Dressage Driving


Combined Driving is the harness equivalent to Eventing. Marathon takes the place of Cross Country, and Cones takes the place of Jumping. Carriage Pleasure Driving is a similar event, but the Marathon phase is gentler and there is more variation in the types of obstacle classes offered. Driving Trials consist of dressage, cones and a section E marathon (the obstacle phase) only.


Dressage is a test of the horse’s suppleness, ease of movement, harmony, regularity of paces, and presentation of the entire turnout. Driven Dressage arenas are similar to those used in ridden Dressage, but larger. They should have proper letters and a low fence (board or breakable chain).

Judged On: Evenness of pace, impulsion, collection, obedience and lightness, presentation (including condition and fit of harness and vehicle) and correct positioning while performing a driven dressage test pattern. Head carriage should not be set too high or low. Lower level gaits include halt, walk, slow trot, working trot, lengthened trot, rein back; upper levels add collected and extended gaits, and movements such as shoulder-in. Working Canter is only acceptable in an Intermediate Level Canter Test and in Advanced (FEI) level competition only; the horse should appear controlled and collected. Any other type of canter or cantering in other levels is not acceptable. Please state where the entry is in the dressage test and what level.

Required Equipment: Pleasure-style harness with a collar or breastcollar. Pleasure-style bridle with a browband, throatlatch, noseband, blinkers, and lines. Common bits used are Liverpool with curb chain, elbow bit, or half-cheek snaffle but may be any riding snaffle or driving bit. Vehicles are similar to those used for show pleasure classes with two or four wheels and may vary in style. Four wheeled vehicles must have carriage lamps and rear lights or reflectors. Low Dressage fence made of boards or breakable chain and proper letters.

Optional: Fence may be decorated with flowers.

Driver: Clothing is formal, with jackets or national dress. A whip in hand, hat or helmet, gloves, and apron are required. Whip must be long enough to reach the farthest horse’s shoulders. A driver without a whip in hand or carrying a whip of incorrect length may be severely penalized. A groom may accompany the driver if seated behind the driver in a four wheeled vehicle only.

Prohibited: Bandages or brushing boots. No check reins of any type (though side checks are allowed in Training Level only). Martingales allowed only if appropriate to vehicle. Wire-wheeled or pneumatic-tired vehicles are not allowed beyond Training Level. Cantering horses not performing at top level events.

Extra Credit: Competitor number on bridle and back of vehicle. Spares kit, crocheted ear net, and braided manes with loose tails. Dressage tests are available at the American Driving Society, British Driving Trials Association, and FEI websites.

Andrew, shown as a Black Friesian Stallion is an OF Nylint Friesian.
Owned and shown by Dianne Teachworth with the comment:
Dressage Driving, FEI Driven Dressage test 6A: Step 8, MCHS Working trot.

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Updated: January 16, 2013