Allentown, N.J. – The final USEF Combined Driving National Championships of 2021 take place this week as Advanced Single Horse and Advanced Four-in-Hand Horse competitors prepare to compete at the Garden State Combined Driving Event, October 7-10.
The 2020 National Champions from both divisions will be defending their titles at this year’s event. Taylor Bradish (Windsor, S.C.) and Katydid Duchess, a 2009 Welsh Pony cross mare owned by Jennifer Matheson, will return in the Advanced Single Horse division. Seventeen-time Advanced Four-in-Hand Horse National Champion Chester Weber will also return to have a go at an 18th title.
After the first horse inspection on Thursday afternoon, competition gets underway with the dressage phase on Friday. The driven dressage tests take place in a 40x80 meter court for advanced singles and 40x100 meter for four-in-hands and test a driver’s skill while evaluating the horses based on movement, quality, impulsion, obedience, and harmony.
The exciting marathon phase will run on Saturday beginning at 9:30 a.m., where the competitors navigate seven challenging obstacles across a 17-kilomenter course on the Horse Park of New Jersey’s rolling fields. Each obstacle is timed individually and requires the athletes to navigate through a series of gates in a set order and direction, though competitors have the discretion to choose their own route within those parameters. During this phase, drivers are accompanied by a navigator who keeps track of time and helps the driver stay on course while also using their bodyweight to keep the carriage balanced around tight turns and terrain at high speed.
The event will conclude with Sunday’s cones phase, which tests accuracy and agility as the drivers guide their horses through a timed course of pairs of cones that leave very little room for error. After the cones test, awards will be presented and the 2021 National Champions will be crowned.
For more information and results from the USEF Advanced Single Horse and Four-in-Hand Horse Combined Driving National Championships, visit www.gardenstatecde.com.