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What should a driving prospect know?

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  • What should a driving prospect know?

    My friend (who is a breeder) sent a young mare off a few years ago to be started but it turns out that a broken tail makes being ridden uncomfortable (bucks) but she is sound to drive (per vet).

    We'd like to find her a home (for free or a small fee) as a driving horse as she's sitting around being fat (and can for the rest of her life, she's in no danger).

    She does all the regular ground stuff, lunges, etc. She works in the long lines on a circle and you can drive her from behind, trots, walks, steers, backs up, good whoa. She's a nice mover and could easily do driven dressage or the arabian breed show driving.

    What else can she learn to make finding a home easier? I don't have anywhere to teach her to pull a cart but I can teach her to work in a harness and drag something in an arena if that would help.

  • #2
    In my experience a broken tail is more of a problem for a driving horse than a riding horse as a driving horse needs to accept wearing a crupper. I've know a few horses that through odd accidents have ended up with broken tails, all of them broke to drive before their tails were broken, and afterwards one was completely undriveable and the other two very uncomfortable when wearing a crupper.

    Also a horse that would be suited to driven dressage might make a local level Arabian Country Pleasure Driving horse, but it is not so much about the movement as where the horse is able to carry its head and will it accept wearing a check. Carriage pleasure driving is also an option should this horse make a driving horse, such classes are held at some Arabian shows.

    Personally I would prefer to take on a horse as a project that just had basics in the lunge and in long lines. They should know that whoa means stop and stand and stay straight, don't let a horse turn in towards you when you say whoa when lungeing. I would not want to deal with a horse that someone has been dragging stuff behind. I don't ever do that. Some people do, its a matter of preference in methods, but personally if someone told me they had rigged up something to drag old tires with a horse I was considering as a driving project that would make me doubtful that this horse had been brought along in training in a way that I would want to deal with.
    Last edited by Renae; Sep. 25, 2012, 10:14 PM.


    • #3
      Driving horses don't need to wear a crupper- so if that was a problem it doesn't need to be.

      I think if presented as a driving horse she really needs to have been hitched to a vehicle with shafts and prove that she really can do it- Arabians are kind of notorious for being a "goes up and over backwards" kind of horse and while they can be fantastic driving horses- many are really not cut out for it- it's a lot to ask a person to gamble that she will do it... on the other hand- if she WILL do it- she could be sold rather than given away.

      Certainly here in Indiana you could find someone to start her.


      • #4
        If this is an Arabian, you might want to be cautious with putting weight behind them, especially starting out. You need to build them up with weight being pulled, first for confidence they CAN move the load. Second is because a number of Arabs are "cold-shouldered" and WON'T take a heavy load with their thin skin.

        I think it is part that skin is thin, then point of shoulder inside the skin pushes against breastcollar or neck collar, pinching skin. Who wants to pull when it hurts?? This could be part of the issue with going up on Arabs, especially beginner Driving animals, if horse is "strongly encouraged" to move forward against weight.

        So you want your Trainer person to think on this, especially if Arabs are not their regular breed for Driving. Arabs CAN make nice Driving animals, but you have to work with their body issues and the brains they come with. Maybe more padding on the breastcollar would help in the beginning stages to prevent that shoulder pinching. Remove his excuses to over-react!!

        Not sure how the crupper will work with a broken tail. They are kind of nice in keeping hip straps in place for holding breeching in place, stopping the vehicle. Cruppers come in various thicknesses, which should be tried if horse doesn't like the first one. Also WARM UP the crupper before putting it on the horse. Cold crupper on thin tail skin is enough to make ANYONE scoot or jump about, until it warms up!! Even less thin-skinned horses PREFER having the crupper warmed up on cool days! Fleece cover is nice in the cold, when you find the comfortable thickness in a crupper. Just wash cover often so it doesn't have dirt to rub that tail skin.

        I am different in what I want on a started Driving Horse than Renae. I would want it wearing harness, firm in commands to walk forward, trot, Whoa and stand WELL. Should stand quietly when tied, able to be worked on for harnessing from both sides. If it can drag weight, like a tire, that helps, shows he will manage weight, not scared of resistance of a load. Depending on how much time or money at Trainer, horse SHOULD be hitched and going in a light cart. No power steering yet is fine, few miles driven is OK. If I am spending money, I want the horse driving. I have seen a number of horses that get to certain Training steps, but then are unable, unsuitable, to proceed further in a Driving career. I don't want an "almost" Driving horse that I have wasted money and time on.

        A "prospect" to us, is a young horse who knows nothing, with a real good mind, lesser price with no training. Would be nice if he just wears harness, find out if the crupper detail is going to be a problem. He MIGHT drive, might NOT drive at this point, so I have less in him should he not drive. He would move on from here as a non-driving horse, can't keep what doesn't drive.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
          Driving horses don't need to wear a crupper- so if that was a problem it doesn't need to be.
          No, driving horses DO need to wear a crupper, unless they are driven only in the show ring to 2-wheel bikes/sulkies that have thimble holdbacks on the shaft tips.

          Many Arabs make beautiful driving horses - my endurance pony was a champion as a tandem leader and in pairs and as a single for the 8 years before he and I became a riding team together. One of his championship tandem photos is on my website.

          The key is to make sure this horse is quiet with the right personality, and to find a driving trainer that understands the Arab mentality, AND has trained Arabs for driving before.


          • Original Poster

            Well, we were really looking for someone with driving experience who was interested in seeing if she'd work for them so not sending her to a trainer and if not she could come back so I just wanted to increase her chances by doing some things I could do at home.

            Like I said, she'll stand rock solid in the arena while I put on a surcingle, pad, and then run the lines, and she has basic ground driving skills.


            • #7
              They do need to wear a britching... but they don't need to have a crupper on the britching... - I have logged thousands of miles driving single horses with britchings with no cruppers- no slippage- no problem... they are a traditional part of harness design that's in almost all cases superflous.

              In fact- it's those thimble style show harnesses which need the crupper most of all- because the crupper via backstrap- is all that keeps the saddle from shifting forward when the horse is stopping.

              About the only thing I can think a crupper is good for - is if you are in the habit of unhitching your horse and leaving him to stand harnessed for long periods of time- the crupper will keep the britching in place so the britching doesn't fall to the side... or if you are going to ground drive your horse all over the place - maybe then too... many people keep the britching attached to the backpad with a quick release clip- which is another option for a crupperless horse left standing unhitched and in harness or ground driven.


              • Original Poster

                Here are some videos of her ground driving and lunging, she hasn't been ground driven or worked at all in year so she's a little rusty but this is her basic behavior.



                Ground driving