Understanding The Sport

Boyd Exxel

Driving horses starts at an elementary level and continues until multiple horse teams perform a complex series of activities, sometimes against the clock. Boyd Exell, Driving Trials World Champion, has reached the pinnacle, as seen competing here at The Catton Park Nationals in 2011.

To explore further, click the links on this page.

Jargon Busting

Every sport has its jargon – some more than others. Because driving harnessed horses has a long history, the origin of its jargon goes way back.

Turnout – a carriage driving unit comprising horse(s), driver and backstepper (groom)

Whip – the driver of the horse(s)

Box Seat – the seat on which the driver sits.

Backstepper (also known as Groom) – the one or two people responsible for balance when off-road, help guiding the whip through obstacles during obstacle driving and for navigation during a pleasure drive on or off road.

Outside of club events, 2-wheeled carriages are sometimes driven without a backstepper. Club policy, in the interests of safety, is for a backstepper to be present on all types of carriage. The backstepper is always on hand to attend to the horse(es) should the driver need to get down from the box seat or to make an adjustment to the harness whilst the driver remains in control on the box seat.

Put to  – fastening horse to carriage.

Coachman Rein Handling  – A traditional technique where both reins are held in one hand; the other hand being free to make rein adjustments and hand signals etc. It is argued by some that contact with the horse’s mouth is more consistent by this method.  Click here for a full explanation