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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    4,266

    Default Singles vs. pairs, fours - why?

    This may be a bit obscure, but are there traits in a horse that make it more suitable to be driven as a single, in a pair or in a four-in-hand in combined driving? What would those traits be?

    If you saw a horse, and said "I wouldn't bother driving him single" what would be seeing that would make you decide that? Is it just about strength or speed? Seems to me every horse starts driving single - why would some not be suitable to compete that way?

    If you wanted to put together a team, what would make you choose or not choose a horse to be in that team - is it mostly about matching size/stride and manageable temperament?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec. 13, 2004
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    1,710

    Default

    Matching up horses is more dumb luck than anything else. The only part of all this that I feel a horse is born to is a great cart horse, leader of a tandem or unicorn and a great lead horse. Those positions take a horse that is bold, brash, and confident. A horse that walks into the rink and says, "look and me I'm 10 feet tall and bullet proof."

    I am not a believer in matching for color or size as a primary criteria. When a team is hooked to a good load, the load moving nicely, you look down and the double tree is even. That is matched. Size matters as they will have a hard time matching up on the doubletree if they are too mismatched. Horses with similar breeding is a good start but not a sure thing as to making matched.

    Matched to the public eye is much different than matched to the drivers eye. The public sees size and color, the driver sees all the other little things that make a team matched for movement and way of going.

    LF



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2003
    Location
    Aberdeen, NC, USA
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    3,752

    Default

    I initially went to a pair because my pony is only 12.2 and quite refined - and I wanted to do CDEs. I didn't think it fair to ask her to haul me, the carriage and a navigator. Plus I had a golden opportunity when a neighbor offered me a totally trained pony that almost matched mine (Said pony is now a leader of Sterling's 4-in-hand)

    Once I learned to drive a pair the trained pony didn't want to accept me as the boss. We were having constant battles. She also wasn't as good a match for my pony. So I started looking. Now I have over 20 years experience successfully breeding and raising warmbloods. IOW I know movement! I picked the partner for my pony from a photo - and I knew they'd match in gaits because of the length of bone and the angles.

    Same thing when we were considering pairing Phoenix's daughter with him: bone length and angles matched, as well as size.

    I personally think you need to match the length of stride and the gaits, otherwise you and the pair are going to have to work a lot harder. Temperament is also important. And it sure helps if they like each other

    In each of our pairs we have one older more seasoned animal and one younger green one. The older ones are the boss. When any issue arises I know I can just drive the older animal and the other will follow. Yet the younger ones bring a lot to the table and to me the fun is in using each of the their strengths to help the other.

    I'm sure Thomas can give you all of the technical reasons and better answers. This is just what I've found from my limited experience.
    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

    http://www.ashemont.com
    Ashemont2@gmail.com



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
    Posts
    4,266

    Default

    Hm.

    Do people rarely drive ponies single then (in CDEs)? Because it's too much to ask for them to haul the weight?

    I guess part of this question is trying to distinguish what people do because it's technically necessary (speed/strength), as opposed to what they do because it's fun or a matter of aesthetics/taste.

    I always assumed if people were competing with pairs, or fours, it was just because they could afford to and it was more fun or more challenging, not because one horsepower was not enough. Now I'm pondering what combinations of horse and ponies I've seen in combined driving.

    After all, if you have ponies you compete against other ponies, right? It's not like the Dutch Warmblood and the Dartmoor are in the same division?



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr. 13, 2006
    Location
    Snohomish, WA
    Posts
    411

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    Seems to me every horse starts driving single - why would some not be suitable to compete that way?
    I know there are some horses, the opposite of the good leaders LostFarmer mentioned, that simply are not brave in harness. With a partner to draw courage from they might do fine, but they simply don't enjoy driving by themselves. Especially for CDE, a horse like that might only be suitable in a multiple hitch.

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



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun. 3, 2003
    Location
    Aberdeen, NC, USA
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by twofatponies View Post
    Do people rarely drive ponies single then (in CDEs)? Because it's too much to ask for them to haul the weight?<snip>
    After all, if you have ponies you compete against other ponies, right? It's not like the Dutch Warmblood and the Dartmoor are in the same division?
    There are lots of single ponies in CDEs. But you have to look at the ponies. My pony is small and fine - only 500 lbs. At that weight and 12.2 in height she had to compete against ponies up to 14.3 weighing up to twice as much. The one time I competed her as single she did just fine as I had her extremely well conditioned. With a pair of ponies that size/weight I never have to worry about how heavy my 'gator is. A good thing since hubby sometimes likes to be on the back step
    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

    http://www.ashemont.com
    Ashemont2@gmail.com



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb. 16, 2003
    Location
    MI USA
    Posts
    7,723

    Default

    We drive the Multiples because husband enjoys driving them. I guess the challenge is part of the fun to him. He does Pairs, usually when training a young animal, so it is under better control, closer to him for keeping horse going the way he wants it to go.

    He also has done Tandem, which is a REAL challenge, but once they understand it is very cool! Said it is like riding behind a guided missile!! Tells me the racing blood scours out your veins and arteries as you go along! I know mine is racing in the Navigator position! He finds it a challenge in having to drive each horse separately and getting the rein timing down to keep the shiny side up all the time! Likes it for a change from the other hitches.

    His favorite is driving the 4, just very exhilarating when they are all working in unison. The flow and feel of power as they bend and surge forward when asked is about bottomless.

    Our horses are very similar in type, which is breeding and husband's good eye in choosing for movement. They go well together, with fairly even stride lengths, similar movement and body types. We find their minds to be intelligent, reliable, kindly, accepting with the handling we put on them, dependable because we NEED them dependable in odd situations. Not the horses for everyone, but we really like them. We work to get them this way, and are unwilling to settle for less, so the best suitable for driving stay here. The others who don't drive to our standards, go on to other careers and have happy lives as riding animals.

    Pony classes in CDE do fine in most cases. Smaller ones can do well at lower levels, with slower times to meet. Seems like the more advanced classes have multiples to help with the work or folks change to larger animals to manage the speed and load. Most ponies do fine with recoveries, almost always win the fittest animal awards.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb. 23, 2008
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    4,266

    Default

    Thanks for all the responses. Fascinating. I've driven a pair once (Welsh scurry ponies) and that was fun, but didn't seem more difficult than a single, except for the speed and mud (did I mention it was in Wales? It rains a lot). I found it scarier to stand on the back than sit in the driver's seat!!

    I drove four once and that was challenging. A lot of horsepower! But for me the biggest challenge was planning the turns. I was in the first turn (this was driving on dirt roads) when I realized I needed to turn the first two before the second two! Had to figure out how to manage the lines to do that. Duh. Drove them for about 1/2 hour during their 2 hour workout, with their trainer intervening only once, when we had to pass oncoming farm equipment. That was a neat experience.



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