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ADS Rule Changes effective January, 2024

Lauren Reece | Published on 1/1/2024

ADS Rule Changes effective January, 2024*

By Lauren Reece, Rulebook Committee Chair
*See attached document for changes to VSE speeds on the relevant chart:  2024 Pertinent Rule Change by LR


Every January, The American Driving Society, Inc. (ADS) publishes a new Rulebook, which includes any rule changes that were passed and any housekeeping changes, including grammatical issues, omissions, and typos. Any changes from the previous year can be found on the Rulebook Page of the website in a download labeled Redline Version. All changes are in red, so that they are easily identified. 


The following are the Rule Changes for 2024.


Combined Driving


  • 9452.1.2 In Dressage, Grooms must remain seated in their proper positions between entering and leaving the Arena. They are not permitted to handle the reins or the whip(will incur20penalties). For Dressage, to speak or indicate the course to the Athlete is not permitted (will incur 10 penalties).However, the Groom may handle the reins, whip and brake without penalty provided the carriage remains stationary.

    In ADS-recognized competitions, if the carriage does not have a safe groom seat, the judge may grant permission for the groom(s) to stand with no penalty, grooms on marathon carriages maysit or stand. Grooms are not allowed to change position. Grooms sliding, lifting or moving thevehicle in any way will incur elimination.


    Bottom Line: 

    The allowance for the groom to stand with permission only applies to marathon vehicles. This change will also apply to 975.3.7.


    Bottom Line:

    This change keeps Derby rules in line with other Combined Driving Events.


  • 928.1 Dress in Dressage and Cones on a Dressage Carriage
  • Added to CD-C Driving Derby (DD)


    6.5.   Shorts are not permitted. A penalty of 10 seconds will be added to the score for each person onthe carriage wearing shorts. At ADS-recognized events, non-permitted "shorts" are defined asclothing that does not cover the legs to the ankles


  1. The dress of Athletes and Grooms must conform to the style of the Carriage and harness used. Jacketsornationaldress,drivingaprons,hatsorprotectiveheadgearandglovesareobligatory forAthletes.AtADS-recognizedevents,jacketsareoptionalforladydrivers.


Bottom Line:

The ADS exception has been removed, and now jackets are required for all athletes.

  • 962.3.6:


    In ADS-recognized events,Drivers with limited mobility, andAthletes with and ADS, USEF or FEI Dispensation, will be permitted to drive themselves or be driven through marathonobstacles using a mobility device at a walking pacein golf carts or similar vehicles.


    Bottom Line:

    Any mobility device may be used with an applicable dispensation. This change was also made in Art. 973.7.1


  • 943.2.19 At ADS-recognized events, all athletes competing with a disability dispensation utilizing a quick release seatbelt must have a groom riding on their carriage at all times, while the carriage is movingWhen stopped, the groom must be within 2 meters of the turnout at all times.This includes competition, warm-up and schooling.


    Bottom Line: 

    Athletes with a quick release seatbelt may have groom down to make harness adjustments and other tasks, as long as they remain within 2 meters in case they need to remount quickly.


  • 935.2 First Horse Inspection

    At ADS-recognized events, the First Horse Inspection is at the option of the Organizer.When required, it must be stated in the ADS Omnibus.

    1. This must take place at all Events before the start of the first Competition. It must be performed under the direction of the President of the Ground Jury, together with at least one other member of the Ground Jury, and the Veterinary Delegate and/or the President of the Veterinary Commission.See[FEI]VeterinaryRegulationsandGuidelinesforOCsandOfficialsfordetails.

Bottom Line:

Only one member of the jury must be at the First Horse Inspection.

  • 935.5 In-Harness Inspection before Cones

    5.1The In-Harness Inspection must be carried out before the turnout starts the Cones test, only when Cones follow Marathon. It must be performed by an Inspecting Committee consisting of one member of the Ground Jury together with the Veterinary Delegate, or the Veterinary Commission. The Inspection is obligatory at all Events when Cones follow Marathon. The Horse(s) must be presented by the Athletehimself. Competing without presenting will result in an Elimination.


  • Bottom Line:

    Member of the Jury does not need to be present during the In Harness Inspection, but will be called by vet if there is an issue. The Veterinary Delegate cannot eliminate a competitor. 

Pleasure Driving:

  • Article 201 Judges and Technical Delegates

    Judges’ decisions representing their individual preferences are not protestable. Inquiries concerningirregularities or incidents during the Event/Show and the outcome of Pleasure classes for technical reasonsmay be made at any time during the competition. Objections must be made to the Technical Delegate nomore than one hour after the posting of class results.The  organizer shall supply a scribe for PleasureDriving Obstacle Classes.


  • 237.6 Start and finish lines for all obstacle courses should be a minimum of 3 meters wide, and marked by a pair of cones


Bottom Line:

Both of these changes will prevent errors and confusion during obstacle classes. 




The coming year will have our technical committees working on:

Training Level Rules in regard to Advanced drivers

Pony Measurement Program

Recent FEI Rule Changes

*Remember, Rule Change Suggestions for 2025 open January 1.