I have NO experience with driving but recently after an afternoon at a horse auction, suddenly found an Amish-driven Standardbred in one of my stalls!?!
I'd like to try driving him for pleasure. There are some local mostly flat roads I could get on, and possibly some groomed trails... If the measurements check out, what do you think of this cart for a newbie:
That cart would work fine for what your describing, but if you don't have experience make sure to get help to get started. An Amish standardbred, while probably very sensible and road safe, will not have much refined training. Amish horses are used to either standing around or trotting at a steady pace down the road so they will need some retraining to turn into nice pleasure driving horses.
Where are you in NY, there are driving clubs across the state that could hook you up with somebody to help you get started.
As for riding while driving, it is probably not a good idea. Except for some types of pairs or teams where a postillion rider is riding the near horse and controlling the off horse (look for videos of the queen in her carriage or military photos os horses pulling canon) instead of having a driver, you won't see a horse ridden in harness.
I think that would be a nice type of cart for your horse.
Not many people are going to ride while driving unless they work for the Queen.
The only other time it is sometimes done is a situation like a logger going into the woods with a harnessed horse- he might save himself the walk if it's a long way to go but the horse is just harnessed and not hitched.
I'm really curious where you are headed with that idea.
I live in Wayne County. I figured that he'd probably just be used to doing the basics: 1) standing, or 2) getting to destination. Right now the gelding's job is basically to gain weight & enjoy life.
Today was the first day I did really anything with him. I have no driving equipment at all, but I wanted to get some kind of feel for him. I tacked him up with an english saddle and a double jointed D ring snaffle. Then I put on a set of longe lines & manuevered him around in the round pen. After seeing that he was responsive and sensible, I "ground-drove" him (using term loosely) through one of the paddocks, and then down a grass path on my property that shortcuts to a little dead end road (at the back of the farm). He was a very good boy and did everything pretty much right (I think). I did see that while walking I had to steer a lot more and when we jogged a little, he straightened right out. It was kind of like when you ride a bike too slowly and it gets wiggly (lol). I thought that part of that was from having always been driven at a jog, and part of it was not having shafts...
We were only out about 5 minutes and when we got back I mounted him in the round pen. It was obvious that he didn't have any experience with that! But he tried to do right and after 5 minutes he was feeling much more comfortable with the circles, etc. One thing for sure - when you say "whoa" he whoas!
Anyway, since he's accepting & willing enough with a rider on his back, I figure schooling him under saddle should be helpful overall.
The actual driving part will likely have to wait since I'll only be able to pick up equipment a little at a time as finances allow.
Oh yeah - the reason I was asking about the astride (postillion?) part was because my grown daughter is very intimidated as far as riding horses, and I thought if I only ended up with a one person cart, that she might be able to ride in it while I did the driving from his back...
I would skip the riding while driving part, and just get a cart or buggy that lets you and DD sit together! Part of the fun in Driving, is that you can take passengers and CONVERSE without having to keep tweaking the ridden horses to stay even, not bite or make ugly faces at the other horse, etc.
You will want to practice STOP and STAND, fairly often, so horse is good about waiting for command to walk forward. This is one of the VERY important parts in a good Driving horse, standing still for long times. Some horses have a timer in their head, will give you 30 seconds, or even 2 minutes, but after that, they want to GO FORWARD strongly!!
If you get him a harness, go for a wider saddle, 4", to take the weight of cart shafts. Carts (cart always means a 2-wheeler) balance on the shafts on the harness saddle of the horse. So any passenger movement does affect the horse, and a wider saddle allows weight to spread a bit on a larger area of the body. Harness saddle NEEDS a saddle tree inside, to prevent weight on horse spine. Try bending the harness saddle by pushing gently on both side flaps, it shouldn't fold in half if there is a tree inside. There are quite a few used harnesses out and around, so you can find things for less than new prices. Get his measurements and carry them so you know exactly what will fit as you shop. You want the best (perfect is not always possible) fit to fall into the middle hole of each buckle, which will leave holes to let out or take up as horse gets fit or fat.
Not sure how far you are from Lancaster PA, but the big Martin's Carriage Sale is coming up at the end of April. Could be worth the trip to learn what is available, what prices are doing, or even buy stuff to take home with you. You will see stuff going for record prices and huge bargin sale prices. It is ALWAYS an amazing sale, sure covers the whole realm of Driving horse equipment!
Thanks for the advice so far! The suggestions regarding keeping measurements with me and getting a wider saddle (WITH a tree), are the kinds of things I'm looking for.
Goodhors, although it's a few hours away, I checked the auction dates for Martin's Carriage Sale, and I can't go because of work.
While I'm trying to somewhat familiarize myself with the world of driving, are there a couple of books/videos that anyone would recommend? I just checked on Amazon and there were so many I wouldn't even know where to start.
The Ams aren't too big on "walk" Whoa - they are all over that.
Seriously, this horse probably hasn't been asked to walk in quite a while, if ever. I was helping my 70 something Amish trainer/BO, who has probably broken thousands of horses, work a pony to sell. When I asked how the pony walked, he gave me blank stare. When he asked the pony, he did a bit of blank stare as well. They usually only have a 2-speed transmission.
A word to the wise, be aware about drive ways & corners. When I first started with my Amish mare, I tripped long-lining and she got aware from me. Problem, was that I was working on the driveway. She was going a nice trot before I super-manned & let go, and she kept up that nice trot to the end of the driveway until she got to the road. Then she stopped calmly turned right and started a thankfully slower trot down the road. The car she was looking at was much more confused than she was! By that time I had cut across the yard and caught up to her and all ended well.
Meadowbrooks are a rear-entry cart - you have to flip the seat up on one side to get in. I prefer a side-entry cart that is easier to enter, and it seems safer to me because you're in a better place to control the horse if something happens. Plus I hate those damn rattly fenders on a meadowbrook - it's like traveling in a lumber yard. If you need to get down in a hurry to deal with something, that's also awkward in a meadowbrook, compared to the ease of stepping down from a side entry with the lines in your hands, no seat to flip.
For some reason meadowbrooks are the go-to cart for a lot of beginners, but there are dozens of other vehicles that are much nicer. I agree that you do want to go to a carriage auction and see the selection. When I was buying a good show vehicle, I made the error of buying it from the dealer and paying full price. A few months later I saw comparable vehicles and the vehicle I REALLY wanted, a wagonette, going for a few hundred dollars at a local horse-drawn vehicle auction. I'd made the mistake of thinking that they'd all be farm vehicles, with no marathon and show carts for combined driving, and I was so wrong.
Make sure both you and your daughter are wearing helmets for your driving and training adventures.
"I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
Red mares, that's a really scary and hysterically funny story (now that it's safely over)!
Pat9, I was worried about the rear entry part too. If I hadn't seen a photo with one seat flipped up I wouldn't have had a clue how you get in the #$%@ thing! That seems unsafe to me but they seem to be popular, and since I'm clue-less I thought it was just me...? As far as DD goes, I only get her to go on a ride with me once in a blue moon so I'm not sure if she'll be keen to ride behind a horse with me or not, but I'll make sure helmets are de rigueur either way.
SaudiHunter, thanks for the book recommendations!
Thanks Zu Zu. Yeah, I definitely plan on having a professional help me get started. A friend of mine shows minis in-hand and under harness, but I know this is a whole different ball game. I'm really not close to the "driving" point yet. Right now I need to learn some basics so I can at least understand what the pro is talking about. And I really would like to already have a harness and possibly a cart or buggy (?) to learn with. For that reason, I'd first like to learn something about the types of harnesses & rigs, and how they're used. Then when I'm ready for the coach, I can start learning principles, technique, safety, etiquette, and all the things that go along with a beginner learning to drive!
With Spring finally beginning to appear, I'm disappointed that I won't have the time to explore this new adventure a bit more seriously. My work schedule will be going right into a 6 day work week soon! They say patience is a virtue...
That cart would do the job, but depending on the price I'd keep looking a bit. Reason being that when the seat on a Meadowbrook flips to the outside you get less room to enter the cart, especially if there are fenders.
Our 'meadowbrook style road cart' aka cross country cart's seat opens flipping toward the driver seat leaving you the full seat width to exit.
Some like 'front' entry carts better. I found that many of them you are still stepping over the shaft - which seems clumsy to me - and it's a higher entry - more difficult for me. The Wooden Easy entries often have what look like flimsy springs to my eye. Even with the cart we have we added a back step for easier entry.
So far (driving since mid 1970s) we have had few issues with a Meadowbrook type cart and would recommend them for the type of driving you are talking about.
Have fun with your new horse. You'll really enjoy driving. and DO check out any local driving clubs. If you are anywhere near the Mid-Hudson people, they seem to have a lot of fun just getting together to drive.
If your interested in coming out to a few clinics or shows to see what the driving is all about, here are a couple of clubs that are relativly close to you. They offer clinics and shows as well as a calendar of events. BTW, the clubs are always looking for volunteers .
So, I did order the "Essential Guide to Carriage Driving".
And thanks for the links, Christa. The Northampton Driving Society has a good calendar with Sunday events that I might actually get to watch. And I had no idea that they were as close as they are. I'm going to contact them. The last driving competition I attended was Walnut Hill a number of years ago, and even though I didn't "know" anything, I really enjoyed watching!
I plan to drive out tomorrow to see the cart I mentioned (not to buy - just to get an up close & personal look). The owner of the cart was very friendly on the phone and understands that I'm just in the beginning stages of research so I don't have to worry about feeling that I'm wasting her time. The weather's supposed to be crappy again tomorrow so I won't be missing out on any big outdoor chores that I've been hoping to get to...
Here is a link to an upcoming auction - scroll down the page and see the many different vehicles. http://smallfarmersjournal.com/auction-gazette/ Scroll way down the page, as there is a block of text that makes you think it's over, but there are a bunch of different rigs, and more every day. Not all are carriages, of course.
If I ever get back into horses/mules and driving again, my first vehicle purchase will be a forecart. Much more comfortable on those long hours of training miles, sturdy, good view frontwards. They aren't show suitable, except in farm classes, but by golly, they take a licking and keep on ticking. Some have cupholders. We rednecks believe in comfort. If it's hot out, put up a parasol canopy. http://smallfarmersjournal.com/wp-co...t-forecart.jpg
Then comes my wagonette, a marathon vehicle, a village cart. And all of the other dream vehicles that occupy the parking lot in my imaginary world.
Last edited by Pat9; Apr. 12, 2013 at 03:31 PM.
Reason: because I could
"I couldn't fix your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
I don't suggest using a forecart as your main vehicle. They are built sturdy, often overheavy in construction, to be able to pull implements behind for farm work. They have little or no balance, especially if there is no attached implement, so they can be VERY heavy in the shafts or pole if using a Pair of horses. With the implement hitched on, that weight or pull from behind, the weight of shafts or pole changes.
A more common cart design is going to be easier to use because of it's lighter weight, easier on the horse, and probably a LOT better ride for the passengers.
Well, today I took a drive out to the Dundee area, which was a little over an hour away. I was going to take a look at the cart I mentioned in my original post, along with a used harness the cart-owner had. When arranging the visit, the cart-owner had also mentioned taking me down to the local Mennonite cart & harness maker's shop, as she thought he may be able to give me some helpful info.
So after I scoped out the cart, I followed her over to the shop since she needed to stop there for something anyway. The gentleman who owned the shop was very nice and interesting, and we exchanged a few stories. As we continued our conversation I went on to describe the horse I'd recently gotten. Believe it or not, it turned out that HE was the previous owner of the horse I'd bought at the sale!
We were both incredulously amused at the coincidence! I was able to find out a little more about the horse they'd called "Buddy", and the additional info gave me more assurance that the gelding was sensible and suitable for a newbie like me. I even got to see the cart and buggy that he'd usually been hooked up to.
Seriously, what are the odds...!?!