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And just like that, he drives!

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  • And just like that, he drives!

    **Caveat, we don't know if this horse had driven before, it's possible that he has and we just don't know it **

    We've been lining my young saddlebred for a few months, and he has taken to it like a duck to water. He didn't protest at all about the crupper or the blinker hood. He did have a few complaints about the overcheck (necessary for our breed shows) even loosely adjusted, but he's largely gotten over that.

    So after some additional prep the trainer decided he was ready to be introduced to the cart yesterday. So we did the lining while we pulled the cart behind him and he didn't bat an ear at the squeaking jolting cart behind him, so she hooked him! And his reaction was "no problem". He didn't have any issues pulling it, not even a hesitation when he felt the weight and I was even able to jog at his head with the cart bouncing around behind him. Good boy!

    He may have been broke to jog as a 2 year old, we just don't have that information. So we're on our way! Of course, we've got a lot more work to do, but it's so nice to be over that hump. I always felt that way when I backed saddle horses too - once we got over that first w-t-c in the saddle everything was going to be ok.

    I'm super excited He's very nice and really does seem to prefer the work in the lines to ridden work. Under saddle he's just kind of meh and looks vaguely uncomfortable, but in the lines he'll puff himself up and get that presence that we want in the show ring - I'm hoping that transfers to his actual driven work. From a horse that couldn't stand still at all last summer we've come such a long way! (He does stand now, he fusses still with his mouth, but he does stand!) Just had to share I was so excited!

  • #2
    Oh wow!! Huge congrats and very exciting!!

    Keep us posted and please post lots of pictures


    • Original Poster

      Here he is walking along like he's been doing it all his life!
      Image IMG-6683 in Onegraypony's images album


      • Original Poster

        This was after he trotted a bit, and he's somewhat interested in the cameraman
        Image IMG-6682 in Onegraypony's images album


        • #5
          How cool! I had an experience like that with the pony who used to be my daughter's riding horse. He clearly hated being ridden, so I started training him to drive. He had no concept of ground driving and it took some effort to stop him responding to the feel of the lines on his neck (he neck reined), but once he figured out what I wanted, he was driving in what seemed like no time. He may have driven before but just not been ground driven. I sure miss that pony--I retired him in 2016 and he died last October.



          • Original Poster

            We hooked him again yesterday and he did great! Trainer got in the cart and I was able to walk by his head without the lead rope after a few rounds. He's still struggling with turning a little because he turns into the super-noodle (he has always been super-bendy, and when he gets unsure, he gets more bendy) but on the straightaways he's doing terrific.

            I'm a little worried that the traces are a wee bit too short, which I don't really understand since he's a short bodied guy (for a saddlebred) but it may just be the combination of the noodling and him bunching himself up when he tries to turn. We'll continue to work on that, straightness was a continual battle under saddle as well, but could be combatted a bit with more forward once he's a bit more confident.

            Now I just have to work on my nerves


            • #7
              They sell trace extensions, which will make them longer. Most harness makers have them. The noodle part may come from not knowing how to push into pressure oF his breastcollar. Everything we do in handling, training young horses, is for them to move AWAY from pressure. Like pushing them over in the stall, chest push to back him away from running over you. In reality, horse is not "pulling", he is PUSHING into his breastcollar to move the vehicle. Probably a very new sensation to him.

              Related to his breastcollar, Saddlebreds' equipment, is that he probably has a very narrow strap width across his chest. You might see if there is a wider breastcollar in the harness room for these beginning lessons, or puchase one. Talking 3-4 inches wide, top to bottom of the strap. Lots of used stuff available too. Wider is better, V shape is good. Width spreads his load over more skin/muscle area. Like big thick bucket handles are more comfortable to pick up. V goes down and around his windpipe, no cutting in should he lower his head. I know you said he is wearing a check, but V is a very comfortable design. Wider is more comfortable to push into, so he is not getting pinched. You are REMOVING his excuses to act up in work. Probably non-traditional for Saddlebreds, but each horse can act different,. You may have to use a different "trick or equipment change" to make him happy working.

              Not sure if your trainer ever used a kicking strap, but strongly advised with a horse just starting driving. Strap goes across his croup area, wraps on shafts. SHOULD he take a notion to kick, strap applies cart and driver weight to the croup as he attempts to lift his rear for a kick. Quite dicouraging to lift all that load! Most horses give up fast. So strap is a great prevention device, they don't start bad habits, get hurt in the cart. I am telling you that a check rein will NOT PREVENT him kicking, so do not have false confidence in that "saving the day" should he act up. Having a kicking strap in place is for safety, yours and his. Cheap insurance in accident prevention.

              And last, pay close attention as he gains confidence in the cart. We seldom see problems in the first few hitchings. But by 6-8, horse may have confidence enough to try things, kicking, backing, and gets into trouble then.

              I certainly hope he continues his good start off! But be prepared for him to be silly, act up as he goes along. Part of the training process.


              • Original Poster

                goodhors Thank you so much - so much good information.

                He's noodley under saddle to when he is unsure or not going forward enough, so I think it's a combination most likely. This is a horse who happily scratches his sheath with his muzzle and his ear with his hind foot, so Mr Gumby has all sorts of evasions to try

                He doesn't have a problem pushing into the breast collar when he's first walking, it's the turn that seems to baffle him a bit, but you know, it's probably good to just make it as comfortable as possible at first, we can always switch up the game later and make it harder/more interesting. The wider breast collar is a good solution! I'll ask about the kicking strap as well. He's not generally a bucker/kicker, but he is smart, so may try a variety of things if he feels like it's hard I both love and hate having a smart horse!

                Thank you again!


                • Original Poster

                  Another successful drive - we’re 3 in! He trotted both ways with trainer in the cart and without a leader! I was close enough by that if h got into trouble I could rescue him, but he was brilliant and didn’t require any unsticking. He seems to get the turning thing now and successfully reversed!


                  • #10
                    Your horse is very handsome! Hope he continues to excel in driving.


                    • #11
                      ASBs are long lined before they are ridden, so even if they didn't "jog" him- which they may well have done- having a crupper, surcingle, and lines around him would be no big deal.

                      I have horses who can scratch their tail with their teeth. ASBs are longitudinally and laterally flexible.
                      When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou


                      • Original Poster

                        Originally posted by ASB Stars View Post
                        ASBs are long lined before they are ridden, so even if they didn't "jog" him- which they may well have done- having a crupper, surcingle, and lines around him would be no big deal.

                        I have horses who can scratch their tail with their teeth. ASBs are longitudinally and laterally flexible.
                        He was definitely lined - that much I know I just think he has that perfect Saddlebred “oh, is this what you want? Ok cool!” temperament!

                        We are continuing to hook him quite successfully. The cart and hooking doesn’t bother him and I think he mostly has the steering thing. He is trotting full laps around the arena in both directions with a nice change of direction in the middle.

                        Admittedly, we aren’t asking him for a ton of forward or anything too challenging yet, but he seems to have taken to this like a duck to water! My trainer is awesome and I’m just so proud of him!


                        • #13
                          He's gorgeous! Local kill pen had a 14-year saddlebred who had been mostly driven recently. Hubby giving me the no more horses. Getting frustrating. Leasing instructors Gypsy stud but his antics get old occasionally. In harness, he's all business though. Anyway, want one of my own.