Sleigh Dressage Driving Harness


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. Cantering 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 may vary in style, but should be fancier cutters or sleighs, not work vehicles. Fence and Dressage letters are required.

Optional: Low Dressage fence made of boards or breakable chain in a visible color (not white) is suggested but not required. Fence may be decorated. Boots are not suggested, but conservative legwear is allowed if conditions require.

Driver: Consideration for the weather may supersede all other clothing requirements. Otherwise, clothing is formal, with jackets or national dress. 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 two-seated vehicle only.

Prohibited: No check reins of any type (though side checks are allowed in Training Level only). Cantering is not allowed. No bells.

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

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Updated: January 17, 2013