Training a young horse and myself to drive a trap where to begin - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-20-2012, 07:10 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: county durham, england
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Question Training a young horse and myself to drive a trap where to begin

iv a 3 year old and i fancy training her to drive but iv not started with her yet , going to when the weather breaks, i suppose its probly better to set her away under saddle first before teacinng her to pul a small trap , but then again i dont know not having driven before , can any body offer me advice as to what would be best. .
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-21-2012, 01:55 AM
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Hi Jay,

I'm absolutely nothing of an authority on this, but since no one else has replied & I'm in a similar boat to you, thought I'd reply with the way I'm going about it...

Firstly, if your horse is only 3yo, I wouldn't personally be asking much of it under saddle or in harness for a while, physically speaking. However, I think that it's best to go slow & thoroughly, especially where driving is concerned, because being a bit more 'remote' on the back of a buggy, I think it can be potentially more dangerous than riding if things go wrong. Therefore, if the horse has very little education at all yet, you probably have a way to go before physical work comes into it anyway.

I don't know what your 3yo has learned, so I'll start at the start; I would ensure it can *calmly* yield to pressure in any manner, forwards, backwards, hind or forequarters and that it is desensitised, calm & accepting in a wide variety of environments & situations. *I think a calm, well adjusted horse is even more important for driving as for riding.

As for specific driving training, I hadn't ever ground driven my horses before I started(tho they were used to my online control & with young kids I'd also taught them to be 'led' from beside), so that's where I started. First in a controlled environment, then out & about. I ensured they were very calm & understanding of all that before I 'muddied the waters' with further factors.

Then I harnessed them, but before attaching anything to them, I started with just me hanging my weight off a rope attached to both sides of the breastplate. That way, if things got out of hand, i just dropped the rope or lessened my weight. As my horses had learned so thoroughly to yield to light pressure, it was actually amusing the first few lessons, getting through to them that they could actually go forward while I was hanging off the breastplate! I also got them used to strange things 'chasing' them with me as the 'safety chain'. That is, I ground drove them while I dragged something like a tyre or barrel or such. That way, there was no risk of them running off with something chasing & further terrifying them. They weren't attached to it until they were already used to moving into pressure and having wierd & wonderful things behind them. When I first did attach these things, it was by a quick release knot that I had hold of, so in the event of upset, it would release the knot when they startled. Thankfully my prior preparation must have been OK because nothing ever came of any of that.

Then I made a couple of 'training shafts', just out of a couple of light saplings and 2 cross pieces. The horses were already used to things against their sides, backing into confined spaces, etc. Again when I first used these I put the ends in the tugs but didn't attach them to anything, so if worst came to worse, the horse would just pull away & they would fall from the tugs. I started ground driving with the shafts with me holding them up, then when I deemed it safe to attach them, I did, again with a quick release that I held and let them drag it around. I also then attached the training shafts to the 'britching', so they got the idea about backing with pressure on their hind ends too.

So... that's all been going great and I figure the next step is to hook them up to a light cart, but I figured with my lack of experience, I'm going to find someone experienced in driving & training to instruct me, or at least give me more practice before I take my boys to the next step. Just haven't gotten around to that yet though.

Hope that helps you & hope others reply with their tips... pref those with far more experience than us!
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-21-2012, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: county durham, england
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Smile many thanks loosie

thanks loosie for yr advice and the nice way you put it accross . . that was only my second go at asking a question on a forum , the first time was on another site and the reply i got was very nasty and condersending so i never done it again til now.. u have renewed my faith in friendly advice from nice people and not stuck up snobs ... where are u from if u dont mind me asking.. im from county durham near newcastle uk . . il take on board what u sed do u think i should back her and do a small amonut of riding before i start with driving may be the following year that way she ll have been out and about mor and seen more and gained confidance . i dont intend doing much with her this year she is a canny little thing . black and white cob . cant do photoes yet , its taken me half an hour to find out how to reply to u ha ha ... thanks again for the advice ..
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post #4 of 4 Old 01-21-2012, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Australia
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Hi again,

Yeah, it does seem some people can get quite disrespectful & high & mighty when replying on these forums.... Not saying that I always succeed, especially in matters I have strong opinions of, but I do try to remain respectful, keep in mind potential misunderstandings, try not assume or judge people or their beliefs, even when they're opposite to mine. I try not to get bothered when people do get bitchy, just remember that's their problem, not mine. Gee, that sounds very sanctimonious actually & I wish I was that good, but that's what I aspire to at least!

I'm in Victoria, Australia actually. As for should you back your horse first, think it probably doesn't matter. Suppose that depends on when you want the horse ready to drive & what you do before hand. I always do a lot of stuff on the ground, including taking them out & about, before I start a horse under saddle anyway. Apart from actual harnessing & using shafts, that's pretty close to my sort of steps to training a horse under saddle too. Like I said, I don't tend to ground drive as a matter of course, but many do as a prerequisite of riding.
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