Carrage Driving in Spain

Carriage driving is an event that has been maintained and preserved as a means of travel over the eons. Although horse drawn carriages have improved, it was always the best way to travel from one place to another in ancient times. From the moment that man first cultivated land, he has searched for the best, most comfortable and effort-saving way to travel. However, it wasn’t until the wheel was discovered that this became possible. The first known evidence of carriage use is from the Chaldaic-Assyrian civilization in Mesopotamia which existed between the 15th and 13th centuries before Christ. Excavations have uncovered jugs that were decorated with pictures of horse-drawn carriages used for fighting and hunting. These carriages may have also been used to pull heavy loads.

Following the 16th century, the carriage became more what it is that we know today (with minor variations such as in the suspension system). Very few examples of these early carriages are left today and many may be copies of the originals. Improvements in suspension methods made the carriage more popular as use increased from the 18th to 19th centuries. When the automobile appeared in the 20th century, the carriage began to disappear except for the few enthusiasts and art collectors who were in love with this beautiful way of traveling and preserved and saved their carriages.

The Jerez de la Frontera City Hall, in Jerez, Spain was a pioneer in the exhibit and celebration of carriages. Other exhibits include the Real Maestranza de Caballería" of the "Real Maestranza" of Sevilla, and the "Real Club de Enganches" (Royal Horse Master´s Order) of Andalusia. Thousands admire many of these carriages each year who visit the exhibitions and fairs throughout Spain.

Exhibitions in Spain are extremely important for the conservation of both the carriage and its various components, including horses, fittings and harnesses, drivers and their garments. Judges take all these factors into account when scoring; the cleanliness, the overall presentation as well as the driving, and consequently, the perfection of the carriages

The carriage is judged on the play of the axle as it fits into the wheel wells, the breaks, springs and all of the elements that gradually deteriorate with usage. Also judged is the conservation of the carriage such as paint, and lastly the cleanliness both of the carriage itself and its components. 

Judges carefully judge the horses and scrutinize them for cleanliness and harnessing as well as shoeing, the collection of the bit, the reins and the positioning of all the of the harnesses and fittings in general. Currently, functionality of the horses is being given more and an abundance of Spanish horses and competitors are showing up at competitions.

In addition to judging the horses, points are awarded for maintenance of the fittings. These are also of vital importance as the safety of the carriage depends of them because they provide the link between carriage, horses and driver. Points are also awarded for the materials used and the sewing, the cleanliness and the correct handling. 

A driver and his assistants are awarded points according to the matching of their garments with the harness trappings, their cleanliness and their correct posture and position on the driver’s seat. When in movement, they also score for the correct positioning of the driver, as well as his elegance while driving.

Ignacio Bolívar Torres.

Templates in Time