Cantering a horse in harness?
Cantering a harness horse is not new. Its been done for centuries. Think Boadica's chariots! Then think coaching: it used to be called "springing" and you'd put the team to canter and for extra zoom! (think turbo charged) and likewise in the Wells Fargo days! Think of hunt followers in the early days..... Always in a carriage and often in a 2 wheeler and often at canter too.
Some 2 wheeler carriages are indeed immensely uncomfortable at canter and that's the reason why "some" drivers seem to think that its something you don't or shouldn't do and for sure if you're showing a horse in harness you don't want it to break into a canter stride because you will be marked down for it.
But going from that into believing that its the "norm" not to permit a harness horse to canter is merely demonstrating a lack of true understanding. Likewise checking and punishing or never permitting a horse to break into a canter seems bizarre to me.
At the end of the day you don't canter a horse if its not adequately schooled and prepared. And a driver/rider shouldn't canter a horse if they don't know what to do and aren't in control. If the horse PLUS the driver is calm and confident in harness there is absolutely nothing wrong with it and indeed a horse than can calmly canter in harness is going to be better balanced in trot.
Furthermore it will not compound panic, accident or anything else if something happens. No different in driving than riding. Horses don't panic more or become more predisposed to "flight and fright" mode just because they're in canter gait.
Rather a horse should be schooled and prepared to be calm and well-behaved in as many scanarios as possible.
Hence as part of driving training it's prudent and wise to teach the horse in controlled and safe circumstances how to canter in harness: to feel the motion of the harness and carriage when it transitions up and maintains a canter pace. Then to bring it to transition back to trot and walk and stand calmly. A canter should be a no issue for a horse and whether it's a riding or a driving horse you don't want to the horse to first experience a canter when it's say doing a few strides as part of a spook.
Particularly so when it's a harness horse because the carriage will likely bump about and make more noise and so it's considered good practice by traditionalist or old school harness horse trainers to ensure that canter is part of training and normal experience.
Dependent on what you intend to do you may have to train to canter. e.g. for just every day driving on VERY steep hills to make it easier on the horse/s, for advanced driven dressage tests, for obstacles in the marathon phase of Horse Driving Trials (CDE).
Storing your carriage whip and whip reels.
winfieldfarm posted an excellent question -- and received excellent responses -- regarding whip reels and storing and caring for a carriage whip. :)
Here are the responses:
You should not try to place the bow on the reel. The bow should rest an inch or so below the reel. Your whip reel should have a series of channels on it for the thong to rest. Simply wrap the thong around the reel twice, and then let the remaining thong length drop on the far side. It should stay in place.
However, if it slips off you can cross over your thong to help hold it in place on the reel, but this also prevents you from easily removing the whip without having to handle the thong all the time.
Here is a better suggestion:
Take a piece of black carpet thread (it is thicker and stronger than regular sewing thread - but still virtually invisible from a few steps away) and tie it at the top of your whip shaft so that it has a little loop. If your whip reel isn't mounted on a board (stained to match the reel), do so first. Hang your whip on the reel as you naturally would, and where the top of the whip shaft with thread loop rests against the board, put a tiny finishing nail in the board. Now, when you hang the whip you can slip the thread loop onto the nail and it will ensure that your whip stays where it should, that your thong stays on the reel and won't slip, and that the whip thong is not having to hold the whip in place all on it's own.
You should never have more than two whips on a reel. Each whip should hang on the opposite side from the other. That center third groove is to accommodate the extremely long thong from a 4-in-hand whip. Otherwise, it isn't used.
DNJ had some great suggestions for storing a whip when not in use. She wrote:
"What we ACTUALLY use to store whips at the barn where we board is an old milk can - tall metal canistar with a narrower topWe use the brass carriage whip holders (the ones you have on your carriage) tacked in a nice line-up on the carriage house (inside) wall for the everyday carbon fiber whips. The holly whips, however, are kept in the house (of course!! you want them in a controlled temperature) on a full board whip reel.
We probably have about a dozen various whips stuck in there upright. Also you can put 2-3 foot sections of PVC attached to the wall that you can sip a driving whip or lunge whip into to keep them upright
To travel with a whip you can get threaded PVC and a matching threaded cap - cut to just beyound the length of the whip - the other end you can glue on a PVC cap
They are safe and protected in the PVC pipe - We have used the 2 inch pipe but you could go bigger if you are carrying more whips"