Driving competitions today consist of three phases: dressage, marathon and obstacle driving through cones. The driver and his team wear a particular outfit for each event, and use a different vehicle. Sanctioned by the FEI and integrated in Equestrian Games, Driving is a discipline where the vehicle is drawn by a single horse or pony, a pair or a team of four.
During the Dressage phase, the driver performs a series of compulsory figures at different gaits. The judges evaluate the obedience, impulsion and stance of the horse, and the precision and execution of the driver’s manoeuvres as well as the overall presentation of his equipment (vehicle, harness, attire).
The Marathon is undoubtedly the most exciting phase. Over a rugged course of a maximum of 18 km, this event assesses the endurance and merits of the horses. Most obstacles are made of the natural setting such as forest, sharp turns, steep hills and river crossings. Additional obstacles are typically made-up of fences and lanes the driver has to negotiate.
The last phase is the Obstacle Driving/“Cones”. The driver negotiates a number of obstacles in the direction planned by the course designer. The obstacle consists of two cones topped with a ball and each dropped ball adds 5 penalty points. The higher the driver’s skill level is, the narrower the space between the cones gets, allowing the driver to display his dexterity.
The driver with the highest accumulated points throughout the three combined phases is the winner.