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Driving, when applied to horses, ponies, mules, or donkeys, is a broad term for hitching equines to a wagon, carriage, cart, sleigh, or other horse-drawn vehicle by means of a harness and working them in this way. It encompasses a wide range of activities from pleasure driving, to harness racing, to farm work, horse shows, and even International combined driving competition sanctioned by the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI). The term in harness often is used to describe a horse being driven.

In horse show competition, the following general categories of competition are seen:

Combined driving: An internationally recognized FEI competition where horses compete in one, two, and four-horse teams, pulling appropriately designed light carriages or carts. They are expected to perform an arena-based "dressage" class where precision and control are emphasized, a cross-country "marathon" section that emphasizes fitness and endurance, and a "stadium" or "cones" obstacle course. Draft horse showing: Most draft horse performance competition is done in harness. Draft horses compete in both single and multiple hitches, judged on manners and performance.

Carriage driving: Using somewhat larger two or four wheeled carriages, often restored antiques, pulled by a single horse, a tandem or four-in-hand team. Pleasure competitions are judged on the turnout/neatness or suitability of horse and carriage.

Pleasure driving: Sometimes called Carriage driving in some nations: Horses and ponies are usually hitched to a light, two-wheeled cart (four-wheeled fine harness carts are also seen, particularly at the highest levels of competition), and shown at a walk and two speeds of trot, with an emphasis on manners. Nearly any breed of horse can be trained for pleasure driving.

Fine harness: Also called formal driving. Horses are hitched to a light four-wheeled cart and shown in a manner that emphasizes flashy action and dramatic performance. Refined pony breeds and certain light saddle horse breeds noted for their action are most often seen in fine harness. Most fine harness competition requires horses to perform a bit of a walk, and two types of a high-action "park" trot, a slow trot with more controlled but elegant action, and a faster, flashier trot where the horse exhibits the most animation possible, often announced by the command "show your horses" (or "show your ponies" in the case of pony shows).

Roadster: A horse show competition, usually for ponies, (a few light horse breeds also offer roadster classes), where exhibitors wear racing silks and ride in a sulky in a style akin to harness racing, only without actually racing, but rather focusing on manners and performance. Roadsters are shown at two types of trot, known as road gait and at speed.

Associations - International Associations - United States Competitor Driving - Tack & Equipment Driving Publications Museums - Carriage Driving - International Museums - Carriage Driving - United States Therapeutic Driving Training - International Training - United States

Horse Carriage Driving Enthusiasts Compete on Brean Beach

Scores of horse-drawn carriages gathered for a regional competition on Brean Beach this week.

Horse driving enthusiasts from across the South West flocked to take part in the competition held on the sands.

Organised by the Somerset Area British Driving Society, the event attracted riders from Somerset, Devon and Dorset.

Organiser Kathleen Hill told the hard sand and calm weather provided ideal conditions.

"Brean beach is a lovely venue that's great for carriage driving. The event was a lot of fun and had a competition element and was well supported," she said.

This article originally appeared on Burnham On Sea and is published here with permission.

You can find more interesting articles in our section on Riding Disciplines.

Equine Info Exchange

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