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  1. #1
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    Default Teaching a horse to drive

    Let me start by saying I've been around standardbreds and am comfortable with breaking/driving. But, I want to break my show horse to drive at the breed shows. So, I was thinking that for my training tack at home I'd buy a jog cart and standardbred type harness. I fgiure that as we get closer to being ready to show I can acquire the very expensive show harness and cart. In the meantime I'll train my horse in the gear that I'm familar with. Do you see any problems with this?

    Thanks in advance!
    Angie



  2. #2
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    Probably not, since Standardbred stuff is real close to what AQHA uses to show with. Light carts, skinny strap harness. Do know that skinny straps tend to cut in to a horse skin, not spreading the load out on him. This equipment is best used on prepared surfaces, track, arena, not good for going-down-the-road where equipment demands are higher in toughness.

    You probably will want some extension on the check rein, or risk having horse fight to drop his head. QH are not Standardbreds and don't need the heads checked up for speed. Checkrein is often falsely called a safety device, good horse doesn't need one, but might be required in AQHA rules. READ the rules. Will sure ruin a good headset when too short or too tight cranking his head around. Here in Carriage Driving Land, most of us don't use a checkrein, horse is too constricted by it in work. NEEDS to be able to lower his head a lot on hills or heavy going for balance.

    We Carriage Drivers are rather far away from what Breed showing does, with their specialty rules, different expectations of the animals. Neither is wrong, just way different in what we want to do.



  3. #3
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    You are correct, we don't use an overcheck to show the stock breeds. I figured I'd just leave the overcheck off the bridle. Its a martingale style, like this http://www.wagondraggin.com/images/cpd1.jpg. I can probably buy a martingale and hook it onto the buxton. I've been line driving my horse and he's really taken to it, most importantly, he knows walkon and whoa . I think he's going to be a great driver as he is very quiet and nothing seems to bother him. He has lots of self confidence and self carriage. I've owned others I've thought about breaking to the cart, but this one I truely believe in. Thanks for the advice! Also, thanks the fine harness warning, I never thought about that. I don't think that we'll do much driving outside of the arena or a fenced pasture. ALthough, I do plan on taking him over to the track to get help the first time I put the cart on. I think everyone's going to do a double take when they see my paint



  4. #4
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    Just wanted to check some words with you. Martingale for me, is the strap between his front legs, usually to hold the breastcollar down in work. Adjustment shown in demo picture, is very loose to me, so martingale is only a decoration strap as shown. A buxton to me, is a long-shanked curb bit, with a bar at the bottom of shanks. Used mostly in driving multiples, Pairs and Fours. Not seeing it on the photo.

    Horse knowing whoa is GREAT, the best gait of a driving horse! If he stops when told, you will both be very happy. Second best gait is stop-and-stand-still for long periods of time. Driver can do a lot with a horse who knows both these skills, is willing to do them when asked. My two favorites.

    Be careful out in the field, this is where I said the cart with air-filled tires is not as hardy in use, as the favored wooden wheeled ones. Standardbred jog bike is tougher than the bicycle wheeled cheapies, but still designed for use on groomed track or arena. Very easy to run over things that will flatten the tires, or they break the seal, lose air. If you put sideways torque on the rims, bending them and folding the rim over can happen. Sometimes the whole wheel comes out of the holder when bounced on rough pasture ruts. And sometimes the driver never has a problem. One of those unpredictable things, happens often enough to be a problem we all see. Many folks have walked home after setting out in the air-filled tire carts.

    For preparation to hitch, you should practice him dragging things, like tires. Tires have no sharp edges, pull fairly straight, just add drag, not heavy. I never suggest pulling logs or poles, they snag, roll and hop if caught on stuff. Not a good object for teaching safely. Ground driving or long lining and dragging teaches him to move into harness with weight behind him. Gets him brave so a load isn't scary. Drive him with and without the blinker bridle. He should see and know what is happening behind and around him. Should be a big nothing to him. Blinkers are not to prevent him being frightened. If he acts scared, go back and review his lessons, he missed or doesn't understand something. Then go to blinkers all the time after putting cart on. Blinkers are to prevent him reading your body language, anticipating commands. He is NEVER allowed to choose what you do while driving, very dangerous.

    Get thru all this while you are on the ground, he is totally accepting of everything, before preparing to hitch. This is not a 10 day or 60 day set of lessons. Horse needs to totally understand all you do, ask, respond correctly each time before advancing another step in training. Needs to be comfortable with harness moving on him at all speeds, load pulling and jerking behind him, doing the commands you ask instantly. Then he is probably ready to hitch quietly. Take it easy the first couple times, very easy to overdo with quiet horse. Back to building his confidence in new setting, with cart. Short sessions let him be successful, then think about it when done. Use your watch. Driving is not like riding, no sore rear ends so people often do way too much in an outing. Tired animal is not learning.

    The above teach horse his basics. He then has knowledge to use in new or scary situations. Stand still is ALWAYS a good thing, while he absorbs the new information, tries to make it match what he knows so he can respond correctly. Ours are praised for stopping, standing still, while chaos goes on around them. Someone can go to their head for comfort, lead them off if needed, they are GOOD HORSES for being quiet, standing when frightened. Good basics save the day in rough times. All that practice builds horse confidence in you, trusting you will save him from hurt or danger. The horse hitched and driven in a week, doesn't have the basics knowledge or skills to respond well to new things, he gets scared out there ahead of vehicle all alone. Runaways happen fast, usually within two jumps. You grab control back or things are lost. He doesn't know you well enough to listen or trust you will take good care of him in dangerous settings. Then he takes charge to save himself.

    You might like going back in the archives here, there are many threads on teaching horses to drive. Each is a little different, much good information to be found. Good horse education is crucial, along with a good mind in the animal. Your horse sounds like you have a nice one to start with, trustworthy, they are sure easier to live with over the long haul.



  5. #5
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    Mar. 22, 2006
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    Default

    Isn't it amazing how much terms can differ. In the STB world a buxton is similar to a breastcollar (http://bigdweb.com/detail.aspx?id=19377) It hooks between the legs on the grith and above the shoulders onto the saddle.
    We've been dragging things from the saddle, so once I get a harness, he'll start dragging things while I line drive. I've seen some nasty accidents and don't plan on repreating any.

    Thanks for the advice. I'll be sure to scan the archives as we get closer to getting hitched to the cart. Right now, he needs lots of ground work. I figure all of this will make him better under saddle as well.



  6. #6
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    Default

    Yes, amazing. This is a Buxton to me:
    http://www.morgancarriage.com/?q=node/158


    Quote Originally Posted by AQHA4me View Post
    Isn't it amazing how much terms can differ. In the STB world a buxton is similar to a breastcollar (http://bigdweb.com/detail.aspx?id=19377)



  7. #7
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    Default

    Two very different pieces of equipment. I can now understand the concern about me modifying a buxton to make a martingale



  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by AQHA4me View Post
    You are correct, we don't use an overcheck to show the stock breeds. I figured I'd just leave the overcheck off the bridle. Its a martingale style, like this http://www.wagondraggin.com/images/cpd1.jpg.
    Just a note, but that horse has an overcheck on. See the forked strap across his forehead and going down to the bit? That's an overcheck and they're very common in stock breed fine harness from what I've seen. The difference is they're adjusted much looser than on a Standardbred racing harness and are often of rolled leather or other fine materials.

    Goodhors, "martingale" in this case refers to a true running martingale rather than a "false martingale" which is attached to the breastcollar and holds it in position. Most fine harnesses have running martingales like the one pictured, where the strap runs through a keeper on the breastcollar and ends in two rings the reins run through. They are very common with overchecks as a tight check makes the horse want to stick his nose out and flip his head up and strapping him down with a martingale keeps him trapped in position. I have no problem with a decorative-only martingale being left on a show harness (I have one, actually) but hate it when they're so tight they break the line of the reins and they're the only thing keeping the horse under control. Thankfully that's not usually an issue with the stock breeds as they travel with a low headset and the martingale and check are both pretty loose.

    I figured out which "Buxton" the OP was referring to but I have to admit it took me a minute! *LOL*

    Have fun with your horse, it sounds like you've put a good foundation on him.

    Leia
    Hey look, I joined ANOTHER forum! And you thought horses were addictive.



  9. #9
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    Default

    So, the over check discussion made me check the rule book. The only required equipment is:
    EQUIPMENT.
    1. Equipment to be used shall include a whip suitable to the cart, light
    horse breast collar harness to include surcingle with shaft tie downs
    or quick hitch and crupper and standard bridle.
    a. Optional Equipment. Blinders, overcheck or check reins,
    breeching or thimbles, running martingales, cavesson noseband
    may be used at the option of the exhibitor.
    2. Bits. See SC-200.A.3.&4. In addition, half cheek snaffle, liverpool,
    elbow driving and bradoon overcheck are also permitted. However,
    all mouthpieces must be a minimum of 5/16 inch (7.9mm) in diameter
    measured one inch from the cheek.

    So, I don't need an overcheck or a martingale. I'll let him tell me what he needs. I think I've found a harness to buy, so I'll get him all dressed up and ground driving around the ring shortly. I already know he's going to hate the crouper. The kids where I board are all exited about having a driving horse around. I just need to do it the right way and get him solid before the cart. I don't think I'll show in an open bridle though



  10. #10
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    Default

    That's great that they don't require checks! Woohoo! Wish the miniature horse shows didn't either. I'd show Pinto in a heartbeat if either of my horses had spots; I love their rules and point systems.

    Leia
    Hey look, I joined ANOTHER forum! And you thought horses were addictive.



  11. #11
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    Using the rules you showed, at least you have some option in choices. Last I knew Minis are required to use overchecks in their rules. 4-H locally requires a checkrein of some sort.

    If you want to win, you probably should use harness and vehicles like the winners use. AQHA judges are VERY worried if someone should appear "different" in a class. Unwilling to buck current styles in placing them. Those using outdated fashions in clothing, saddles, hat styles, even shoeing, are not usually treated kindly at the higher levels of competitions. You appear an outsider immediately, often get no second glance in the ring.

    Not sure who set the driving styles when they started the classes way back. I have to believe the QH folks would have a lot of fun if they had gone with carriage styles instead of fine harness. More options to play with, classes to show in like reinsmanship, obstacle classes. I see stylized, in the driving like in the riding. Everyone afraid to move the horses out naturally.

    Practice moving horse tail around to wipe under the dock, groom the hairs down the bone, handle it so he has no resistance to your moving it around. Most saddle animals get little to no tail handling, so they do resist, clamp it down.
    WARM UP THE CRUPPER before putting it around the tail bone. Kind of like a cold bit, REALLY makes them notice!! Even experienced animals appreciate a warmed up crupper on these cold days! Under the tail is mostly a warm spot, cold harness there is NOT NICE and can ruin a good mood for him. Thicker rolled cruppers are usually more comfortable than very thin ones that cut in, not huge though. Cruppers need to be kept scrupulously clean or they rub holes in thin dock skin. Dock skin under tailbone should also be clean, wiped off before the crupper is put on, so no dirt is in place to rub horse. Pull any tail hairs up and out from between crupper and skin.

    Pretty much all his previous saddle experience will be helpful in the driving, because he has learned from it. Pulling things from the saddle is great, will transfer to the driving skills he needs.



  12. #12
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    Mar. 22, 2006
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    Default

    Actually, I just made the switch from AQHA to APHA and we do have a utility driving class at our shows.
    Honestly, I am so tired of hearing about having to have the right tack, etc. If your horse is trained to do his job, is clean, clipped, properly turned out, etc and you have a properly shaped hat, nioce fitting chaps, etc, you can place and do well at the AQHA shows. I have placed wearing homemade shirts and my roughout trainer. That being said, I do have access to a proper cart and harness. Come show time, I wouldn't think twice about showing in a biothane harness and nice basket cart at a weekend show. As long as my horse does his job and my turnout is within the rules, I will still be pinned in a class. Now, if I am going to do that, my horse had better be trained and turned out to the nines with nice braids, clean feet etc.
    APHA seems to be a much more exhibitor friendly organization and I am beyond excited for the spring to get here so that I can get my new boy in the pen.



  13. #13
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    No experience with the APHA. Sounds like more fun than AQHA. QH clinics I have attended went into MUCH detail about the current fashions in everything. Judges talking to us said you have to "Look correct" for whichever classes you enter. Pros dress one way, while Ammy dresses another, for each catagory, Halter, Pleasure, Reining. These are the big show folks, Congress, World's, NRHA stuff.

    I got pulled aside at clinics by NUMEROUS folks, trying to help by giving me their Farrier's number to "fix up those big feet" on my horse. I was NEVER going to place in QH with those hooves shod that way, toes way too long, too BIG all over. I kindly thanked them, but said he/she was going as shod, where ever they were going. Those were my horse's natural size, needed to hold up the big body above comfortably in work. I kind of was the cuckoo in the group, big horse, plain headed, muscular but really NOT QH or QH bred. Folks just thought they were old-fashion QH lines, not pretty modern breeding. Sure fooled them, horses are Cleveland Bay crosses!! Almost no one asked breeding, just assumed QH. We were there for learning the moves. Sadly enough, he/she was usually the only horse in group that was not lame or sore moving. 3 1/2" toes are just is too short for most animals over 12 hands, but is the QH style needed to look right. Double or triple 0 shoes. Mine wear 4s or 5s in shoes, 16.2H to 17H, 1400-1500 FIT pounds. So I kind of got the STYLE thing pounded into me during the clinics. Learned many things there!

    So go with the equipment you have, just didn't want you disappointed in QH shows and not understanding why after your hard work preparing. Maybe things have improved a bit on styles, since my last QH experiences. I like biothane harness that is well made, fits the horse. Sure a lot less work! Sounds like you have the turnout part down, braids and all! You will have to link some photos as you progress in training, and your turnout for the show next spring.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Using the rules you showed, at least you have some option in choices. Last I knew Minis are required to use overchecks in their rules. 4-H locally requires a checkrein of some sort.
    AMHR and AMHA, the two mini organizations, both require a check rein of some kind but don't care if you use a sidecheck or overcheck. It's still a pain!! Blinders are also required, breeching strongly frowned upon as being "for rustics and hill drivers" (a quote from a judge!) and if you're in anything but a Jerald-style show cart you stand out like a sore thumb.

    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    If you want to win, you probably should use harness and vehicles like the winners use. AQHA judges are VERY worried if someone should appear "different" in a class. Unwilling to buck current styles in placing them. Those using outdated fashions in clothing, saddles, hat styles, even shoeing, are not usually treated kindly at the higher levels of competitions. You appear an outsider immediately, often get no second glance in the ring.
    I hate to say it but I've found this to be true in my breed as well. AQHA4me is right that if you have your horse turned out so professionally they can't ignore you you'll probably pin anyway, but still not as high as a traditional turnout with the same horse would have. You've got to have a really outstanding animal (and that's outstanding by the standards they're looking for, not by another discipline like carriage driving) to get away with it. You must be so clearly professional that your differences look like a daring style statement rather than ignorance, and frankly by the time you're that good you usually have the right equipment too! *LOL*

    Many of our judges simply aren't educated to the wider world of driving so if your horse isn't turned out as they're used to seeing it has to be five cuts beyond obviously awesome to be pinned above more traditional turnouts. It's just the way things are, at least in some areas.

    Leia
    Hey look, I joined ANOTHER forum! And you thought horses were addictive.



  15. #15
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    So, I got ahold of a cart and harness this weekend. I figured that I would just put the harness on with his normal bridle and ground drive him around. I was waiting for an explosion with the crupper. When he didn't care about that, I went ahead and put the blind bridle on and groud drove him. I swear this horse has pulled a cart before! He just want about his business, nothing bothered him! There was even other horses working in the indoor with him. I initally had them keep a safe distance, but by the end of the session, he was passing them and they were passing him.
    So, I need to just keep reminding myself to keep it slow and safe. Its probably a good thing that the cart needs new tires and as a result they are in the back of my truck right now and off the cart.
    When I get him hitched I'll be sure to post pictures as he is going to be a fantastic pleasure driver!



  16. #16
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    I've personally never had a horse have a problem with a crupper. Rather it's more likely to be with britching when it comes into action and so when you're going downhill or over rough terrain etc. Are you using britching or not??

    Sounds to me like all you're doing so far is longreining in a flat arena and with a breastcollar on?? Where's the traces etc?? Are you doing it by yourself? Are you putting any pressure into the collar?

    I really wouldn't want you to go just from that to putting to a carriage. You've not begun to test or train him for that. What you've done is o.k. but it's not testing at all and its a long long way from preparing the horse for putting to. I strongly recommend that when you move on that you ensure you have assisters to head the horse and that you don't train whilst other horses are working in the area.

    From what you've said you've not put any pressure at all on to his collar, you've not had anything behind him rattling and making noise and bumping about and you've not put any pressure on through his britching or crupper. You've a long way to go yet before you can properly consider him to be a fantastic pleasure driver of the future.



  17. #17
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    No breeching, we show in fine harness. Actually, compared to the standardbreds that I've helped break, this guy has had twice as much ground work. He's 5 and broke to ride, so the weight on saddle of the harness won't be anything new to him. He's also been extensivly sacked out and had ropes bumping him, I've ponied off of him, drug logs, etc. He's pretty broke all things considered. I just need him to understand the cart is supposed to be following him and that he can't out run it. I have pulled the cart along beside him in both the blind and open bridles. When breaking the STBs, I always had the most violent reaction to the crupper. This particular horse is not very fond of having his tail messed with and he tends to clamp it down tight to his body, hence my surprise about his reaction.

    As far as considering him to be a fantastic pleasure driver, I've been training this horse to ride, I know how he responds to what I've asked in the past. I know what the requirements are for the showpen and I've very closely watched my competition. I know this horse will be fine to drive, I know that he will excell at the class requirements, so therefore, I know that he will be a great driver that will win, alot!

    You need to remember that I'm not starting with a green horse. Just like the process I used to break STB to ride was different than how I break a 2 yr old straight out of the field, the process to break a riding horse to drive will be different than starting with a young one that doesn't know anything.

    Maybe I took your post wrong, but honestly it seemed a little over the top. I'm not stupid and am not going to set out to get anyone else hurt or my horse (who is a valuable show horse) or myself. When you live in the great white north like I do, you need to share the indoor. I'm not going to hook him for the first time ever in there. In fact, I've been working my connections and will be taking him to the track to get help from a respected horseman that is friends with the trainer I used to groom and paddock for.



  18. #18
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    Thomas gets lots of horses to train, retrain, that have been poorly handled. His job is training driving animals and drivers, has seen all the BAD people can create when they just jump in expecting a smooth transition from saddle to driving. Seldom happens that way except in novels. Not having time in on good basics will come back to bite, later.

    Also he might be having language problems, UK and American english don't always mean the same things. Like Buxtons! I can understand your phrasing, know the steps in Western and Standardbred training methods, but it might not translate as well to others on here from other countries.

    If all of us driving folks seem over-cautionary, it is because we have seen and heard of the MANY bad experiences of people and beginning driving horses. Just takes a moment to transform a nice outfit to splinters, wreck a horse for ever driving well. Not sure they do Fine Harness like we do in the breed shows, over in the UK. I was rather amazed at wrapping traces on the shafts if they were too long. No breeching in use did make me look at them hard. Just a different way to play with their equines. Each kind of driving has needs and methods that do not overlap.

    Don't get upset, ask for clarification on the topic. DRAG it out of us, Ha-Ha! Some of us are rather abrupt in writing or I may not phrase my ideas as well as I should.



  19. #19
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    You might be surprised by his reaction to the crupper when he's actually pulling a cart. When you ask him to go from a fast trot to a walk or halt, the cart will push the harness forward (since you aren't using breeching), pushing the crupper up harder under his tail, and he might react to that.

    I come from the Saddlebred world, where 99% of our horses are broke to drive before they are ever ridden, and I like to use a fat crupper instead of the thinner/harder crupper that's more commonly found on harnesses. It's seed-filled and much thicker and softer, so when the horse tries to clamp down the tail, they can't get any leverage to do so. It usually prevents the scooting/bucking reaction and encourages the horse to keep their back and sacrum relaxed.

    http://www.lasalleharness.com/Page%2013/Page13.htm

    I like to use something like "A" for driving at home and breaking colts, and "C" for showing if I have a goosey horse.

    Also, the shafts pressing on his flanks when you turn might cause him to spook the first few times you hook him. You can drag all kinds of things, use PVC poles, and pull the cart alongside him, but when he makes his first turn actually BETWEEN the shafts, and feels the shaft pushing on his outer hip/stifle, he might kick out or try to turn "straight" (won't bend his body or tilts like a motorcycle to avoid it).

    Usually the first time I hook a horse, I long line in a circle, using an old metal cart that they can't tip over, or kick into kindling. Once they feel the shaft on their hip for a good while, it just becomes background noise. (I tend to start with the hard stuff and let them graduate to easier stuff LOL).

    Good luck to you and safe driving!!



  20. #20
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    Tip for horses that goose on the crupper. Wrap their tails with ace bandage when you are introducing them to the crupper. I don't know why it works, and neither does the trainer who suggested it to me. But, it does work.

    My horse hates the crupper and still kicks like a fiend now and then when in long lines. So.... I have never had the nerve to hook him. But, the bandage helped a great deal when I was using it. Now he only kicks occassionally. Before, he kicked A LOT.



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