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Horse Sports

Horse Sports can generally go into one of 6 Different Categories, some sports fit into more than one.


ENGLISH RIDING - is considered to be dressage and jumping as well as some shows (any riding in a show or dressage or all purpose saddle) I ride in English so know a lot more about this than I do about western or driving.


WESTERN RIDING - is considered to be cutting, reigning, rodeo’s, campdrafting.

 (any type of riding in a western saddle)


PLEASURE RIDING - this is when a rider chooses to just ‘ride for fun’, trail riding, and riding with friends.


DRIVING - when you are in the carriage behind a horse that pulling it.


GAMES - any type of game played on horse back.


RACING - any type of race that involves horses going as fast as it can, whether riden or in harness.


for official jumping heights (PCA HRCAV EFA FEI) try my jumping Heights page.



The sport of eventing is like an equestrian triathlon.  There are two types, three day 3DE (CCI) and one day ODE (CIC) events. The One day event is simply a shortened version of the 3 day event. The combination of horse and rider compete in three phases, covering the disciplines of dressage, endurance, cross country and show jumping.


The First day is Dressage.

This is basically an obedience test and in today's competitive game, a good test is essential for a top placing.


The second day is the endurance and Cross country.

There is an endurtance 'roads and tracks' phase either side of the steeplechase - a number of brush fences taken at a gallop. This part (endurance ans steeple chase) are left out in the shortened (CIC or One Day Event) competition.


Each phase has an optimum time and there are penalties for exceeding time or faults on the steeplechase. After the second roads and tracks phase, all horses go into what is colloquially called "the Ten Minute Box" where a team of vets check the horse's heart rate and breathing. Just before going out on the exciting cross country phase, each rider runs his horse in front of the vets and a member of the judging panel to ensure it is sound. Only totally fit horses are allowed to start this phase.


On the morning of the final day, the horses have to be presented for a "trot-up" before the ground jury, to ensure they are fit and sound to continue after the rigours of the endurance phase. All those competitors remaining in the competition ride the showjumping course in reverse order of placing over a show jump course for an exciting finish.


COMBINED TRAINING - This is a combination of scores from a dressage test and a showjumping round. You may enter for a C/T event (dressage and showjumping) and/or a dressage only event. Scoring and penalties are the same as for Horse Trails - the lower the score the better. (Occasionally the dressage score is posted as good points and any penalties in the showjumping are taken off, meaning the higher the score the better.)


HORSE TRIALS - This is simply another name for a One Day Event or CIC. They consist of three phases - dressage, cross country and showjumping. The dressage test is scored as penality points, Any penalty points in the two jumping phases are added to the dressage score. When all scores and time penalties are added together the winner is the rider with the lowest score. All three phases must be attempted unless the horse or rider are injured or the vet considers the horse unfit to continue, in which case you are eliminated.

HICKSTEAD - A Hickstead is similar to a C/T. The difference is that the jumping round includes both showjumping fences and cross country fences. The round starts off with showjumps then continues on to cross country fences and finishes off with more showjumps.

SHOW JUMPING - This is a series of non-fixed jumps in a roped arena. It is jumped only once. When walking the course riders must be in full Pony Club uniform, including helmet and whip, if used. Penalty points are given for knocking down part of a jump, refusing or going past your next jump or being over the time limit allowed. Reasons for elimination include three (3) refusals in the whole course, jumping obstacles in the wrong order, not going through the start or finish flags or abusing your horse. The fastest clear round is the winner. If your horse will turn smooth, tight corners and jump on slight angles there is no need to go flat out.


Different types of jumping competitions are as follows…

TABLE A - This is the easiest and most common showjumping event. It starts with a round of jumps which must be jumped cleanly, in the correct order and within the time limit (different time limits apply to each grade). Riders with no penalties (including time penalties) - go into a jump-off. The jump-off course is usually a shorter and higher course. The steward tells the rider what the course is. A jump-off is usually "against the clock"

TOP SCORE - In this event jumps are given a number value with the easiest jumps having the lowest number and the hardest jump the highest number. Riders make up their own course trying to get the highest score (from value number) in the time allowed. Normal penalties for knock downs and refusals do not apply in this type of event. When the judge rings the bell to signal the end of your round, ride as quickly as possible through the finish flags.

RESCUE RELAY - For this event there are two riders and horses on the course at once. The first rider starts their round and continues until either they have a fault, they finish the round or the judge rings the bell. When the first rider ends, the second rider takes over the round starting at the jump after the one knocked down or starting at the jump refused  or at the First Jump if no penalties. Finish flags do not apply. Swapping of riders when faults occur continues until the bell rings to finish the round. The pair that wins is the one that covers the most of the course.


Straight showjumping events have different penalties, heights and different rules to the showjumping phases of H/T, C/T and Hickstead.


DRESSAGE - The Macquarie Dictionary defines Dressage as "the art of training a horse in obedience, deportment and responses", which is a very understated description of a very beautiful form of equestrian sport. The word "dressage" is derived from the French "dresser" which means "to train". This training is systematic and is, to quote the FEI definition "the harmonious development of the physique and ability of the horse. As a result it makes the horse calm, supple, loose and flexible, but also confident, attentive and keen, thus achieving perfect understanding with the rider". It is a series of movements performed inside an arena, that are marked for accuracy, movement and rhythm. The marks are converted to a percentage and deducted from 100% to get a penalty score. From the simple tests at Preliminary level of just walking and trotting in straight lines and circles, to the advances movements in FEI Dressage. Booklets with dressage tests for each grade are available. They include explanations of what is expected at each level and things allowed and not allowed in dressage tests. A dressage test is part of Combined Training, Horse Trials and can be a competition by itself. In a dressage only competition, the higher the score the better.

Dressage is an Olympic sport and is governed internationally by the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) and, in Australia, by the National Federation (NF) the Equestrian Federation of Australia (EFA).


CROSS COUNTRY - The cross country phase of Eventing or Horse Trials is a series of fixed, numbered jumps in a large open space. The cross country course can usually be inspected (walked) the day before the competition but can also be walked on the day of the competition but you must be careful to stay out of the way of riders on the course. On the day of the competition, be sure to check the ‘master plan’ for any changes to the course and extra things like compulsory flags. Penalties accrue on the cross country course. The first refusal is 20 penalties, a second at the same jump collects 40. After three refusals in total on the course the combination is eliminated. Only one fall of rider is allowed (60 penalties). A fall of horse incurs immediate elimination. Also there are penalties for being over or under the allowed time. As soon as you cross the finish line, ride straight into the roped off vet check area. Do not dismount until told to by the vet or their assistants. Then walk your horse around until the vet has checked your horse and advised you to leave the area.

TRAIL RIDING - going for leisurely rides, no competitive, for all levels and ages.

ATHRA-  Australian Trail Horse Riders Association.


Trail riding is a non-competitive sport... that means anyone can take part. You don't need an expensive horse, or even a highly trained one. Any sensible, sound horse - it can be any breed, any size - will give you a pleasant trail ride. You don't need high priced gear... a comfortable old saddle will do, and a standard bridle and bit. Then find a trail ... and go trail riding! Of course you and your family or friends might get keen after a while, and more adventurous, and then you will want a saddle-bag and a quart pot, and next a swag for camping out overnight. That's up to you.

COMPETITIVE TRAIL RIDING - a timed ride, various levels and distances, vet check points carried out throughout the ride, separate divisions for the rider and the horse, the horse is judged on manners, way of going and soundness, the rider is judged on how well the horse is handled, how clean the horse and stable area is, and riders manners.


The rides are judged by a team of at least 2 judges, one veterinarian and one horseman. The Open Division, for horses 5 years of age and over, is divided into Heavyweight (rider and tack 190lb and over),

Lightweight (rider and tack 100 thru 189 lb),

Junior (riders age 10 - 17 yrs no weight restriction).

Competitive Pleasure Division is for horses 4yr and older, with no age/weight restrictions. Novice is primarily for horses 4 and older and newcomers to the sport, with the same weight divisions as Open, or Senior/Junior.


Judging is based upon each horse starting the ride with a perfect score of 100 points. evaluated as follows:  Soundness 45% -Condition 40% -Ability and manners 15%


While primary judging is on the horse, the riders also compete for Horsemanship awards and are judged on the care, handling and riding of their mounts through out the ride. The Horsemanship score card consists of:

* Grooming, In hand presentation, tack and equipment 20%

* Trail Equitation 50%

* Trail care, safety, courtesy. Stabling, and general comments 30%

ENDURANCE RIDING - Australian Endurance Riders Association -  

a race from point A to point B, with vet checks done along the way, the horse in the best condition with the fastest time will win. All riders are placed in the same category. Rides can be from 40kms to 400kms.


Endurance Riding is a test of the athletic ability of horse and rider over distances. The welfare of the horses in the sport is very carefully attended to, with one or more Veterinarians present at every event. The horses are thoroughly checked by the ride Vet before they are allowed to start in the ride. The check includes measurements of the horses' temperature, heart rate and respiration rate, and a full metabolic profile. The horse is also trotted out to confirm its soundness. These checks are done at intervals throughout the ride and at the end of the ride. The horse must pass all checks to complete the ride. If a horse fails any of these Vet checks, it is immediately withdrawn from the event.


A horse must be five years or older before it can enter an Endurance Ride. Competition is divided into sections, where the riders' weight or youth is taken into account.

* Junior section is for riders under 16 years of age,

* Lightweight is for riders whose weight (inc. all riding gear) is under 73 kg,

* Middleweight between 73 kg and 91 kg, and

* Heavyweight over 91 kg.


Riders can thus compete against others in their own section, and not be handicapped by riding against a horse carrying much less weight.

HUNTING - can be a live (hunting foxes) or a drag (a dead animal is dragged over the hunt course) usually with pairs of hounds and a hunt master at the lead. Its ridden at high to medium speeds over jumping panels.


Originally much of the riding was done, of necessity as a means of transport, but gatherings of horsemen and women for hunting were common recreational pursuits. Usually these hunt meets were organised affairs, with all the local gentry assembling together to follow the drag laid by someone in the area with a skill in such things. The dogs would be shown the scent, and the horses followed the dogs. A successful meet involved a good run with plenty of fences and creeks to jump, giving the riders plenty of chances to show off their skills. At the end of the meet, the host would provide a meal for his guests. At other times, animals were hunted. In the earliest years kangaroos, possums and dingoes could be the targets, later foxes that had been introduced for the sport, were more likely to be the quarry. Most hunts occurred in daylight, though it was not unknown for a moonlight hunt to occur.

SHOWING -or- HACKING Every agricultural or Royal Show includes what are called the "show" or "hacking" classes. These are where horses and riders are judged on their talent and looks. Showing is a sport for all ages from tiny five year olds with Shetland ponies to elderly people who still find it a happy and pleasant pastime. Showing classes for horses are judged on the horse's basic shape and its manners and paces. Horses first work around in a circle as a group. The judge then selects horses to do individual workouts. After a quick check to see which horse looks the best up close, the winner is chosen. Show horses are divided into three categories: ponies - which are up to 14hh  galloways - from 14 to 15hh and hacks which are bigger than 15hh. But also classes are held for specific breeds, disciplines and rider age and experience.

GYMCARNA'S - a small version of a show usually held by local pony clubs or horse riding clubs. They are designed for younger or less competitive riders to enjoy it.

NAVAGATION RIDES - best described as a car rally on horseback! Usually riden in pairs or teams. You have a set distance (usually 10-20kms) and you are given direction and questions as you start the ride. You navigate by following the directions (usually fairly simple, turn left on this road, and right onto that track) and you answer questions along the way (usually cryptic clues to objects you will see along the way) the winner is the team that is closest to the optimum time, with the most amount of questions right. A very fun event, for riders of any level and any age, as you can walk the whole way if you want to (optimum time is usually gained by a steady trot, some canter and some walk)

GAMES - many pony clubs offer games as part of the lessons, they are great fun and usually held at high speeds, picking up objects, getting on and off your horse…these can include bending, flag race, walk/trot race, sack race... etc

I have included the popular Barrel racing under the Rodeo section.



Believed to be the oldest organized sport in the world. Polo was truly a game of Kings, for most of its reputed 2,500 years or more of existence. Polo was adopted as the most noble of pastimes by the Kings and Emperors, Shahs and Sultans, Khans and Caliphs of the ancient Persians, Arabs, Mughals, Mongols and Chinese. The great rulers and their horsemen real and legendary, of those early centuries were expected to be brave warriors, skilful hunters and polo players of exceptional prowess. In 1891, the Indian Polo Association was formed. The rules were re-written and set a new standard. By 1902, there were 175 clubs playing under IPA rules. The Calcutta Polo Club is regarded as the oldest polo club in the world. The British took the game to England and from there it spread to the whole world.

POLO CROSSE association of Australia http://www/  

As the name itself implies, polocrosse is a combination of polo, lacrosse and netball. It is played on horseback, each rider using a cane stick, made up of a polo stick shaft to which is attached a squash racquet type head with a loose twisted-thread net, in which the ball is carried. The ball is made of thick- skinned sponge rubber. General Horse Height is not exceeding 15.2hh, but no rules enforce this. The playing field is 146 meters long and 55 meters wide. with goal-posts 2.5m apart at each end. Hitting at an opponent's stick, either to dislodge the ball or prevent the opponent gaining possession of it, is allowed in an upward direction only. Hitting down constitutes a foul. "Riding-off' is allowed, but crossing, stopping over the ball, or elbowing constitute fouls. The wedging or sandwiching of one player between two players "riding-off" simultaneously constitutes a foul and is dangerous play. The penalty for such fouls is a free throw to the offended side.


This is gymnastic exercises performed on a moving horse by vaulters. It aims to develop and improve the vaulters balance, confidence and co-ordination and promotes co-operation and team spirit. Vaulters aspire to perform the optimum quality of exercises in absolute harmony with the horse. There are 4 different competition Categories, Team Vaulting, Individual Vaulting, Pas de Deux (Pairs) and Barrels. In all cases a horse is lunged in a 20 meter circle, unless a barrel horse is used.


There are 13 competition levels (A-B-C-D-D1-E-F-G-G1-G2-H-H1-H2)

In the top 3 levels (A, B, C) the compulsory and freestyle are performed in the canter.

Gaining a score twice means at 2 separate competitions.

You do not have to start at the lowest level F, but at a suitable level.

A) For individuals or Teams who have gained a score of 6.5 or higher twice in a B class competition.

B) For individuals or Teams who have gained a score of 5.0 but not 6.5 or higher twice in a C class competition.

C) For individuals or Teams who have gained a score of 5.5 or above twice in a D or a D1 class competition.

D1) For teams only - D compulsories at Canter and a Canter freestyle limited to a maximum of 2 vaulters on the horse. For teams who have scored 5.0 in a D class.

D) D compulsories at Canter and Walk freestyle. For individuals or teams who have gained a score of 5.5 or higher  twice in an E class.

E) E compulsories at Canter and a Walk freestyle, For individuals or teams who have gained a score of 6.0 or higher  twice in an F class.

F) Compulsories at Walk and Freestyle at Walk for beginners.

G) PAS DE DEUX - if both competitors are currently competing in A, B or C level in Individual or Teams competition they must compete in canter.

G1) Pas De Deux in canter.

G2) Pas De Deux in Walk.

H) Barrel Tests

H1) Barrel Freestyle only

H2) Pas De Deux Barrel


Some of the Compulsory exercises are…

Vault on - Vault on to the horse.

Basic Seat - (

Seat Astride - sitting on the horse

       - with both elbows bent and in line with the body

       - with the little finger resting in the crook of the hip joint

       - with fingers at front of the body and the thumb towards the back.

Flag - right leg extended, both hands stay on the roller.

        - left arm is extended after the right leg has been extended.

Mill - 4 phases in fours beats

        - commencing with the right leg over the neck to the inside seat,

        - then back to seat astride,

        - then left leg over the neck to outside seat,

        - then back to seat astride.

* 1/2 mill to forward seat astride through outside seat.

Swing - swinging of legs into handstand and return to seat astride.

Scissors - first phase forward scissor;

               - from backwards seat swinging up of legs into straddle angle support.

Kneel - with lower legs and feet lying flat and parallel on the horse

Flank - first phase of flank to inside seat,

           - right leg over the neck to seat astride then vault off to the outside.

Stand - free stand with arms remaining close to the sides of the body.

Vault off - to the inside.


Static exercises are held for 4 canter strides and excises noted * do not receive scores.

RACING (profesional) -  

Only thoroughbred type horses are used, at various distances and in age groups.

JUMP RACING - Aust. Jump racing association  

There are 2 types of jump racing, hurdles and steeplechases. Jump races are generally long, tiring events. Hurdles are usually around 2800-3200 metres, while steeplechases are commonly 3200-3600 metres.

  - HURDLES- horses jump lightweight frame 'fences' with brush tops.

  - STEEPLE CHASE - horses jump a number of higher, more solid obstacles


Generally standardbreds are used in this, either in pacing or trotting races. Standardbreds got their name from being the fasted horse to trot or pace a standard mile, hence the name standard-bred.


Mountain horse racing is a uniquely Australian sport that is growing rapidly as it catches the imagination of the public. In the tradition of the Man From Snowy River, the races emulate true hard bush riding with the tough terrain providing tremendous excitement for spectators. The Australian Mountain Racing Association Inc (AMRA) was formed nine years ago by a concerned group of riders and supporters, interested in the welfare of both horse and riders competing in bush races. The races themselves are generally between 3-4kms and the riders skill and speed is tested by the many and varied differences in terrain. Most races will include river or creek crossings, hill climbing, often with a steep descent, jumping and general bush riding skills.

CUTTING - National cuting horse association -  

One of the world's fastest growing equine sports, cutting, offers tremendous excitement and drama for horse, rider and spectators alike. The challenge to select a single calf from the herd....gently guide it into the Centre of the arena... and then, with lightening fast starts and turns, prevent it from ducking past the horse and escaping back to the herd. In the contest arena, the art of the cutting horse comes alive in a classic test of intelligence, training, breeding and skill. Many factors play a part in the making of a cutting champion. To understand the distinction, the contest must be seen from the judges point of view. In competition, the cutting horse and rider must work together as a team in demonstrating their cattle-handling skills. The contest begins as the pair approaches the herd. Quietly. Deliberately. And without hesitation. The horse and rider have two and a half minutes to complete their work. Performance is judged in part by the activity of the calf, so the animal selected is singled out by choice, not at random. After the rider has indicated a specific calf to the horse, neither horse nor rider may change calves without penalty. When the cut is complete, the challenge really begins. Once the calf is isolated near the Centrex of the arena, the rider must loosen his rein to allow the horse freedom to demonstrate is cutting skill and real "cow-sense". Controlling the calf by speed, agility, balance and motion, the horse matches the calf move-for-move to prevent its return to the herd (the calf's natural inclination). A true champion is trained to react instinctively to the calf's movements without the need for direction. A loose rein is one of the keys to a highly marked performance. Although the contest time limit allows two or three animals to be cut, the time spent with each calf is left to the rider's discretion. The horse may "quit" the calf without penalty (a 3 point penalty will be assessed) when the calf is obviously stopped or obviously turned away from the cutting horse. But if a calf is "lost" under any circumstance, a 5 point penalty is assessed. Even a good performance can end with a low score is a calf escapes the horses control. The contestants in national events are scored by a five judge panel. Smaller events require fewer judges. Performance is evaluated on the basis of several key points: 1) the challenges made by the calves cut; 2) the horse's instinctive reactions; and 3) errors in judgment made by the horse or rider during the competition.  Each judge submits a score ranging between 60 and 80 with a score of 70 being average at the end of the contest period. After the high and low scores are discarded, the middle three are added together to obtain the final points earned.

REIGNING -  like a western dressage, fast spins, sudden stops and other movement.

 South Queensland reigning horse association


National Reining Horse Association (NRHA) competitions, reining horses are judged individually as they complete one of ten specified patterns. Each pattern includes small slow circles, large fast circles, flying lead changes, roll backs over the hocks, 360 degree spins and the exciting sliding stops that are the hallmark of the reining horse. One or more judges will score each horse beginning at 70. The scoring system then adds or subtracts from .5 to 1.5 on each maneuver. Penalties points may also be subtracted from the score for incorrect performance. A scribe keeps track of each judge's maneuver scores and penalties on a score sheet. Scores are calculated and announced after each run. The reining horse must be willfully guided. Deductions should be applied for gagging, excessive head raising, stopping or backing sideways, refusals, anticipation, stumbling or falling and disobedience. Credit should be given for smoothness, finesse, willing attitude and accuracy. Controlled speed during the pattern raises the level of difficulty so should be rewarded with higher scores provided the maneuvers are still performed correctly. Reining horses may perform with individual style according to their conformation. The sport of Reining is open to all breeds and is exciting and pleasing to watch.


long rides to bring in herds of cattle, sheep or horses. can be a Full day ride to a camping ride over several days.

CAMPDRAFTING - Australian Bushmen Campdraft Rodeo Association  


involves a mounted rider riding into a "camp" (corral or yard) which has six to eight head of cattle in it. The rider (cuts out) one steer or heifer from the cattle in the camp and brings that beast to the front of the camp and block and turns that beast at least two or three times to prove to the judge that they have the beast under control. The rider then calls for the gates to be opened.  The cut out is worth a total of 26 points. The rider then proceeds to draft (work) the beast around a figure of eight course in a larger arena.   Generally the course is set to the left and once the beast has gone around the left peg, it must then be drafted around a peg on the right. Once that is completed, the rider then guides the steer through the "gate" which is two pegs placed apart. Once gated, the campdraft is complete and the rider can be awarded up to a total of 100 points.  Points are awarded for horsemanship and control of the beast.... within set time limits (usually 45-47 seconds).


Australian Bushmen Campdraft Rodeo Association



The most popular rodeo riding event and the most dangerous. A loose rope straps a man's hand to a tonne of explosive power.  Because the cowboy never knows what the animal beneath him is going to do next, he must draw upon his sharpest mental and physical abilities when trying to conquer this twisting tornado. To keep his position and balance, a bull rider is constantly grabbing for new holds with his feet and continually pulling up on the rope.  The more powerfully a bull bucks and the faster he spins the more points the ride is worth.



A very demanding event for the competitor.  From the moment the gate swings open and the horse and rider explode from the chute, both must perform exceptionally well if the cowboy is to win. A suit-case like handle is attached to the top of the leather rigging, cinched around the horse's middle.  The contestant grips this handle with one hand, keeps his other free and high in the air.  Ideally bareback riders want to try to spur the horse on each jump, reaching as far forward as they can with their feet, then jerking their spurs upwards towards the rigging.



Considered the classic rodeo event, this competition is definitely not for beginners.  There is a reason - the instinctive reactions required to keep in the stirrups, sense what the horse will do next and the ability to synchronise with the bronc's movement- make this event one with no substitute for years of experience. Since there in nothing solid to hold on to, a cowboy can only stay in the saddle through timing and balance. The proven rider deliberately matches his spurring strides with the bucking bronc's rhythm beneath him making the whole ride appear smooth.



An event that not only requires speed and agility, but also physical size and strength.  When a man drops from the side of a galloping horse onto a running steer and throws him to the ground, spectators have seen athletic skill overcome heavily weighted odds. In keeping with the sharing and helping character of rodeo, the steer wrestler is allowed a partner called a 'hazer' to aid him in lining up the charging steer.  This assistance helps to assure perfect placement of the steer and horse before the cowboy dismounts. The time stops after the contestant has thrown and turned the steer's head and all four feet are out in the same direction.



An event that shows the grace and beauty of true horsemanship along with the athletic skills of both horse and rider. Roping is a race against time with the seconds counted in decimal points. To win, a horse and rider must work together in precision teamwork.  The contest begins when the calf is released from the chute with the rider and horse chasing behind. A good horse will carry its rider in perfect accord with every move of the calf and when the rope is thrown will stoop on a dime, back up so the rope is pulled taut allowing the roper to dismount, run down the rope, throw the calf and tie any three legs with the 'piggin string' and then signal 'all clear' with his hands in the air. The rider must remount his horse and slacken the rope to prove the tie, which must then hold for six seconds.



An event that owes its very existence to the everyday work of the American working cowboy.  On the open range it is often necessary to catch an animal in order to attend to or brand it, and that is where the first team roping took place. In rodeo competition today the header starts the time when he leaves the box in pursuit of the runaway steer.  His job is to rope the steer's horns, take a dally wrapping the loose end of the rope around the saddle horn and turn the steer away from his partner. With great skill and accurate timing the heeler then ropes the steer's hind legs and takes his dally.  Then both header and heeler face their horses towards the steer, time stops. Because of the excellent team work involved this event is a favourite of many.



Another all female event which is the female version of calf roping. This event differs from roping in that the cowgirl does not have to rope the calf, dismount the horse and tie the calf's legs.  Instead, the rope is tied to the saddle horn with a ribbon.  When the calf is roped, the horse pulls up and calf keeps running until the rope is taut, which then 'breaks' the rope from the saddle horn and the time is taken. This event is contested as hotly by these cowgirls as by the men in the roping.



Another all-female event which is the female version of steer wrestling. However, in this event rather than having to slide over the side of the galloping horse and stop the steer, the cowgirl has to catch up to the steer and remove the ribbon attached to its back. Like the steer wrestling , the cowgirl is allowed a 'hazer' to aid her in lining up the charging steer.  This helps her to line up the steer perfectly to allow her to remove the ribbon.  Time is taken when she removes the ribbon from the steer and raises it high over her head.



Barrel racing info -  

Australian Barrel Horse Association.  

A timed race around three 44 gallon barrels, horses must be able to turn extremely well, as well as be fast and accurate. Competitors must make one right and two left turns or one left and two right turns around the barrels. A five second penalty will apply for knocking over a barrel. Touching the barrel is permitted. When a competitor turns down a run she will be disqualified for the remaining performance. Around 15 seconds is the profesional times.

CARRIAGE DRIVING  ACDS -  Australian Carriage Driving Society.


The sport is suitable for all ages, those too young to drive often become passengers on Pleasure drives, Private drives or in the show ring. Grooms in CDE's must be 10 years of age. To drive in Carriage Driving Events a driver must be at least 12 years old.  


Competition can range from one small pony, jogger (pneumatic tyred), and float for one person, right through to the four-in-hand with four or five horses, two vehicles, a semi trailer and an army of helpers.


Activities include Pleasure Driving, Private or Park Driving, Showing and Competition Carriage Driving, with variations of each in between. Different types of harness may be used including leather, a synthetic webbing harness or a mixture of both.


Competition Carriage Driving explained - The event is modelled along the lines of a ridden Three-Day Event. It was devised by Prince Philip with other driving enthusiasts in the late 1960's primarily for four-in-hand horse teams.


The competition is divided into three major Competitions

-- Comp. A (1 & 2) Presentation & Dressage,

-- Comp. B Marathon or Cross Country,

-- Comp. C Cone or Obstacle Drive.


Competition A -- Presentation (A1) and Dressage (A2)

Presentation is the overall judging of the turnout. The horses are judged on condition, appearance, shoeing etc. Vehicles and harness are judged on cleanliness, suitability, fit and safety. Finally the driver and groom are judged on their outfits - neat street attire including gloves, driving aprons or knee rugs or riding gear for the grooms.


Dressage is similar to ridden dressage - specific movements are performed in a defined arena. Tests require the driver to display control through voice, whip and reins, and the horses must display obedience, impulsion and correct paces. Driven dressage arenas are 40m x 100m, or 40m x 80m.


Competition B -- The Marathon or Cross Country

This is the most exciting phase of the overall competition. Horses need to be fit to cover the distance, which may be up to 22 kms, in the required time. The course is divided into five timed sections A - E, and includes 2 walks (Secs. B & D) of approx. 1km and a fast trot section (C).


Each height class has different times for each section and time penalties may be incurred. Each competitor carries maps of the course and stopwatches. A vet check takes place at the end of Section D to ensure horses are fit enough to continue. Section E is the most thrilling part of competition and it is here that competitions can be won or lost. Each hazard or marathon obstacle is a series of lettered "gates" that are negotiated at speed in correct sequence. Every competitor is timed and the faster the time the fewer the penalties. Drivers, when walking the course, take note of where shortcuts or chances can be taken in each hazard to reduce their time and penalties.


Competition C -- Cone Driving or Obstacle Driving.

This phase effectively replaces the showjumping round in a ridden event. The "Cones" are similar to traffic cones and each has a ball placed on top. If a ball is dislodged the driver receives 5 penalty points. Drivers have 20 - 40 cm clearance between their wheel widths and the cone. The course must be driven in correct numerical sequence and again each height class has it's own time allowed. The Cone Drive is designed to test the fitness of the horse after the rigours of the Marathon.


Classes & Combinations -- Carriage Driving

Classes cover experience ie. Novice or Open, height and the combination driven and in a State or National Championship total classes number 17. Each class and combination contributes to the spectacle of a Carriage Driving Event. The small ponies are phenomenally strong with a far superior power/weight ratio than some of the bigger horses. The bigger ponies and horses may be old outgrown pony club veterans with a new lease on life. Some of the horses may even be failed or ex-trotters or pacers.


Combinations used in Carriage Driving Competitions are – Single – Pair – Tandem & Team – Four-In-Hand –


Singles are one horse or pony generally driven in a two-wheeled vehicle.


The Pony and Horse Pairs are most exciting to watch through the hazards as they make impossibly tight turns and fit through the smallest gaps with the grooms sliding from left to right to give the vehicle correct balance. Most drive this combination in 4 wheeled vehicles and only occasionally now does one see a pair put to a 2 wheeler.


Tandems, in good hands, look elegant and easy to drive though they are a most difficult combination. Tandems are an old tradition by which the family went to the hunt. The old cart horse would be in the wheel (between the shafts) and in draught doing all the work and the flashy, showy hunter would be in the lead, doing no work, thus arriving fresh at the hunt. A new innovation in vehicle design for Tandems is the groom step on the back of the two wheeled vehicle to enable the groom to alight quickly if necessary to render assistance.


Finally the Teams or Four-in-Hands look absolutely spectacular. It is no easy task getting four horses working together in unison either in Dressage or in the hazards. Driving a team is the ultimate experience and drivers who make it look easy have undoubtedly spent much time perfecting their craft.


Pleasure Driving

While it can be said that all driver drive for pleasure, to many a Pleasure Drive is simply a drive down a country lane, a picnic or campfire and convivial company. In most States there are several Pleasure Drives on any one weekend. In many cases several clubs may combine and hold a Campover or perhaps some other activities which may include Marathon Obstacles, Cones, Navigational Drive or other fun activities.



Perhaps the most visible of harness activities, where the beautifully turned out horses wearing their meticulously cleaned harness pull their immaculate vehicles. Just as there are many different saddle classes, so too are there many different harness classes. The classes are divided according to either Horse or Pony Height, Breed, Vehicle, Combination -- single or multiple, Open or Novice status or sometimes Driver.


The epitome of the show pony, the Hackney is the outstanding performer in the show-ring with it's high stepping "action" and lightness of step. The Hackney is often seen pulling a Viceroy -- a light 4 wheeled, pneumatic tyred vehicle designed specifically to show off the horse and its paces. Other breeds shown regularly include Shetlands, Australian Ponies, Andalusians and Welsh Ponies and Cobs.


The Delivery or Tradesman's classes are becoming increasingly popular. Beautifully restored vehicles, pulled by stately Clydesdales, Percherons or Friesians, or derivatives, with bells jangling, often generate the most interest, especially amongst the old timers. In a world of virtual reality these are living reminders of our heritage as it is easy to imagine the streets filled with such vehicles and horses at their work.