The Australian Driving Society (as it was known then) was formed in 1971 at the urging of the late RM Williams, by a group of harness enthusiasts keen to preserve the historical aspects of harness horses, and also further promote and develop carriage driving in all its forms.
The role of the Australian Carriage Driving Society (ACDS) is to encourage, promote and provide education in the driving of horses and ponies; act as the national governing body for carriage driving activities in Australia; and support the establishment and running of local carriage driving clubs throughout the country
The NSW Branch of the ACDS was established in 1981 to provide support to the growing number of driving clubs in the State. There are currently 18 affiliated Clubs in NSW, from the far North Coast to the Southern border region, from Sydney to the Central West.
The Branch assists with administration, promotion, funding and provides a representative forum for all Clubs to have an input into the development of rules and policies relating to carriage driving.
Local Clubs are the foundation and the strength of the ACDS, with their focus on conducting activities that suit the needs and interests of their members. By joining a local ACDS affiliated Club members are able to participate in training and instruction for both drivers and officials, and have access to a comprehensive insurance policy which includes Public Liability, Personal Accident and Associations Liability cover for driving activities.
The ACDS administers a range of carriage driving disciplines including:
- Show Driving: reflecting many of the traditional aspects of horses / ponies and harness, with an attention to detail and presentation, Show Driving is often many people’s first exposure to carriages through agricultural shows.
- Endurance Driving: effectively a distance-based time trial, Enduros as they are known are often held over several successive days and are designed to test the fitness of the horse or pony and the judgement of pace by the driver.
- Driven Dressage: with its focus on accuracy, paces and expression, driven dressage is a complete test for equine and driver. Prescribed movements are driven in an arena from memory and judged according to the quality of the test.
- Pleasure Driving: leisurely drives across the countryside, picnic lunch or an evening talking around a campfire make for great social fun and an opportunity to enjoy time spent with friends, both human and equine!
- Historical: preserving history relating to horses, harness and carriages is an important aspect of the ACDS’ role, including fostering the skills critical for restoration and construction of horse-drawn vehicles and harness.
- Combined Driving: CDEs as they are often known are the driven equivalent of the ridden 3-day event; combining the elegance of dressage, with the speed and endurance of a marathon course and the skill and accuracy of obstacle driving - combined driving is a fast-paced and modern equine sport with a worldwide following.
Please refer to the respective Discipline pages on this site for more information on each of the above.
Horse welfare is of paramount to the ACDS and its members and irrespective of the activity, the welfare of horses and ponies is always the first consideration.
Carriage Driving is a friendly and highly social sport, ideal for families and with something to suit all ages and levels of experience – everything from local club social drives all the way to World Championships is possible, so why not contact a Club near you today to inquire about membership.