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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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

~Anita
 

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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.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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.
 

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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!
 

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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.

Nancy
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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!
 

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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!

Nancy
 

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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
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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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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.
line driving shorter lines and your behind them. Long lining is 2 long lines but lunging
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I wish I had been able to save the photos off my old phone!!! I had every step documented....
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Nancy,

I hate it when I have to change phones for things just like that!!! I finally am able to transfer stuff off my phone now and I know how to get it to do all the things I want it too. Just in time for us to have to change phone plans and that means, I have to get a new phone, they won't let me take mine. GRRRRRR! Wish we didn't have to change, but my husband works 12 hour days frequently and our phone company doesn't work out at his job. I've been with AT&T for 20 years, but off to Verizon we go.

Okay that was a tangent. : )-

I do the long lining when I trot her on the lunge lines. I can't keep up!
 

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I believe much of those questions come down to personal opinion and differences in individual horses.

I choose to start horses in an open bridle, just because I don't want them to ever be afraid of what might be chasing them. You never know when you are going to need it. I will then transition a horse into blinders for driving it busy areas, just to keep focus.

I do not buy young horses, just to avoid temptations to start anything before the horse is fully developed. So I've got no advise on age.

I started my kids out with just a bar that I was pulling on behind them while driving, so just a little pressure, then we moved up to dragging a tire. We did start out with someone leading the horse and someone else behind and ready to unclip the quick releases to the tire if the horse panicked.

My horses both rode before teaching them to drive, so ground driving was just transitioning those cues across. The draft mare probably only ground drove 10-15 times before her first tire pull. She took everything in stride so we were able to progress with her at a fairly quick rate. The QH mare took a lot more time, she was a western horse, not accustomed to moving into bit contact, so she had a few issues that had to be handled first. I would just say stay at each step until the horse can be calm and trusted with anything you throw at her at that stage. We ground drove at both a walk and trot, over obstacles, lots of turns and lots and lots of just standing still. I expect the horse to stand still for hitching, adjusting any straps, and me climbing into the cart, so they need to understand that standing is a command that is to be obeyed until I give another command. And a good bit of this time was done in the full harness to get the horse comfortable with the feel of all of the new straps going every which way.

My biggest suggestion would be to have someone knowledgeable there to help you for those first few times hitching to anything new. You will not be able to control the horse and release the drag/cart at the same time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thankfully, I do have someone to help me. There are so many steps that you need another set of hands! I have been doing all sorts of stuff with my filly and have been not only starting the driving training but also the riding. I've been on her about 5 or 6 times now with phenomenal results. She is a very curious and willing girl. There is so little that unsettles her, knocking on wood as I type that, just in case she looses her brain tomorrow. I feel very blessed!!

I appreciate all the input. I can't wait for my harness to get here, so I can start doing some of the ground driving with it on her.
 

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Open bridle versus noseband: One good reason I heard to use a noseband in high-impact or high-risk situations is because the noseband reduces the potential gape of the jaw and therefore lowers the risk of a broken lower jaw if the horse falls on its face. The lower jaw is relatively fragile. Breaking it is not fun and involves expensive surgery, or euthanasia. A decade ago my parents had a stallion who broke his jaw when a young colt got into his enclosure when the electric fence had an (as yet undetected) fault. The jaw was pinned because the horse was much loved and there was a vet in the family. Broken jaws aren't all that common, but some showjumping associations at least used to prescribe nosebands for that reason. Educating to cart, your horse can end potentially up in a tangled heap if something scares it, so I'd use a noseband at least until the horse is less green.

Blinkers / blinders:
Opinions will vary, but my father has been a harness reinsperson for thirty years and never uses these when educating a young horse to cart. He prefers to make the horse very familiar with the cart and equipment - letting it sniff all the gear, rubbing the gear on the horse, etc, until it's not bothered. Then he drops the shafts over their back from the side at first, both sides, and when they're happy with that he drops them into the shafts for a few seconds, lifts them again, increases the time. When the cart first goes on, it's only placed in the loops, not tied in, so it can be quickly disconnected if the horse startles, and there's always a "babysitter" walking at the horse's shoulder, and the reinsperson long-reining from the back. Sitting in the cart happens progressively once the horse is good to hitch to the cart with straps and all. At no time does my father hide anything from the horses, he just progressively familiarises them with everything until they're happy. All this goes on in a safe environment away from traffic and fences and hoo-haa. Blinkers have only been used a few times in all these years as a temporary educational measure to stop harness horses from jumping shadows at night-time track meetings.

Age: The earlier you familiarise a horse with equipment, the better. This is not the same as working a horse hard, which needs to be avoided until the horse matures - and conditioning for work is a gradual process. Horses can be taught to accept a cart as yearlings, and have a saddle strapped on them as yearlings, although the rider doesn't happen till later! If something is "old hat" to a horse, it will be so much calmer.

Your context isn't harness racing, and you may have "scarier" carts and buggies, and want to drive horses as teams. But quite a bit of the underlying groundwork is the same.

Oh, and doing courses and witches' hats and strange surfaces etc when long-reining is an excellent idea: Have your horse familiar with all that BEFORE you hitch it to a cart. It much reduces the risks of bad experiences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
As she is only 2 1/2, I have been going pretty slow with things, figure I have plenty of time. When I have been on her, it has been bareback, as I am not the smallest of riders, and for very, very short periods of time.

So far, I have been dragging things along side her and having my son drag things behind her. The only time I have run into issues with this, is when I am pulling along the hay wagon and only because she wants to try to eat out of it. LOL!
 

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Hey.
I ground driving long and hard with my horses.
When I feel the horse is ready so I start to connect a pull cord on one side of the harness pull cord I keep in my hand while I ground driving and now and then I let the rope hit the legs of the horse so the horse learns this and not be afraid of the rope, then when it goes well I put on the second rope, and repeat this until you can.
The next step for me and my horse is that I have made ​​a Skakel of round timber with a snap-hook in the end I attach the harness and I repeat it all again.
Ground driving is everything instructive and fun.
What I let the horse drag first was a drag manufacture of wood that is used to pick the stone in from the fields, now the fun begins, now that the horse is accustomed to this so will check on how much benefit you can have from his horse.
The Lord was two years old when I started training him, I certainly have not driven with him yet trats that he is three years old, I prefer that he is well ground driving and the fun we have on the field together.
 

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