A roadster is a style of horse showing that shows the horses hitched to a small carriage. Unlike other driving competitions, roadster competitions are about showing the horse, rather than winning a race.

Roadster competitions are usually held in specific breed competitions. Most roadster shows are for ponies or other light breeds. The Standardbred horse is commonly used in roadster shows.

Standardbred Horses

Standardbred horses are quick, especially in the trot. Standardbred horses are especially popular in harness races. Standardbred horses are named according to a trotting speed standard. In order to qualify as a Standardbred, the horse has to trot the distance of one mile in two and half minutes. Modern Standardbreds are actually able to travel at a much faster pace.

Arabian Horses

Another breed of horse often show in roadster harness is the Arabian. Arabian horses are among the finest horses in the world and the “top breeds” in the equestrian world have at least some Arabian blood in their breeding. Arabians are distinguished horses with an arched neck. The horses have very strong back legs and long, lean muscles.

Roadster Showing

Roadster shows are shown in a bike-style carriage called a sulky. Roadster sulkies are lightweight. The sulkies have two wheels and a small seat. Sulkies do not supply the comfort of a larger carriage, but the horses are able to travel at faster speeds.

The horse is judged based upon its movements and conformation. The speed of travel is not a race, but rather is used to show the versatility of the horse, and the elegance of its movements around the track. The conformation and balance of the horse is essential for any horse showing. The horse should show all the characteristics of fine breeding including proper balance and proper body position when standing or moving. The horse should be clean and well-groomed with a shiny coat, clean and neat mane and polished hooves.

The horse is shown mainly in the trot. The trot is divided into three speeds for showing which include the job, the road gait and the trot. The horse should travel in a straight line with a straight back, and head lifted high. The horse enters the ring at a jog and travels clockwise around the ring. Following the jog is the road gait, after which point the horse changes direction and proceeds to the show a jog, road gait and trot at speed. Maintaining speed is very important in roadster horse shows. The horse must not break in to a canter in horse showing, which the horse is often tempted to do around the turns.

When the horse is not traveling, it should appear calm, yet alert. A relaxed horse will show in musculature and mannerisms. The horse should also have a good temperament. Refusals or any other showing of poor manners will result in lower marks.


The riders in roadster horse showing wear racing silks, even though the show is not an actual race. Racing silks are colored brightly, and historically were used to repsenent trainers or owners of the racing horse. The silks are made of a shiny material. They were named silks originally after their fabric of origin but today, most are made of other materials with a similar finish.

Riders will also wear crisp riding breeches, as well as a bib. Tall, riding boots are work. Helmets are always work in the carriage for safety purposes.

Equipment and Tack

Typically, the equipment and tack used for roadster showing is the same as that used in harness racing. The carriage is a lightweight sulky with two wheels. The sulky is generally made with modern technology designed for the ideal carriage weight and performance. The sulky requires skill on the part of the rider to maintain balance.

The harness is an important component in roadster showing. The harness must be well fitted to the horse. It attaches to the bridle and sits underneath the belly of the horse. The horse also wears a saddle, girth and crupper. Rather than using reins to steer, the rider holds on to driving lines. Like reins, the driving lines attach to the bit. Driving bits are used in roadster showing. The rider is able to hold on to the driving reins from the seat in order to steer and control the horse.

Horse Showing

Unlike the quick races of harness racing, roadster showing is focused on the horse. The fine breeding and countenance are marked and scored. Horse shows are special opportunities for a horse to display its capabilities. Riders must carefully groom and turnout their horses, so that the horse will appear in peak condition. Horse showing has long been a tradition in the United States, as well as in other country with equestrian enthusiasm and respect for fine breeding.

Horse showing is the sport that demonstrates the most knowledge of horses. From hooves to ears, the judges know exactly how a perfect horse should appear as well as act. The specific competitions for specific breed help to showcase the best of the best in multiple classes.

Horse shows also display the level of obedience a horse can achieve in competition. Roadster horses must be calm and relaxed, while maintaining proper speed around the track and resisting the urge to speed up. Horse shows help to demonstrate the relationship between rider and horse, or driver and horse and how that relationship is paramount for any winning team. Horse showing demonstrates conformation, breeding and gaits, as well as the rider’s ability to properly care for the horse and perform the movements necessary for riding.

Horse shows are for horse enthusiasts of all ages. There are horse shows for dressage, horses shown in hand, horses shown in harness, jumps horse shows and carriage horse shows. Many participants are able to participate in a competitive sport as well as horse shows. While competitions measure speed and ability, horse shows measure the level of perfection the horse has achieved. Each horse and each rider is able to showcase their talents and practice the skills of equestrian life.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.