Has anyone ever taught their horse to pull a sled?
We got a foot of snow recently, so I figured I'd try it today and it was awesome. It was the most fun I've had in months! It felt like I was being pulled by a team of sled dogs! I was just planning on walking her around, but we ended up trotting too, very nicely I might add. She actually put her head down and really seemed to really use her back.
At first I had difficulty getting her to stay put while I went behind her (she likes to orient herself to me) and set everything up, but we resolved that issue eventually. It would have been a lot easier with another person out there to help me, but what can you do? I went through a bit of trial and error with how I rigged all the equipment. I ended up with a satisfactory solution, connecting two lines on either side of her from the saddle to the sled, running them through the stirrups, and then two lunge lines threaded through the stirrups from her bit to my hands to steer her.
The first thing I did was refresh her on ground driving, then I hooked the sled up. Boy was she surprised at first at my weight. I asked her to "walk on" and she started to step forward, and then stopped and looked back at me like "you've got to be kidding." I didn't need to use a whip though. She's in tune enough with my voice and forward-going enough that it wasn't necessary.
I did it in a very large round pen, which was nice and safe but also introduced the complication of having me always slightly to the inside of her and having the outside sled line put some pressure on her outside hind leg. If I feel brave, next time I might try her out in the large field. =P