When do I start hitching up to things
I have been ground driving my filly for several weeks now, and she is doing wonderful! Though, I don't feel that she is ready, and will continue ground driving for another couple of months before hitching to anything. Mostly because I want her to grow a bit more, but being a part draft, she won't be done growing for several more years and I go really slow with each step in training. The ranch that I volunteer at does it the old school, draft way, get some basics on them then hitch them in with another, calm, experienced draft for an anchor. Not really an option at my place.
So my questions, understanding that everyone has their own way and each horse is different. Not to worry, I am not flying by the seat of my pants. I have a trainer working with me, but just want other opinions as well.
When do hook up, age?
How much ground driving do you do first?
What do you hook up too the first time? Stone boat, tractor tire.....?
Open bridle or closed to start with?
Thank you for your advice in advance! :D
Bear in mind that my horse was a mini, not a draft- but I hitched up for the first time when she was 3 1/2. I started ground driving her at 2 1/2 (though I could have done that earlier, but we had other behavior problems to deal with). I ground drove MILES into her. We would do 15-20 minute sessions almost daily, all over the place. Over bridges, around cones, in good ground and bad ground, cement, dirt, in the woods, in open areas, in an arena...I wanted her 'been there done that' by the time I hooked her up. Of course, she wasn't hooked up team though. I hooked up to a tire for her first experience and did a few weeks of work with that. At the very beginning I ground drove her in an open bridle because thats all I had, but I advise in never, ever hooking to a cart without blinders.
So far I have been ground driving her in her pasture. I don't have an enclosed arena and I want to have her contained if for some reason she takes off. Usually getting 30+ minutes 4 times a week. I did take her out the other day around our property, though I quickly realized that I didn't have her "whoa" as good as I wanted. She has it really well on the lunge line and the lead rope, but I need to do more before I take her out and about again. I just got finished with another training round and she did very well with the halt. I would like to set up a coarse around our property, because she is getting very bored quickly with circles and laps around and around. However, I want her halt to be there 100% before I take her out again.
if your not ready to leave the arena, but she seems to be getting boored, set up cones or barrels & make figure eight's or some other pattern around them. Lay a sheet of plywood out to simulate a bridge for her to cross. Heck, I had my kid ride his bike around the pasture while I was ground driving!
We move according to the horse. Gavotte was long lined for about a month, 3 days a week, then we hooked a pair of ATV(small) tires to the traces, and when she was comfotable with them on all surfaces, maybe 4 times, we hooked her to the drag, which was not much more than a sturdy pallet, because it was fairly rotted. One day we let her drag that, then 2 days later we put a 5 year old on an upside down plant bucket, then Mike on the bucket, then me. Then the next week we hitched her to my marathon carriage, in the cutting pen first, then the next day Mike drove her out into his field, around round bales, cones, everything.
More time drilling is not neccessarily better, just more boring. When the horse masters the lesson, move on. Let them make mistakes, get traces around their legs, twist and untwist, so they learn not to panic.
Everytime I hooked up to something, the first thing I did was let the horse take ONE step, then stop, so they learn that WHOA makes everything better, and I can fix it, instead of turning it into a panic or bolt. Draft people train them the opposite of my light horses. They hook to something heavy first, and with the light horses, we always work our way up in weight.
She is doing really well, but I can tell that toward the end of the driving part she is getting a little bored, not bad though. Today I ran longer than I usually do, so that might have been part of it. Forgot to take a way to tell time with me. We've been all over her pasture, circling, serpentines, around the tire she will be dragging and going over poles, but I think it may partially be because we are in her pasture. She is out in it all the time and here I am keeping her in it. Because she is still growing, I didn't want to start with something heavy, so am going slowly with things, not asking for too much. I hope to have something set up in another month or so to take her through on the property, to make it more entertaining and challenging. I prefer the idea of working up in weight so I don't strain or injure her in some way by asking too much. I don't think it would be all that long before she is mentally ready, but I don't want to strain growing things. Plus, I need to finish the stone boat, which is what I want her to move to from the tire.
Not enough time in the day for all of my projects!! I don't want to win just the lottery, but a time lottery too!
Honestly, I have never done all that ground driving...only enough that they understand me and my voice behind them. I long line. They are taught contact, commands, turning, harness, all in one. If you enjoy it, then she will, but it is drudgery for me, and my horses know it, lol!
I long lined as a yearling. i went unusual places like over plywood,up my stoop and thing that was safe and a challenge and scary. and hooked to a drag as a 2 yr old. Hitched to cart at 2.5
That could be why she is getting bored, I am a bit on the bored side too! LOL
What is the difference between ground driving and long lining? I have always thought that they were essentially the same thing? Could be I have been using the wrong term.
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