Now that the United States Combined Driving four-in-hand team has won a silver medal at the World Equestrian Games, there is no excuse for horse people in Aiken not to know about the sport. If you are not clear on what it is all about, you can get a good introduction at the Katydid Combined Driving Event held from November 7 through 10 at Katydid Farm in Windsor. (It’s on State Park Road and you can’t miss it.)
A combined driving event is just like a three day event, except that the competitors are driving their horses rather than riding them. They also might be driving more than one of them: there are divisions for pairs, for four-in-hands and for tandems, in which one horse is hitched directly behind the other. Dressage is on Friday and cones (driving’s equivalent of stadium jumping) is on Sunday. The best day to come is Saturday for the marathon, when the whips will race their horses through the hazards on the cross-country course– the water hazard is a favorite for spectators. The hazards are timed, so the faster they go, the better.
Katydid has become a well-established Aiken tradition and is also an important event on the national driving calendar. In fact, many of the top whips in the country are likely to be at Katydid, so if you come out to watch, you will have the chance to observe the best in the business. Admission is free, and the action gets started in the morning.