What is Carriage Driving?
Horses have been driven in harness as a means of transport as well as a sporting activity for centuries. The British Driving Society was founded in 1957 and carriage driving first became available through RDA in 1975. Carriage driving offers many of the benefits similar to riding yet can also be an option of those individual who cannot ride or those who use a wheelchair.
Carriage driving can be undertaken with a single horse, in tandem or as a four in hand team. Carriage driving can be chosen as a leisure pursuit and/or undertaken competitively. It is indeed a world recognised sport being recognised by the FEI as a discipline since 1970. As a sport offers carriage driving offers dressage, showing, cones and obstacle driving and horse driving trials which includes dressage, a cross country marathon and cone obstacles.
Equipment includes a bridle, a harness and a carriage. The term given for the carriage driving unit, thus including the horse(s), driver and backstepper (groom) is called a turnout. The name of the driver who remains in full control of the horse(s) is called a whip and the backstepper(s) are responsible for balance when off road, to help guide the whip through obstacles and for navigation. A large component of driving is to develop the skill and finesse with the reins, there is traditional technique, the coachman rein handling when both reins are held in one hand to allow the whip to use the other hand for signalling, rein adjustments and use of the whip.
The RDA have proficiency tests Grades 1-4 in Carriage Driving and Horse Care. The British Driving Society offer a coaching pathway through UK Coaching Certificate.
Carriage Driving in the RDA
Carriage Driving Training with British Carriage Driving