Horse driving trials will undergo a complete restructure in a bid to encourage competitors to progress further in the sport.

The overhaul follows a questionnaire sent out to all British Horse Driving Trials Association (BHDTA) members (news, 8 May).

Previously, there were two levels of event — club and national. From next season there will be four — club, approved club, regional and national events.

Peter Bennett , who sits on the BHDTA’s competitions committee, said: “Having four levels of event gives competitors a wider choice.”

Events must follow new criteria — including design of obstacles, how the event is publicised, level of judge and warm-up facilities — in order to be granted particular status.

The level of event will also dictate qualifiers on offer.

Mr Bennett added: “A lot of club events were offering the same facilities as nationals for lesser entry fees. We needed to ensure national events offered something different and ran to a certain standard to encourage people to attend.”

In the first year, events will choose which category they fall into; after this, they will be monitored by the BHDTA.

Four-in-hand driver Dick Lane told H&H the BHDTA was “moving in the right direction” by listening to its members.

“Although you can’t please everyone, the BHDTA seems to be doing its best,” he said. “I think there needed to be a level [of event] below nationals to encourage club drivers.”

Read this story in full in the current issue of Horse & Hound (30 October, ’08)