The Marathon


The basics of what little I know about Combined Driving:

It is made up of three phases, one phase per day.  However, at the World’s, the Driving Dressage phase was broken into two days.

  1. Phase 1 is Driving Dressage and you must complete a pattern from memory set forth and posted just prior to driving it.
  2. Phase 2 is the Marathon in which a driver gets four horses and vehicle thru a series of obstacles.  The way “thru” is up to the driver but they must go in alphabetical order keeping red flags on the right and white flags on the left all while being timed.
  3. Phase 3 is the Cones Course.  A series of numbered “gates” or cones they must go thru in numerical order keeping the red and white flags on the correct sides!  It is also a timed event.

I won’t confuse anyone with trying to tell you how the scoring works…if you really care then feel free to go here to learn more: It might be slightly more understandable than if I tried to tackle it myself.  Plus, they have a WONDERFUL short video explaining the sport of Combined Driving.  Very, very cool.  Just click that anyway.  You’ll like it.


So that brings me to Saturday morning.  The Marathon.  Hands down, everyone’s favorite!

Twenty-five “teams” of four horses (ten from the USA) went thru eight obstacles…I think it was a total of eight obstacles.  Anyhow, there was a fair amount of running to and fro on our part watching particular drivers take some of the obstacles we walked thru the night before.  This pictured above is Obstacle 2 – “Head of the Lake” taken just before the first team was released on to the course that morning.  It would be the first of three water obstacles they would come to.


Though you can’t really see it, this is Chester Weber, representing the United States, taking his four thru “The Head of the Lake”.


This is Alex and a friend of ours Joe Yoder, at Obstacle 5 – “The Stone Garden” discussing just how they would take it if it were them.

This is a great map of the whole course outlining each one and what the most probable route a team would take. Please click this if you are at all interested in what they were up against.  Very awesome and I found it when I was looking online for the names and numbers of the obstacles I saw, cause, like…I’d remember?  Um…No.

Oh and FYI:  While I’m gonna show you a few of the obstacles, they won’t be in any particular order.


“The Stone Garden” with a competitor going through.


This is the view from afar looking out to Obstacle 4 – “Walnut Hill”.  Yah, it’s hard to see…It is just to the left of that crazy Cross-Country Jump in the foreground.


And this is a closer view of “Walnut Hill” with Tucker Johnson of the U.S. giving it all he had.  I was gonna say, “Giving it what for” . Get it? Obstacle Four? But I know a person isn’t supposed to use cliché’s in writing, so I won’t.

That doesn’t count does it?


Obstacle 6 – “The Squirrel Grove”.  I can only remember this one as the “Nut Job”.  Don’t ask me why.  Could be all the carved walnuts and acorns.  This is Mike McClennan of Brenham, Texas whom I got to meet personally.  Real nice guy; he is NOT a nut job.


Chester Weber’s Team scooting out thru the laser-beam timer of “The Squirrel Grove”.   Way, way later in the day I noticed the carved squirrels flanking the exit/entrance to this one.  I might be slow but I’m not very observant!


Again with the discussing and pondering and thinking.


We spent a great deal of time here at this one…it was nice and shady.

This next one was Obstacle 3 – “Spook Hollow” and my favorite.  Alex and I walked this one in the dark the night before and it was so dark that we were using our cell phones for light just to find the letters.  We knew, even in the darkness, it was going to be one of the tightest turning ones for them to do and it was.  Oh, I almost forgot…Because it was dark, they had the Jack-o-Lanterns lit..Sooo cool.  If we’d gotten there when it was lighter out we’d not experienced that!


This is Team Chester again.


It was an exciting one to watch a bunch of them go thru…and it was shady!


Ok, yah, it was hot out.  I wasn’t gonna mention it though.

I will say this “Sleepy Hollow” obstacle reminds me to say, “Happy Halloween!”.

(Guy in the foreground is a volunteer).


This was Obstacle 8 – “The Spring” and was the last one they had to get thru before they raced for the finish line.  I wondered what the horses thought of the carved rainbow trout.  That is a rainbow right?  Ok.  It’s a fish.  What are the odds that the horses never even noticed the fish in the first place?

So you wanna know who was leading after the Marathon?  I don’t know.  Somebody.  I don’t think it was a US competitor though.  I could have told you that night.  Maybe not two days after and certainly not now.  I know how it turned out though…the final phase will be next!  On to Cones!


5 thoughts on “The Marathon

  1. Dee,
    This is incredible!!!! I don’t understand how these horses and their drivers can do these obstacles. I keep trying to watch–red flag on right, white flag on left–too much to watch for let alone making the turns. Does anyone or horse ever get hurt? It must really be intense! Thanks for the link. It was very helpful to understand the complexity of the course.


    1. Does it not look like a blast or what?! I’m sure, as with any sport, they do get hurt from time to time. It’s all really in the drivers hands – Literally! And yup, you got it…Intense!


  2. Just showed Emma the pictures and what an expression on her face! Talk about a kid in love with horses, those pics just sealed your fate in being her instructor in all things HORSE. Fantastic photography and descriptions-as always I feel that I am right in the middle of the action. It’s great that you explain just how difficult these courses are. I never realized how much of the course with the directions (referring to Driving Dressage) are new to the drivers. The Cross-Country jump on Walnut Hill is super cool with that person leaning on the tree. :)


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