Forms in Driving in the US

amishAmish – The Amish drive black and gray enclosed Amish carriages; black democrat wagons, or black road carts. Known as a “plain people”, they use practical harness for roadwork. They drive either trotting or pacing horses, most commonly of the Standardbred, Morgan, or Saddlebred type. The Amish do not believe in adornments so these turnouts are very somber.

single-horse-carriageBreed Show Driving – In addition to classes where competitors show their particular breed of horses in hand and under saddle, contestants show their horses in lightweight show cart with wire wheels with what is called a basket where the feet of the driver rest. They use a light harness most often with bearing reins. Driven to these light carts, the horses are shown inside the ring on a flat, smooth surface. Some breeds offer roadster classes where the cart’s baskets are removed and the driver’s feet are placed in what is called stirrups. The driver wears racing silks to simulate standardbred racing. Some breeds offer Viceroy Classes. This is a lightweight four-wheeled wire-wheeled carriage designed for moving in the ring at a high rate of speed. The harness is lightweight and referred to as a “fine” harness.

DSC_0079Coaching – There are coaching and four-in-hand clubs that have meets and promenades. Pleasure Driving shows sometimes offer coaching classes. Traditional Driving Competitions often offers a division for coaches. Most frequently drivers use restored antique coaches of either the park drag or private or commercial road coach design. The harness must be of a traditional style to go with the particular style of coach. Horses or ponies of any breed that trots and are sized right for the coach are proper. Matching color, stride and head carriage is desirable. Occasionally, a light colored horse was used as one of the lead horses when driven to a commercial road coach.

roeser869Combined Driving – Modern presentation and marathon carriage or combination vehicle are required for this event. Presentation and marathon harness or combination harness is best. Any breed of horse or pony that trots can be used. This event consists of Presentation, Driven Dressage, Marathon, and Obstacle Driving and often takes over three days.


Distance Driving –A strong lightweight carriage, generally two wheeled, is used. Any practical, lightweight harness that is comfortable for use over long drives is desirable.

draft horseDraft Horse Pull – Any breed or crossbreed of heavy horse is used. Practical, strong undecorated heavy-horse harness is used. The teams (pairs) of horses pull either a stone boat or a weighted sled provided by the competition.

Draft Horse Show – Draft breeds are shown in colorful hitch wagon. They use decorated heavy horse harness. In single horse classes, large phaeton carts, Meadowbrooks, or other types of road carts are used. The horses manes and tails are braided with colorful ribbons. These horses are sometimes called Hitch Horses since they are bred with longer legs than the typical draft horse.

sterlingDriven Dressage – Often part of a pleasure driving show and a mandatory part of combined driving competitions, horses driven in theses classes can be put to any lightweight carriage. The carriages often have brakes to smooth transitions. The harness is typical pleasure driving harness and any breed of horse, pony or mule that trots can be used.

recreational drivingPleasure Driving – Competitors use any type of carriage and any breed of light horse or pony that trots. Horses are judged at the trot, walk, and halt. A judge evaluates turnout, reinsmanship and performance. Speed classes in the ring and cross-country courses are driven at the trot. Drivers and passengers are to be in conservative contemporary attire. Grooms are to be dressed in historic stable or full livery depending on the type of carriage.

Dream Train, Linda and GAPrivate Driving – This term is used in England for competitions with traditional carriages. Horses are judged on manners and performance at the trot, walk, and halt. Driver and passengers wears either Country or City attire dictated by the type of carriage driven. Drivers and passengers are to be in conservative contemporary attire. Grooms are to be dressed in historic livery.

Recreational Driving – Recreational drivers can use any type of sturdy carriage and a well-fitted, comfortable harness. Any breed of horse that either gates or trots is used.

Standardbred Racing – This American breed of horse is raced in a light wire wheeled sulky. Races take place at either the trot or the pace. The harness is extremely lightweight.

traditional drivingtraditional driving 1Traditional Driving – Competitors drive restored antique or new antique-type carriages with traditional-styled pleasure driving or commercial harness appropriate to the carriage. Any breed of horse or pony that trots can be driven. Horses are judged on their suitability to the type and size of carriage. Performance is judged under conditions experienced when horses were practically used for transportation. This event consists of Presentation, Country Drive, and Cones Driving. The quality of the overall turnout receives the most point. The driver must demonstrate road signals, the use of one of the traditional systems of reinsmanship and manipulate the turnout through controlled passages. Drivers and passengers are to be in conservative contemporary attire. Grooms are to be dressed in historic livery.