12-19-2012, 08:16 PM
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Generally yes, its about the same as riding, though the horse will be using different muscles. I started ground driving my mare at two and a half (only because of handling problems, she was untouched when I got her. You could start ground driving today if you wanted to!), had her dragging shafts but no cart at just-turned three, and at about three and a half I very lightly started her to cart. We only walked, often when me behind the vehicle and not in it. When she was almost four I started asking for a more powerful walk and some light trotting. From 3-4 I tried to keep sessions below 30 or 40 minutes. Now she's four and a half, and I'm asking a lot more of her. She's just come off of a long break but we're already working a lot on correct carriage, collection, stronger trotting, and a bit of light hill work. We go anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I won't be attempting to canter her until she is 5 though, and only then very, very lightly. I try not to ask for more than 10-15 minutes of straight trotting at once either, and won't until she's 5 or 6 because her spine will not close up until then. That is merely personal preference though.
By the way, I LOVE your mare's bridle in your avatar! Classy and elegant looking, but fun.