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Tandem Driving question

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  • Tandem Driving question

    OK, relatively new to driving but going safely and slowly with help of the hubby and the home born and raised 10 year old Haflinger mare. We're on about her 10th drive put to a training cart and he's still walking at her head. We are a long way and years from tandem driving. But,

    In tandem driving, is the leader ever in draft? Or, simply out in front with no pull on the wheeler's tug buckles? I've looked at stills and seen tandem classes in person and I'm still unclear. I assume it's the latter?

    Thanks, Lisa in NY

  • #2
    As always, there are Traditional ways and real life. For Pleasure shows, you will almost never have the Leader in draft/draught (both pronounced draft, meaning pulling, other spelling is common in the UK), pulling. That time Leader might be in draft is by accident! Following Traditional Driving thinking, the Sporting Tandem was for going places, having the Leader be ready for riding when you got to your goal location. Started with Fox Hunting, you didn't want a tired Hunter to ride all day. So you drove the Hunter in the lead, out of draft, with the wheel horse doing all the work of pulling the loaded cart and keeping up with Leader. We call the Leader "a hood ornament" on the turnout, not supposed to be working in Pleasure Driving settings.

    In times past, the working Tandem of city delivery horses did use the Leader for pulling the load in straight lines, up hills. Alleys were narrow for making the delivery of coal, ice, so that heavy load needed two animals' strength to get it moved to the customers.

    CDE Tandems are a whole new ball game. We used our Tandem Leader to pull on straight runs, uphill, but that is impossible for curves and turns. Same with the 4-in-Hands. Leaders pulling then will knock the Wheeler/s off their feet!! We have big horses, but still the load is heavy on a single animal doing a Marathon, so we put the Leader to work where possible. We had to change and modify harness attachement to the Wheeler, for preventing accidents. Had the Wheeler get front legs over the Leader traces dragging on the ground a number of times on sharp turns, so things had to be changed. Horse didn't LIKE being 3-legged, and it sure cut into his speed!

    With being a new driver, you probably would want to do a year of Pair driving, before tackling Tandem. You have to have gotten nimble fingers, auto reflexes in place, to move up to 4 reins. As a Tandem driver you have to be able to modify things in a heartbeat, NEVER needing to look down at the reins while changing adjustments! And I will agree with most all the comments about Tandem Driving being for CRAZY folks, anything that can, WILL go wrong! Again, it goes bad in a heartbeat, one stride is good, next stride things are BAD.

    You need a Leader you can trust your life with. Horse has to be pretty darn fearless facing ANYTHING coming down the road, because they are WAY OUT there all alone. You have voice and whip, to keep horse going, that is all. If the Leader is not FORWARD all the time, it is like pushing a chain. You can't get anyplace.

    You will need to learn to use a very long lashed whip. You just have to "reach out and touch" the Leader at times, no other method will help correct what needs fixing. So a lot of practice will be needed for putting that lash end EXACTLY where you want it to land. Husband spent his time out in the barn aisle, sitting in the cart, lashing targets on straw bales. He killed several bales before he got his skills up to the needed level for driving REAL horses. We shut the barn doors so the neighbors couldn't see him practice! You look like a nut!!

    Tandem expectations have risen sharply over the last 10 years, people doing things with them now, the old time folks wouldn't believe!

    Get your basics down well, learn to read your horses from the vehicle seat, develop your "partnership". Get lessons with some skilled trainers. Multiples are not really something you want to just jump into. Lessons will show you the EASY way to do things, you want to skip all the WRONG ways of doing stuff! A reinboard might be a tool to make for practicing with. It will strengthen your hands, arms, get you better at NOT watching your hands as you modify the reins for turns, going ON THE BIT, collection or free movement. You will be better, if you learn Achenbach rein handling, along with other types. Knowing more than one kind lets you choose what works best in various situations. You will have these other handholds to use, to let your hands rest from your favorite handhold on long drives. 6-10 miles is a LONG time to hold reins firmly in only one handhold method.


    • #3
      exactly what Goodhors said.


      • Original Poster

        thank you!

        Good hors for the input. We bought a Doe run marathon carriage to work up to and it's only set up for a single. It's 450 lbs unloaded and my thinking was to use it for tandem if leader could help on the hills, etc. Second thought is to convert it for use for pairs (DR company owner might think ) but that's down the line. Horse(s) need work, as do we. But they are only 8 and 10, hope to have many years with them.

        Carriage is safely stored in a small waterpoof barn in the meantime. We periodically roll it around to make sure it isn't warping its wheels.