Things to do without a cart or harness... - The Horse Forum

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post #1 of 13 Old 08-26-2010, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Things to do without a cart or harness...

I've been teaching my horse to drive, but I won't be getting a cart or harness for several weeks.

She ground drives perfectly - but all I've done is walk, trot, stop, back, and turn. Is there anything else I can teach her?

She knows how to drag stuff while being ridden (practicing for CTR), but I don't really have anything I can attach to her while I ground drive her... and I have no harness to attach them to.

Any ideas? We're both getting bored!





Also... this is probably a really dumb question, but is it really necessary to use a whip and blinkers? I really don't need a whip with my horse, but I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone drive without one. And do you use blinkers on every horse, or just the jumpy ones? Should I not use either of these things if I don't need them, or is there some other reason you might need them that I'm just not seeing?
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-26-2010, 08:52 PM
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We have never used whips on our driven animals so that is certainly not a necessity, especially if she is responsive to rein and verbal cues. The blinkers, IMHO, are more of a security measure than anything else. They keep the horse's mind focused on what is in front of them instead of the horse down in the pasture to their left, or the little dog nipping at the wheels of the wagon, or little kids running along side. Though it can and does help with the jumpyness of some horses, it is more for their focus than anything. I can't really help you out with things to drag until you get a harness.

Always remember that feeling of looking at a big, open country over the ears of a good horse, seeing a new trail unwind ahead of you, and that ever-spectacular view from the top of the ridge!!! Follow my training blog: http://robertsontraining.blogspot.com/
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-26-2010, 08:53 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
We have never used whips on our driven animals so that is certainly not a necessity, especially if she is responsive to rein and verbal cues. The blinkers, IMHO, are more of a security measure than anything else. They keep the horse's mind focused on what is in front of them instead of the horse down in the pasture to their left, or the little dog nipping at the wheels of the wagon, or little kids running along side. Though it can and does help with the jumpyness of some horses, it is more for their focus than anything. I can't really help you out with things to drag until you get a harness.
Thanks for your help! : ]
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-27-2010, 07:31 AM
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You could get a couple of long pieces of PVC get a piece of leather or rope (something that won't rub) tie them together about 2-3 feet put the rope on your horses back and ground drive, like make shift shafts. You might need to have something accross the chest the keep them from slipping to far back. The PVC needs to be long enough to drag the ground. PVC would also need a cross bar behind the horse to keep them the PVC straight. You could also attach empty cans on strings to the cross bar for noise, you can never have to much training to strange noises. I hope that I made myself clear, just make sure that whatever you do make sure you can get it off in case of an emergency. Make sure your dragging things that make alot of noise.
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-27-2010, 02:44 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by waterbuggies View Post
You could get a couple of long pieces of PVC get a piece of leather or rope (something that won't rub) tie them together about 2-3 feet put the rope on your horses back and ground drive, like make shift shafts. You might need to have something accross the chest the keep them from slipping to far back. The PVC needs to be long enough to drag the ground. PVC would also need a cross bar behind the horse to keep them the PVC straight. You could also attach empty cans on strings to the cross bar for noise, you can never have to much training to strange noises. I hope that I made myself clear, just make sure that whatever you do make sure you can get it off in case of an emergency. Make sure your dragging things that make alot of noise.
Ooh, you gave me an idea! I didn't even think about it, but I have a surcingle. Maybe I could attach a breast collar to that and use it to drag some PVC pipes?

Thanks!
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-29-2010, 11:38 PM
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There are a lot of ground exercises you can do. Pivoting on the fore and hind. A pivot turn in harness is just a pivot on the hind quarters and is one of the most important things you should teach your driving horse. Yesterday I drove with my club on a forestry road. The horse two horses in front of me became agitated and went over the top of a barb wire fence with it's forequarters. Luckily there was no one behind me and I pivot turned my horse and went back down the road out of the danger zone. The cart in front of me followed. One of the other members cut the wire with a pair of fence pliers to extract the horse which was not seriously injured. I teach my horses to side pass from the ground and saddle to teach lateral movement. I bought an inexpensive but sturdy harness from Ron's Discount Harness to start my horse in. If anything the harness is over built with good fittings. I think it was something like $160.
I used it for more than a year and will keep it for a work harness to pull firewood logs out of the woods with. I took a piece of 2" x 3 foot long PVC and drilled holes in the ends and the center to make a tow bar. I bolted 1/4 inch thick hooks into the ends and an eye facing the opposite direction in the center hole. I tied two lengths of rope to the end of the traces to extend them and tied loops in the ends to go over the hooks. A third piece of rope was tied to the eye and attached to an inflated inner tube. Before hooking the bar up to my 18 month old gelding I ground drove him up to the inner tube. I had done so much ground work with him that he stepped into the center of it. It wasn't long before I replaced the PVC with a steel pipe of the same dimensions and hooked it to a tire. The good thing about this setup is that if the horse becomes excited and swaps ends the rope falls off the hooks or is easily detached. I used the steel bar to pull firewood logs out of the woods with him. Lately, I have been driving the half mile up our access road to the mail box to get the mail. There is a black culvert pipe, a real estate sign, and two quad tires in front of different driveways that he gets kind of big eyed at. As soon as his head passes the obstacle he is fine because he can no longer see it because he is wearing blinders. Out of sight out of mind. Horses have nearly 360 degree peripheral vision. If not for the blinders he would still be watching the boogie man 30 feet down the road and might be tempted to speed up or bolt to get away from it. I didn't like the bridle that came with the harness and drove him for almost a year in his western bridle with a snaffle bit. He is a gawker and was always gazing to one side or the other and I was having to constantly correct him. He is a lot more focused with the blinders. I open them as much as possible. A driving whip mostly replaces your heels and legs to give your horse cues. When you turn to the left the tip of the whip is used to tap the inside flank or if the whip is long enough rib cage to encourage the horse to bend into the turn. If he initially resists the rein pressure when asked to turn a tap on the outside will encourage him to turn away from the cue just as with your leg. I tell my horse to trot one time and if he is sluggish I will tap the top of his rump or even the top of the hip strap of the harness to reinforce my voice command. I recently set up a line of five pvc poles in my arena to weave in and out of. I used the whip as an aid about once. He thinks it's a blast and loves to trot through the poles. I do this in the cart but you could also do it ground driving. Using the whip as an aid also desensitizes your horse which makes him more consistent.

Last edited by eliduc; 08-29-2010 at 11:43 PM.
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post #7 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you so much for all the wonderful info!

I bought a harness yesterday
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 06:11 PM
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if you plan on showing in driving then you should learn to use the whip properly. You get points taken away if you move those reins. And you by no means slap them on the buttocks with the reins. A whip is an aid, like your leg. It is not ment to beat the horse to death. Think of it as a carrot stick and call it one if it sounds better then whip. Soemtimes we get pretty hung up on how words are used and sound and how they affect our mentality. So people hear whip or think of using a whip and think they are abusing or hurting their horse. If used properly they arent, it is an aid just like using your leg and weight. There is only so much you can communicate to the horse through those reins and with verbal cues.

As for blinders. Keep them. As long as the harness is of a semi-good quality and the blinders are adjutable (rather then floppy which means its a junk harness) then you can open them fairly wide. Horses, by nature, do not like things following them as close a cart or buggy does. And then when being passed by another cart or buggy and up the tension. Some horses you could probably drive without blinders, but if nothing else, they do help the horse focus on what is in front of them which it very important when driving!

Have fun, stay safe!

Looking forward to getting my new pony broke to harness soon. Its been a long time since I have been able to drive and I miss it.
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-31-2010, 08:26 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by reyvin View Post
if you plan on showing in driving then you should learn to use the whip properly. You get points taken away if you move those reins. And you by no means slap them on the buttocks with the reins. A whip is an aid, like your leg. It is not ment to beat the horse to death. Think of it as a carrot stick and call it one if it sounds better then whip. Soemtimes we get pretty hung up on how words are used and sound and how they affect our mentality. So people hear whip or think of using a whip and think they are abusing or hurting their horse. If used properly they arent, it is an aid just like using your leg and weight. There is only so much you can communicate to the horse through those reins and with verbal cues.

As for blinders. Keep them. As long as the harness is of a semi-good quality and the blinders are adjutable (rather then floppy which means its a junk harness) then you can open them fairly wide. Horses, by nature, do not like things following them as close a cart or buggy does. And then when being passed by another cart or buggy and up the tension. Some horses you could probably drive without blinders, but if nothing else, they do help the horse focus on what is in front of them which it very important when driving!

Have fun, stay safe!

Looking forward to getting my new pony broke to harness soon. Its been a long time since I have been able to drive and I miss it.
Thanks for the info! I'm not planning on showing for a while (when I start working on getting versatility points). For now I'm just going to drive on the trails. I'm not worried about hurting my horse or anything... I just would rather not carry it around if I don't need it. She listens to my voice and I don't think she's ever hesitated when asked to go forward.

Thanks again
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-01-2010, 10:28 AM
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The whip is great in getting them to move away from something and teaching them to bend properly or straightening them out. It is a must have. I don't use it to go forward but use it to encourage more impulsion. You need to be able to move the shoulder or hind qtr with the lash.
I line drive mine through obstacles. We drove up my steps the other day.
Getting them to hit exactly where you want to go and not moving off course. Backing promptly. I would also be doing lot's of longlining, figure 8's and cantering at this point.
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