-in-hand) are held every odd-numbered year.
FEI World Cup™ Driving, is a series of competitions for four-in-hand horse teams. Introduced in 2001, it provides an exciting style of competition which takes place in an indoor arena. The course combines marathon and cone driving obstacles. Five or six drivers, each with a team of four horses take turns to drive the course against the clock. World Cup Driving events are classified as CAI-W and take place throughout the winter months (Nov to April).
Competitions for drivers with disabilities are classified as CPEAI (Paralymic Equestrian) and the championships (CH-M-PE-A) are held in every odd-numbered year.
At the National level (CAN) the sport is governed by each country's National Federation, sometimes through a governing body, which will have rules based on the FEI Rulebook, but maybe with some variations. Most countries hold their own National Championships.
Most people will start driving by joining a local organisation or club, who organise training sessions and one or two-day competitions. Keen drivers can qualify to take part in national events from which they may put themselves forward to be selected to represent their country at international competitions or World Championships. Because a driver always needs a groom (backstepper or navigator), it's possible to take part as such and to enjoy the competition as much as the driver (and horse).
Phase A: Driven Dressage
Phase A is further sub-divided into two sections:
A1 is Presentation. For newcomer or novice classes, this is inspected and marked by a judge at a stand-still before the second part of the competition.
A2 is Driven Dressage. For more advanced classes, phase A1 is incorporated into the marking of phase A2 and is judged on the move as part of the driven dressage test.
Phase A1: Presentation
The judge grades on the turnout, safety, cleanliness, general condition and impression of the horses, tack, and vehicle, the matching of the horses or ponies, and the dress of the driver and groom(s). The judging is done at the halt. Pre-novice and novice drivers are judged primarily on safety and fit of the harness and vehicle and a three-phase or marathon vehicle and harness is acceptable. Presentation is judged on the move during the dressage test for more advanced drivers. Presentation carries a maximum of ten penalties.
- Driver, Grooms and Passengers: All persons should be clean and smartly dressed. The livery of the grooms should fit and match if there is more than one groom. The whip should be the correct length, based on the number of horses used. The driver and groom(s) should wear brown gloves, as well as a driving hat and the driver wears an apron.
- Horse(s): The horses should be clean and well-conditioned. If there are several horses, they should be of similar size and type (build), although the wheelers may be larger than the leaders. Matching color is secondary to matching type and size. Manes may or may not be braided, but should be level. Tails should not be braided.
- Harness: Should be "sound, clean, and fit correctly". Harness, if more than one horse is used, should match, although different bits may be used. The overall harness should also match. Martingales other than false martingales are not permitted. Harness straps should not be buckled on the last hole, so that adjustment may be made should a piece of harness break.
- Vehicle: carriage should be the correct size and weight for the horse, as should the height and length of the poles for pairs and fours. Lamps are required at the advanced level, but only required at the training, preliminary, and intermediate levels if the carriage has lamp brackets. A set of spares should be carried on the vehicle in case of emergency: a spare trace of the correct size, a rein splice, a hole punch and similar items are traditionally included. These may be inspected by the judge and the groom will be expected to know how to use them.
- General impression: judged on dress and position of driver and grooms, and suitability of horses and harness to the carriage.
Phase A2: Dressage
The dressage test is somewhat similar to dressage under saddle. The test is performed in a 40 by 80 or 40 by 100 metre arena with letter markers, where transitions in speed and gait are to take place. The judge scores each movement on a scale of 0-10, with a 10 being the highest mark possible. The difficulty of the test increases with each subsequent level of competition. At the lower levels, only one judge will normally be positioned at C (the centre of the short side of the arena) and the Test may have 16 movements. At higher levels, 3 judges may be used and at International competitions and World Championships there may be up to 5 judges, with the Championship Test having 25 movements. The judges' marks are averaged (added together and divided by the number of judges).
Dressage movements may include circles, figures of eight, and crossing the diagonal and all paces - walk, working trot, collected trot, extended trot, canter, a halt, and a rein back. Multiple horses are judged on ability to move in harmony and ideally will have similar conformation, action, and movement. Horses are to remain on the bit throughout the test, maintaining impulsion, elasticity, rhythm, and forward movement. The goal is to make the test look effortless, and an obedient and responsive horse is essential for a good dressage test.
Unlike a ridden dressage test, a driven test allows the use of the voice as an aid. At international level, dressage tests are prepared by the Fédération Equestre Internationale (F.E.I.) which is the governing body of competitive carriage driving.
Phase B: Marathon
The marathon is similar to the second phase of eventing, the speed and endurance. It tests the fitness and stamina of the horses, as well as the driver's knowledge of pace, over a 10–22 km course, divided into 3 or 5 sections. The marathon is the most thrilling phase to watch, and often draws the largest crowds.
Section "E" of the marathon is similar to the cross-country phase of eventing. It has obstacles or "hazards" throughout the course to test the speed and agility of the horses, and the driving ability of the whip. Obstacles may include water, tight twists through trees or man-made obstacles, steep hills, or fences and pens. Drivers are scored on how quickly they can negotiate the obstacle, and must find the fastest route through each. Penalty points are given if too much time is spent in an obstacle, or if the team comes in off the optimum time for the whole course.
The Marathon sections
The marathon phase has three sections in international competition. Sections A and E may be driven at any pace, but normally will be at a trot. Section D is a walk section and the horses must maintain that pace throughout the whole section. Some National competitions may have up to five sections, with section B being another walk section, similar to section D and section C a fast trot, usually 2 to 3 km in length. The marathon is not a race for speed. Each section has a maximum AND a minimum time allowed, giving a 2 to 3 minute "window". If a competitor finishes outside this window (depending on which section is being driven), penalty points will be awarded. A competitor may also receive penalty points for not driving a section at the required pace.
Throughout the marathon and in the obstacles the groom can speak to the driver and assist using his or her weight and balance to keep the carriage upright or to bounce it off the obstacle uprights. The groom also helps to keep the correct pace by checking the kilometre markers on the course against calculated timings for each section, allowing for ground conditions and the horse's fitness.
Below are the three sections and their maximum lengths and speeds, as specified in the FEI rulebook:
|A||8000 m||Any pace||15 km/h|
|D||1000 m||Walk||7 km/h|
|E||9000 m||Any pace||14 km/h|
Section E includes up to eight obstacles, to be driven in sequence. The last designated 300 to 500 m must be driven at walk or trot, with no stopping for any reason.
A time window - a minimum and a maximum time - is calculated for each section according to the length of the section, the average speed of the carriage and whether it is pulled by horses or ponies. After the walk section there is a ten-minute halt, where the horses can be cooled and watered. A veterinary check may follow section D to ensure that the horses are fit to continue.
At club events, the rules may often be relaxed somewhat with, for instance, a "short marathon" which usually means only section E and (some of) the obstacles are driven. This is usually a class designed to encourage drivers of small ponies and young ponies and horses or for inexperienced and junior drivers. It enables newcomers to gain experience and confidence.
Marathon obstacles, sometimes known as hazards, frequently take advantage of natural features, being sited around trees and on slopes, but are typically solidly-built sections of posts and rails. National events have decorated and/or brightly painted obstacles which are more exciting to the eye, however many clubs have venues where the obstacles are permanent and these are more likely to be imaginatively dressed than sites where the obstacles are built specially for each event.
Driving any horse or pony and carriage around an obstacle at speed requires practice and a rapport between driver, animal(s) and groom(s). Timing starts as the horse's nose crosses the start line and ends when his nose crosses the finish line, frequently the same markers.
Phase C: Obstacle Cone Driving
The obstacle cone driving phase is a test of accuracy, speed and obedience, equivalent to the show jumping phase of eventing. Competitors walk the cones course before they drive it. The driver negotiates a course of up to 20 pairs of cones, each cone having a ball balanced on top. The cones are only a few centimeters wider than the wheels of the carriage, depending on the level of the class and the type of turnout (from 50 cm at the lower levels, to only 22 cm at the advanced singles level). Knocking over one or both of a pair of cones adds three penalties to the driver's score. The course may also include obstacles made of raised rails in a U or right angle, and a wooden bridge. The cones section is timed and going over the time set for the driver's class leads to penalties. Circling before an obstacle and refusals are also awarded penalty points.
Being a 3-phase competition, the scores from all phases are combined to give a final result. In all three phases, scores and times are converted into "penalty points", which are then added together. This means that the competitor with the lowest penalty score is the winner.
In the dressage phase, each movement is marked by the judges from 0 to 10 marks. There may be 25 movements in the test. The marks are all added together and, if there is more than one judge, they are divided by the number of judges to get an average. The total is then subtracted from the maximum possible mark to give a penalty score for the dressage. For example, if there are 16 movements, the total marks will be subtracted from 160 to get a penalty score.
In the marathon, time penalties will be awarded at the end of each section for the amount of time a competitor finishes either under or over the permitted times for that section. If he finishes within the allowed time "window" he will not receive any penalties. In addition, in each obstacle, penalties are awarded for the length of time the driver spends negotiating the obstacle (the time from crossing the start line to crossing the finish line). These penalties are added to any section time penalties. Further penalties may be given for infringements such as dislodging a part of the obstacle (a knock down), the groom dismounting the carriage or even for the carriage overturning.
In the obstacle cone driving, time penalties are awarded for exceeding the time allowed to complete the cones course, which is calculated by taking the measured distance of the course and dividing it by the speed allowed. Penalties are also awarded for knocking down a ball from any of the cones on the course.
In all phases of the competition, a number of other infringements may also incur penalties, for example the driver or groom dismounting the vehicle, breaking of pace where a certain pace is prescribed, not carrying a whip in the dressage or cones, errors of course in the dressage, marathon obstacles or cones. Some infringements, such as an uncorrected error of course will incur elimination.
All the possible penalties are described in the rule books, published by the FEI and National Federations.
The levels and divisions of combined driving
International driving competitions, which fall under FEI rules, are divided into the following categories or classes, which reflect the number and arrangement of horses:
- Single horse - only one animal is used to pull the carriage.
- Pair of horses - two animals are harnessed to the carriage, side by side.
- Four-in-Hand (sometimes known as a "team") - four horses, one pair being in front of the other pair.
The competitions are further divided into horses and ponies, according to the size of the animals. Driving Ponies must not exceed 148 cm. All animals over this height are classified as Horses.
There are some competitions (usually not international) which may use other arrangements, e.g.:
- Tandem - one horse or pony in front of the other
- Randem - three horses in-line, one in the front, one in the middle and one at the rear
- Unicorn - two horses at the back, one at the front
- Pickaxe - one horse at the back, two at the front
- Troika - three horses side-by-side
At National and Club level, further division is made according to the ability and experience of the driver.
In the United States, the levels of combined driving are similar to that of eventing:
In the UK, where the sport is known as Horse Driving Trials, the levels of progression from Club to National competition are:
The driver qualifies for the class usually by successfully competing in a lower class for a set period of time or a number of wins. Most people start driving with a single pony or horse and these can range from 80 cm (32 in) to 170 cm (17hh). Many clubs run special classes for the smallest ponies.
- Driver: The person who controls the horses and carriage through the use of the reins, whip and voice. The driver may speak to the horses at any time without penalty.
- Groom: The groom is indispensable to the driver who, for reasons of safety, must stay on the carriage to hold the reins and control the horses while they are hitched or put to the carriage. The groom sits on the carriage either beside or behind the driver for the dressage and cones phases and may stand on the back of the carriage for the marathon (and may stand in all phases in indoor driving trials). The groom, who must be able-boldied, helps the driver to hitch or put the horse to the carriage - and helps unhitch - can jump off the carriage to adjust the harness or to correct a problem if required to do so by the driver (although doing this while actually in the competition arena or in an obstacle is penalised). When the competitor is performing dressage and in the obstacle cones driving phases, the groom may not speak or assist the driver except in very specific circumstances. Normally all types of turnout carry one groom except four-in-hands which have two.
- Navigator: Navigating the course and obstacle routes on the marathon phase is an important part of the groom's job and usually, on a four-in-hand carriage, the navigator stands on the carriage immediately behind the driver and a second groom stands behind the navigator and has the task of keeping the carriage upright. The navigator reminds the driver where to go and usually keeps the time with a stopwatch or two: during the marathon phase and in the obstacles the grooms can speak and signal to the driver. A single groom combines navigating routes with timing and keeping the carriage balanced. The step or steps on the carriage behind the driver are called the backstep and the grooms are also called backsteppers.
Although there is a seat next to the driver on some marathon carriages - called the suicide seat - this is not generally used except in training or to thrill a sponsor.
The horse or pony may be of any breed, although warmbloods are often seen at the highest levels of competition. Morgans are also popular. The horse must be responsive, have a good mind, and be reliable. If multiple horses are used, they should be of similar height, build, and movement, and preferably similar color. When using multiple horses, it is important to choose the most suitable horse as a "wheeler" or "leader". Leaders are often flashier and have greater presence than wheelers.
Ponies are popular driving animals in the UK and Welsh ponies and cobs have a special aptitude, intelligence and presence in all driving disciplines. Hackney horses and part-breds are popular, too, as their extravagant action combined with athleticism and stamina enables them to star in every phase of the competition.
For the presentation and dressage phase, carriages and harness are often leather, built along traditional lines, and designed for attractive appearance. The Spider phaeton is one of the more commonly used types of carriage for dressage. Competitors may use either 2-wheeled or 4-wheeled vehicles, but 4-wheelers are most often used in modern competition. Many competitors have a second carriage for the marathon phase. Most marathon vehicles are of a modern design, tailor made for competition. They are manufactured from steel, aluminium or other alloys and may have hydraulic disc brakes on front and rear wheels, low centre of gravity and very small turning circle. A tougher harness is also used in the marathon phase, often made from synthetic materials rather than the traditional leather.
"Three-phase" carriages are popular, especially at entry levels, as drivers need only one vehicle. These carriages have extending axles to make the rear wheels the required width for the dressage and cones phases (currently 138 cm minimum for all pony and for single and tandem horse classes). All carriages for the marathon phase are 125 cms minimum track width, measured on the ground and on the rear wheels. For Indoor driving trials, carriages should be a minimum of 125 cm for all phases.
FEI World Cup™ Driving
In 2001 the FEI introduced a new World Cup series, along side World Cup Jumping and World Cup Dressage. Called The FEI World Cup™ Driving, it is a series of competitions for four-in-hand drivers, that provides an innovative and exciting style of competition in an indoor arena. These take place at venues throughout Europe, alongside other World Cup competitions, during the months of October to March.
Drivers qualify to take part in the World Cup at a number of designated qualifying outdoor events during the preceding summer season. The top ten drivers in the qualifying table go forward to compete in the World Cup. There are 6 or 7 events in the World Cup series, plus a Final. Of the 10 qualified drivers, 5 compete in each event. In addition, the home nation which is staging the event may nominate up to 3 "wildcard" drivers to take part. Two rounds are driven in each World Cup competition, usually on subsequent days. The warm-up round is first and the placing of drivers after this round determines the starting order for the World Cup competition proper.
The World Cup™ Driving course combines elements from marathon obstacles and cones driving phases of outdoor driving competitions. Two obstacles are built, one at each end of the arena, with a number of cones between them. These all have to be driven in the correct sequence and at the fastest possible speed, without dislodging any of the knock-down elements. The course will also include a "bridge".
Drivers are awarded points according to their placings in each round. After the 6 or 7 World Cup competitions, the five highest placed drivers go forward to the Final. At the Final, all drivers start from scratch. The top 3 drivers after the first round will then have a drive off over the same course, with their scores carried forward into the drive off.
Indoor Driving Trials
Starting with the dressage in a marked dressage arena of only 20 by 50 metres, the drivers perform the a dressage test called Precision and Paces (P&P). This takes five minutes to drive and is marked by two judges, one judging only the paces and one judging the precision and accuracy of the figures. Each judge has a scorer close by who holds up the judge's mark for each of the ten movements in the test so the event scorer (and audience) can see it.
After P&P, the arena is cleared and a cones course of ten pairs of cones is set out. Everyone walks the course and an optimum time is set, based on the length of the course and a speed of 220m/minute. Going faster or slower than this means the driver is awarded penalties for each second: knocking a ball down adds a further five penalties.
After the cones phase, two obstacles are built in the arena and the drivers and grooms walk them, choosing the best route for their turnout. The drivers come back into the arena one-at-a-time in their class, in reverse order of their score placing - best goes last - and drive the two obstacles as fast as possible. Then they drive them a second time. The drivers with the lowest score in their class are the winners.
Although they were originally thought to be the poor relation of driving trials, indoor events are bringing more people into the sport and provide a training ground for more serious competitors and their inexperienced horses and ponies. Audiences love the variety of the horses and ponies - from 34-inch (860 mm) miniature Shetland ponies to 16.2 hand Gelderlanders, they all drive the same courses and are only feet away from the spectators.
FEI World Cup™ Driving
|2009-10||Boyd Exell||Koos de Ronde||IJsbrand Chardon|
|2008-9||Boyd Exell (AUS)||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Koos de Ronde (NED)|
|2007-8||Christoph Sandmann||Benjamin Aillaud||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)|
|2006-7||Michael Freund||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Christoph Sandmann (GER)|
|2005-6||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Michael Freund (GER)||Werner Ulrich|
|2004-5||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Michael Freund (GER)||Werner Ulrich (SUI)|
|2003-4||Michael Freund (GER)||Boyd Exell (AUS)||Christoph Sandmann (GER)|
|2002-3||Michael Freund (GER)||Boyd Exell (AUS)||Christoph Sandmann (GER)|
|2001-2||Michael Freund (GER)||Chester Weber||Christoph Sandmann (GER)|
World Singles Championships
|Year||Place||1st||2nd||3rd||1st Individual||2nd Individual||3rd Individual|
|2008||Jarantow (POL)||FRA||GER||SUI||Jan van den Broek (NED)||Ann-Violaine Brisou (FRA)||Jan Moonen (NED)|
|2006||Pratoni del Vivaro (ITA)||GBR||SWE||GER||Paul Sidwell (GBR)||Cecilia Qvarnstrom (SWE)||Dieter Lauterbach (GER)|
|2004||Åstorp (SWE)||SWE||FIN||POL||Marie Kahrle (SWE)||Jan van den Broek (NED)||Ben Simonsen (FIN)|
|2002||Conty (FRA)||SWE||FIN||AUT||Stéphane Chouzenoux (FRA)||Marie Kahrle (SWE)||Fred Merriam (USA)|
|2000||Gladstone, NJ (USA)|
|1998||Fohlenhof-Ebbs (AUT)||SWE||USA||NED||Arja Mikkonen (FIN)||Cecilia Qvarnstrom (SWE)||Rudolf Pirhofer (AUT)|
2000 World Singles Championships cancelled due to West Nile virus outbreak
World Pairs Championships
|Year||Place||1st||2nd||3rd||1st Individual||2nd Individual||3rd Individual|
|2009||Kecskemet (HUN)||NED||HUN||GER||Harrie Verstappen (NED)||Beat Schenk (SUI)||Zoltán Lazár (HUN)|
|2007||Warka (POL)||GER||HUN||NED||Vilmos Lazar (HUN)||Sebastian Warneck (GER)||Karoly Hodi (HUN)|
|2005||Wals-Salzburg (AUT)||AUT||HUN||GER||Rainer Pointl (AUT)||Károly Hódi (HUN)||Vilmos Lázár (HUN)|
|2003||Haras de Jardy (FRA)||HUN||POL||NED||Riny Rutjens (NED)||Pierre Jung (FRA)||Roman Kusz (POL)|
|2001||Riesenbeck (GER)||HUN||NED||GER||Vilmos Lázár (HUN)||Frederico de Beck (POR)||Zoltan Nyul (HUN)|
World Four-in-Hand Championships
|Year||Place||1st||2nd||3rd||1st Individual||2nd Individual||3rd Individual|
|2008||Beesd (NED)||NED||GER||HUN||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Chester C. Weber (USA)||Boyd Exell (AUS)|
|2006||Aachen (GER)||GER||BEL||NED||Felix Marie Brasseur (BEL)||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Christoph Sandmann (GER)|
|2004||Kecskemét (HUN)||HUN||NED||BEL||Zoltán Lázár (HUN)||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Felix Marie Brasseur (BEL)|
|2002||Jerez (ESP)||NED||USA||GER||IJsbrand Chardon (NED)||Christoph Sandmann (GER)||Tomas Eriksson (SWE)|
World Combined Pony Championships
|Year||Place||1st||2nd||3rd||1st Singles||1st Pairs||1st Fours|
|2009||Greven-Bockholt (GER)||GER||NED||BEL||Melanie Becker (NED)||Daniel Schneiders (GER)||Tobias Bücker (GER)|
|2007||Dorthealyst (DEN)||GER||NED||USA||Peter Koux (DEN)||Miranda Cadwell (USA)||Jan de Boer (NED)|
|2005||Catton (GBR)||GER||NED||GBR||Suzy Stafford (USA)||Steffen Abicht (GER)||Dirk Gerkens (GER)|
|2003||Karlstetten (AUT)||GER||NED||AUT||Tobias Bücker (GER)||Steffen Abicht (GER)||Dirk Gerkens (GER)|
- ↑ http://www.fei.org/Disciplines/Driving/About_Driving/Pages/What_Is_Driving.aspx FEI
- ↑ http://www.fei.org/Rules/Documents/General%20Regulations%2023rd%20edition%20-1%20January%202009%20-%20final.pdf
- ↑ http://www.feiworldcup.org/Driving/Pages/Default.aspx
- ↑ www.fei.org Combined driving tests
- ↑ http://www.horsedrivingtrials.co.uk
- ↑ http://www.fei.org/Disciplines/Driving/About_Driving/Documents/A-World%20Cup.pdf
- ↑ http://www.hoefnet.nl/en/home/site/uitslagen
- ↑ http://www.fei.org/Disciplines/Driving/About_Driving/Documents/World-Champ-Singles.pdf
- ↑ http://www.fei.org/Disciplines/Driving/Results/Pages/Championships_Results.aspx