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Update to Forum Rules: Criminal Allegations

In our continuing effort to provide an avenue for individuals to voice their opinions and experiences, we have recently reviewed and updated our forum policies. Generally, we have allowed users to share their positive or negative experiences with or opinions of companies, products, trainers, etc. within the industry, and that is not changing.

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Forum rules and no-advertising policy

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Driving FAQs -- copy, link, add useful info here!

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  • Driving FAQs -- copy, link, add useful info here!

    We wanted to provide this FAQ thread as a work space for you to create a reference thread for your forum.

    Find yourself answering the same question or providing the same info over and over? Post it here!

    Think there's a terrific thread that serves as a great reference on a given subject? If it has a funky title, folks may not find it. Post a link here!

    While the site's main FAQ forum and help forum can be of help on general questions, this thread can serve as a handy reference for this particular forum for new and seasoned users alike.

    We'd also like to remind new users that the "search" and "advanced search" features are a great way to look for existing information on a topic you're interested in before posting a new thread -- click through via the light blue bar above.

    Please remember, we can't keep every thread on the forum due to size constraints, so if the thread you're linking to is shorter and older, it may face the chopping block by default. If you think it's worthy of linking to here, give me a heads up, and we can probably save it in the safe harbor of the reference forum!

    We may come in and pare out commentary from this thread periodically to keep it concise.

    Thanks and hope this thread is helpful!
    Mod 1

  • #2

    Using a curb bit or just a riding snaffle:



    • #3
      Driving Arena Size


      100 metres x 40 metres


      • #4
        Originally posted by Thomas_1
        The reason why driving horses wear bridles with blinkers is that it cuts down the field of vision and they concentrate on what is in front of them not all around.

        I would never ever drive a horse in an open bridle.

        It's another one of those things that is darnright foolhardy.

        The preference of light harness horse instructors and professionals is to prefer a driving horse to focus on what is happening in front and when you commence driving it can be problematic not having blinkers. And I'd never drive one without. Also dependent on what you intend to do, you may find you have to wear get him in blinkers because of rules. The rules exist BECAUSE it's safer. Whenever folks mention in postings about blinkers on BB's someone always turns up to say they've done it or know someone who does/has. But it's not right and it's not what you should do and it's not what professionals do.

        Personally I would not show or drive a horse in an open bridle, even if it were allowed.

        I've heard of the occasional (rare) horse who for one reason or another goes better in an open bridle. But IME its more a case that sometimes people just get warm and fuzzy about letting the horse see everything and the results can be disastrous.

        I've known folks who went "open" bridle to drive. All claimed to be experienced drivers and with solid driving horses. It worked for a while. In every instance, horse later saw something, reacted, ended up causing a wreck. Some were modest wrecks, others quite horrific. I don't know any of the wrecked horses who were able to be SAFELY driven again, even in blinkers.

        Blinkers shut down the big screen of visibility, reduce the reaction from the horse to uncontrollable features in the environment and to unconscious body signals you may give him. The horse is designed to notice these detail things, his survival depends on it, so blinkers close down the vision area allowed.

        Then consider that a well-trained driving horse understands and responds appropriately to whip cues. The blinkers prevent the horse from seeing the driving whip and anticipating the whip cue. This is important for any driving horse but especially so for multiples. You don't want to be aiming a whip cue at one horse and having the other(s) see it coming and react when they're not the intended target of the cue.

        Riding and driving are very different disciplines. Hooking a wheeled contraption to a horse or horses is a far riskier endeavor than climbing on a horse's back, both for the driver and passengers and for all the innocent bystanders and their property who stand in harm's way when there's a runaway horse and carriage. Blinkers (blinders) have been used for hundreds of years and are used by the most experience and skilled drivers. You need to think there must be valid reasons.
        Ahhh. Thomas is throwing his teddy out of the pram again.

        Bottom line - it is LEGAL under American Driving Society and U.S. Equestrian Federation rules to drive open. I repeat - IT IS LEGAL.

        So, while the other posts are useful and are welcomed, this post IMO should NOT be placed in the Reference section, because it's the opinion of ONE foreign trainer who has clearly not read the US rules and is simply incorrect on the point!

        I respect Thomas overall, but he is clearly biased on this point in one direction, while I'm biased in the other. I did own a clear and convincing exception to the rule, in a TB I trained myself who drove open from age 16 (when he started) to age 23, and who NEVER had a serious wreck, NEVER lost his concentration, and who was NEVER unsafe to drive. Indeed he taught many beginners the basics, some of whom are on this forum and still pleasantly alive to vouch for him. I would not be keeping the faith with his memory if I did not point out that there ARE exceptions to the rule, there ARE reputable professionals over here who acknowledge that, and that is why the ADS/USEF rules are as they are.

        Peace out, y'all....
        "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


        • #5
          WA - pardon me, but I don't see where he states it is NOT legal to drive in an open bridle in the United States.

          I see him making a very clear and compelling case for training your horse to go in blinkers.

          I daresay he's trained a few more horses in his time than you have.

          If you feel strongly that his post does not belong in this "reference" topic, then why don't you have a chat with the mods? Or perhaps have a little PM conversation with Thomas himself?

          Personally, I would trust the judgment of a man with as much experience as Thomas has shown to have over that of someone who, say, has trained one horse.
          "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." ~ Jack Layton


          • #6
            Originally posted by hitchinmygetalong View Post
            Personally, I would trust the judgment of a man with as much experience as Thomas has shown to have over that of someone who, say, has trained one horse.
            I, on the other hand, prefer to think and observe for myself, apply what I learn to each specific situation and horse I train, and put blind faith in no man!
            "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief


            • #7
              Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
              Ahhh. Thomas is throwing his teddy out of the pram again.
              What are you on? !! ??

              Bottom line - it is LEGAL under American Driving Society and U.S. Equestrian Federation rules to drive open. I repeat - IT IS LEGAL.
              I'd suggest you read my post again and rather than making racist jingoistic comments about "foreigners" you note what I ACTUALLY said.....

              Also dependent on what you intend to do, you may find you have to wear get him in blinkers because of rules.
              FACT: If you aspire to driving a horse at high level then you'll need to put him in blinkers.

              I don't mean tootling about with an old rescue horse or driving local or even some countries national events. I mean if you aspire to driving fei.

              And I'll leave you with a quote from my mentor and which is also contained on the ADS website.
              “It is usual to drive a horse in a blinker bridle so that his attention may not be distracted by things seen to the side or rear.
              It is true that Army horses and some railway horses were driven in open bridles, which may have advantages for horses used for special tasks, but there is nothing cruel about blinkers, which have been approved by generations of horsemen in many lands and there is little point in further debate about them.”
              Tom Ryder
              On the Box Seat
              Last edited by Thomas_1; Apr. 18, 2009, 06:02 PM.


              • #8
                Originally posted by hitchinmygetalong View Post
                WA - pardon me, but I don't see where he states it is NOT legal to drive in an open bridle in the United States.
                Seems we were posting at the same time only in addition to being able to read and understand, you type quicker than me!


                • #9
                  Originally posted by War Admiral View Post
                  I respect Thomas overall, but he is clearly biased on this point in one direction, while I'm biased in the other. I did own a clear and convincing exception to the rule, in a TB I trained myself who drove open from age 16 (when he started) to age 23, and who NEVER had a serious wreck, NEVER lost his concentration, and who was NEVER unsafe to drive. Indeed he taught many beginners the basics, some of whom are on this forum and still pleasantly alive to vouch for him. I would not be keeping the faith with his memory if I did not point out that there ARE exceptions to the rule, there ARE reputable professionals over here who acknowledge that, and that is why the ADS/USEF rules are as they are.

                  Peace out, y'all....
                  I am afraid I agree with this. I have a hobby of reading old (100+) American on-line books on horses (driving and training) and nearly all of them have a discussion about blinders being optional equipment. Many state that you should use what ever the horse goes best in; open or blinders. These books were written when horses were used for transportation.

                  The fact that blinders are the norm now may have more to do with the philosophy that they are safer. Seeing as though most horses are driven with blinders and there are plenty of wrecks that occur with these horses perhaps the truth is that some horses would be safer driven open. 100 years ago the wisdom was to do what worked best for the horse.

                  Blinkers (blinders) have been used for hundreds of years and are used by the most experience and skilled drivers. You need to think there must be valid reasons.
                  While this is true the inverse is also true; open bridles have been used for hundreds of year by the most experienced and skilled drivers. Blinders were simply optional equipment and some time after the horse stopped being transportation and started to be driven for pleasure blinders became standard equipment in America for pleasure drivers.

                  No doubt that it requires a very experienced trainer to drive in an open bridle or more importantly to decide what horse should be driven open. But if driving with blinders is a rule passed down from driver to novice then it could just be a lost art.

                  Today standardbreds are allowed to race with binders or open. They change the equipment to suite the horse!

                  Some of the most impressive driving horses in this country were the firehouse horses. They were always driven in open bridles. They needed to see all around them to navigate quickly around hazards and sharp turns.

                  Seems to me that we may have lost the "art of Driving" for the sake of safety. Some references:

                  The art of Driving , Harpers 1896

                  Another vexed subject is that of blinders or winkers. High spirited intelligent horses are usually safer in open bridles for they can look behind them and see what is coming. It is an advantage also and a pleasure besides for the driver to be able to watch their eyes as well as their ears. But occasionally a nervous horse goes better with blinders and this is true also of some young intelligent horses who are so exceedingly curious about objects along the road that without blinders it is hard to make them go steadily and swiftly. In short whether to use blinders or not is mainly a matter for experiment in each case with the presumption in favor of an open bridle

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWGZd...eature=related Note the two pictures of horses with blinders are reenactments!


                  Just some food for thought.
                  No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill


                  • #10
                    List of Harness Suppliers



                    • #11
                      What is a Combined Driving Event?

                      . The CDE (Combined Driving Event) is modeled after the Three Day Event, which tests the overall condition and versatility of the horse in sport. I-TRH Prince Philip was a major force in the design of the rules and is today an active participant in the sport. Major competitions are usually held over three days: day 1) Driven Dressage; day 2) Cross Country Marathon with up to eight special obstacles or hazards; day 3) Cone Driving Competition which equates to the show jumping phase of the ridden event (One or two-day competitions include each of the phases, with a Marathon of a shorter distance). Penalty points are incurred in each of the above phases and the winner is the entry who accumulates the fewest points. Horses and ponies compete separately in these categories: single— one horse/pony; pairs—two horses/ponies side by side; tandem—two horses/ponies, one in front of the other; and Teams—four horses/ponies—two pair, one in front of the other.

                      Often compared to compulsory figures in figure skating, the dressage test consists of a prescribed sequence of movements judged against a standard of absolute perfection. The test demonstrates the obedience, freedom, regularity of movement, impulsion, and correct position and training of the animals. Multiple hitches are judged collectively.

                      Cross-Country Marathon
                      This phase tests the fitness, stamina, and obedience of the horses and the judgment and capability of the driver. Advanced competitions can have 5 sections (A, B, C, D, E), which may include mandatory walks, trots, as well as a section which includes hazards. Other competitions may have 3 sections (A, B, E), all having a minimum/maximum time allowance. At the end of section B and D there are mandatory 10 minute halts with veterinary checks to ensure the horses are not unduly stressed and are fit enough to continue. Competitors can walk the course before the marathon phase and plan their route. They are given a map and course marker flags for guidance, but no horse is allowed on the course before the start. Drivers may choose any path through the obstacles, provided they drive through each gate in the correct alphabetical sequence, wand with the red flag on the right and white on the left. The object is to complete each hazard in the shortest possible time with no penalties. Penalties include time, groom/driver dismounting, driver putting down whip, error of course, knocking down a collapsible element, and turning the vehicle over.


                      Cones can be likened to the stadium jumping phase of eventing. The object is to drive through narrowly spaced pairs of cones cleanly within time allowed. Each cone has a ball placed on top, and any miscalculation will dislodge the ball, thus incurring a penalty. This phase tests the fitness, agility and obedience of the horse and the accuracy and skill of the driver.

                      Vehicles used in Combined Driving must be safe and well maintained. Each competitor is checked at presentation before the dressage test and again for safety before the rigors of the marathon. The same vehicle must be used in both dressage and cones; a second vehicle may be used in the marathon.

                      Grooms & Navigators
                      A groom may accompany the driver in the dressage and cones competitions. On the marathon, the groom is a vital part of the team to help the driver stay on the correct course, to keep track of time, to hold paper work, and to help direct the route through obstacles. In addition the groom is called on to balance the vehicle by shifting his/her weight around tight turns or on uneven ground. Grooms may not handle the reins, nor the whip, and may give verbal assistance only in the marathon. No verbal communication between the driver and the groom is allowed in the dressage or cones competitions.

                      (source: www.american driving society.org


                      • #12
                        What is an Arena Driving Trial?

                        An Arena Driving Trial is a CDE shrunk down to be a 1 or 2 day event inside an arena. The entire marathon/cross country phase is totally removed. They were created to offer a less expensive opportunity to drivers who might want to compete in this style of an event and more options to show organizers who did not have the volunteer base or venue to put on a full CDE.

                        ADT dressage tests are a bit different than what you are used to in a CDE! They are designed to be driven in variable sized arenas with different entrance points. You should "walk" your dressage test before the competition begins. During your test, you should enter the arena and warm up inside the arena until the judge signals you to start, and then proceed to your first movement. Note that the first halt and salute is done at an angle - just turn your body to salute the judge - don't turn the horse and carriage.

                        Dress is "marathon" as presentation is not scored in an Arena Driving Trial. Clean, neat marathon dress and same vehicle should be used for all 3 phases of the competition. If in marathon gear, helmet is required, as well as gloves and whips. If dressed traditionally, aprons, gloves, whip, hat, and jacket are required. Don't mix your styles!

                        Scoring: This competition is a FAULT competition (as with CDEs and HDTs) and will be scored according to a time allowed based on the speed and distance of the course. Balls down are 3 penalty points.

                        In an Arena Driving Trial 4 hazards are timed and each scored separately.

                        House rule (ADS approved): Each hazard can be driven two times (if the driver desires) and the best of two will count for scoring and placing. This includes Eliminations - if you "E" on a hazard, take the other score. Judges, however, will not inform you if you have been eliminated.

                        In the morning, each competitor will drive Hazard #1 and Hazard #2. If desired, the competitor can repeat the drive by doing Hazard #1 and Hazard #2 again. Best of the two scores for a hazard will count.
                        The hazards will be reflagged and walked during the lunch break.
                        In the afternoon, each competitor will drive Hazard #3 and Hazard #4. If desired, the competitor can repeat the drive by doing Hazard #3 and Hazard #4 again. Best of the two scores for a hazard will count.
                        Time taken is converted to penalty points at 0.2 points per second, and lowest total penalty points determines placing.

                        All hazard gates will be driven in alphabetical order, with the number of gates dependent on experience level:

                        Training: 3 gates A-B-C (NO CANTERING PERMITTED)
                        Preliminary: 4 gates A-B-C-D
                        Intermediate: 5 gates A-B-C-D-E (4-wheel vehicles only)
                        Advanced: 5 gates A-B-C-D-E-F (4-wheel vehicles only)
                        Note that VSEs do not need a navigator, but small ponies, large ponies, horses, and any multiples require a navigator in the hazards.

                        ASTM Safety Helmets are REQUIRED for all persons on the carriage.

                        (Source: www.cypresskeep.com specific for the 2009 Tampa Trials)

                        Just to give you an idea of what an ADT is.


                        • #13
                          What is a darby or derby?

                          What is a Derby? A “derby” (British Spelling) or “darby” (Alternative non-British Spelling) (both pronounced “darby”) is an event that combines all the excitement of cones, hazards, and other obstacles. The driver will be asked to go through the course obstacles (cones, bridge, and hazards) in numerical order, and portions of the course will include hazards, with drivers going through in alphabetical gate order, and then proceeding through more obstacles. All obstacles must be driven in the correct direction (red flag on right).

                          What are the Darby/Derby Rules?

                          1. General Principles

                          A Carriage Derby is competition that offers a combination of marathon and cone obstacles and may be held in a suitably size indoor or outdoor arena. Each driver will be timed from crossing the start line and drive each of the numbered obstacles in the proper direction and in numerical order to the finish line. Depending on the number of volunteers available, the course gates may be set to a common width for each class, or adjusted for individual vehicle width. Grouped obstacles may have any number of knockdowns to protect the elements, and have to be set to a standard width. The Tampa Trials is using the Common Width for each class.

                          2. Rules

                          2.1 Classes for Training, Preliminary and Intermediate may be provided.

                          2.2 All entries (except VSE-single) must be driven with a groom on the vehicle.

                          2.3 Grooms may ride with more than one entry subject to scheduling.

                          2.4 Age restrictions under Article 910.1.2 shall apply to all entries.

                          2.5 All persons on the course must wear properly fitted ASTM protective headgear, with harness attached. Protective vests and medical armbands are strongly recommended.

                          2.6 Only the driver may handle the reins, brake, and whip

                          2.7 A whip of suitable size to reach all horses must be carried in hand while on course. If the whip is inadvertently dropped, the driver shall stop the vehicle, the groom dismount, hand the whip to the driver and remount before the vehicle resumes the course. The penalty is time lost.

                          2.8 No cantering in Training classes or any 2 wheel vehicles.

                          2.9 Wire wheels and/or pneumatic tires allowed in Training class only.

                          2.10 Preliminary and Intermediate must be driven in 4 wheel vehicles.

                          2.11 Gate widths may be common width for turnout or adjusted for each class

                          2.12 Grouped obstacle widths: VSE = 2.0m; all other turnouts = 2.5m

                          2.13 Drivers may enter a maximum of two times. The second entry shall not count toward any prizes. For the Tampa Trials, a driver can enter any number of times, but the second entry in the same class will not count. An entry in a different class will count.

                          2.14 Driving gates out of order is “off course” and may be corrected by returning to the missed gate and resuming the course.

                          2.15 All gates completed are “dead” and can be driven in either direction, however if any ball or knockdown is dislodged at any time, it is penalized.

                          2.16 All drivers are allowed 20 minutes to walk the course. A course diagram will be posted before the walk but not required to be distributed.

                          2.17 Judge’s interpretation of these rules is final.

                          3. Scoring

                          3.1 Course is timed from nose of first horse crossing start line to nose of first horse crosses finish line.

                          3.2 Penalties are added to the elapsed time for total time.

                          3.3 Entry with the lowest total time wins

                          3.4 Ties will be broken by the fewest penalty seconds or a drive-off at Management discretion.

                          4. Penalties

                          4.1 Off course – corrected......................................... ......................... 20 seconds

                          4.2 Off course – not corrected .................................................. ..........Elimination

                          4.3 Ball or knockdown dislodged .................................................. ....... 5 seconds

                          4.4 Preventing a ball or knockdown from falling................................. 10 seconds

                          4.5 Reckless or unsafe driving........................................... .................Elimination

                          4.5 Continuing course without whip in hand .........................................Eliminati on

                          4.6 Incorrect pace (each five second interval) ................................... 10 seconds

                          4.7 Intentional cantering in 2 wheel vehicles or Training classes .......Elimination

                          4.8 Refusals (1st and 2nd occurrence) .............................................. 10 seconds

                          4.9 Refusal (3rd occurrence) .................................................. ............Elimination

                          4.10 Missing or not stopping to repair disconnected harness...............Elimination

                          4.11 Groom not on vehicle passing any gate, start or finish ................ 20 seconds

                          4.12 Passing exit before completing all obstacles ................................Elimination

                          4.13 Groom dismounting when vehicle is not stopped ........................ 20 seconds

                          4.14 Driver dismounting anywhere on course...................................... 20 seconds

                          4.15 Vehicle turnover .................................................. .........................Elimination

                          4.16 Starting before signal or not crossing start line.............................Elimination

                          4.17 Outside assistance from anyone not on the vehicle......................Elimination

                          4.18 Excessive use of the whip.............................................. ...............Elimination

                          4.19 Unsportsmanlike behavior .................................................. .......Elimination

                          5. Typical Course Design

                          The number of elements on the course shall be determined by the size of the arena available, not to exceed 4 lettered obstacles, one bridge, and 10 pairs of cones. At the Tampa Trials, some of the cones will be removed for Intermediate and Advanced divisions for greater speed opportunities.

                          Source--www.cypresskeep.com found in their link to Tampa Trials, 2009
                          Rules are based on Canadian Carriage Club


                          • #14
                            What is competitive trail driving?

                            Competitive Trail Riding (CTR) or Competitive Tral Driving (CTD)is an equestrian sport where riders/drivers cover a marked trail for a distance that is usually between 15 and 40 miles per day. Some ridesdrives are only one day long, others may run as long as three days.

                            The goal of the competition is to demonstrate partnership between horse and rider. Unlike in endurance riding, factors other than speed are considered. If the ride/drive is timed, it is a form of trace pace; else it is a judged trail ride. In a timed ride, horses may not come in under or over a certain time, and veterinary checks, rider behavior and other elements play a role in the placings. The horse is evaluated on performance, manners, and related criteria. "Pulse and respiration" stops check the horse's recovery ability and conditioning.

                            There are many different organizations which sanction Competitive Trail Rides/Drives. Horsemanship may be considered at some competitions, depending on the sanctioning organization. Riders/drivers are evaluated on how they handle the trail, manage the horse, and present to the judges and veterinarians throughout the ride. Obstacles are also set up along the trail and the horse and rider are graded on how well they perform as a team.

                            Rides/drives are often held on public lands, such as Forest Service or BLM lands in the United States, but are also held on private property. The terrain varies depending on the part of the country in which a competition is held, and lands available for the event. Unlike trail riding at a guest ranch, where inexperienced riders walk their horses most of the time and cover simple trails, riders/drivers who compete in competitive trail rides are asked to have their animals navigate a variety of terrain and use all gaits, especially the trot.

                            Similar events exist around the world, though often with wide variations in rules and distances. In all cases, the most obvious difference between an endurance ride and a competitive trail ride/drive is that the winner of an endurance ride is the first horse and rider team to cross the finish line and pass a vet check that deems the horse "fit to continue," whereas competitive trail rides/drives usually consider additional factors and penalize a horse and rider that finish in too little or to long of a time.

                            Source is Wikipedia.com

                            Organizations that offer competitive trail riding/driving are SEDRA (base in Florida),www,distanceriding.org
                            North American Trail Ride Conference (www.natrc.org),
                            Upper Midwest Endurance and Competitive Rides Association (www.umecra.com),
                            Eastern Competitive Trail Riding Association (www.ectra.org),
                            Middle of the Trail Distance Riders Association (www.motdra.fws1.com), Southeastern Distance Riding Association (www.distanceriding.com), and Ontario Competitive Trail Association (www.octra.on.ca).


                            • #15
                              What is a Trace Pace?

                              Like the CTD, the trace pace is all about pacing your horse to some desired speed. One is not supposed to carry a watch or a GPS, and the entry that finishes closest to the secret time wins.

                              Unlike the CTD, there is no judging on the fitness of the horse before or after the course is run.

                              Usually there is picnic afterwards and everyone has a grand time.

                              The course tend not to be near as long as a CTD--usually between 5 and 10 miles.

                              (source--my own personal knowledge and experience)


                              • #16
                                What is Pleasure Turnout class?

                                This is a rail class at a Driving Pleasure Show.

                                Entires are judged primarily on the quality and performance of each turnout.
                                70% of the score goes to condition, fit and appropriates of harness and vehicle. neatness and appropriateness of attire and overall impression.

                                30% on performance, manners and way of going.

                                The judge will ask you to go both ways around the arena at a slow, working and strong trot. You will be asked to come into the center of the ring and have your horse stand quietly while the judge walks around all entries. You will be asked to reinback. (remember a reinback is back up 3 or 4 steps (or howevermany you are asked) and then return at a walk to your starting point).

                                It is not unusual for the judge to ask to see a simple pattern as a figure 8 or a serpentine.

                                Source--ADS web site.


                                • #17
                                  What is Pleasure Working Class?

                                  This is a class that the horse is judge primarily on its ability to provide a pleasant experience for the driver. 70% of of the judging is on the manners and way of going of the horse, 20% is on the fit of harness and carriage/cart, and 10% on the attire of the driver.

                                  Similarly to Turnout, you will be asked to go both directions in a slow, working and strong trot, pull into the center, have your horse stand quietly and perform a reinback.

                                  A simple pattern may be asked for.

                                  Source--ADS website.


                                  • #18
                                    2 Wheels or 4 Wheels?

                                    Time was that a single horse was nearly always driven to a 2 wheel vehicle.

                                    Now however it's almost as common to use 4 wheeled vehicles. National driving trials competitors in the UK will always use 4 wheelers on the marathon phase as it's a requirement in the rules.

                                    Just as I always teach a new driver to drive traditional coachman style of holding reins in the left hand with the right hand used only as an assister, so I would advocate always learning to drive in a 2 wheeler.

                                    So if you're a novice I'd say that it's a "no brainer" and no decision.... get a 2 wheeled vehicle.

                                    If you can drive very well in a 2 wheeler, you have a better chance of then learning to drive well in a 4 wheeler.

                                    What a 2 wheeler tends to teach you is positioning and balanced seat (see earlier faq on page 1). If you turn abruptly in a 2 wheeler at a gate for example, you are likely to catch the inside of the wheel on the gatepost. You soon learn to drive further on before you ask for the turn. Even if you hit the wheel on the gate, you'd be really unlucky to tip the vehicle and you can get out of the situation.

                                    In a 4 wheeler the turntable on the vehicle is right under your feet so when you turn the horse the vehicle turns in the same arc.

                                    With 4 wheels the horse can turn almost at 45 degrees to you without moving the vehicle. In a 2 wheeler where the shafts are fixed to the body, he has to move the shafts in order to turn so the turning circle is very different. But not bigger. A competent driver and well schooled horse can turn a 2 wheeler by spinning the wheels on the spot, with the animal crossing his legs over one another as he turns on the haunches.

                                    A 2 wheeler has to be balanced because the shafts are attached to the body of the vehicle and so move up and down with it. It must balance so it floats behind the horse.

                                    A 4 wheeler does not have to have to be balanced but you need to understand it's mechanics. The whip usually sits in between the 2 axles or towards the front axle depending on the length and height of the vehicle. That means therefore that there is more weight over the front of the vehicle. If your groom gets off the back, say to open a gate, then suddenly there's no weight at all on the back and if the carriage is say moving forward to a dip in the gate it's going to be REALLY easy to tip up and roll over. You MUST be aware of your positioning on the vehicle at all times, making sure there is sufficient weight on the back and that you don't do such as turn the front wheels as weight is lifting off the back. You'll go over. What your groom does on the back is important because with a 4 wheeler they assist you to keep the wheels on the ground.

                                    4 Wheelers normally have brakes. (In the UK that's a requirement). They always have them on the back and sometimes 2 sets, front and back. Personally speaking I don't like driving 4 wheelers with 2 sets of brakes that can be used when driving. (sometimes you get a parking brake which is different)

                                    When there's 2 sets (front and back wheels) they sometimes operate off one pedal. Bear in mind that if you have 2 brakes and 2 pedals and stamp on the pedal operating only the front brakes you will put all the weight on the front of the vehicle and VERY possibly tip it so the carriage turns upside down. Even for the most competent driver, that's high risk and I'd never advise anyone other than very experienced to even have a passing thought at getting a 4 wheeler with 2 sets of brakes and 2 foot pedals.

                                    Now I always say that no one should drive unaccompanied. I personally never do it and it's intrinsically unsafe. You can if you're lucky and everything is going well, get away with it in a 2 wheeler. Much higher risk with a 4 wheeler. Personally I like my horses too much and I like living too much to even chance it .... even in my own field. With a modern light construction 4 wheeled road, pleasure or marathon vehicle you need the groom on the back to keep the wheels on the ground and the vehicle from tipping over.


                                    • #19
                                      Will the cart fit the horse? Does it Balance?

                                      With the vehicle standing level and the ground and floor of the vehicle parallel to the ground:


                                      The carriage:
                                      1 The height from the ground to the tug stop on the shaft
                                      2 Length from the tug stop on the shaft to the trace box

                                      The Horse:
                                      1 The height from the middle of the girth to the ground
                                      2 The length from the middle of the horse's girth line to the back of the thigh adding a further 12 inches for a pony or 18 inches for a horse

                                      If "1" and "2" measurement on both horse and carriage are similar, the horse should fit after some slight harness adjustment.

                                      It may also be possible to alter the tug stops on the vehicle, provided that the horse's chest is appropxiately level with the tip of the shift when the horse is put to.

                                      To balance the vehicle, when the horse has been put to and the driver and passengers are seated in their normal position the shafts should rest lightly (approx 4 lbs weight) on the harness tugs with the carriage's floor parallel to the ground. The balance can be adjusted by ideally moving the seat position or by carrying an extra weight (a 4lb weight is ideal) fixed to the vehicle floor positioned in front of the line of the axle or behind the line - dependent on what you're seeking to do.

                                      For safety reasons the weight should be fixed so it doesn't move about all over or drop out of the vehicle.


                                      • #20
                                        How do I find a good driving horse?

                                        Look, observe and take advice before making any decisions

                                        Think carefully about the breed

                                        Remember you make haste slowly - even if your ultimate aim is to drive hackneys in the show ring or a sports horse in CDE, these are not the horses to start with. It would be like driving a ferrari or a formula 1 before you'd mastered the technique of steering.

                                        Your first driving horse might be plain but it's a fact that a flashy, showy one is ALWAYS harder to drive than a plainer, more even-tempered one.

                                        It's the very high-spirited nature that dictates this and you will find the more spirited and able to think for himself that your horse is that the faster, surer and more automatic your reactions need to be. Something that ONLY comes with miles on the clock and testing yourself properly over time and with good help and lessons.

                                        If starting with a family pony, get someone experienced to put it to harness for you.

                                        For anyone not genuinely experienced with putting a horse to harness and bringing on a youngster, I'd say never less than 6.

                                        If buying a new horse or pony, think CAREFULLY what you want to do with it i.e. will it be ridden as well as driven

                                        Be honest and use a liberal dose of self-awareness when it comes to assessing your own ability and competence. Remember experience is just time spent. Competence is entirely different!

                                        As a novice, buy a horse that has been well trained and tested as a carriage horse and that REALLY knows it's job. It should be 110% traffic proof. It should want to stand forever unless it's been told to go forward and it should know how to look after itself at all costs.

                                        The overall turnout of horse, vehicle, driver and passenger should look balanced and in harmony. Be neither under or over-horsed: neither in size, type nor ability.

                                        Ensure you have public liability insurance before driving out on roads

                                        Two novices are NEVER good mix

                                        You and your horse can't "learn the job together". Most frequently that ends in disaster. And yes, you'll hear people telling you it can be done but in my considerable experience, it can't!


                                        Green + Green = Black and Blue