Nothing greatly exciting happening here, just getting out and driving. We have attended a couple picnic drives with our Driving Club and gone to friends homes to drive on their roads and trails. The boys like getting out and going.
Here are some photos from one Club drive, with a live "obstacle" to go around. Lots of hard looking, but not really any reactions except by the people! It was "Did you see THAT out in the hayfield?" GREAT food, EXCELLENT desserts. Then we had lovely Trails, with miles of them to travel on, all well maintained and mowed. Mowing must have taken DAYS, just like going to a park. Even had a couple wooden bridges to cross. Here are some photos, which I can't seem to rearrange, so starting out is at the end. Just push NEXT, for the several photos.
The other driving time has been taken up with horses learning to go in a Unicorn hitch, which debuted at another Club picnic. That learning process took quite a while for the Leader to get familiar with his job. He has been a Leader in a Four, so he kept trying to be on the left OR right, with a horse behind him. He finally got it down and is going along much more centered these days. Husband is having to learn to hold reins differently, strengthening his hands for the Unicorn reins. Not like a Four, not like a Tandem, in how to manage them. You only improve by getting out and driving, so this is taking time. But things are much improved since the first drive! Again I got the photos in with the starting photos at the end, can't get them chronological! So if you use the left arrow, you can see them in the correct order, but horses look pretty nice in all of them! The Wheelers have the fly sheets on, which we have gotten a lot of use out of. Sure glad we bought them! Leader thinks fly sheets tickle, so he is "uncovered" but sprayed well. Have to do some practice with him on wearing his fly sheet, get over the tickle factor. Just a sensitive guy!
They did very well at the other Club Picnic, on another private farm. The Farm also has BEAUTIFUL trails, with water crossings, a covered bridge, great scenery. Again, mowed and groomed driving trails, like being in a park. The boys did pretty well, just some hard looking at one water crossing, which we eventually talked the Leader into doing himself. That was fun! Takes a brave horse to be out front alone, facing down whatever they meet. He is a darn nice horse about stuff like that. The Wheelers figure if HE can do it, they will just follow along. Have to say a dozen 4 and 5 sized hooves banging on the Covered Bridge's wooden floor, sounds like the WHOLE Budweiser hitch coming thru!! It was so fun, we turned around and did it again! A terrific day from start to finish. I think the Activities Director orders the weather for these picnics, it was a great day.
Horses used the new-to-them trailer, hauled in backwards riding stalls. We had practiced loading several times the week before, so they had no problems getting in. Was nice to work out of, though we don't have it organized yet, so lots of looking around for stuff "I know I it packed someplace". Stood tied and eating on the side VERY well, while we ate lunch. Found out we need a few more tie loops to hang stuff from.
Horses are Cleveland Bay crossbreds, if anyone is interested. Brothers and cousins out of 2 sister mares.
Thanks for sharing those pictures! I'll admit I couldn't help but think what a lot of WORK you two must put into getting those three ready! That's no easy task- but must feel so rewarding once it's rolling along in harmony!
Question with a unicorn hitch - does the leader's lines just go straight to your hands? Looks like they do. I'm just wondering if you have them run through any terrets at all like you would with a tandem?
Leader reins do get run back to your hands, going thru Terrets on the INSIDE of Wheeler bridles and then the rein ring on the Wheeler saddles. Not exactly straight, but pretty close. Wheelers move in and out, from the pole while traveling, so "straight rein run" is a relative term, not like a ruler!.
I think rein length is too long a run, from Leader bit, to your hands, without some rein support with bridle terret and the saddle rein rings. We use loose rein terrets, hung on the Wheeler bridles, to keep reins low on the Wheeler heads. This photo gives a pretty good view of the right side Leader rein, where it goes on the way to Driver hands.
As with a Tandem, you have to be careful of OVER signaling the Leader, with that weight and length of rein. Little bitty loops, not the bigger ones you pull with a Four. Always AMAZING how fast the Leader can get totally reversed with a little too much rein pull, so you have Wheelers facing forward, Leader beside them facing YOU! Your Whoa BETTER be working well!!
After driving for so long, we have a harnessing system, so preparing to hitch the Multiples goes pretty quickly now. Horses do change sides every hitching, keeps them using both sides well. And here, you never know who will be doing what position, so they are quite amendable to changes, not fussy.
They are fun horses to use, which sure adds to the good times when you get them out to drive at home or away.
Since the young mare didn't get bred as hoped, she will be going back to work, filling in a spot in a Pair and then the Four. Working as a Wheeler, since she hasn't got much road time yet. Has to be brave and learn to actually pull more serious weight, though she seems quite all right with that in the ring. She is kind of short compared to the boys, so I am hoping she doesn't end up labeled as the "donut spare tire horse", because of her smaller size. She has a good length of stride, just has to use it well, to stay with the boys.
Ahhh - thanks for that view! That really shows how the leader lines are run. I never did use a center rein terret on the saddle, but I was only driving a tandem. I was really curious how to hitch up a unicorn, and your photos all show it really well.
For a Tandem, you will want rein terrets on the saddle with rollers. You just unscrew the regular rein ring, then put in these special rein rings with a roller across the center. I am seeing the stacked rein rings, looks like an 8, that would replace the regular rein ring of a single horse harness. We haven't used the stacked rings, don't know how they would work in real life. Seems to be a European creation, so another viewpoint on methods.