A Spectator's Guide to
Horse Driving Trials
Welcome to The David Broome Event Centre, the Cricklands National Driving Trials and the thrilling Marathon Day. Driving Trials are the highest test of the accuracy, speed and fitness of driving horses, with classes for single ponies right up to teams of four horses.
Friday - Driven Dressage
Friday is Dressage day, similar to the Dancing Horses of the Olympics but with carriages!
• Smart Carriages with drivers and grooms in their finery
• Scored by a judge who looks for movements to be performed correctly and in a certain order
• Marked on obedience and submission of the horses and accuracy of the drivers
• Performed in a 40m x 100m arena in our International Superflex Arena in the heart of the showground
Saturday - Cross Country Driving Trials
Saturday is Marathon day, the thrills and spills of carriage driving.
• Cross Country carriages
• Obstacles are driven as fast as possible.
• All obstacles must be completed before moving on to the next
• Drivers will try to choose the best route for their turnout. Small ponies can often make the tighter turns, and the bigger turnouts may take the longer routes.
• There are 7 obstacles, each with 6 gates, labelled in order from A to F. If a competitor goes through a gate out of order, they will be eliminated.
• Some of the obstacles are Welsh themed, with rugby posts, Big Pit’s Pithead Wheel, and even leeks! Have a look at our World Record High jump obstacle too, standing at 2.47m it is the highest any horse and rider have ever jumped!
Sunday - Cone Driving
Sunday is Cones day, the test of accuracy and obedience
• Smart carriages with top hats and smart attire
• Marked on target time
• Penalties added for each ball knocked off the cones
• Each combination goes through the course of cones
• All combinations go in reverse order, so the most successful combination of each class will go last to add suspense!
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Phases of a Three day driving competition (in more detail)
Like eventing, the first day of a driving competition is Dressage Day. The arena is 40 x 100m marked out by enclosed white boards. In the dressage phase, marks out of 10 are awarded for each movement. At the end of the test, they are added together and subtracted from a maximum possible score to convert them to penalties, which are shown on the master score sheet. If there are 16 movements in the test, the maximum score will be 160, so a driver who got a total of 110 points will be awarded a dressage score of 50 penalties. This score is carried forward to Marathon day with a leader board overnight.
Saturday is Marathon day which is divided into three sections. This is the fast and furious part of driving, with drivers asking for wild speed and unreserved bravery whilst testing the absolute fitness of the horses. Section A is executed in a trot, with the course starting by the stables continuing around the showground and next to Caldicot Castle and finishing with a walk between the international arenas. Following this the horses have quick rest and a vet check where the vets make sure the horses are fit enough to continue. Section B then follows and is the final section where the horses must navigate the 7 obstacles; a tight, twisted series of “gates” labelled A- F. If a competitor go through a gate out of order, they will be eliminated. Starting with the Devil’s Dyke and then several welsh themed obstacles including the water and Big Pit, finishing with the Derby Bank in the upper Popular Arena. Judges will calculate a time allowed, going over this time will incur penalties for every second over the time. A Minimum time is also calculated to 2 minutes under the allowed time, being under the minimum time will also incur penalties, to encourage safe driving. The score is added to yesterday’s dressage score and will be carried forward over night to the final phase on the Sunday.
Obstacle Cone Driving
The Final phase of this competition is the cone phase. The ultimate test of accuracy where the horses are asked to be quick, accurate and obedient. The distance of the entire cones course is measured and a time allowed is calculated. If you exceed this time, you will incur time penalties. You will also incur 3 penalties for each ball dislodged from the top of the cones, which will be added to your final score. If you can drive the course in less than the allocated time and not dislodge any balls, you will incur no penalties and get a double-clear. The leader of the first two phases will go last in this phase.
The penalties over the weekend are added together at the end to form the final score, the lower the penalties, the better you do. At the end of the competition, scores from all three phases are added together to determine the final score. Normally, all the scores are displayed on the master score sheet as the competition progresses to allow spectators and competitors to keep an eye on the leaders and how the competition is progressing.
The David Broome Event Centre, Mount Ballan Manor, Crick, Chepstow, Mon. NP26 5XP Tel: 01291 418125 (Opt 3) Em: firstname.lastname@example.org