Welcome to the Great Western Harness Club
The Club was formed in 1983 to promote both pleasure and competition carriage driving in the South West of England. It has a membership covering a wide area extending from Penzance to Wiltshire.
Last updated: 19th January 2016
What Are Horse Driving Trials?
Horse Driving Trials are unique. It is the only equestrian sport/discipline where you can compete on an equal footing whether aged 14 -70+, male and female alike, with different classes for ponies and horses. At club events all the phases are staged over either one or two days. One day events usually have a shorter marathon.
First the athletes must complete the Driven Dressage phase, consisting of a sequence of set movements (driven from memory) to display the schooling and obedience of the animal.
Different tests are driven by open and novice athletes.
The Cone Driving Competition which equates to the show jumping phase of ridden eventing, tests the skill and competence of the athlete and the suppleness and obedience of the animal.
Athletes then complete timed sections of the cross-country or marathon course. The first is usually done at a brisk trot, then a transfer section at trot or walk followed by a 10 minute halt.
Finally, the last phase which includes six to eight obstacles to be driven at speed. These obstacles are often built around natural features (water, banks etc.) and are made up of a series of lettered gates which must be driven in order. With different routes within the obstacles this leads to tight turns which require a great deal of judgment and skill from the athlete, in order to complete them with the minimum of time penalties.
The overall winner in each class will have successfully completed both days with the lowest number of penalty points.
The objective is to drive, in a set time, through narrowly spaced pairs of cones with only centimetres to spare on either side of the wheels! Obstacle Cones Driving requires a steady hand, nerves of steel and it helps to have a well trained horse!
The above photographs courtesy of Bryony Maunder