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CloudsMystique 04-19-2009 03:51 PM

I'm thinking about training my mare to drive...
I have a few questions.

1. I have a little driving experience, but I've never trained a horse to drive. Is it much harder than starting a horse under saddle? Would it be better to do it myself, or send her to a trainer? I'm not looking to show or anything... I just want to do it for fun.

2. How expensive are the harnesses and carts? Again, I don't want to show.

3. What bit should you ground drive in? What bit should you drive in? Is it okay to use the bit you ride the horse in, or should it be different?

4. How much weight can a horse comfortably pull? (The cart plus the driver)

5. If you've driven a gaited horse before, are they much smoother than a trotting horse, or does it feel about the same when you're not on their back?

stepup 04-19-2009 07:23 PM

1. I am in the process of training one to drive now. He is a laid back qh cross boy and has been mine since birth. Not flighty (yet). If he was, I would not be training him myself.
2. I bought a metal horse cart at an auction for $90. Nothing fancy. It needs new tires (not sure what they will cost because the wheels (two) are at the bicycle shop). The cart has some surface rust so it is getting sandblasted ($45 approximately) and then it will be primed and painted by me.
If you want a buggy, I know where there is a project buggy for $450.
It has steel rims on the wheels. Same person also has a newly restored doctor's buggy which is $3500.
Meadowbrooks start in the $1000 range for used.
Harness? Stay away from the cheapie new harness on E-bay. I prefer a leather harness myself, but biothane is washable and many people love it. Do your homework. Certain names stand out - Smuckers, Zilco but they are pricey. You want to make sure your harness is safe though. Check one carefully if it is used.
3. Bits. I asked the same question because I have Myler snaffles. Fine to use, but not to show. Just don't use a snaffle with small rings. They could be pulled into the horse's mouth. The used bridle I bought has a driving bit (snaffle with extra piece hanging down) Mine does fine in that.
4. I always heard a horse can pull 2 1/2 times it's body weight. That would be under ideal circumstances. My 250 pound shetland pony could pull hubby and I plus a lightweight cart, but going up a hill I would kick hubby out. Pony could pull us both but I wanted to make the trip enjoyable for him. A heavier carriage could require using a collar and harness instead of a breast strap style.
5. Never drove a gaited horse. I don't think there would be much difference though. They would just move in the harness a little differently.

CloudsMystique 04-19-2009 08:57 PM

Thanks stepup! My mare is really laid-back, too, so I think I'm going to give it a try myself first. I have a trainer that can help me, but she's not a driving trainer.

CheyAut 04-20-2009 01:41 AM

I ALWAYS ALWAYS advice people to have a professional train a horse to drive unless you are HIGHLY experienced in driving. I've been driving for many years, I compete regularly in combined driving, I'm always 1st or 2nd in year end placings in combined driving, and I still will NOT train a horse to drive. Ride? No problems. Drive? NOPE! Driving is MUCH more dangerous than riding. I do know HOW to train one to drive, and I will often teach them to ground drive, but as to the cart... nope, I leave that up to my trainer! :) JMHO of course.

Carts can be cheap or super expensive. All depends on what you want to do. A simple 2 wheel easy entry runs about $500 new. A marathon cart for CDEs runs in the thousands (try $7000 or up! Can find some cheaper, but...). Harnesses, again, it depends. I would say roughly $500 to $1000. Zimmermans is good quality Amish harness, leather or biothane (I HATE betathane and do NOT use nylon ever!), their number is 717-354-5667. I don't know what their cost is for horse size, I've only bought mini from them (I happened to win a horse sized synthetic Smuckers Delux in a raffle, and my other two cob/horse sized harnesses I bought used).

I would ground drive in the bit I would be driving in. As to wether you can use your riding bit... well maybe some but certainly not many. A lot of driving bits are half cheek to keep things out of the way and make sure the bit won't go through the mouth... just really depends I guess. I've never used a riding bit to drive in. I have used a driving bit to ride in though hehe ;)

Never driven a gaited horse, sorry! :)

KANSAS_TWISTER 04-20-2009 05:48 PM

p icked up 2 harnesses for $50.00, they where thrown in to a bucket with a bunch of other stff a farm didn't want any more...thought that was a good deal

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