- Croatia 6 horse carriage rides
- France 4 horse carriage rides
- Germany 111 horse carriage rides
- Italy 9 horse carriage rides
- Poland 4 horse carriage rides
A bit of history: from the cart to the modern carriage
They are the great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers of our vehicles today. Already the Romans used horse-drawn carriages to travel through their vast empire. It was not until the 15th century, however, that most of the carts were spring-mounted – before, a journey was anything but comfortable for humans and animals.
Covered wagons play a special role in the settlement of the American West. Families often met distances of several thousand kilometres in the so-called "Prairie Schooner". In the past, horse-drawn wagons were also used to transport hay, crops and other loads.
In the postal system, stagecoaches carried goods as well as long-distance travellers. They were the most important means of public transport in Europe and America for over two centuries.
The carriage as we know it today evolved from cabs and carriages, which in the 18th and 19th centuries were a means of transport for the rich and powerful. To purchase a handmade carriage and draught horses was very expensive and the carriage therefore a real status symbol.
The equipage: different types of carriages and harnesses
Depending on the number of wheels, all carriages are divided into single-axle (two wheels) and two-axle (four wheels) types. The next distinction is then made according to the number of harnessed horses (one, two, four etc.). It is also possible to categorize according to the type of harness that is used.
The harness consists of different elements, depending on the type of carriage and the way of harnessing. For heavy carriages, usually a horse collar is used, a stable oval that is placed around the neck of the animal and distributes the load evenly over chest, shoulders and withers. In the past, pointed collars were used for work.
The breastcollar is suitable for light carriages and smaller loads. It consists only of a wide piece of leather, which is stretched over the chest of the animal. The light breastcollar is popular in sports today.
Overview of different types of carriages
Depending on the period and intended use, numerous horse drawn carriages have been designed. Here are a few examples:
- Berline carriage: enclosed, spring-mounted travelling carriage with two or four interior seats and fixed top
- Coupé: four-wheeled carriage with two interior seats
- Landau: luxury-type travelling carriage with facing seats and a convertible top
- Phaeton: light, sporty carriage with open seating
- Stagecoach: four-wheeled public carriage used to transport paying passengers and light packages
- Sulky: lightweight cart on two wheels used in harness races
- Wagonette: open, spring-mounted carriage with two benches along the sides
The driving sports tournament: dressage, off-road and obstacle driving
- Similar to dressage riding, dressage driving requires figures to be shown in different gaits.
- Off-road driving ("marathon") involves driving over or around various obstacles in the terrain – including water ditches.
- In obstacle driving competitions, a course marked out with cones must be mastered within a certain time limit. The balls lying on the cones must not be knocked off.
Breeds for driving sports
The disciplines in driving sports are very diverse – and so are the suitable breeds. At tournaments you usually see European warmblood breeds like Holsteiner, Geldenburg and Oldenburg – or Friesians and driving ponies like Welsh Cob or Haflinger. Especially fast and agile breeds are suitable for obstacle driving.
Cold blooded breeds such as Percheron, Noriker and the Black Forest Horse were generally used for agricultural work and freight transports. Today, the mighty horses can still be admired on show, for example, when they are harnessed in front of brewery carts for traditional parades.
Where can you ride a carriage?
But of course, it is just as nice to sit in the back and relax. Many stables offer excursions with their horses. At particularly interesting places, for example the castle Neuschwanstein, distances can be put back in a carriage without prior booking.
If you are interested in carriages, a visit to the city of Vienna would be a good idea. The traditional hackney carriages ("Fiaker") still characterise the cityscape there today.