Carriage Pleasure Driving shows may include obstacle driving, pleasure drives on trails and roads, and ring classes. Horse and ponies of all sizes and breeds are eligible and usually compete with their peers in size and experience. The drivers can be classed by age and experience as well, from young drivers under 19 years, adult entry level beginners to seasoned drivers with many years of experience. There can also be divisions defined by the number of animals in the turnout, such as singles, pairs, and multiples such as four-in-hands and tandems. The horses and ponies are hitched to carriages of various styles, including 2- and 4-wheeled antique vehicles, antique replicas, and even vehicles of modern design and construction. The ring classes evaluate various criteria defined by specific rules for each class, such as overall impression, performance, manners and way of going of the horse(s), neatness of attire, as well as the skill of the driver. In larger shows, classes may be designated for specific types of vehicles, such as runabouts, phaetons, gigs, coaches, etc, or restricted to vehicles not suitable for other divisions, such as commercial vehicles and even vehicles designed for Combined Driving.
Pleasure shows often include cones or obstacle classes in which the driver is judged on the speed and accuracy while going through a set of cone markers set inches wider than the wheel width and topped with balls. The cones are set in a manner similar to a jumping course, with left and right turns, combinations, and sometimes obstacles such as bridges. The driver who completes the course with the fewest faults (balls knocked down) in the shortest time wins. There are variations on the obstacle class category with slightly different judging criteria. In Fault and Out, the driver is eliminated when the first ball is knocked off; in Double Jeopardy, one driver drives the course one direction; his passenger drives the course in reverse. In Gamblers Choice, there is a prescribed amount of time and the obstacles have a point value. The goal is to get through as many obstacles as possible within the time allotted.
Driven Dressage tests are included in Pleasure shows and are judged similarly to a ridden dressage test. The drivers are required to perform a set of movements which include changes of pace, circles, turns, and extensions. They are always judged individually, in a dressage ring which is either 40 x 80 or 40 x 100 meters. Judges look for three distinct trots, smooth transitions, and accuracy. The horse should demonstrate correct training.
Mules and Draft Horses
Draft horses and mules are included in Pleasure Driving shows, and they may either participate in open classes or in classes specifically designated for them.