The combined competitions, in which both Riny Rutjens and his daughter Rodinde compete, takes place during the period April to October.
It consists of three parts:
The person with the best average score is the winner of the competition.
The dressage test is based on the same principle as a dressage test under saddle. A number of compulsory exercises are held such as halt,
backwards, walk, trot, extended trot and figures like a circle with one hand. Only the gallop is not part of the test.
A jury of at least three (national), up to 5 people (in international competitions) will assess the Presentation and the coachman for the
accuracy of the patterns, correct driving of the figures, interaction of the horses, skillset of the driver etc. The dressage is driven with a
special carriage, a beautiful carriage with the coachman in suit and a top hat and grooms back as static statue.
The marathon is the most spectacular part of the combined carriage driving. This is not only testing the endurance of the horses (a marathon
consists of a total of about 16 kilometers), but also the driving skills of the driver and the obedience and speed of the horses. The carriage
is exchanged for a strong marathon carriage which can take a beating.
First of all, several activities such as trot and step must be carried out before driving the obstacles. The obstacles including water obstacle,
hills, trees, bridges, etc. (up to 8 per marathon) are consisting of multiple gates in the correct order, and must be driven as quickly as
possible. Tilting marathon carriages and grooms who fall of the carriages are all part of this challenge. However the winner never has these
type of problems and realizes the fastest time.
At the skill-driving section the same carriage is used as in dressage. There is a trail plotted with orange cones (similar to the traffic
cones that you sometimes see at roadworks) with a ball on the cones. Between those cones there is a limited space available for the carriage
with the width of a gauge + 30 centimeters.
This means that you have 15 cm on each side of a wheel, a driver needs to maneuver his horses and carriage flawless within a certain time
through the gate. This section is the last part of the competition and is therefore often the most exciting part, because every ball that falls,
will cost the driver 3 to 5 penalty points and if you consider that the variation of a marathon is often a matter of seconds, then you realize
that every ball that falls off will "hit hard" on the result.
The combined driving sport was originally an outdoor sport. The outdoor season is from April to October. However, since 1996 also indoor
competitions are taking place. Indoor competitions are races organized in large halls or indoor riding schools.
In such a hall a circuit mostly consisting of three marathon-like obstacles (bridges, fences, poles, etc.) and also a number of cones
(as used during the dexterity competition). This circuit should be driven as quickly and as flawlessly as possible.
Bends that are apparently impossible to take, are nevertheless taken effortlessly. Both acceleration of the horses and precision
of the driver are important to make this happen! The indoor competitions are growing, because they are very spectacular to watch.