Elegance and harmony
Thrilling and challenging
Accuracy and timing
Old world tradition mixed with the grit of modern sport peppered with laser precision – that is the demanding sport of combined driving. Exploding with recent popularity, the lure of combined driving for participant and spectator is its elegance, its thrill and its horsemanship.
With four levels of national competition and inclusion on the list of FEI-recognized international sports, a combined driving event (CDE) involves horses and drivers competing over three days in three phases: dressage, marathon and cones.
Elegance and Harmony: In dressage, competitors drive over an arena of 40 x 100 meters or 40 x 80 meters in a prescribed pattern of movements based on their level of skill and ability before at least one judge who rates the pair on the freedom and regularity of the horse’s gaits, impulsion, and responsiveness and training, as well as the driver’s position and aids, and the presentation including the driver’s and groom’s appearance, and the condition of the horse, harness and vehicle.
Thrilling and Challenging: The marathon is the high speed, timed phase which sends competitors over miles of fields and woods, and around and about obstacles and hazards. Every obstacle requires the horse to listen to the driver while navigating the hazards with great forward energy – it’s forward and back, quick and sharp turns, often charging through complex gate configurations, water obstacles and hilly terrain. The marathon is designed to test both the horse’s and the driver’s courage, stamina and agility.
Accuracy and Timing: The cones phase of the competition tests “how much horse” – in mind, body and spirit – is left after two ambitious days of competition. The horse and carriage travel at a rapid pace through an arena’s obstacle course formed by orange traffic cones topped with tennis balls. Penalties are given if balls are knocked off the cones or if the time limit is exceeded.
The competitor with the fewest penalties at the end of all three phases wins.