Marathon

 

Combined Driving – Marathon

The Marathon is the Second Competition.

 
Lusitano-056The marathon is the second competition.   It is very similar to the cross-country competition where the stamina, strength and courage of the horses are tested.   The race is between ten and twenty miles long and it includes many different scenarios like flat lands, hills, sharp turns, long turns, water crossings and many other exciting moments.   The driver’s courage and ability to control and manage his horse or horses is proved.   It is at this time that the groom’s abilities are also tested when they have to move to the sides of the carriage or over the side to serve as counter weights so it does not turn over.
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Lusitano-064The international, professional marathon has three phases with a transfer phase between sections “A” and “B”. Both “A” and “B” are usually done at a trot which may be fast or medium.   At the end of section “A” they enter the transfer zone where they have some time to rest the horses by walking through it before the required medical and equipment check before entering section “B”.   The marathon is not about speed, it is about ability and endurance but with elegance and style.   There is a minimum and maximum time allowed for each section and arriving too early or too late is penalized.
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Lusitano-018It is the groom’s job to keep time and watch for the mile markers so they can complete the section as close to the expected time as possible.   They cannot stop or slow down to control time, the drive must be made at a regular speed so there will also be penalties if for some reason they slow down to let time pass or drive over the established speed to recover lost time.   Section “B” is the most important part of the competition and the most difficult one.   This is where the obstacles are found.
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Lusitano-048The course includes eight obstacles which must be passed in a specific order.   The obstacles may be natural or built, in permanent circuits they use fences, trees and other things that blend or are part of the scenery.   These obstacles may include for example a tree where the carriage must go around it, at the specific speed, without touching it and without leaving the marked area on the outside.   Another could be a set of fences where the driver has to zigzag between them again, at the specific speed, without hitting any of them.   The type of obstacles and the distance between them depend on:   1.) the designer’s imagination and resources, and  2.) the competition level the carriage team are located within the international or national roster.
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Lusitano-004As I said before this is a timed competition.   Penalties are given for mistakes on the field when hitting or dropping something.   Time is the most important factor.   Driving a horse and carriage amongst obstacles and tight curves requires experience and perfect coordination between man and horse or horses.   The groom’s abilities also have a great influence in the results because they not only keep the time and show the driver the way he must go but they also move around behind the driver to keep the carriage steady all the way through.   The timers start when the first horses’ noses touch the starting time line and it ends when the same horses’ noses touch the stopping time line.
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