Driving reached its peak in the thirty final years of the 19th century. Everything contributes to its excellence: the incomparable quality of the carriages, the luxury harnesses, the creation of specific carriage horse breed and classes specific to each type of vehicle and the development of better leading methods by masters such Edwin Howlett or Benno von Achenbach.
Rightly admired as "a moment of perfection," this brilliant period acts as a benchmark for the contemporary equestrian discipline: traditional driving.
More than strict adherence to practices, customs, codes, and clothing fashions specific to that time or a social class constructed in intangible rules, what distinguishes traditional driving is the formal harmony of the team and the fineness of the driving.
Furnishing the team a bright appearance, a lustre or a genre which one would not have thought likely; providing a team with such a measured, such a clever, such a sure pace, so equal in appearance, that people sitting in the carriage doubt not the pace at which they ride or the obstacles that litter the road.
Baron de Curnieu (1857)
A team is the composite set consisting of living beings, men and horses, along with inanimate objects, carriages and harnesses. Creating a good team consists in harmonising these various elements to produce the best possible impression. This harmony results from properly equipping the horses (breed and class, coat colour, gaits), the relationship between their size and that of the carriage, the quality of the carriage (correctness of proportions, precise execution), its state (soundness, cleanliness, respectful restorations), the choice of harness (depending on usage and style of the carriage) and the suitability of passengers' outfits.
It is not the elegance and richness of such and such an item which furnishes the beauty of a team, but that it forms a seamless whole. More than the details, which should blend into a broad vision, a good team is evaluated and praised according to a visual impression of consistency combining, in the same action and the same movement, balance, rhythm, regularity, the lightness of the horses, finesse, precision, comfort and the sureness of the leader.