Australian Combined Driving Championships in Boorowa for Easter

Written by: The Yass Phoenix


Image of Boorowa locals, Graeme and Debbie Dowling with Whitewood Brady attacking the Boorowa IGA-sponsored water obstacle at the 2022 NSW CDE Championships. (Photo by Linda Mace.)

There’s a very exciting event happening just up the road in Boorowa from April 7 – 9. Yes, it’s the Australian Combined Driving Championships supported by Gledhill Earthmoving.

Combined Driving is an exciting and challenging equestrian sport with the competition conducted over three phases.

Phase 1 - Dressage on day one is a test of training, harmony and ease of movement of the equine, and the skill of the driver while reflecting the elegant origins of the sport.

Phase 2 - Day two’s marathon is a test of fitness, stamina and training of the equine and the driving skill and judgement of the driver.

The marathon provides the greatest excitement for both competitors and spectators alike, as participants negotiate a series of marathon obstacles, with lettered gates to be done in order at speed.

Phase 3 - Cone driving on the third and final day is a precision driving element testing the fitness, obedience and suppleness of the equine, and the skill and competence of the driver.

Combined driving is accessible to all participants aged 12 and up and requires a combination of physical and mental dexterity on the part of the driver, combined with an ability to impact education and direction to the equine athlete - a consummate partnership and a true test of skill.

Different competitive levels in the sport are based on the training and experience of the equine and equine welfare is of paramount consideration with regular vet checks throughout the competition.

The Championships will see the widest range of driver and equine combinations, from single small ponies through to teams of four horses.

Combined driving is one of six equestrian sports administered by the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI). It is a World Equestrian Games (WEG) Sport, and World Championships are conducted for various combinations of equines/drivers from a junior level upwards.

Australian Boyd Exell OAM is an incredible six-time World Championship winner in the sport.

Domestically, the sport is administered by the Australian Carriage Driving Society (ACDS) and this event will draw competitors and officials from all Australian states. Due to COVID-19 disruptions, the National Championships have not been held since 2019, so excitement is building amongst competitors for this year’s return.

The Ellmore Driving Club, with the assistance and support of Hilltops Council, the Boorowa Show Society and the wider Boorowa community, has established a permanent combined driving venue at Boorowa Showgrounds. Major works have been undertaken to construct a challenging and well-presented course intended to maximise the experience for both competitors and spectators alike.

Entry for spectators is free, with a gold coin donation to the local Army Cadet Unit for parking on Saturday and there will be food and drinks available at the venue.

There will also be a variety of trade stands and vendors. More information can be found at the 2023 Australian Combined Driving Championships Facebook page.

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