This ‘structure for every trail ride’ has been very exciting. We’ve traveled from English country into western territory and have learned a great deal about the different styles of riding. I’m glad you’ve continued on with us for this week’s stop – driving.
Driving Miss Daisy
Driving became a recognized FEI discipline in 1970 and is a sport where horses drive carriages. The driver is in a carriage that is driven by one, two or four horses. Combined driving incorporates a dressage phase, cross-country marathon and obstacle cone driving. All phases are scored and then combined for a total score. The competitor with the lowest number of penalties (lowest score) is the winner.
Warmbloods are used in high levels of driving competitions. Morgans are another popular breed. Horses should be sound, reliable and responsive. For driving teams of more than one horse, similar height, weight, movement and preferably color should be used.
Dressage it up
The horse and rider are first judged on appearance including cleanliness of their attire and vehicle. Judges need bright, natural light to be able to inspect horse, rider and carriage properly. A 40 by 80 to 100 meter arena is needed for the Dressage test. Movements are scored similar to Dressage under saddle, with cones marking location of movements needed around the arena.
On our second stop we discussed why Hercules Truss Arch Buildings are perfect for Dressage arenas and the same holds true for the Dressage portion of combined driving. The translucent qualities of their fabric covers create a bright, white interior, allowing for great visibility especially when paying attention to details. ClearSpan arenas are available in any length, with widths from 20′ to 300′ wide making them compatible with the regulation size arenas.
Practice makes perfect
The other two phases of combined driving cannot be performed in an indoor, but it is always good to practice in one. Obstacles can be placed inside for horses to experience some examples include liver pools to simulate water, large poles to simulate trees and posts and rails can be used as well. High clearances such as those found in ClearSpan Fabric Structures are good to accommodate practice obstacles. For cone driving, ClearSpan indoor arenas are the ideal place to practice because cones can be set up in the arena with no interior support posts to interfere.
Bring it in
Although rare, indoor driving competitions do take place. This is a part of the FEI World Cup. These competitions combine elements from the three phases of outdoor competitions. Obstacles are built at each end of the arena with lots of cones in between. Drivers must go through the course in the correct sequence and at the fastest speed possible without knocking down any cones or obstacles. This version of the competition is very popular with audiences, and Hercules Truss Arch Buildings can accommodate the space needed for bleachers. Horses and ponies are both used in this type of competition.
Sadly this concludes our eight stop on a ‘structure for every style trail ride’. Driving is a very involved and diverse style of riding, one which requires a great amount of light, open space and high clearances. Let’s saddle up and head out for our second to last destination – arena polo. Make sure you pack accordingly this next stop may take longer to reach as we’re looping back into English territory.
Combined driving is unique in that it combines three different disciplines into one. What other styles of riding do you think would be interesting to combine into one test?