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Newbie Questions

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  • Newbie Questions

    We just started driving training last week (yea!!). I have a trainer who will train my horse (11 year old QH) then teach me. I am there, watching, during the lessons.

    I'm just looking for second opinions.

    Any recommendations for synthetic harness? Brands? Where to buy? Pleasure driving only.

    The trainer does not use blinders. She feels they are more likely to cause an accident than prevent one, since the horse doesn't see "the scary thing" until the last moment. Any opinions? My horse does occasionally spook, but it's an in-place spook, or she stops and stares. Has never panicked and run off.

    Where do you drive? It spooks other horses. Do you have separate trails for driving? Do you just stop and let other horses pass if they're spooking?

    I decided to have my horse trained partly because there was a trainer down the street (why not?) and it looks like fun!

    Thank you!
    In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

  • #2
    The main reason for blinders is to prevent the horse anticipating thing by reading your body language. If you follow any kind of routine (recommended for safety reasons), the horse quickly learns it and may want to "help" you. Like you move the whip which should always be in your hand, he thinks you mean to touch him for Go. Not true, you wanted to brush off a fly! Or people get in cart, he walks off " because they ARE in" but not seated yet! Horses are huge on reading body language, keeps them safe in the herd. Unfortunately horse guessing your next move or choice of direction, speed, may be incorrect choices, so bad things happen before you can stop them.

    We train in open bridles, horses have seen scary vehicles, dragging things following, not afraid of them. They graduate to blinders as their training advances. The blinders keep them focused FORWARD, not sight seeing, anticipating things they see around or behind them. Horses WAIT for directions. They do not get to choose what is next.

    There cannot be two "Captains of the ship" in driving. Horse does NOT get a vote in decisions. They just need to follow directions.

    Many folks count on horse following routines, it works in their situation, like farmers. They usually work horses in limited locations, do repetitive things and try to save themselves steps in daily life.. You do see them using open bridles at times. Many times their methods work fine, other times bad things happen because horses made poor choices by breaking their expected routines. Horses thinking independently is a very bad thing while driving because of attached vehicles.. Like a driverless car in gear, they are hugely destructive going forward randomly..

    Have you seen this trainers finished horses driving? How long does it take them to prepare a horse to be hitched and driven? Do they start the new horse as a single or put it in a Pair to begin driving it? How long are the training sessions? All things to consider. We do a LOT of ground work instilling commands, building "a working relationship" with each horse, to make sure horse completely understands what we are asking him to do, has confidence in us. He learns trust in us, is willing to do weird or odd requests because we ask.

    There is a lot to starting a driving horse, so ask questions, read books like Doris Ganton, "Training The Driving Horse". Clear photos, steps to follow in training, fitting harness, carts to your horse. Vehicle you want to drive should be safe, checked for good bolts, solid wheels and shafts, not weigh a ton for beginner horse. Heavy load or vehicle scares them until they learn they CAN move it!

    And if your horse likes a wide view, there are various style blinders beyond the basic square models fitted snugly over their eyes. These other model might take a bit of looking to find, but are out there. We have two at my place that wear half-cup blinkers, while the others all wear standard blinkers Those two just lIke more view forward, but still can't see behind or a lot to the sides.

    Welcome to this group, and driving!

    Comment


    • #3
      I agree about the blinkers. Also some horses are good about the thing behind them 99% of the time. The other 1% can be not good. A horse scared about something else entirely can escalate when terror at thing A becomes terror at thing A AND the thing chasing him. So it's a cheap and easy bit of insurance.

      Yonies makes a lovely harness but works primarily through dealers. The two places I know is the Carriage House in Florida and Chrysalis Acres. Both are good at walking you through what you might need.
      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have (among many harness pieces) Comfy-fit harness. It is available (google it) from many vendors and is reasonably priced ($850 or so) and sturdy and comfortable for a horse or pony. Vendors will typically give you a lot of help in fitting the harness to your horse.


        As far as other horses being frightened of you, your horse and carriage, this is where you need to be considerate of horses that have no experience with these scary things. I let them follow me. I stop and let other horses check us out. But it is, at base. desensitization. The only horses who seem to hold onto a fear of carriages are those whose owners seem to encourage it. There is not a lot you can do there.


        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          I looked up driving without blinders. Found it was called an "open bridle" and some people do it, some don't. I had no idea there were some people who drove like this. The most common advice was it depends on the horse. Some said it was better to go without blinders on older horses who were taking up driving as a second career.

          https://coachmansdelight.com/blinders-or-not/

          The trainer charges a flat fee then takes as long as she needs to train the horse. Right now my girl has had five lessons ground driving, no harness, just a surcingle with lunge lines. I have no idea how long it normally takes to get a horse to pull a cart. Training sessions are about an hour.

          She starts horses as a single and has an easy entry cart. I think a four-wheeled cart as well.

          She trained a friend's horse who was 20 at the time and it worked out fine. She has been driving off and on for many years and has trained other horses.

          Thank you for the suggestion for Yonies. This one looks good and at a decent price. I'll check with my trainer.

          http://www.yonies.com/catalog/produc...-harness-p-398

          Also found this for Comy-fit

          https://www.carriagedrivingessential...orse-oversize/

          This is not a carriage driving area. No one except my trainer does it and she rarely goes out these days (she used to be at a driving barn). Most horses have never seen a horse pulling a cart and I really don't want to anger an entire neighborhood. I'm inclined to have my horse trained then just leave it. I'm retiring in six years and will probably move to a place with more open spaces. Once she's trained, it's just a refresher to have her back to driving in a few years.

          If this works out well, I could look at barns that are further away, but have more open space/arenas that would allow driving.

          Thank you for the advice.

          In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

          Comment


          • #6
            Malda, when I started driving, in my neighborhood there was me and one other person who drove. And she drove very infrequently. I was careful when approaching other horses and invited them to follow behind us, as that gives confidence. I was in great demand for desensitizing all the horses in the neighborhood. One friend had her horses eating grain and had me driving back and forth along her fenceline. It worked great, as we encountered each other a lot on the road with her riding her young draft and her friends riding her TBs, and we had no spooks.

            People were very supportive, and it always made me laugh when I'd run into a neighbor elsewhere and they would say "Oh, you're the one who drives the ponies!" They remembered my ponies' names but usually didn't remember mine.

            Rebecca

            Comment


            • #7
              Maida, you will want to put road time on your horse, after it is accepting and obedient for driving. Taking as long as needed for that horse, sounds very good in teaching horse needed skills. So you or trainer will need to take horse out hitched, to learn about driving in real-life settings, to use the training he got. Not driving after getting his basics, leaves him at a green driving horse stage, without road experience in harness with cart, blinkers, driver telling him what to do. You driving with the trainer, will help YOU learn proper responses to situations, good usense oF the whip as an aId by touching hihim for confidence, direction. No pulling reins hard, legging him over from the vehicle seat!! Ha ha, never works for me!

              Then not driving him at all for maybe years, does not always work well, even with a "tuneup" first. He may not have enough road time driving to know how to respond correctly in that case. Older animals do seem to train easier for driving, have a bigger base of experiences to aid them in accepting stuff they meet. Some never take a wrong step, but others have to learn new responses for times they are hitched. No sidepassing away from scary things like when ridden!

              Being friendly to riders, letting their equines follow or get treats from driver, really works to reduce ridden horse fright. Driving should not make you any enemies! Just stopping and standing ( best gait of a driving horse!) should help a rider regain control, then you can suggest them following or getting off to the side to watch you as you pass by.

              Comment


              • #8
                you would probably want to go with the Yonies pleaseure driving/CDE harness through a dealer if yo uwent tha troute. More like this one:

                http://www.chrysalisacres.com/Shoppi...oducts_id=1441

                or here

                http://www.thecarriagehouse.com/products.html

                Also, I really like Ideal. I recently bought a headstall and some marathon reins from these guys (you may want to call and inquire, because the price I paid was different than the one shown on the ideal website. But in a good way.

                http://www.rockpointeranch.com/A-Z-Horse-Driving.html
                Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have the Yonies pleasure driving/CDE harness for my minis and it is working out well. It is nicely made and comfortable for the boys. They were able to tweak the bridle to make exactly what I wanted and it fits both minis perfectly. Lots of adjustability. The only thing I don't like about it is the buckle in traces are hard to work, but that's probably more my arthritic hands fault rather than the harness.
                  When I drive at open pleasure shows, I have never had others horses give more than a passing glance at us. I do tend to start warming up far away from the warm up ring and work my way slowly over to the crowd, so maybe that helps.
                  As far as blinkers go, I use them for all the reasons stated in the posts above.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree about the buckle in traces. Mine only get unbuckled when I am breaking apart the harness for cleaning because they attach to the carriage with a quick release shackle, so easy peasy.

                    If I had to regularly buckle/unbuckle traces at the breast plate I would totally invest in the quick release attachment on the breast collar!
                    Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by goodhors View Post
                      Maida, you will want to put road time on your horse, after it is accepting and obedient for driving. Taking as long as needed for that horse, sounds very good in teaching horse needed skills. So you or trainer will need to take horse out hitched, to learn about driving in real-life settings, to use the training he got. Not driving after getting his basics, leaves him at a green driving horse stage, without road experience in harness with cart, blinkers, driver telling him what to do. You driving with the trainer, will help YOU learn proper responses to situations, good usense oF the whip as an aId by touching hihim for confidence, direction. No pulling reins hard, legging him over from the vehicle seat!! Ha ha, never works for me!

                      Then not driving him at all for maybe years, does not always work well, even with a "tuneup" first. He may not have enough road time driving to know how to respond correctly in that case. Older animals do seem to train easier for driving, have a bigger base of experiences to aid them in accepting stuff they meet. Some never take a wrong step, but others have to learn new responses for times they are hitched. No sidepassing away from scary things like when ridden!

                      Being friendly to riders, letting their equines follow or get treats from driver, really works to reduce ridden horse fright. Driving should not make you any enemies! Just stopping and standing ( best gait of a driving horse!) should help a rider regain control, then you can suggest them following or getting off to the side to watch you as you pass by.
                      She will have road training (it's a residential area, no choice) and I will have lessons once she's ready (which is why I always watch the lessons). It won't be a matter of "okay, she can pull a cart now so everything's fine". However, I don't know if I can continue driving her, it might have to wait until I've moved. I'm taking this one day at a time.

                      I've been riding/around horses for 40 years and I've seen people fight over allowing carts on the trails. The carts usually lose, unfortunately, no matter how accommodating the driver is. I could post on the Facebook page for our area when I plan on going out. That might help. I could also say that I'll be happy to stop and wait for riders to pass.

                      I talked to the trainer about the blinkers and she will expose my horse to them after she's comfortable with the cart. She wants all her horses to be able to handle blinkers but she does not like using them regularly, especially on older horses.

                      Still looking at harnesses. Trainer prefers leather since it's more likely to break if there's an accident. I'm not an impulse shopper which is why I'm looking now. It takes me forever to make a big purchase, I have to get all the facts together and compare.

                      She started wearing the harness yesterday. It's fun watching the progress.
                      In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Malda View Post

                        I talked to the trainer about the blinkers and she will expose my horse to them after she's comfortable with the cart. She wants all her horses to be able to handle blinkers but she does not like using them regularly, especially on older horses.

                        Still looking at harnesses. Trainer prefers leather since it's more likely to break if there's an accident. I'm not an impulse shopper which is why I'm looking now. It takes me forever to make a big purchase, I have to get all the facts together and compare.
                        I have concerns about any trainer who thinks leather is better "because it's more likely to break in an accident." First of all, no, harness is not designed to break under stress. It's designed to hold together under stress. I personally appreciate the convenience of biothane, since the goal is NOT to have it break. If you need to get harness off in a hurry, that's what quick releases are for.

                        I don't think I would use a trainer who doesn't like to use blinkers, either. I think there are a few horses that go better without them, but the majority (of whatever age) from what I've read seem to go better with them. Horses have the ability to spook at stuff they see all the time. I read somewhere that it's because objects look different to them depending on how near or far they are. I wouldn't want the something that spooked my horse to be the cart. That would cause a runaway that would be a huge challenge to stop, since the cause of the spook stays with them and seems to be chasing them.

                        My Hackney pony was very reactive, and I used a trick I read about in one of Doris Ganton's books: I would move him past the troublesome object with his head just a bit averted. The blinker on that side would prevent him for seeing it, and he would calm down.

                        Rebecca

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          ditto this ^

                          It sounds like maybe this trainer isn't as familiar with modern marathon/pleasure harnesses? Honestly, they can have quick releases at every vehicle attachment point. Mine has quick releases at the tugs, the breeching and the traces where they attach to the singletree. And you can also add a second quick release buckle where the trace attaches to the breast collar.

                          Now when you are ordering, you do have to ask for this (quick release tugs for closed loop/open shafts and quick release buckles on the breast collar) and buy the quick release shackles for the trace/singletree and breeching attachment point... and those shackles are not cheap, but that is one area you don't want to go budget. They need to be reliably strong and reliably quick release. And then you carry a good knife in your spares kit, always on your carriage in case of emergency for the very rare moment where all of the above fails you.
                          Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You absolutely DO NOT want to have harness break, it will only make things worse. Had to argue with harness maker way back, when I wanted a layer of nylon strap in the breastcollar and traces. He also argued "it won't break". I NEVER want harness to break or have a weak place because harness never breaks when expected. It fails in a crisis. With a horse down, they often give up, laying quietly while you get them free, THEN ask them to get up without damage to horse or vehicle. Someone on their neck or head prevents them getting up, a good thing to do in crisis times. But if one part gives, horse will try harder to get loose because fighting seems to work!!

                            Synthetic harness needs little maintenance, unlike leather. Get stainless steel hardware, stronger than brass, won't tarnish. We have leather good harness, but use synthetic on a daily basis. Very strong, nice fit, tree in the saddlee like any good harness. Get a 4" wide saddle, spreads out shaft weight of 2-wheelers better.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by DMK View Post
                              ditto this ^

                              It sounds like maybe this trainer isn't as familiar with modern marathon/pleasure harnesses? Honestly, they can have quick releases at every vehicle attachment point. Mine has quick releases at the tugs, the breeching and the traces where they attach to the singletree. And you can also add a second quick release buckle where the trace attaches to the breast collar.

                              Now when you are ordering, you do have to ask for this (quick release tugs for closed loop/open shafts and quick release buckles on the breast collar) and buy the quick release shackles for the trace/singletree and breeching attachment point... and those shackles are not cheap, but that is one area you don't want to go budget. They need to be reliably strong and reliably quick release. And then you carry a good knife in your spares kit, always on your carriage in case of emergency for the very rare moment where all of the above fails you.
                              Leather vs Biothane seems to divide people, not only in harness. I love my Hought halter/bridle and have been using one for ten years, but I still have people tell me that a leather bridle is safer because it will break in an emergency. I think there's good reasons on both sides, but I lean towards synthetic.

                              Quick release sounds like a good idea. I'll look for those when I buy a harness. Never thought of a knife, what else do you put in your "spares kit"? I do ride with pepper spray. Thankfully, I've never had to use it, but you never know.
                              In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I have two pouches behind my seat as part of the carriage and they are kind of roomy so I keep a universal Swiss knife type tool, a lead rope, my wireless odometer (when it's not hooked up), the wheel hub wrench thingamabob and a little bicycle air compressor (plugs into the gator 12v socket) for my pneumatic off season tires and the air ride suspension. Lol there's probably other stuff too!

                                But on the leather vs beta/bio argument, make no mistake, I am a leather snob. Like over the top snob... Until it comes to harness. The reason we have leather is even though it can break and make the problem worse, it may save us and that good outweighs the bad. The exception that proves that rule is driving. The times it breaks and makes things worse does not outweigh the times it saves us, especially when you consider all the quick release advancements!
                                Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Everything is going fine. The trainer started driving her in the arena today. There haven't really been any issues, by the time the cart (easy entry) was hooked up she was like, "okay, I'm pulling something behind me" and just walked on. She did seem a little baffled when the trainer got in the cart and it was a bit heaver to pull. I can't wait to start driving her myself, but she'll need some more lessons with the trainer.

                                  Still no blinders. It really doesn't seem to be an issue, especially since she's 11 and used to seeing everything around her.
                                  In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    And another question.

                                    My trainer said the footing in the arena at my barn is too deep for driving. Are there certain types of carts/wheels better suited for arenas?
                                    In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I have a sand (M10+sand) arena that is not deep except for down in one far corner outside of the regular work area and my carriage works ok on it when I have the pneumatics on (they are marathon pneumatics). We get some drifting in that deep corner and he definitely feels it, but I would call that corner too deep for regular riding as well. The competition (traditional) wheels cut deep which hard on the horse and lousy for the arena base when it is wet (not so wet that you couldn't ride on it, but wet enough that the wheels cut deep).

                                      So the bigger/wider your pneumatic wheels are, probably the better. But if the footing is "average" deep that will probably still be an issue. Also for a horse new to pulling, you probably want to be careful you don't make them too sore from pulling in deeper footing

                                      Plan B: Be a legend, have 4 horses, an amazing backstepper and gator, and you can do ANYTHING in an arena (you can see what I mean by "drift". Rest assured this is not the kind of drifting problem I have!)

                                      https://youtu.be/_VyHKIcpa90?t=2756
                                      Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by DMK View Post
                                        Plan B: Be a legend, have 4 horses, an amazing backstepper and gator, and you can do ANYTHING in an arena (you can see what I mean by "drift". Rest assured this is not the kind of drifting problem I have!)

                                        https://youtu.be/_VyHKIcpa90?t=2756
                                        Watched that after my first driving lesson today (with one of her experienced horses). Impressive! I'm so far away from driving four.

                                        I never realized that when you're sitting in an easy entry cart that you have a front row, VIP view of the horse relieving itself, especially mares. I actually leaned back when it happened.

                                        I don't think the arena at my barn is any deeper than hers. I know there's one deep spot, but the rest of it seems okay. I'd rather get more practice in an arena before heading out on the trails.
                                        In memory of Apache, who loved to play. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjZAqeg7HyE

                                        Comment

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