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  1. #1
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    Feb. 28, 2008
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    Default 2 Q's: Cantering, and going from 2 wheels to 4

    My boy has discovered the joy of cantering and I'm not sure what to make of it I'd love to hear some stories/advice on how to handle canter with the eager but unreliable green horse.

    As a riding horse, my boy has always been extremely sour about canter, but I've since learned it was because of his back problems, hence driving. Though we've had a few strides of canter here and there so far, last weekend we were schooling in a large ring on a slope and I let him roll into canter going up hill. Unsure at first, he came to quickly LOVE cantering and kept asking "Mom, lets do that again!!". So we did about 6 times on each lead, about 20 strides each time. He had a blast, he was listening, figuring it all out, never got quick and was really well behaved. I was so thrilled for him because its the first time in the 4 years I've had him that he's actually enjoyed cantering, it was an indescribable feeling to have my boy so happy and feel so accomplished after all we've been through.

    I think I created a monster though Though I haven't had a chance to drive since, I have been schooling voice commands in the rp and free jumping in the ring, and he's suddenly all about canter. I say "step up" for an extended trot and its "canter? can I canter? lets canter!" hehehe. I send him over jumps or down lines and he's suddenly cantering when he always just trotted before. He's become a real eager beaver and I'm sure my next drive he's going to be looking for any opportunity to try out his new found talent. Again, not quick, not running or rushing, he actually has a painfully slow rocking horse type canter, riding or driving you don't feel like you're actually getting anywhere

    So given this, any advice? Part of me is thrilled beyond words and really want to indulge him to keep him happy and forward and eager to work. But part of me feels that making canter part of our regular routine is a bit too much too soon. He's green, still mentally immature and is not yet 'reliable', I can't yet depend on him to be sensible in a dicey situation (though, to my utter surprise, he's been very sensible so far, and I have put us in some stupid situations through my own greenness). I'm also getting the new 4 wheeler soon (touch wood), and I know thats going to be a whole new kettle of fish. On the flipside, this is a horse who has only recently found his 'forward' and I'm so happy and I want to keep it there.

    If the weather holds out I'll be driving again this Sunday. I'm trying to solidify how I feel in my mind so I have a plan when he asks "can we canter? can we?". Of course everything depends on the situation, but I'm just so on the fence.


    Second, I'd love to hear any thoughts or stories about transitioning a green horse from 2 wheels to 4. We're currently in a jog cart, soon (touch wood) to be reveling in the delight of a marathon type 4 wheeler. I have an idea how I'm going to approach introducing him, but this will be a first for me so I'd love to hear any words of wisdom.

    The very first thing I will be doing is putting someone up top while I pull the vehicle, get a feel for what its like and how it turns, and have the 'driver' work the brake so I can get familiar with how it feels on the pulling end.

    Thanks all!!!!
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  2. #2
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    Dec. 20, 2009
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    Once he is no longer so "green" I'm sure that you will find he likes the 4-wheel better; the horse can turn w/out bumping into the shafts, and there is less weight on them. From a driving perspective they are tricky to back; that was the only drawback I could find. I was told years ago to be sure the horse was settled and experienced to some extent before moving to a 4-wheel; the 2 wheel is safer during the greenie stage.
    My 4-wheel did not have breaks; just a pleasure vehicle, so did not have to deal with that. We just hooked up and went!

    I can't help much re the cantering; never had the problem during my driving years. Though my QH mare did decide to jump a puddle one time rather than get her dainty feet wet!!



  3. #3
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    Jan. 11, 2008
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    My mini was the same way about his canter!!! It was too funny. One thing i made the mistake of, letting him just fall into it whenever he wanted, because my son thought it was fun to go FASTER, and out on the trail, i just dont care that much so long as we are all having fun...

    However, this took a BUTT LOAD of work to stop the gosh darn canter for our pleasure show. Miraculously he never broke into a canter at the show. So now it is by cue ONLY! I still try to keep it fun for him, heck, we even do a brisk gallop now and then, but by cue! He's got a lot more time under his belt as a driving pony though. In the early stages of canter, i would just let him fall into it when he felt like it, and maybe that's a good way to start but once he does make sure you "ask" for it. So he realizes it was sort of a cue, if a little late... lol

    My cob mare, she trots. I think i would be scared to let her canter just yet, not because i think she would be stupid about it, but i know all the issues we had with cantering under saddle and i hate to have them with the cart too. So i'm taking things slow with that. I know she'll love it once we get to that point, she loves a canter in the woods under saddle now, i just want her REALLY trustworthy before she decides to retrogress to her hand gallop from hell and scare the snot out of me...

    So i think it all depends on your comfort level with his canter. Dont set him up to canter in a spot he might spook or have a moment in. Drill downward transitions so if he does get silly in his canter, you've got that to fall back on instead of promoting a run away.

    I think its a blast with my mini, i know he's little and not really intimidating... lol But it was still a bit scary to start cantering even with him!

    Cant help you with transitioning from 2 wheels to 4 since i've never transitioned a horse. My guess is, he'll like it so much without the bounce and weight of the cart on the saddle it really wont be a transition for him, more so for you to learn your new boundaries of a different size vehicle and how it handles. You are going from dinky with your cart to really big (well, ok, not huge since it's pony size, but still, you get what i mean!). I have a hard time adjusting between my mini's cart to my cob's. I know i can squeeze between anything and scoot around whatever in the mini cart, the cob cart takes much more thought. With four wheels it was really good for me to play with cones because it taught me how fast or not fast a reaction i had with the delayed steering, how using my brake on a hard turn gave me a different turn radius than it did using the brake on my cart. (Yes my mini cart has brakes, my cob's does not, have to say, that's something i wish it did just for playing with cones!)

    Cant wait for pics of you guys with your Dartmoor when it gets there!



  4. #4
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    May. 21, 2010
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    I don't allow canter for a green horse. If they offer it I stop it immediately. Too easy for them to get boogered on something and run off. I also don't ever allow them to NOT step up to or maintain the gait I request. You allow it once and it becomes a habit.

    I know that makes me sound like a hard taskmaster, ....yep, I AM~!!



  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
    i made the mistake of, letting him just fall into it whenever he wanted,
    this is what I'm afraid of. and as M&T said once in canter its too easy for the green horse to get boogered and kick it up to the next level.

    Up until last weekend he's taken a few strides here and there, no big deal, I'm happy for him responding to my forward and then ask to drop back down to trot please. But last weekend, he showed so much enthusiasm, I was able to time my cue for canter just as he was taking it on his own. By the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th times on each lead, he was picking up canter as soon as I cued.... and then thrilled to be cantering .

    It wasn't helter skelter by any stretch, but I have an feeling its too much too soon. Glad we had the experience but I think you guys helped me figure out, I won't put us in a position thats begs for canter for a while yet.

    And yes M&T everytime my boy broke gait I did correct him firmly, and he got it quickly and was respectful, but seeing the eagerness for a gait he's never been eager for before is what set my mind thinking this week and curious to hear from others.

    I am soooooooooo anticipating the arrival of the Dartmoor! The difference from the jog cart to the 4wheeler is going to be HUGE. The jog cart requires so much room to turn, and the shafts are so confining. The freedom of the shorter shafts and agility of the Dartmoor is both a welcomed relief and has me biting my nails a bit as he's going to have a lot more freedom I always play it safe though and if I don't feel ready then no big deal, its not like we're in a hurry. Safety always first.


    I guess my biggest question is has anyone experienced a horse being boogered going from 2 wheels to 4? I'm really curious if this will be a big deal for him or not, the way he's been (touch wood) I'm guessing not.

    Welcomed relief for sure though, schooling longer than 2 hours in the jog cart does get him slightly sore, he's going to really appreciate no weight on his back.

    Quote Originally Posted by manesntails View Post
    I know that makes me sound like a hard taskmaster, ....yep, I AM~!!
    I'm a bit of a sergeant too actually, so I do appreciate this. I'm rather strict with my horses, but its for the best in the end, well behaved ponies live easy lives with many rewards with me it pays to be on your best behavior at all times (or else!)
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  6. #6
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    Default the canter.

    I like to use the Puurrrrr sound, some people call it trilling, its more like purring to me. I use it for ALL down transitions. I start them on the lunge and from trot to walk, walk to halt, canter to working trot and even a strong working trot to a more collected gathered trot. depending on the intestity of the purr, the more I mean it.

    it keeps them listening and attentive.



  7. #7
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    Feb. 16, 2003
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    We tend to work on canter at the end of a work session, but not until horse is a 'well advanced green horse". This is probably up into hitching over 200 times.

    Horse KNOWS the command to canter, has been trained on his downward transitions from lessons on the long lines at the beginning. He is NOT allowed to just roll on, has been corrected for any canter strides previous to this, when not asked to canter.

    Sorry, even if he feels good about cantering, he is NOT allowed to make any driving decisions about gait or direction!

    Sounds rather harsh, but there can ONLY be one decision maker, and that is the human driver. Often the equine gets VERY PUSHY about trying to canter instead of what you want them doing. Fighting with horse can take all the fun out of it.

    Doing your canter work at the end of a training session will have horse who can be actually tired, and makes him more WILLING to come back down to trot or walk when asked. If you have some place you can canter for a distance, have horse ASKING to stop, this is helpful. He is allowed to stop when YOU say stop cantering! Kind of takes his fun away, cantering beyond his comfort zone for a bit, so stopping as asked is GOOD!

    The main thing with going to 4-wheeler is a weight change from a cart. Beginner carts can be SO LIGHT in weight, horse has never actually put any effort in going forward. May not know how to work with greater weight behind, loses his confidence.

    Sorry to keep repeating it, but some sessions with tire dragging, help horse with resistance weight will give him, more 'feel' on his breastcollar. These also strengthen him, get him driving from behind if done correctly. I would probably use two tires to drag, help him be confident that he CAN move this resistant item behind. Tires are not real heavy, but friction makes a constant drag on him, does build muscle! Will help him be more prepared for weight of the 4-wheeler behind.

    I would suggest you add weight over the back axle to your new vehicle for added help in braking. Marathon vehicles are designed to work with weight of a groom behind, adding to downward pressure on axle, brakes effectiveness. With no added weight, going out alone or passenger sitting beside driver, the brakes won't work as well, you have less control of the rear-end of vehicle during braking. We add weight plates, about 150-200 pounds worth, bolted to the floor in the rear. Kind of like a free servant, always ready for you to go driving, holding down the back for you!

    If you have both front and rear brakes, you will want to practice with them so you gain a good feel of what they can do for you. Husband uses front wheel brakes about 95% of the time, keeps the vehicle from jack-knifing around to lose control. Yes he does use both front and back, but the fronts first. Has to get to be automatic, no looking to find the "correct" pedal.

    KNOW that just using the brakes WILL NOT STOP THE HORSE WHO DOESN'T WISH TO STOP!! Brakes do NOT work like car or truck brakes to stop the vehicle. Brakes are an AID to you, to help horse, so keep this in mind.

    You will probably have more issues with the change than horse! Relearning how to use the new vehicle and it's parts to your best advantage.



  8. #8
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    May. 21, 2010
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    Buck, I also use the term "steady" when I feel my animal starting to up his enthusiasm in his gait along with a soft, quick, uptake and release on the lines. Kind of a driving half-halt. Once they learn the voice command, they will settle into their gait instantly. It's especially helpful with green horses as they are still searching for themselves between the shafts and aren't sure exactly how fast the driver wants them to go.



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post

    KNOW that just using the brakes WILL NOT STOP THE HORSE WHO DOESN'T WISH TO STOP!! Brakes do NOT work like car or truck brakes to stop the vehicle. Brakes are an AID to you, to help horse, so keep this in mind.
    My first lesson with 4 wheels i tried this! LoL - FAIL!

    Brakes are awesome for cones. For a tight turn, once your axle clears the cones, hit the brake to turn the horse, this stops the forward momentum of the cart so the horse doesnt have to and he can be lighter on his feet to turn tighter. I've only driven 4 wheels that had one brake pedal

    Otherwise, i only ever use my brake going down a hill as i dont want the weight of the vehicle to run down the horse depending on how steep the hill is. (Especially important for my mini, he doesnt have much weight up there to stop me and the cart!)

    I'm of a slightly different opinion on my horse not being allowed to ever make a thought for himself. I NEVER want my horses to panic because the reins go slack, or you drop one. And this happens in my life, i drive with my 2.5yr old son... He wiggles, i have to fix him on the seat, i've dropped a rein more times than i care to count. My horses know to either calmly walk on, or whoa if i say to and wait for me. My mini is allowed to navigate down the trail often. I'm there to correct him if need be, but he's practically figured out how wide he needs to go to clear a tree now even... I want my horses beginner friendly, beginners make bad mistakes, my horses better have the ability to think for themselves to take care of the situation in a way that doesnt kill people. No, i wouldnt do this in the beginning, and i rarely let my cob mare attempt this yet, she's not ready. But my mini, he's super, he's got a good brain in that little head of his.

    So i kinda differ on that train of thought. But all roads lead to Rome...



  10. #10
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    Jul. 17, 2003
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    In addition to what goodhors said, to conteract the horse's desire to canter, go back to working on circles and serpentines with lots of transitions up and down and within the trot. That will get the horse listening to you rather than anticipating or trying to call the shots. I'll let my mare roll into a canter sometimes going up a hill, but otherwise we minimize the canter work until she is absolutely listening to me at the other gaits. And after a bit of canter work, we finish up with more circles and serpentines and transitions at trot, walk and halt to make sure we're not ending sesson with "extreme marathon brain."

    What I haven't noticed anyone else mention about transitioning to 4 wheels is that marathon carriages can be VERY noisy compared to a cart. I think one of the biggest risks is that your horse will become unsettled with a different kind of racket behind him. When I introduced my pony from the cart to the carriage, I was apprehensive too, but it turned out to be no big deal. The carriage was new then and not quite as noisy as it is now, so that helped! Consider having a helper holding a lungeline attached to a halter under the bridle when you first start, just to be sure.



  11. #11
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    You shouldn't have much noise with the Pacific. Be prepared for it just in case, but those that I know with them rave about how quiet they are.



  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodhors View Post
    Sorry, even if he feels good about cantering, he is NOT allowed to make any driving decisions about gait or direction!

    Sounds rather harsh, but there can ONLY be one decision maker, and that is the human driver. Often the equine gets VERY PUSHY about trying to canter instead of what you want them doing. Fighting with horse can take all the fun out of it.
    Thank you. Though so far I have encouraged/cue'd his break to canter while driving, his eagerness to canter and breaking stride since in our free/longe work (which I corrected and he was polite about) has shown me we may be headed down the path you describe, him forming an opinion and us having a battle. I don't want this, driving has been nothing but fun for us both so far, I don't want the old ugliness of when he was ridden to resurface.



    Doing your canter work at the end of a training session will have horse who can be actually tired, and makes him more WILLING to come back down to trot or walk when asked.
    Just to clear the air on this matter, he's been wonderfully well mannered and obedient about it all, thats why I was torn. If he was chargy or making his own opinions then, no, I wouldn't consider any more canter for any reason. But he's been so obedient and happy, it made me wonder. But minds made up now, no more canter till we we're much more well schooled.


    The main thing with going to 4-wheeler is a weight change from a cart. Beginner carts can be SO LIGHT in weight, horse has never actually put any effort in going forward. May not know how to work with greater weight behind, loses his confidence.
    I'm curious about this frankly. He's been a very good boy about pushing into the harness, I school him over small very steep hills, large moguls and humps and bumps, up and down straight and on angles, and he is good.... But sometimes he does have to really push a bit and it does cause him to think twice occasionally. My aluminum jog cart weighs all of 175#.

    If he does show concern, going back to dragging tires might be just the ticket. Last thing I need is him loosing his confidence.



    I would suggest you add weight over the back axle to your new vehicle for added help in braking. Marathon vehicles are designed to work with weight of a groom behind, adding to downward pressure on axle, brakes effectiveness. With no added weight, going out alone or passenger sitting beside driver, the brakes won't work as well, you have less control of the rear-end of vehicle during braking. We add weight plates, about 150-200 pounds worth, bolted to the floor in the rear. Kind of like a free servant, always ready for you to go driving, holding down the back for you!
    THANK YOU! I was really very concerned about this. Of course for our maiden drives I'll have a passenger on the back and leaders too, but I can only depend on others for so long.

    Would sand bags do? I always wondered about the weight plates and how persons of small stature like myself move them on their own?


    If you have both front and rear brakes, you will want to practice with them so you gain a good feel of what they can do for you.
    I'm pretty sure I have front only, and "delayed steering" whatever that is.

    KNOW that just using the brakes WILL NOT STOP THE HORSE WHO DOESN'T WISH TO STOP!! Brakes do NOT work like car or truck brakes to stop the vehicle. Brakes are an AID to you, to help horse, so keep this in mind.

    You will probably have more issues with the change than horse! Relearning how to use the new vehicle and it's parts to your best advantage.
    lol, I know this but man I have to keep reminding everyone I know (horsey but non-driving) about this. I constantly have friends saying "oh good, now you have brakes, you can go anywhere even if he's too forward, etc!". And I say "NO! lol! Brakes stop the vehicle not the horse! This isn't a license to yee-haw." lol.

    Thank you so much
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by butlerfamilyzoo View Post
    My horses know to either calmly walk on, or whoa if i say to and wait for me. My mini is allowed to navigate down the trail often. I'm there to correct him if need be, but he's practically figured out how wide he needs to go to clear a tree now even... I want my horses beginner friendly, beginners make bad mistakes, my horses better have the ability to think for themselves to take care of the situation in a way that doesnt kill people.
    I do feel this way too, I like a sensible handy horse that can make a wise decision when I'm boneheaded and get us out of a scrape. Lord knows I've had to rely on my horses to get us out of problems I let us get into.

    Knowing my horse though, though he'll be trustworthy one day, right now I really can't let him make decisions because he's cocky enough to start thinking his opinion actually matters.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZELLA View Post
    What I haven't noticed anyone else mention about transitioning to 4 wheels is that marathon carriages can be VERY noisy compared to a cart. I think one of the biggest risks is that your horse will become unsettled with a different kind of racket behind him. When I introduced my pony from the cart to the carriage, I was apprehensive too, but it turned out to be no big deal. The carriage was new then and not quite as noisy as it is now, so that helped! Consider having a helper holding a lungeline attached to a halter under the bridle when you first start, just to be sure.
    I am concerned about the noise, though the Dartmoor is supposed to be quiet, I took a lesson once with a driver and the brakes really screeched. I remember thinking "wow I wonder what my horse would do".

    I'm just really curious about the whole experience, the new noises, the freedom of the independent shafts, the feeling of it, the weight, all of it.

    It probably will be more challenging for me than him, but just in case, I already plan to have leaders on longe lines.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  15. #15
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    You can do bags of sand, other weighty items for the needed poundage behind. Our first marathon vehicle came with weight plates that bolted on and it worked quite well. Plates were OUT OF THE WAY for people riding behind, grooms jumping on, moving vehicle sideways in practice session. Son had a LOT of fun with that sliding stuff! Other times his friends would run around the ring, jump on moving vehicle like TV stagecoaches, then jump off on the other side of ring, to continue whatever game they were playing. Did make for steady horses because the boys were never quiet doing this!

    These are steel plates, 1/2" thick, about 18" long, with holes on each end so they stack. Husband puts the stack on a scissors jack, jacks them straight up under the vehicle's correct location, then bolts them on. He has made another stack for the other marathon vehicle, and they work pretty well. With each plate about 50#, you are not moving all the 200 pounds of weight at one time if you need them elsewhere for storage or putting back on. Keeps weight pieces managable even for smaller folks. Probably a welding shop could make the plates up for you, neatly aligned smooth edges, holes straight for the bolts, to fit them to the carriage.

    The advantage of the bolted plates is they STAY PUT in all the situations you can meet. All the carriage seats and floorspace is totally available for use with no moving anything. I have hefted a few bags of weight in and out of carriages during conditioning, tied them on (still shifted in rough going) gets old pretty fast. Having your animal "stress" now and again by adding passengers over the weight plates for a drive or workout, will help him reach a better conditioning status which is always healthier for him.

    Plates can be removed and left home when you decide to do a CDE or take 3 friends with you to a picnic drive. Yeah, plates are a bit of work, but also a helpful safety item, like unpaid help you never have to think about when you head out to drive.



  16. #16
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    WOW, how much fun for your son! I would have loved to hopped on a hitched a ride around the ring like that when I was a kid.

    I read the CDL list today where someone credited plates keeping the back end of her carriage stable during a very scary bolt and says she'll never drive alone without again. Your good advice and her account are enough for me, plates will be going on. I have a connection for plates, I like the idea of bolting them fast so they don't slide.

    Thank you so much.

    Asking for collective good vibes from CoTH Dartmoor has been picked up and is enroute and I'm hoping for a safe and uneventful arrival...... I am soooo excited! My very first carriage!
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



  17. #17
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    "am concerned about the noise, though the Dartmoor is supposed to be quiet, I took a lesson once with a driver and the brakes really screeched. I remember thinking "wow I wonder what my horse would do".



    I have to say, I am slightly annoyed at this kind of thinking.. it reminds me of the folks who have a 'problem' during pleasure drives where the draft horse folks have chains rather than leather traces and the all the rings on their hames and the chains which attach to their carts will jingle and jangle (They like the noise. its like music! :-) and others will complain that the jangling chain noise "SCARES" their horses.. sheesh! Then get your horses use to all sorts of weird noises!! Work on bombproofing your horse but stop making blanket statements about noisy carriages, screeching brakes and chains affecting the calmness of your horse.

    Good driving horses are suppose to be paying attention to you and not all that external noise.

    JMHO
    Pao Lin



  18. #18
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    Oh dear! I didn't mean to annoy you!

    And I apparently worded my thought wrong as I actually share the same opinion as you, its my responsibility to have a horse well trained enough to cope with any noise, or spectacle, etc. I agree with you. If my horse ever has a problem with someone else's noise, etc, that my fault that my horse is not better prepared.

    What I should have articulated better was that the noise of a loud squeaky brake was so unusual and surprising it shocked me. I didn't anticipate ever hearing a sound like that driving, nor would I have realized to prepare my horse for a sound like that. Naturally I wondered how my own horse, knowing him, would react to it. I now am wiser for the experience and can train more thoroughly before ever showing our faces in public.

    Re a noisy carriage, I'm not concerned about having a noisy carriage, but I am intensely curious how the first time being exposed to it is going to go. Is it going to be noisy in a way that bothers my horse and its back to square one for us? Because it if its, its not the carriage's fault its noisy, its my fault my horse is not better prepared. Not complaining, just anticipating the worst, but hoping for the best.

    I'm giddy and anxious about taking the next step with driving and bubbling over with excitement and not wording things as clearly as I should. Thank you for catching me.


    and.......... its arrived!!! I love it! (and its eerily quiet )
    Last edited by buck22; May. 19, 2011 at 07:32 AM.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by buck22 View Post

    and.......... its arrived!!! I love it! (and its eerily quiet )
    YIPPEE!!!!



  20. #20
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    I can't stop giggling about it Every day I go down to the barn where its kept and just gaze.

    Sadly shafts are just too short, so have an order placed for the newer telescoping ones. Need a few other odds and ends and then I should be in business.

    Introduced pony to the carriage though, led him around while I pulled it next to and behind us, bounced it and jostled it so it made all its noises, pretended to hitch him to it, etc, and he was completely unimpressed, so thats good. He's been fabulous to drive in our usual outfit too lately, so I am really foaming at the mouth to try out our new toy.

    I am sooooooo happy I got it. I'm beyond done with the jog cart

    And now that I'll have a more respectable outfit I can start looking for training for us both without feeling embarrassed.

    Piece by piece, its all coming together.

    This time last year I had *just* made the difficult decision to retire my morgan from riding permanently after having learned about his back issues in March. I was still coming to terms with the idea that I'd been trying to ride an unsound horse for 3 years. I was still holding a shred of hope and going through a long series of acupuncture for him, which didn't help much. I was wondering what to do with a horse that couldn't be ridden but had so much left to give, and I was really becoming depressed at the options.

    Driving was not promising at first. Though I already owned the jog cart, I stumbled a lot selecting a harness I could afford and I became very down. Everyone here was so helpful and saw me through.

    Then ground driving was touch and go, a lot of spooking, a long time learning to relax with the harness flapping, a lot of naughtiness. My horse has a long sad history of acting out as a riding horse because his back injury went undiagnosed and he was thought of as "difficult". It didn't look like he'd ever be safe or trustworthy, I was quickly loosing heart and strongly contemplating the worst.

    An opportunity to navigate at a CDE breathed new life back into me. I had zero experience with CDE, didn't even know how the game was played, but really got caught up in the excitement... and the camaraderie of driving folk in general, very supportive. I said to myself, we can do this too. It gave me a goal to aim for.

    A custom driving saddle and perseverance caused us to turn a corner after a few months, and my bad to the bone pony fast turned into a model citizen. Discovered that he loves driving, loves having a job he can do well and without pain apparently. He is SO proud of himself he really beams when he's been a good boy and knows it. People who have known me and my boy, struggling for the last several years, come to me now and say that he is virtually unrecognizable, completely different horse, different look, different air about him. Eager happy and relaxed. And for the first time ever, generous.

    We're only just beginning, but I can't believe how far we've come.

    Really, thanks to everyone here for your support and help, I never would have made it if I didn't have this network of help to fall back on.
    healthywhitetea.com castingforrecovery.org
    Laugh it up fuzzball

    Life, like all other games, becomes fun when one realizes that it's just a game – Nerijus Stasiulis



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