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breaking to harness... my plan, what do you think?

This is a discussion on breaking to harness... my plan, what do you think? within the Driving forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • What do you think about long lining?
  • How old was your fell pony when you started it in harness?

 
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    04-14-2012, 11:21 AM
  #11
Weanling
Blue Eyed Pony...tell you what. I have a small horse size harness that is in good repair, it isn't fancy, it is leather, needs a bit of polish and I can go over it once more but....if you can find out what cost of shipment I will go halves on you and sell it to you cheap as I want it out of my basement. I don't have much use for a horse harness at all, I got two sets of horse harness when I bought a courting buggy from an older man getting out of driving as he threw it into the deal, I have enough draft harness to drive a 6 hitch so....you need a harness and I need it gone. If your interested pm me and we can work out a deal....I can even get photo's of it for you sometime this week when I am outside so you can see what it looks like.

I always enjoy helping those just getting into the fun of driving...
     
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    04-14-2012, 11:24 AM
  #12
Trained
Sounds awesome GS but like I said I have NOTHING spare at the moment. I'll PM you anyway because I might be able to work on my parents to buy it for me for my 18th birthday... which is roughly around when I need it for anyway! My pony is a December baby, and I was born in October.
     
    04-15-2012, 01:32 PM
  #13
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony    
My filly is 16 months old in a week. That means it's 8 months until I start breaking her to harness, because I've pretty much always planned to break her to harness at 2 so I can enjoy her for a year and get a real good mouth established before I get on her back. I figure most horses' knees are closed by the time they're 2.5 so if I make sure she's only in very light harness work at a walk until then, she'll be right. Now is the trime to be long lining her with a soft bit. I started mine in a slightly curved rubber bit. Get her really good with voice commands. When I am doing an upward transition I say "alright Flicka walk on" or "alright flicka trot". When I am doining Down ward transitions I say " Now flicka walk" or "Now Flicka Whao". It has been the best training I could give and it has paid off. I would also do lots of sacking out and getting her used to lines near her legs. When line driving I would drive her up to odd stuff and get her confidence up.

My plan starts with getting a roller and longlining with me walking the appropriate distance behind, using a PNH stick as a driving whip (it's what I have, because I use some methods to train her that depend greatly on timing and anything flexible throws out that timing). It's something I always planned on to get her mouth really great before I get on her back, so it's simple enough. YOu need a driving whip and it is not for timing at this stage. If you are far behind and need to touch your horses shoulder not sure how you can do that. Or if you need to crack it to get her attention long lining??

Next step is to find her a harness, one with enough adjustment that I will have a decent amount of time with her in it before I have to get a new one, and ground drive her with a tire on a quick release in case she freaks out. From there, something heavier that I can sit on, and from there, shafts. DO NOT AND I REPEAT DO NOT use any weight when doing this. DO NOT SIT ON ANYTHING. You will ruin a horse quicker than anything. When they pull a cart there isn't any resistance and it rolls easy. When pulling your ass around they will struggle and can start rearing and not be able to go forward. Start with long poles that will fall out of the keepers if something happens. I built an actual drag from some used shafts connected at the back with a 2x6 so it was like a front half of a cart and the back drug on the ground. Before this step be line driving her and someone should be next to her dragging it so she can get used the the noise and have the run up near her so she gets the sound of it rushing back there.

From shafts, a light jog-cart, which I should be able to find easily enough as we are in an area with a lot of harness racers. From a light jog-cart, I have a lovely two-wheeled buggy that got smashed up a few years ago that I can repair, and that will be her final cart.

She's pretty sensible most of the time. I'm not going to be able to drive her in pairs because she's a nasty little witch to other horses when she's in season (mares!) and she's not much a fan of cars, but I can put a sign on the back of us advising drivers to please slow down... we don't really have anywhere much to drive a buggy that's not busy public road or pacing training track, and I'm not paying for membership to the track so that I can work with my baby as she will be too tall to be a pony trotter and not a Standardbred so won't be a pacer, so I'm not sure how I'm going to swing that one. Get her more used to cars, I guess, and go from there. Need to do it anyway as the roads are really the only place to ride around here. I would sure hope you have an arena for training and not the road. Lot's of line driving along the road will get her used to traffic.

One important caveat here - I am not an experienced driver by any stretch of the imagination! I think I've been at the reins once, with a dead broke and experienced QH between the shafts. What I'm thinking I'll do is get my mother to help with the harness side of things, so that my girl is properly educated. Yes, we do have a proper driving bit, no I will not be using it (it is a liverpool, so way too harsh if I mouth her correctly) - instead I am thinking of getting a half spoon for her. She will have to go in the softest driving bit possible, as she is intended to be a dressage horse and eventer when she's old enough. A mullen mouth liverpool is not harsh depending on the rein setting.

AAAnywayy. That's my plan, explained in a very long and convoluted manner. Good, bad? What could I do better? What have I got planned out right? Is there anything in my plan I should absolutely not ever do?
Info embedded in red
     
    04-16-2012, 04:16 AM
  #14
Trained
Thank you for the information, it's very helpful.

I have a french link snaffle for her, it's what I've been using to teach her to yield laterally to the bit. I do need to be behind her or on her back to get halt and backup really soft but she knows what I'm asking for... just don't have the refinement there yet.

With the weight thing, I'm 110lb sopping wet in full riding gear (yes I have weighed myself in that situation), is that really enough weight to make them struggle/rear? My girl has dragged me by her halter a couple of times flipping out over cars, I was just bloody lucky I was on grass when it happened... she doesn't flip out so bad any more, usually just shies at the really fast/big/loud ones.

I do have a couple of decent sized paddocks but no proper arena so the ground is nowhere near level, there are holes and a few rocks... is that ok or do I really need to put in a proper arena before I hitch her up?

And re the liverpool, I just don't really want to use something that has that much potential leverage when I'm not going to use that much leverage. She's a calm horse, mostly, and I intend to ride her only in a snaffle. I'd rather have a driving snaffle - a half spoon maybe?
     
    04-16-2012, 04:03 PM
  #15
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony    
Thank you for the information, it's very helpful.

I have a french link snaffle for her, it's what I've been using to teach her to yield laterally to the bit. I do need to be behind her or on her back to get halt and backup really soft but she knows what I'm asking for... just don't have the refinement there yet.

With the weight thing, I'm 110lb sopping wet in full riding gear (yes I have weighed myself in that situation), is that really enough weight to make them struggle/rear? My girl has dragged me by her halter a couple of times flipping out over cars, I was just bloody lucky I was on grass when it happened... she doesn't flip out so bad any more, usually just shies at the really fast/big/loud ones.

I do have a couple of decent sized paddocks but no proper arena so the ground is nowhere near level, there are holes and a few rocks... is that ok or do I really need to put in a proper arena before I hitch her up?

And re the liverpool, I just don't really want to use something that has that much potential leverage when I'm not going to use that much leverage. She's a calm horse, mostly, and I intend to ride her only in a snaffle. I'd rather have a driving snaffle - a half spoon maybe?
You don't need a "proper arena" just something large enough to have plenty of room but yet where she can't run down the road. When you get to the point of hitching I would take her somewhere that can help you in an arena.
A liverpool is adjustable for the reins and it doesn't need to have leverage.
Rubber Driving Bit Mullen Mouth Half Cheek / Spoon 5" | eBay
This is the bit I started with but maybe a little thinner and slight tongue relief.
It is dead weight and yes it is WAY TOO HEAVY. It is dead weight and when it doesn't pull easily they will balk, go backwards, rear and try to jump forward. A cart pulls very easy and I am guessing your equipment will probably be entry level which won't have as many adjustments and cause issues and you do not need to compound that and pull weight. This is a thread about a gal who tried pulling some dead weight and then started having issues. You might learn something from it.
Training a Green Driving Horse - Chronicle Forums

You have lots of work to do before you get too far and long after she is dragging you because she is scared.
     
    04-17-2012, 12:29 AM
  #16
Trained
OK thank you :) she won't pull my weight then until she's been hitched to and pulled the buggy. My buggy is actually quite nice, it was made in the 1800's and been restored a few times since... just needs to be restored again because a previous horse that Mum was breaking to harness had a spack attack and smashed it (was a TB mare that had been abused - she never had a "moment" again after that, because we didn't hit her for it). And it needs a new axel I think because the one it has has been bent (and fixed) at least once before, and it's bent at the moment. There used to be a harness maker in town, I'm not sure if he's still making harness but if anything in the harness I get isn't right I can get him to make it fit, or make a new one, IF he is still working. He would be quite old now, he was old 20+ years ago when Mum was breaking her first horse to harness.

She's not dragging me any more, it was only the first couple of times I took her off the property after I got her home nearly 10 months ago. I've always demanded better respect than that, so she learned pretty quickly that that's just not on. She still has her moments, she's a baby and she's a bitchy dominant mare, but she's getting there.

I only read the first page of the thread, but found it very interesting.

My girl will not pull if her gear is not fitting correctly, she can learn to wear it but I won't ask her to actually pull any weight. She won't have any weight on her back if her saddle isn't right, when the time comes to break her to saddle. Correct fit is very important to me, how can you train a horse to be willing and calm if the gear you're using is causing pain?
     
    04-17-2012, 10:37 PM
  #17
Showing
Before I hitched my arab to the cart, I cut two straight saplings and nailed a couple of cross pieces far enough back that his heels wouldn't hit it. The other ends were slipped into the loops and not secured. I don't know why they didn't fall out. I wanted to be able to pull them free if needed. This gets the horse used to having the shafts touch his body and he gets used to the sound the other end makes dragging on the ground. This is a travois like the plains indians used. I practised walking from side to side and correctly changing my reins. I then practised large circles. When hitched to the cart, I had someone hold a loose lead and walk by the horse's shoulder while I sat in the cart. The shafts again were not secured but managed to stay in the loops. I removed the seat from the cart and put a piece of plywood across instead. This way if I had to bale out the back, I could.
     
    04-18-2012, 08:44 AM
  #18
Weanling
For make shift shafts you can go to any local hardware store and get long pieces of pvc pipe. We have used that too. They are light enough to move around, will give the idea to the horse what shafts will feel like and if things do head south, they won't hurt the horse.
     
    04-19-2012, 07:59 AM
  #19
Trained
Thanks guys :) I might get onto getting some PVC pipe, 2 lengths plus an end connector, 2 elbow joints and a couple of end caps will do just nicely to get her used to shafts. Plus they make a nice amount of noise. I'll just have to rig up a quick release in case the noise scares her and she has a panic attack... which I doubt, but it's better to be prepared.
     
    04-25-2012, 01:56 PM
  #20
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony    
But there are so many different ways to properly train a horse for anything, and no one way works for every horse! That's why I want to learn as much as I can about the different ways to train them to harness.. even though I'll most likely get my mother to break her for me, and hopefully drive her for the first few times she takes to the road. I'm doing the saddle breaking, because I know my way around riding

My girl is absolutely 100% respectful towards me, she is just a bitch to other mares, and when she's in season, she's a bitch to geldings too. She can bitchface with the best... she's not afraid to let fly at bigger horses either. She's just starting to find her dominance so I'm sure she'll settle but I don't want to risk her kicking out and injuring a driving partner, or herself. As much control and respect as you may have over your horse you can't always guarantee that they won't kick, and when you already know the horse is a bitchy dominant mare and won't tolerate another horse so close when she's in season, why take the risk? I also don't have a partner for her and wouldn't have a clue how to drive two in hand anyway.

I guess with the liverpool I can always use it on the big ring and not the notches, and then move the rein to the notches if I'm anticipating bad behaviour.

I have some decent sized pastures and a REALLY long driveway that I can practice on until she's figured out what the buggy is all about, I just also would like to be able to take her out. She just needs more time and miles walking in hand, she's much less reactive about cars than she was. It's only big semitrailers, buses, and idiots in powerful cars that bother her now.

I think we'll hit a sticky patch with her respect soon, like I said she is a very dominant bitchy mare and it's never all smooth sailing! She was pretty hot yesterday when I walked her, and reared a few times, but I got right on her case for that. Hopefully that little misbehaviour has been nipped in the bud.

Groundwork, by the way, is all I ever do with her! I'm being careful not to over-handle her but she's already great to lunge, and I can move her shoulder and her hindquarter without touching her. Backing up at liberty will get there, I can move her sideways over cones, and I've got her halfway mouthed, just need her to accept the bit and halt/backup without crossing her jaw. I'm just about going mad waiting to start doing more with her.
the rings on a liverpool are called which the reins go through rough cheek some bits have a rough edge and a smooth edge I use a smooth edge on bits with long shanks say slot 2-3 the lower the more leaverage you get.
Heres a test for you get your liverpool bit do up the curb chain behind your knee then pull the bar and you can see how leaverage works and fell the presure applyed that's how I use use mine rough cheek its milder.
     

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