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What is Combined Driving

The CDE (Combined Driving Event) is modeled after the Three Day Event, which tests the overall condition and versatility of the horse in sport. Major competitions are usually held over three days: day 1) Driven Dressage; day 2) Cross Country Marathon with up to eight special obstacles or hazards; day 3) Cone Driving Competition which equates to the show jumping phase of the ridden event (One or two-day competitions include each of the phases, with a Marathon of a shorter distance). Penalty points are incurred in each of the above phases and the winner is the entry who accumulates the fewest points. Horses and ponies compete separately in these categories: single— one horse/pony; pairs—two horses/ponies side by side; tandem—two horses/ponies, one in front of the other; and Teams—four horses/ponies—two pair, one in front of the other.

Driven Dressage

Often compared to compulsory figures in figure skating, the dressage test consists of a prescribed sequence of movements judged against a standard of absolute perfection. The test demonstrates the obedience, freedom, regularity of movement, impulsion, and correct position and training of the animals. Multiple hitches are judged collectively.

Cones Obstacles

Cones can be likened to the stadium jumping phase of eventing. The object is to drive through narrowly spaced pairs of cones cleanly within time allowed. Each cone has a ball placed on top, and any miscalculation will dislodge the ball, thus incurring a penalty. This phase tests the fitness, agility and obedience of the horse and the accuracy and skill of the driver.


This phase tests the fitness, stamina, and obedience of the horses and the judgment and capability of the driver. Advanced competitions can have 5 sections (A, B, C, D, E), which may include mandatory walks, trots, as well as a section which includes hazards. Other competitions may have 3 sections (A, B, E), all having a minimum/maximum time allowance. At the end of section B and D there are mandatory 10 minute halts with veterinary checks to ensure the horses are not unduly stressed and are fit enough to continue. Competitors can walk the course before the marathon phase and plan their route. They are given a map and course marker flags for guidance, but no horse is allowed on the course before the start. Drivers may choose any path through the obstacles, provided they drive through each gate in the correct alphabetical sequence, wand with the red flag on the right and white on the left. The object is to complete each hazard in the shortest possible time with no penalties. Penalties include time, groom/driver dismounting, driver putting down whip, error of course, knocking down a collapsible element, and turning the vehicle over.

The Arizona Driving and Carriage Society (ADCS) has a mini series of 1 day events or trials which do not have the full marathon but only similiar to section E of the marathon utilizing the hazards and not a timed course.

Above, Julie driving Rock Star during the cones course at the AZ CDE 2008


Pictured Above:

Julie driving on Section A of the marathon course while Navigator Courtney Boyen checks the time.

Below, Julie driving "What Was I Thinkin" at the start of the cones course at the Coolidge CDE.