A Closer Look at Combined Driving
Elegance, tradition and gritty competition are found in abundance in Combined Driving. Literally a triathlon for horses, Combined Driving is one of the fastest growing equine sports and has exploded in popularity in recent years. Adding to the challenge is the fact that drivers must communicate with their horses only through voice and hands.
In a Combined Driving Event (CDE), horses and drivers compete in three phases: dressage, marathon and cones. Dressage takes place in a manicured arena in which the driver must take his horse(s) through a test which consists of a prescribed sequence of movements. Drivers are judged on their command of the horse, the horse’s impulsion, as well as freedom and regularity of gaits. Suppleness and responsiveness are vital.
The fast and furious action of the cross country marathon is largely responsible for the sport’s growing interest by the public. The thrill of watching teams of horses tackle challenging obstacles at high speed is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Competitors cover several miles of course, through open fields and woods, then must negotiate the challenge of hazards built to test both horse and driver. Stamina, courage and agility are the words of the day for this portion of the CDE.
During the cones competition, an obstacle course tests the precise accuracy of drivers who must negotiate a complicated course without disturbing the cones or going off course. Penalties are accessed if balls are knocked off the cones or if the time limit is exceeded.
Within the last decade an ever-widening circle of spectators have been drawn to the sport, thanks to indoor driving exhibitions and carriage racing events which are held at premier horse shows around the world. Chester Weber is among the top drivers who regularly travel and compete in these exhibitions, and has been influential in promoting the events.