I have questions about carriages that I can't answer with google

I have been looking at four wheeled vehicles as references for a project in miniature. I have been reading rules and various how-to articles, enough to know that a four-wheeled sport break is not a vehicle for a total beginner looking to hitch up a real horse. In this case I’m looking to hitch up some Breyer horses.

The first question I have is about seating. Take for example this vehicle: https://www.drivingessentials.com/glinkowski_models/glinkcar_pop6.php?ID=34")
There are two seats in front with different cushions. Why is this? I assume the driver sits on the taller cushion. I’m also wondering about the railing and seat backs. I see many different options here, some of which are very minimal. Although I realize I wouldn’t as a driver really be sitting back against a backrest, it seems like having some structure there (as this vehicle does) with something to grab onto would be helpful for passengers etc. or for any time there’s sudden movement. It does seem like newer vehicles have more support than older vehicles, is that a correct assessment?

I’m also curious about appropriate colors, both for pleasure driving and for combined driving. What is a practical color for upholstery? I see images of some bright colors but (a) isn’t it supposed to match the apron and (b) would those colors be deeply impractical? Should I stick to black with accent pinstriping or would it be classier to be more daring?

Links and pictures to your favorite turnouts much welcomed, especially if they come with reasons why.

Thank you!

This can be REALLY confusing with driving terminology. Folks use traditional (antiques, historic ways of doing things) words wrongly on more modern vehicles, CDE driving uses. To start, a Break historically, was a pleasure driving vehicle. Used for picnic outings by the well-to-do, hauling a number of people in the open air. Also considered as “mobile bleacher seats” for attending sporting events like races or polo matches, for getting a better view. Driver pulled up on the sidelines, grooms removed horses, food served, so passengers could enjoy good viewing. Breaks were pulled by multiples of horses, Pairs, Fours, to handle the human load. Never a single horse, so putting the “Break” name on that modern carriage is both incorrect and extremely confusing if a person is talking about it!

The two seat levels on the front seat, are to aid the Driver in body position while driving. The seat under Driver is called a wedge. Posture should never look as though Driver is seated at a chair, sharp bend at the hips and knees. Angles are more open. Driver is stronger pushing legs into floor or footrest, is able to lean torso back to take up rein without moving hands. This is why you do not find a seatback behind the Driver on higher end carriages, old or new. Seatback would prevent leaning back if needed. Height of wedge can be personalized to Driver height, leg length, so they are comfortable, yet still can see ahead of the equine/s. We have antique wedges that came with the carriage, more of a square box covered in matching upholstery with the angled seat. No sides. But drivers of traditional old vehicles were out for a long day at pleasure speeds, so comfort was a key factor in designs.

There is a lot of “traditional” colors in upholstery choices. You want a colored seat to blend, not be a focal point. Not so many use black because it needs constant brushing of fabric to appear clean. Fades when left in the sun very much. The various shades of tan to beige, greys, are real common because they go well with most clothing, laprobe choices. Have to say they are NOT good choices to drive down to the Dairy Queen with kids on a hot day!! Chocolate is really hard to get out of fabric! Ha ha There is no Rule about laprobe and upholstery matching.

The ADS Rulebook, Pleasure Driving section, lays out the looks wanted in historic turnouts for Judging. Each vehicle make can have specific details of harness, whip type, lamps, to make it “more of a perfect gig, runabout and so on”. May give you ideas to use in making your small vehicle. The CDE side rules may cover newer thinking. There is a amazing amount of information to be found in the Rulebook details. Useful for the modern carriage turnouts as well.

As to paint colors on modern vehicles, darker colors are popular, black, navy, some browns, various darker greens (Brewster green color is popular on traditional or antique carriages.) darker reds of maroon, burgundy. Pinstriping should contrast but not be obnoxious on modern vehicles you linked. Yellows in straw to wheat gold, blues, reds in all shades, greens, greys are common. Not much white pinstriping in CDE things. I find you need to like how your vehicle looks close up and at a distance. Gives you confidence. Try some colors before actual choices, take photos, look at photos later for a more “real appearance.” My “great color scheme” made me disappear in a parade. Horse looked great, husband looked good, but my matchy grey jacket, hat, laprobe and no touch of color, rendered me pretty much a floating face in the distance pictures!

Some folk folks paint all their carriages in “their stable colors”. Historic families did this, you knew who was going by because of the carriage paint job. I remember being quite surprised seeing a Vanderbilt coach with vermillion striping, thinking vermillion such a ODD color on that very nice coach!

Passenger seat is lower, helps keep them out of the Driver’s way going along. There usually is a seat back and rail around the front passenger seat for security. On modern competition vehicles there usually is no one beside the Driver to get bumped with an elbow during rein handling. Pleasure showing needs Driver to pay attention if they have a passenger beside them. No knocking off THE HAT! Ha ha

Lady Driver can dress quietly or add a note of color. This could be their hat, laprobe, scarf, jacket. Subtle outfit touches may be overwhelmed by distance from the Judge in a Class or doing dressage and cones. Gentlemen Drivers usually dress for the weather, look conservative in jackets above the laprobe. Nice, shaped hats, brims even. Nothing flapping like tie ends. Both genders should wear grippy shoes, leather soles can slip getting in and out, sometimes on the footrest if you brace the feet.


Thank you, that was amazingly helpful!

CDE in presentation vehicles is very nearly anything goes… With the very important caveat that one of your collective marks is on presentation/overall harmony between driver, carriage and horse, so while nobody will kick you out of the dressage ring for a hot pink plaid, it’s a stupid way to lower your score!

I drive a brown fun fjord and have a dark green/cream stripe carriage with black upholstery and stainless fittings (note fittings on harness and carriage should be the same, ideally no stainless harness/brass carriage fittings). This carriage is a spider phaeton with a modern euro dash and some fancy suspension/independent axles, so definitely not a traditional vehicle. Here’s some pics of my favorite outfits which have in no way been vetted for formal class rules because I give zero f#cks about those classes, however they do get me some reliable 9s and even the occasional 10 on presentation, so clearly they meet the standard required!




If you want to see the best presentation overall, go to pics of you and look for Misdee Wrigley Miller (yes, THAT Wrigley). I believe she did the first grand oaks in Jan. Also, if you can find 2019 Devon pics she usually does the carriage classes there and I suspect her home farm site has some good pics (Hillcroft in KY).



I’m so glad pictures are working again.

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That is a lovely turnout.

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I just wanted to say that I know nothing of your sport, but you look incredible and it looks super duper fun. I want to learn this someday!

You look fantastic! Thank you for sharing those pictures!

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I encourage everyone to get involved with driving and try it out. Don’t be like me, and say weekly “damn, I wish I started this sport ten years earlier!”

And yes, so. Much. Fun. More than is legal!!




Amazing photos!

I have a Friesian cross he might need to learn to drive…


Great post DMK! Your good pictures showed things much better than me trying to explain “the look” wanted for CDE in Dressage and Cones. You earned those terrific scores!

Yessssss!!! There’s nothing more impressive than something with Friesian blood pulling a carriage. It’s timeless!

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Used since the 19th century to pull hearses here in the UK because of their dark colour. They look very good with black plumes and black-suited attendant.

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You & me both, Sistah!
Though, as evidenced by your pics, you have quite the headstart on me :tired_face:
I first drove in my late 50s, but did not get my Driving mini until I was 66.
If my health & income can take it, we aspire to a real CDE. Some day. :pray:
Only 1 rated CT to our names now & that was 3yrs ago :roll_eyes:
We both LOFF Cones:

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