Sleigh Pleasure Driving Marathon


Please note that the American Driving Society rules state that sleighs may not compete in a Combined Driving style marathon; however, sleigh Pleasure Driving Marathons are allowed. Pleasure Marathons are a test of the fitness and stamina of the horses, the skill and horsemanship of the driver, and the presentation of the turnout. There is a vet check and sometimes a rest stop. A full marathon has 5 sections: Section A- free pace, Section B- walk, Section C- trot, Section D (no obstacles) - compulsory walk, and Section E- free pace (except last 500 meters are compulsory trot). Section E is the obstacle phase and tends to be the favorite among model horse exhibitors. All sections have numbered turning flags or gates. A shortened marathon may eliminate the road sections and have only the obstacle phase.

Judged On: Overall presentation of turnout. Fitness and stamina of the horses; skill of the driver. Singles, pairs, tandems, and four-in-hand teams may compete. Gaits are walk and trot; cantering is not permitted. Horses must appear under control at all times.

Required Equipment: Pleasure type harness with either a breastcollar or full collar, traces, pad with terrets, back strap, shaft loops, crupper, girth, and breeching. Harness is usually black. Buckled-on traces are preferred but not required. Bridle with noseband, browband, throatlatch, bit, blinkers, and brown or half brown reins. Liverpool bits with a curb chain are customary, but other bits are allowed. Vehicles should be cutters or smaller sleighs, and may be quite fancy as long as they are not too flimsy looking. Obstacles must be designed with larger clearances to allow for a sleigh’s wider turning radius and the course must also be gentle enough for antique vehicles to enter. Obstacles may have dislodgeable elements as long as they are safe. Obstacles may be natural or artificial, including natural terrain, gates, trees, low bridges, etc. Obstacles must be marked with a number and have at least one lettered gate with red and white markers. (See the “extra credit” section for more details).

Optional: All types of protective boots and wraps are allowed. Pads under the breeching, breastcollar, or backpad are acceptable.

Driver: Consideration for the weather may outweigh other clothing requirements. Clothing is neat and conservative, with a jacket and slacks or suit, or national dress suggested for both men and women. Whip in hand, hat or helmet, apron and gloves are required. A driver without a whip in hand or carrying a whip of incorrect length may be severely penalized. Whips should be long enough to reach the farthest horse’s shoulders with the lash. Grooms may be attired with the standard dress code. Grooms may not stand behind the driver. Safety gear is not penalized.

Prohibited: Large vehicles such as bobsleds. Water obstacles. Bitless bridles. Flimsy harness or vehicles. Driver must carry a whip in hand. Driving through obstacle gates in the wrong direction without “clearing” them first by driving through in the correct order. No bridges or zigzag obstacles in Training level. No prolonged canter or gallop. No sharp turns.

Extra Credit: Spares kit. Color schemes carried out with clothing, boots, vehicle and/or pads. Referee sitting next to driver. A groom on the back leaning around corners. Ground or Obstacle Observers. Competitor numbers visible on bridle and/or back of vehicle. Written course illustrations showing hazards and gates. Timing devices at start or finish. Correctly marked obstacles (see below):

  1. Obstacle Number – located on the post of the red flag at the entry of the obstacle. There are 6 to 8 obstacles per course.

  2. Compulsory Gates in an Obstacle – red on the right and white on the left; lettered A, B, C, etc. (3-6 gates per obstacle)

  3. Level Markers – the colors listed are standard; the shapes are suggested but not required. Numbers may be white or black for maximum contrast.

  • Training – White OR Black background – Diamond

  • Preliminary – Green background – Square

  • Intermediate – Red background – Circle

  • Advanced – Blue background - Triangle

  • Very Small Equine (VSE) – Purple background – Hexagonal or Octagonal (if VSE has a separate course, both a purple marker and a division marker as listed above are used)

  • Other Markers: Course Turning Flags or Gates (red on the right and white on the left; numbered consecutively in each section), Directional Markers (yellow; placed on the right side of the track, with a confirmational arrow after every significant turn), kilometer markers.

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Updated: January 17, 2013