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Youngest Age to Train to Drive?

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  • Youngest Age to Train to Drive?


    We have a Welsh Cob pony, Section C. She is 12 hands high, and is 2 years old. Someday, we want to train her (have her trained) to drive (just for pleasure, not showing). Is 2 years old too young?

    "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." - Winston Churchill

  • #2
    No ...... go ahead and send her off to 'school' !

    Trainer with a good indoor arena coupled with a winter of work will make your
    SPRiNG and SUMMER a whole bunch of fun with your mare !

    Enjoy !!!
    Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


    • #3
      Two is a bit too young for me, in sending a horse or pony for driving training I just don't think they are mentally mature enough for consistant training yet, and body parts are still growing as well. I want them to last SOUND for many years ahead. Daily work may sour a very young horse with drilling needed to get proper responses, reliability on a driving animal. It can be boring, then they start games to escape their work. Develop bad habits.

      Have to say our 2yr Olds have an extremely short attention span, maybe 15 minutes at the most, then you have lost their interest. Hard to train young without forcing the issue, which is NEVER a good idea.

      We have our 3yr old at the trainer's now. She has done very well in her 30 day visit, but needs to come home and play this winter. Think about what she learned, and will be returning to the trainer in the spring. She has not been hitched, but got A+ on all the lessons leading up to that. We are quite amazed at her progress, it seldom goes this smoothly! Guess she was just ready to learn now. She just kept saying " Ok, got that. Next." Have to not overload or overschool one like that! We are picking her up Sunday, snow permitting.


      • #4
        I know people who have ground driven their 18mo-3+ year olds all over creations, because you can't do a lot of damage walking everywhere, but you sure can do a lot of great training and pre-training that way. They can eventually pull poles, then just the small cart, so that by 3/4 you'll have a pony used to "driving" everywhere.
        Let me apologize in advance.


        • #5
          I would say that you have to look at the individual, not a generic standard. Are some two year olds the very last word in distracted? Absolutely. Are some just not ready and too immature? Totally. Are some old souls who can handle new experiences without getting worried? Yup.

          So if you weigh the pros and cons, the pro is that generally speaking (see comment about individuals ), 2 year olds are still at a stage where they are more about learning new experiences rather than being cautious first/accepting later (within the normal boundaries of an animal that has been what's for dinner for millions of years). From an evolutionary perspective, 2 year olds are still under the protection of the herd and learning what's safe (herd not scared) versus what's deadly (herd is scared), as they move into 3 year olds or the thug years (4-5) the programming shifts to leave first, ask questions later. Obviously it is something we easily overcome, but doing weird stuff early on is a great way to let them learn to look to you, not instinct, as a guidance for behavior.

          The cons are that you simply cannot overwork a 2 year old, mentally or physically, especially mentally without consequences (and you have to understand that overwork can be in 5 minutes or 15 minutes or 35 minutes, you just have to respond to the individual on that day). So you need to be really good at this in order to not ever set them up for failure, know when to stop the lesson on a good note and not get into that trap of "let's just do a little bit more" because they seem to be doing so well until allofasudden they are not doing well at all. And if you are not that person, you need to know enough to find that person and pay them money.

          But if you have (or are) that resource, you can do a lot of things that set them up to be really solid citizens. And even if you have that naturally ADD or concerned youngster, you can still use this time to push their comfort zone, so to speak. It's just that what you can do with that individual will not be nearly as much as you can do with the old soul type. But in either case you can do a lot of learning without stressing them mentally or physically if you have someone who is experienced at working baby mindsets and isn't just throwing them into that 90 day start-a-horse template. (I'm not knocking that approach, but it really needs a horse who is mentally and physically up to that, and that is not an unstarted 2 year old).
          Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


          • Original Poster

            Hi everyone,

            Thanks for the comments! I understand what you all are saying, 2 is a little young for the 90-day programs and such, but not too bad for doing a little groundwork here and there. So, we will probably just wait for the driving training until she is older and wiser.

            On another note, our filly is quite friendly, but sensitive. We just got her a few days ago, and we learned that she has never had her hooves touched (for farrier or general cleaning)! At 2 years old, I was not expecting that, but there it is. In a week or so we are having a vet and farrier come by to sedate her and get her hooves filed down, as they are too long. That will work in the short term, but for future farrier visits, we need to have her hooves touched. As you might expect, we are new to young ponies (having only owned 2 well-trained miniature horses), and we are not quite ready for the overall manners training on our own that we would have to do with her.

            Is there such a thing as professional "manners" training for young horses? (We would love to be able to have a professional trainer train our filly and we could also be trained in how to properly keep up her training). If so, would it be better to get a trainer to come out to us, rather than boarding our filly with them? Or would that not make a difference?

            Anyway, sorry for so many questions! Thanks again for the help!
            "No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle." - Winston Churchill


            • #7
              Sounds like OP will be doing "lessons" with her young filly, though in handling rather than driving at her present stage of being handled. Mostly short, easy stuff like learning voice commands to walk forward, halt, turn with the handler, whoa and stand still. LOTS of hoof and leg handling so she is cooperative for hoof care. Standing tied for increasing lengths of time, quietly. She can wear a sheet, girth, getting used to the feel on body, leg straps, tight feeling is not going to hurt!

              Trainer says we have to do "homework" on our horse using leg straps on blankets. Very ticklish about them for the trainer. Who knew? She has always been fine to brush inside her hind legs. These are the things we need to find out so they can be worked on to improve her.

              I am sure you can locate a trainer to do these basics if you don't have enough time to do them yourself. We sent our filly off to get time in learning about being in other new places, new handlers, learn new things in daily short training sessions WITHOUT going on to being hitched yet. She needs to be accepting of change, not worry or over react when it happens. Learning that takes time, much repetition to get established in her head.


              • #8
                Trail Ride Lover, if you ask your question on off course with your location, you can probably get some suggestions for a good "cowboy" to work with youngsters. If you were in the north atlanta area, I would have a great suggestion. You just want to vet the suggestions with people you know and trust locally. What you are looking for ideally is a horse behaviorist rather than someone who learned you could run a horse down in the round pen.
                Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.


                • #9
                  My mini Bugs was just shy of 2-1/2 when he went to a young Amishman to be broke to drive.
                  He came back to me about as safe for a Newbie Driver (me) as I could ever want.
                  Bonus points for the guy having 5 young boys - stairsteps from 14yo down - who were responsible for a lot of his handling.
                  Besides learning to drive, he came back as friendly as a stuffed toy with people. kids & crowds.
                  Which comes in very handy when we do the County Fair - I tell people the Stoopid Bus unloads right outside the barn & passengers wander the aisles... You'd think you would not have to tell people not to hold their infants right up to a horse's face.

                  At least 50% of the credit belongs to Bugs for his temperament, but whatever method used to get him broke worked.
                  He is reliably traffic-safe, can be ponied off a cart & is fine driven in the company of larger horses - either at shows or on Club drives.
                  In fact, his preferred place on drives is with his nose practically on the platform of whatever cart/carriage is in front of him.

                  YMMV with your filly, but as others have said, it is never too early to suss out their temperament & tolerance for things they need to get used to.
                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                  • #10
                    A lot of draft horses are broke to drive at 2, then broke to ride at 3.


                    • #11
                      Not exactly the same as training to actually drive but I train all my horses to ground drive as early yearlings. We go out and explore the property and see all the sights and sounds that way so by the time they are ready to be broke to ride they already know how to steer and stop and the go button is partially installed verbally.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Another Poster View Post
                        A lot of draft horses are broke to drive at 2, then broke to ride at 3.
                        We have a 2017 Belgian gelding who now long lines and has dragged some false shafts at this point. He is 16.2 hh and over 1200lbs now. I'm getting ready to have him pull the tire a bit as 20lbs of rubber isn't going to burden him at all for 10-20 minutes once or twice a week.

                        Now a Welsh pony of the same age I suspect to be half the weight (maybe a third) at 12 hands, which still isn't much of a burden, but the proportions definitely make a difference, especially as you get to introducing a vehicle. Riding wise I wouldn't sit on anything before three, but while driving is less physically demanding it is a LOT more mentally challenging!

                        With her semi-feral state I echo others in finding someone who will work with you and the filly together on basic manners and handling. There will be plenty to do with that over the winter and then she'll be coming three and getting more devloped both physically and mentally.