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Newbie Driver, Old Pro Haffie

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  • Newbie Driver, Old Pro Haffie

    Hey all,

    I just got a driving harness. When I bought my Haflinger, I knew he'd been driven before. The people who had him before he showed up at our therapeutic riding center have a carriage business up in the Bay Area (they sold him, someone bought him and donated him to the therapeutic riding place) so he's a pro. I even got to meet his carriage family when I went up to the Bay Area a few years ago to visit my relatives.

    So I've known for years he could drive, and my barn owner who used to drive their Saddlebred mare heard about it, and has been asking me when I'd be getting a harness. Well, I got one. Second hand, but everything looks good (wasn't gonna argue since it was a giveaway). I've gone over it. No dangerous parts. It's serviceable and sound, and is a good jumping off point for us. I'm hoping, with Christmas coming, a new biothane driving harness might find its way under the Christmas tree.

    We've got a cart already. The barn owner has three in their carriage/old car barn by the entry gate. One's an ez-entry blue cart that's too small for the Saddlebred mare, but will fit Mitch fine. And then there's the wooden two-wheeled cart, and a four wheeled buggy/surrey that apparently freaks all the other horses out, so we probably won't be able to drive that. We're going to start with the ez entry, and maybe go to the wooden cart.

    I've driven before. Not a lot. But enough to get an idea for it. The BO showed me how with the Saddlebred mare and for a while we had a mini with a cart and I got to take him around a few times. My barn owner told me to tell him when we were ready to do this, and he'd supervise for a while, so I'm not jumping in blind. The pony hasn't driven in years, but he's a smart cookie and doesn't forget things. I'm actually looking forward to it. He's the only horse on that ranch that can drive, so it'd be something pretty unique.
    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

  • #2
    I'm hoping, with Christmas coming, a new biothane driving harness might find its way under the Christmas tree.
    Lol... gotta write a nice letter to Driving Santa and see what happens.


    Have fun with the Haffie! And pictures would be super!









    http://www.kshai1715.wordpress.com
    Life in 2012; Horses, Life, Photography
    eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
    My Blog - Life in 2014; Horses, Life, Photography

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by Chewbacca View Post
      Lol... gotta write a nice letter to Driving Santa and see what happens.


      Have fun with the Haffie! And pictures would be super!
      LOL. Maybe if I convince Santa that my boy is a SuperPony and could do all the work the reindeer do, only better. Rudolph, you aint nothing on GoldenBoy!

      I haven't got any pictures of us yet. I put the harness on yesterday, and am pleased to say I totally didn't botch the job considering I've never done it before. It was really similar to putting on a surcingle though, so I got the theory of it. He's got a kimberwick on right now. He normally rides in a Myler western dee with a mild port, but there's no way I'm taking it off the headstall with the mecate reins to put it on his driving bridle every time I go out.

      Probably won't hitch him up for a while. I'd like to do a little ground driving first, and letting him remember the old days when he actually had to work for a living. He's gotten spoiled. LOL.

      But I do have pictures of him from his driving days

      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...rgundyTUMM.jpg

      He's the one on the left (your left)
      "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

      Comment


      • #4
        He looks like a cutey. Can not wait to see photos of you two having fun.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          http://youtu.be/0-ono-Wk-fs

          Well here's our first ground driving video of Mitch's butt from behind. Sorry it's so shaky, I want to get a helmet cam or something because I was having trouble holding my iPhone and the reins.

          I've been working with him for a couple of weeks, in the round pen mostly. They say an elephant never forgets, but the pachyderm's got nothing on the golden boy because it's been some 4 or 5 years since he was driven, and he went right to work as professional as they come. I've even had him jog a little, and only had to walk behind him, but the footing in the pen is a bit deep and sandy, so it gets in my shoes and I tend to shuffle rather than walk.

          Yesterday, after driving him in the round pen, I drove him out the gate, and down the little hill to the big arena, and then along the gravel road to the place where his corral is. He was really good.

          Hoping to hitch him up to a cart this week.
          "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

          Comment


          • #6
            Sounds like the makings of a dream come true. How exciting for you! Wishing you both lots of fun adventures together. Keep us updated!!

            Comment


            • #7
              Awwww... what a good dude! He's going to be wonderful!!!
              eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
              My Blog - Life in 2014; Horses, Life, Photography

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Thanks! He's an old hand at it with a whole bunch of driving commands. I've got a nifty paper with all of them written down. Mitch is definitely rock solid in harness.

                Getting the cart wheels checked out tomorrow. One keeps going flat, so it might just need a new inner tube. And after that... we're getting down to the good stuff.
                "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm getting a chuckle about your crib sheet of commands... Imagining little "gee" and "haw" post it notes stuck on his britching.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
                    I'm getting a chuckle about your crib sheet of commands... Imagining little "gee" and "haw" post it notes stuck on his britching.
                    What a great idea! I should totally do that. I've got a handwritten sheet of commands that came in his dossier (sounds high falutin') from his former owners. Still maintain contract with 'em. One of my favorite commands is "Step Mitch" and he self loads in a trailer. Best time that ever came in handy was the night we had a fire and had to evacuate at 11:30 at night. He hopped in nice as you please.

                    Got new inner tubes for the wheels. Well, one needed a new tube, but other one seemed fine, but I figured better safe than sorry since this cart hasn't been used for a few years. And since the tires were wearing out, I got new tread too. With white rims. We be cruisin'

                    And funny story. I went into the bike shop wearing the t-shirt I got at the Derby this year, and the guy asked me if I'd gone to the Derby, and we went into an hour long discussion about racing. And after I paid, I looked at the receipt and found I'd gotten a bit of a discount.
                    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Well, here's our cart!

                      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...ps7f1f0a29.jpg

                      It's gonna need some TLC. Hasn't been used for a while, so a new coat of paint, I'll see if I can fix up that seat, but my BO is allowing it to live with us and that makes me pretty excited for the future.

                      Unfortunately, we hit a bit of a snag. I was tacking up Mitch in the harness and was wondering why the neck strap was so wonky.

                      http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...ps612c7d74.jpg

                      I am glad that it broke BEFORE he was all hitched up to the cart. I don't know how I'm going to get it fixed, we don't have a saddle shop that does repairs. Might just buy a new one, but will have to decide where to get it.

                      Mitch is spared from returning to working mandom another day.
                      "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Awww what a cute Haffie butt it is He looks like an old pro, all right.

                        As far as driving commands, watch "Iron Will." No, I'm kidding, but you can get a pair of white cotton gloves and write "GEE" on the right hand and "HAW" on the left hand to remember which is which.
                        If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                        DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                        Originally posted by talkofthetown
                        As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This would concern me. The neckstrap is a piece that has relatively little stress on it, particularly when you have a split dual-strap construction like this. What would cause one of those straps to break? I'd wonder what other parts of the harness might be weak. The leather can appear sound but may in fact have dry rot. It's not too much of a problem with ground-driving the well-mannered horse but I'd probably think twice about using the harness for hitching to a vehicle.

                          Originally posted by dreamswept View Post
                          Unfortunately, we hit a bit of a snag. I was tacking up Mitch in the harness and was wondering why the neck strap was so wonky.

                          http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...ps612c7d74.jpg

                          I am glad that it broke BEFORE he was all hitched up to the cart. I don't know how I'm going to get it fixed, we don't have a saddle shop that does repairs. Might just buy a new one, but will have to decide where to get it.

                          Mitch is spared from returning to working mandom another day.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Yeah, it concerned me too. I haven't been doing anything with the harness because I couldn't figure out where to go from here, and because I've been riding more through October and have been pretty busy. Well, I got injured 4 weeks ago (late October) and slipped on the stairs wearing socks (geesh) and fell backwards and while I can get on the horses, getting off is nigh impossible due to my left side being all messed up. (My ribs hurt pretty bad, no breaks or anything, and I can lead a pretty much normal life until I manage to heal, whenever that is)

                            But I can sit just fine. And so I've been thinking more on driving since the Haffie needs regular work or he turns into a fat brat. Which means getting a new harness. I ordered a new one, and will plan accordingly.


                            Originally posted by RidesAHaflinger View Post
                            This would concern me. The neckstrap is a piece that has relatively little stress on it, particularly when you have a split dual-strap construction like this. What would cause one of those straps to break? I'd wonder what other parts of the harness might be weak. The leather can appear sound but may in fact have dry rot. It's not too much of a problem with ground-driving the well-mannered horse but I'd probably think twice about using the harness for hitching to a vehicle.
                            "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sorry about the injury but that's great about the new harness!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Try acupuncture, it worked a charm for me with a bad hip on one side. Something about the balancing of energy really seemed to help. To keep this horsie, we have two Haflingers that drive, green.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  I've been doing really good in the injury department! I've healed up enough I can sleep on my side again without feeling too many twinges at night. I've been awfully tempted to ride, but my saddle weighs 40 lbs (at least one of them) so I don't wanna take a chance. Been doing lots of ground driving though. Ponyboy and I are progressing. I think he's remembering life in the "good old days" when he worked for a living.

                                  And the harness I needed has arrived. I really really wish I could have afforded biothane, but alas! The Liberty harness from Ron's got a favorable review here, so I took a chance on that for a little more than buying something cheap and poorly made from horse.com. Really really glad I did! It's even nicer than the leather harness I've been using to ground drive (and the one with the broken breastcollar) which I suspected was a somewhat cheap quality to begin with.

                                  The Liberty harness has vinyl and padding in lots of places, including along the neck strap and the hip strap and the backstrap. The saddle's wider than the one I currently have. The website pictures really don't do it justice, wasn't expecting anything this nice. Sure, it's not stunningly fancy granite biothane or a ComfyFit harness, but it's a lot nicer than what I was expecting, even based off the reviews here, and it'll do the job I need it to do, which is to get this Haffie hitched to the cart sometime before the end of the year. Maybe this spring, after I've had a chance to save up some moola, we'll be seeing a biothane harness in the works, but for now, I think we'll be OK. And the customer service was awesome, she made me measure to be sure even though I was sure that cob would fit fine.

                                  For $169 + shipping, I think it was a good investment. I'm not going to be rushing out to show or compete in driving any time soon, and I'd rather have a decent quality nylon harness that was made by a company with a good reputation than risk repairing my leather breastcollar without knowing what condition the rest of the harness is in.

                                  If it doesn't rain this weekend, I'll probably try hitching the golden boy up to the cart.
                                  "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    And my big news is I drove Tuesday for the first time, and LOVED it! I mean, I've driven before, but never with my own horse and he was all business because it was just like the good old days for him.

                                    After trying the harness on Mr. Haflinger, I took him over to the arena where I'd stashed the cart and hitched him up. He was so good, stood there without moving while I got everything adjusted and then I asked him to walk, while standing behind the cart and ground driving him from there.

                                    Gotta love that attitude, he was all "I pulled a wagon in a team of 4, girl, I did these carts when I was in nappies" So into the seat I went. I wish my friend who was watching from the rail hadn't been so technologically impaired or she could have used my iPhone to get video. Oh well, next time.

                                    The cart's too big though. The shafts are something like 90" from tip to singletree, although there's a bow thing in between and that comes to 80" which isn't too bad. It's got a fairly low slung forward basket which might account for the length. I did burn new holes in my tug strap, so see if that would lower the shafts a little since they tip upwards, but there's just so much space between the pony and the bow hoop thing, it feels like it's too heavy for him to pull.

                                    Guess I've got to change my Christmas wish list eh? The harness is new, that can hold out for a while. Probably looking at an Easy Entry cart. It's just for driving around the ranch on fairly good roads and in the arena. I'd have to store it outside anyway, since there's no room in my hay shed, and there's nowhere else to keep it. Couldn't get an expensive $2000+ cart and do that, nope. I get nervous even with the old cart that's being loaned to us now, and have it covered with a tarp all the time to keep it under wraps.

                                    But driving was fun! I can't wait to do it again.

                                    ... just as soon as this darned rain stops.
                                    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

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