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4horses 11-25-2012 08:05 PM

Newbie here- several questions
I've been considering teaching my horse to drive, but want to learn more before committing to anything.

How calm does a horse need to be for driving? My mare is good under saddle, but does get excited sometimes. She will be 9 yrs old in April and is a Paint. She has a good head on her, mostly her spook is just a step sideways and stop, or jump forward 2 strides and stop. She is extremely tuned in to the rider, sensitive to the aids and willing to do anything I ask. She will trail ride by herself and is pretty good about barking dogs, traffic etc.

The problem is I have developed a chronic illness so I can't really ride very much at all. Lately all I do is hand walk her down the street. :cry: I did ride her the other day and she was great considering she hasn't left the yard (or the other horse) in about 2 years.

Where do you drive your horse at? And where do you put your cart when you go places? I do have an arena in the front yard, but I am sure that is going to get boring after a while. I could drive her down the road but it is paved and has traffic so probably not a good idea. I only have a 2 horse trailer, so where would you put the cart? In the back of the truck?

If I did decide to do this, I know I would need lessons, and a trainer. I have driven before but not enough to really be experienced.

Lilley 11-27-2012 12:15 AM

I'm sorry no one has answered you yet. I am new to driving too so I have no good advice to give. Try to find someone in you area that drives or trains cart horses. That person can answer all your questions. I bought an experienced and fully trained cart horse. He is teaching Me.

Good luck with driving. It's fun. Like you, I have been chronically ill and cannot ride right now but carting is a good option for me. We drive around the pecan orchard and down the road a ways. It is off the main road so there is almost no traffic.

Left Hand Percherons 11-27-2012 12:25 AM

You and your mare sound like perfect candidates to learn to drive. You both need lessons which you recognize but I'd start with finding someone else to drive with and get more comfortable and confident with your skill first. If you're more confident, your mare will follow your lead. I really won't fret over the spooking. She hasn't been worked consistently if at all in the past 2 years. I have found it rather easy to get a riding horse up to speed driving. They know all the basics. You can start by line driving instead of walking her to make your outings more stimulating for her.

As far as where to drive, an enclosed place is a good place to start but you will get bored rather quickly. A paved road is a viable option if the horse is a seasoned driver and you don't have dangerous jerks out on the road with you. Finding an open field or wide trail is a safer bet. Look for a local driving club. They'll hook you up with the good places to work. They are also a good source of clinics that will improve your skills (and used harness and carts!). A bumper pull is a good set up with the cart in the back of the truck with the shafts over the cab. In a 2 H slantload, you put the horse in the front, and the cart should fit in the back slot (usually a bit larger than the front stall) with the shafts removed. There are more and more competitive and pleasure driving opportunities out there. Just have to find them!

Clayton Taffy 11-30-2012 09:03 AM

Hi 4horses, your horse sounds like she might be a good candidate for driving.
There are a few things you can try to test her out before you sink a ton of money into driving, then having it not work out.

You can ground drive her using lounge lines or clothes line, (use gloves).
Ground drive her using your saddle and run the lines through the stirrups, you can tie the stirrups together under the horse, to keep them from flapping around. Practice this, after awhile make an effort to bother the horse by flapping the lines against her sides and up and down the horseís flanks, hips and legs, fine line here because a lot of flapping will pop her in the mouth some.

Practice walking straight behind her and also off to the side with one of the lines around her butt. Practice turns, stops, starts, stands.
After awhile you can hold something to drag, I use a bucket that is on a rope that I hold in my hand, so that I can drop it if needed.

Get a whip and practice placing it on the hips and such, getting her used to the idea that the whip is not punishment.

Try a few of these and see how she does. I understand this might be a problem with your limitations, but it might be worth it to hire a young equestrian to help you do this. Then if she is good you will have a good idea that she will be a nice driving mare.

Also with your limitations, I would suggest sending her off to a reputable driving instructor for three months. I feel it takes that much time to get them going very well in harness. You donít want an accident when you get her back because she didnít have enough hours on her.

I drive mostly at work, that is where my horse is and they have about 4 miles of dirt and chat roads. I am not mobile with my vehicle yet without a lot of trailer borrowing. Once I am mobile the world is my oyster, parks, parades, friends, shows etc. I only drive on the road for 300 yards to get from my work to my house, the roads around here automobiles go to fast.

I donít know where you live, but I could give you some names of trainers. If you start your mare off right you can have 15 years of good driving ahead of you. That is worth the initial investment of 3 months good training.

Good luck, welcome and keep us posted.

4horses 12-04-2012 10:36 PM

Just wanted to give a little update.

I'm probably going to start her as far as I can by myself first. I'm not really in any rush so we will take our time and have fun with these new training exercises. I will definitely get a professional to evaluate her before hooking her to a cart though.

I do know one person who trains show horses to drive so he is giving me a few pointers. If I get stuck with anything I can ask him. Although I am still going to need to find someone to give me some lessons. He only drives his horses in the arena and right now all he has is babies who are being saddle broke.

I went ahead and got some blinkers to introduce my mare to them. She really didn't react at all. I put them on and off a few times and then I lunged her with them- it was weird for me because I couldn't really watch her eyes like I am used too. She was really good- all she was thinking about was how quickly we could get done so she could go back to grazing. Every time I said whoa she tried to steal grass.

I dragged a small pvc pole over and she had no reaction to that either. I waved it all over in the air, rubbed her all over with it, dragged it next to us while walking... Again no reaction. I went ahead and tied it loosely to the surcingle and ground drove her at the walk. She was perfect. Every time the pole fell out of the tie (I didn't tie it solid), she would just stop and stand there. I obviously wouldn't have gone that far if she had showed any signs of nervousness.

The only bad habit I think we will need to work on is that she wants to stop and face me when I say whoa. My fault because I did some Clinton Anderson training with her, and I always wanted her to give me two eyes. Her turning isn't as responsive as it is under saddle so we will be working on that too. She still needs to be introduced to the crupper.

The crupper might be a problem, hopefully not. She seems to have more of a problem with excess energy (from being worked so inconsistently) rather than really being upset by anything.

It will probably be 6 months or more before I buy a cart or harness. That gives me plenty of time to play around with her, find an instructor, get lessons etc. If all goes well that is!

If nothing else all this desensitization will just give me a better riding horse.:D

Clayton Taffy 12-05-2012 01:24 AM

Sounds like you are off to a great start!
Love to see some photos.

michaelvanessa 12-10-2012 06:11 PM

takeing up driveing
hiya and pleased to meet you.
i think a pair of race blinkers would help you could ride out in them and your horse will feel you and also you can long line in them as well so thay are an advantage.
also whilst schooling give a reward and all ways leave the lessons on a good note.
i wish you the best and keep us posted.

4horses 02-25-2013 12:02 AM

Just wanted to give everyone an update.

I went to my first pleasure driving show with my instructors horse. The girl who was supposed to show him cancelled so I got to drive him instead. :D It was just a schooling show, so not a lot of competition, but we took second place. :-) The horse made the same mistakes at the show as he does at home. He doesn't like to walk and gets excited and prances instead.

As for my mare she has had some arthritis problems, so I haven't been working her much or very hard. I've done some more ground driving around the yard, worked her in poles a bit more, and have been taking her down the street and back. So far so good.

I've been browsing for an easy entry cart for sale. So far I haven't seen much in my price range in this area. Again I'm not in any rush.

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