The FEI changes to the marathon section of international driving trials caused heated debate at the BHDTA’s annual conference

All CAIA and CAIB international driving events are to use a new two-section cross-country marathon, which will not include a walk section, in 2002, the FEI has announced.

This controversial decision caused heated debate at the British Horse Driving Trials Association’s (BHDTA) annual conference. The council had already decided to apply for international status for the Brighton and Catton events, so the directive will now apply to these.

The new format will also affect the 2002 Asprey International Driving Grand Prix at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

British National Horse Teams Champion, Barry Capstick, was concerned that the 2002 World Four-in-Hand Championship would take place over a traditional five-section marathon, despite the marathon’s at selection events not having a five-section marathon.

Event organiser, Andrew Mylius, felt the new format would be useful for club events but pointed out that, unless part of section A is designated for walking, competitors might bunch-up during the warm-up section.

Many members supported international Pony Team driver, Philippa Gammells’ observation that the new format favoured dressage horses and effectively removed the endurance element from the sport.

BHDTA vice-chairman, George Bowman stated that there could sometimes be acase for a shorter marathon, but he felt strongly that the cross-country at World Championships should consist of five sections.

BHDTA members agreed that it was worth giving the new format a try atInternational FEI Events next season in order to give an informed report back to the FEI Driving Committee but generally, few would support the introduction of a shortened marathon for all national events.