02-06-2012, 08:42 AM
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Any horse can be trained to drive but not every horse is suitable for every driver.
There's a very simple rule when it comes to training a horse to drive. If you have to ask where to start then you're not going to be able to train the horse yourself.
If you've never driven then you have zilch driving experience. You are a total beginner.
Always appreciate that you can have decades of riding experience but if you've never driven you have NO driving experience. Riding is NOT driving. Driving is NOT riding.
Then remember green + green = black and blue
The only way you would be able to successfully achieve your aim is for you to go and get ahead of your horse. Go get a year of driving lessons and say once a week every week and build up your experience and ability first.
Select a driving instructor who also puts horses to harness and that way you will have someone who in time knows your ability and can hopefully help to put you and your horse together.
Once you've got your skill level to intermediate THEN get said newly found trainer to take in your horse and commence the work of putting to harness.
They may well assess your horse for temperament etc at early stage for you. A driving horse must be confident, biddable and forward. Remember they're out way ahead of you and all you have is your voice and an itsby bitsy pair of reins to communicate and manage them.
Be prepared to be disappointed. IMO novice drivers and novice horses are always a combination to be avoided. Furthermore you've a thoroughbred and you need to know at early stage that is can be quite difficult getting someone to train a t/b to drive in any event and personally speaking I'm not imaging it's something I'd want to do for a novice driver.
But first of all some context. When I competed fei singles, pairs and tandems it was with hot bloods. An anglo/arab and a t/b. I also drove a team of them at National level. At that time I was the only person to so do. To my certain knowledge there's another 3 folks now compete fei level with them. I don't personally know of anyone at the lower levels though.
I train people to drive at all levels and up to high level competition standard. I've only ever had 2 other people drive my hot blood pair how I would call really successfully and they're top teams drivers and I mean TOP. I've had other fei pairs drivers 'have a go' with them and they've been fine walking about and doing dressage but they've 'bottled out' and given me the reins and said I was mad for driving them cross country and cones and they've destroyed cones courses in the process.
I am going to tell you "why not" but first of all I must declare that if I could only own one horse that it would most probably be a Thoroughbred, or maybe a pure bred Arab or if I could cheat then perhaps roll them up into an Anglo Arab.
So be clear it's not that I think that T/B's can't or won't drive. They will.
T/B's are quick and sharp - and I just know that someone is likely to post and tell me their's is the quietest and best behaved in the world, but if it is, then that's different to quick and sharp and if its not those 2 things, then its not well-bred and true to type and purpose.
Personally I've never had more of a problem with a t/b doing the likes of spooking and being stupid than with a lot of other breeds, but they're quick and when they do act its quick. They're quick to learn and that is bad and good and you tend to have to do everything spot on right with them. Trust me you don't get away with things with a t/b. Everyone who's owned them in number knows that you HAVE to always handle them properly and the day you don't, they have accidents or cause you to or even to have a close shave. They're just not forgiving of error, slowness, incompetence, sloppy technique.
So when it comes to a carriage horse, you wouldn't get away with harnessing a T/B up without heading it, without have good experienced people to help you, without REALLY good, quick and precise rein handling. Without approaching 'obstacles' correctly and accurately. And at the risk of being contentious with having your reins as if you were a rider - and incidentally the 2 other people I know that drive them fei also don't drive rein in each hand.
With my welsh section D's, warmbloods, friesians, Lipezzaners indeed all the other traditional carriage horses you've time to think, give a command, wait for it, and then the horse acts. T/B's go as you think and the VERY second you put the command on. I joke about my others and often say "come left" and add "any time today" but I tell you something, now I'm getting older and my reaction time is a little slower, I'd rather drive them any day of the week. Its more 'pleasurable' and I don't have to have my wits about me every second.
I used a hot blood pair because they competed with each other and I used that so that they absolutely blew other competitors away over cross country and cones and could produce decent dressage tests compared to other competitors. But same as in ridden work, they don't have the flashy, showy higher knee action with good forward movement at trot and its that which tends to mark a good carriage horse.
With my driving t/b's I always say I'm on the edge of brilliance or disaster.
Would I recommend a T/B for a driving horse. NO WAY.