Driving Trials - What to know
The competition format
There are three parts to the competition. The first two phases take place on Saturday 5th October, where each competitor drives their individual dressage test then the cone driving competition is the equivalent to the the Show Jumping aspect of eventing. On Sunday 6th October, competitors enjoy the challenge of the fast and furious obstacles which are in the final section of the cross country course called the marathon.
This is the phase to enjoy beautifully presented horses, traditional or modern carriages built on tradition lines, gleaming harness and immaculately dressed drivers and grooms. All are striving for that precious 10 marks for their presentation while on the move.
Drivers are required to drive their horses between pairs of plastic cones with balls on top. The cones are set only slightly wider apart than the carriage and it takes a good combination of driver’s skill and nerve, coupled with obedient horses, to achieve a double clear round over a twisting course, at a fairly fast trot and some canter. If any part of the rim of the carriage wheel touches a cone the ball falls off and costs the driver 3 penalty points, while penalties are also amassed by completing the course in excess of the time allowed.
This part contains the obstacles, these are the essence of the whole event. Every second spent in an obstacle counts as one fifth of a penalty point and so the obstacle must be driven as fast as possible to minimise the number of penalties accrued.
Each of the obstacles must be challenging to both small single ponies and the large horse fours. This means that they usually contain a variety of possible routes; short narrow routes for ponies, longer wider routes for the horse teams. Wherever possible, the natural lie of the land is used to good effect - banking and trees are much favoured by obstacle designers.
Driving Trials Explained