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Driving for Dummies

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  • Driving for Dummies

    Hello! I have been riding horses for a while now (well, riding *horse*--I just have one), and have a 36" mini who is a companion to my riding horse as well as a kid-safe intro to things horse for my young (age 6 and 3) sons. Of course, I get a whole lot of "does she drive"--no, she doesn't. She's too small really to break to ride, but then thanks to this friend and this friend (note my son in each), my son has taken an interest in teaching her to drive. (His comment: "Can Firefly do this? Can we teach her?")

    I've resisted, but now, thanks to a little horsey friend enabling and my son's enthusiasm, I'm curious. I'm completely ignorant of driving, though--I need some serious hand holding to help me know the basics.

    Before getting to teaching our mini to drive, I'd like to just talk about the STUFF. Uh...what stuff do I need and how the heck do I size it? Obviously I need some sort of bit and bridle--or is it a harness with a bridle on it? What kind/size of cart for a 250lb mini? What kind/size of harness? Where can I find used ones for a decent price? Seriously...I have no clue.

    Training-wise, I figure my enabling friends will help , but I need STUFF first. Actually, I need knowledge AND stuff first. Help!

    And for fun, more pics.
    Horse size extra large, meet my horse size extra small

    Shaggy winter coat pony and my 3yro during a grooming session
    SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
    CP Trilogy 2002-2015
    My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lauruffian View Post
    Before getting to teaching our mini to drive, I'd like to just talk about the STUFF. Uh...what stuff do I need and how the heck do I size it? Obviously I need some sort of bit and bridle--or is it a harness with a bridle on it? What kind/size of cart for a 250lb mini? What kind/size of harness? Where can I find used ones for a decent price? Seriously...I have no clue.

    Training-wise, I figure my enabling friends will help , but I need STUFF first. Actually, I need knowledge AND stuff first. Help!
    Hey, where in SoCal are ya? Cause I've been eying this: http://santabarbara.craigslist.org/grd/3434862194.html for a while now. It kills me that it's a miniature horse cart and wouldn't fit my Haflinger because I covert it oh so much. And so so close to home, if only I had a mini to drive. And at 36" you've probably got a B mini, right? If you can afford good leather or biothane go for it, but I just got a nylon harness I'm pretty darned impressed with. I can't say I've had good luck with used leather (well, good used leather) as my breastcollar busted up for no reason at all, but the Liberty nylon harness I got new from Amber Hillside in Canada has been doing superbly, and I'm a fairly new driver (the Haffie knows it all though). It was about $200 to buy and ship to SoCal. And they make a B mini size. I eventually plan to upgrade to a biothane harness, but better a good quality nylon harness than a dubious leather one.

    http://www.ronshorseharness.com/prod...-Harness-.html

    You can scroll all the way down and see the mini harness.
    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

    Comment


    • #3
      Your big riding horse is wearing a driving bridle?

      Comment


      • #4
        That's her friend's horse. Cool horse, too! Good luck with the mini, all involved are adorable!!

        Nancy

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Yes, that's my friend's Clydesdale (here they are yesterday, with their cart decked out for Christmas). This is my riding horse, decked out in my Western saddle for the first time (I ride huntseat). He's stinkin' cute.

          But the photo of the driving bridle brings up my questions, as do some of the links in your post dreamswept--I don't know what I'm looking at. So maybe a parts/vocabulary lesson? Pretty much the only thing familiar to me are the blinkers (called blinders in driving, yes?), and basic bridle parts.

          I see words I know from riding being used with obviously different meanings, like "breeches" and "saddle." And, is "Meadowbrook" a brand name of a cart, or a type of cart? What are the names of cart types? How about bits--I assume driving bits are different? Or are they? If so, how? Would I start training her using a driving bit and bridle or...?

          Seriously...Driving for Dummies.
          SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
          CP Trilogy 2002-2015
          My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

          Comment


          • #6
            Here are a couple of good places to start. They both should include
            some connections on your area.

            Carriage Association of America:
            http://www.caaonline.com/

            American Driving Society:
            http://www.americandrivingsociety.org/

            In addition join the Carriage Driving list, CD-L, by sending an email to

            CD-L-subscribe-request@LISTSERV.DARTMOUTH.EDU


            Good Luck and Have fun - Driving is a blast.

            Christa

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Lauruffian View Post
              But the photo of the driving bridle brings up my questions, as do some of the links in your post dreamswept--I don't know what I'm looking at. So maybe a parts/vocabulary lesson? Pretty much the only thing familiar to me are the blinkers (called blinders in driving, yes?), and basic bridle parts.

              I see words I know from riding being used with obviously different meanings, like "breeches" and "saddle." And, is "Meadowbrook" a brand name of a cart, or a type of cart? What are the names of cart types? How about bits--I assume driving bits are different? Or are they? If so, how? Would I start training her using a driving bit and bridle or...?

              Seriously...Driving for Dummies.
              I call 'em blinkers. I guess some people call them blinders, but they've always been blinkers to me. I'm pretty new at driving myself, was actually pretty self taught in tacking up driving gear (thanks to the beauty of the internets and YouTube) but having ridden for years and used a lunge surcingle on a few horses in the past, I got putting the saddle on correctly down right pat.

              This page helped me immensely in understanding the parts
              http://horse-n-driver.com/blog/harne...ingle-harness/

              The breeching is just like what you sometimes see on mules and pack horses, and if you've ever ridden a no-withered fattie, sometimes they need cruppers on their riding saddles to keep it from slipping. Endurance horses often have cruppers on their saddle too, with the all terrain riding they do.

              Meadowbrook is a type of cart. That one is a rear entry where the passenger seat flips up and you can get in. The cart I'm borrowing from my barn owner is sort of like a jog cart with a low front basket and really long shafts, too long for my Haflinger, but it's what we got right now, and I'm just waiting for the right time (are you listening, Santa ) to get an easy entry cart like the one in the first [picture of your son (come to think of it, the second picture of your son might be in a Meadowbrook)

              There's driving bits, and there's "driving" bits. Some are pretty specific to driving like a Liverpool bit, but I'm driving my Haffie in a plain ole Uxeter kimberwick with a port. I had it in my tack room and had bought it to trail ride him in a few years back, it was the only bit I had for him as I wasn't going to take his Myler snaffle (not with those mecate reins) off his western bridle. He's perfectly content with it, and I see no reason to get a different bit for him. I know someone else starting her Haflinger in a loose ring snaffle. I'm sort of toying around with the idea of training my QH/Morgan mare to harness to ground drive her at least, but maybe if someday she just happened to be trained to a cart, that might be cool too. I don't think I'd use anything other than a snaffle with her. You could probably just start your mini in an open bridle and a plain snaffle for now, and she'd be fine.
              "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm from SoCal and lived down there when my mare was trained. Jill Warren-Pond and her Standardbred trainer husband trained my very hot, forward, reactive mare into a driving horse I can drive. I would recommend her, she's in Northern LA county.

                If you're in San Diego, there's Julie Picot in Escondido. I met her and she was good with the horses and would be good with starting to the cart.

                If you're near the Central coast, there's Frank Luetz. He's fantastic, but very German. ;-) He would also be very enthusiastic on training your boy to drive.

                There's another trainer near Norco, his name escapes me. He's actually an Andalusian trainer, but a very good driving trainer.

                Hope that helps. I personally wouldn't self-train my first driving horse. And I highly recommend lessons for your son. All the trainers I listed have lesson horses appropriate for beginners.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Welcome! Your little guy is adorable!

                  This is a neat series of 4 videos that are really great for explaining the basics, tack, etc., though I agree you'd benefit best by finding someone to help you along personally, a trainer ideally. Good luck!

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1zSpvhioQo
                  Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Driving a mini is so much fun, and it's cool that your son is interested. I can't wait to hear more about you and your son's new adventure!

                    Just remember that minis deserve the same training and respect as a full-sized driving horse. They are easier to handle while you are on the ground, but the minute you step into the cart, you (or your child) is subject to the same dangers as if you (or your child) were driving a draft. The moment your feet leave the ground, you are at the mercy of their training.

                    If you haven't driven, please take a few driving lessons and get a trainer or at least a coach to help you train your mini. I had a very limited budget, so I enlisted an excellent trainer as our coach and adviser.

                    Many people think that, because of their small size, it's okay to scrimp on the harness, causing discomfort to a horse that is pulling nearly their own weight. Minis are strong and willing, but they deserve a comfortable, safe harness and cart. Amber Hillside is a good choice as long as you aren't looking to show. A few steps up in price is the outstanding Chimacum Comfy Fit harness. Ozark Minitack's Carriage Harness and Pleasure Harness are both well-made and reasonably priced. Don't even consider most of what you find on Ebay and Craigslist -- there are exceptions, but you have to know what you're doing to avoid wasting your money. (With that said, that cart looks gorgeous -- but take someone who drives along if you go look at it -- and check the weight)

                    Your 36 inch mini is an excellent size for driving and pulling you and your son should be easy for him (my 38 inch gelding can haul two adults with ease). Still, make sure the cart is well-made and balanced. I came across one cart that lacked a singletree -- the seller insisted it wasn't necessary for a mini. Not true. While a couple inches on either side of ideal may not be a huge deal for a big horse, it can make a mini cart totally unsuitable, so make certain of the fit.

                    Have FUN!!
                    They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                    Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      This is one of the best books I've run across for explaining the basics of harness, carriage, etc. It could easily be subtitled "Driving for Dummies." Good luck and enjoy. Driving is highly addictive! http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Guid...rriage+driving

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Some great links and resources--thank you so much!
                        SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                        CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                        My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Second the recommendation on Essentials for carriage driving

                          This site done by a local mini driver may also be helpful.

                          http://www.regencymini.com/Regency_/...iving_101.html

                          Couple of things to think on

                          The Clyde is gorgeous and well turned out. Carriage driving bridles tend to have full nosebands rather than the type he is driving so that is what you will tend to find in the harness you will be looking at. Drafts often use the bridle shown on the Clyde.

                          The wire-wheel easy-entry vehicle the mini is driving is inexpensive and popular with beginning drivers. There are some downsides though. It is easy for little ones to slide off the seat on turns, also easy to get bounced off the seat cross country or at speed for kids. Wire wheels also have their limitations - tend to leak, puncture at the wrong moment and even come off the rim from time to time because bike wheels aren't made for carriage turns. Some replace the tires with motorcycle wheels or wood/metal wheels. You can start there, but stay inside the limitations of the vehicle.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Another great resource is the Lil' Beginnings Miniature Horse driving forum: http://www.miniaturehorsetalk.com/

                            As for the "stuff", I would first just purchase a mini bridle/bit (or caveson), surcingle and side-reins. http://www.horse.com/Search.aspx?query=miniature Just like starting a big horse, your mare is going to need to learn how to longe and accept the bridle. Then you can move on to long-lining and ground-driving. (Lots of "sacking out" is a good idea too.)

                            Miniature tack is sold in A or B size. Your mare is B size (34-38"). Measure for a bit the same way you would a big horse. Mini bits generally run in quarter inches from 3.5" to 4". A regular snaffle or french-link would be fine to begin with.

                            I highly recommend taking a few driving lessons first. Not only will you get the feel of driving, but your instructor can teach you how to harness and put to. I know even after lessons, when I was by myself for the first time, I still messed up!

                            As for the harness and cart, that is really going to depend what you and your son want to do with your mare. If you are just planning on having fun, a metal easy entry cart will do just fine. This cart is a nice example: http://www.ctmproducts.com/HorseCarts/HorseCarts.htm Spoke wheels can be changed out for metal ones (Kingston Saddlery has some economical ones).

                            Harnesses will also depend on what you want to do, but for just having fun, I would recommend a betathane harness. They are easy to take care of and if you get a nice one, can be used in events. A Comfy Fit Harness is well worth the price. I got mine from Herron's Tack and can actually buy pieces as I can afford them. http://herronstack.com/Comfy-Fit-Harnesses_c17.htm

                            Driving is addictive! So are minis...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by REDesign View Post
                              As for the harness and cart, that is really going to depend what you and your son want to do with your mare. If you are just planning on having fun, a metal easy entry cart will do just fine. This cart is a nice example: http://www.ctmproducts.com/HorseCarts/HorseCarts.htm Spoke wheels can be changed out for metal ones (Kingston Saddlery has some economical ones).

                              Harnesses will also depend on what you want to do, but for just having fun, I would recommend a betathane harness. They are easy to take care of and if you get a nice one, can be used in events. A Comfy Fit Harness is well worth the price. I got mine from Herron's Tack and can actually buy pieces as I can afford them. http://herronstack.com/Comfy-Fit-Harnesses_c17.htm
                              I like those CTM carts. Too bad my Haffie is too big for the pony one, but I've been looking around at all my options on those. I kind of want to stay with a metal cart because I'm just tooling around, and it gets to live under a tarp by my hay/tack shed as I'm nowhere near the main tack room being in the self-care quadrant (and there'd be no room for it there anyway). I've been kinda checking out the "coming soon" motorcycle wheels from Kingston Saddlery. Good recommendation, REDesign.

                              I had the same thought about the Comfy Fit harness. It probably sort of costs more with shipping each item seperately, but that's balanced by the gradual purchase of items. I was going to be swapping out my leather tack for the Comfy Fit and buying each piece or pieces as I could, but after the breastcollar broke I didn't trust the rest of it at all for hitching, so I got the Amber Hillside harness. Gonna do a 2 way swap with that. My mare has the leather harness to learn ground driving, I'll replace the Haffie's harness with ComfyFit, and hers with the Amber Hillside until they each have 2 complete sets. Him with biothane as the main driving horse, and her with the nylon for occasional stuff. I've definitely found driving is addictive! I need my hayburners to poop gold to fund it. Too bad they've decided not to.

                              You're getting lots of great advice here, Lauruffian. Can't wait to hear how things go! Maybe in the future, we can meet somewhere in the middle and go for a drive together.
                              "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I want the Comfy Fit, but I'm afraid it will take forever to afford one...so I'm thinking of buying the Amber Hillside harness and then upgrading the breast collar to the Comfy Fit Deluxe / Freedom Collar.

                                I also have a CTM cart -- I have the heavy duty spoke wheels with pneumatic tires, but got the NoMorFlats airless tubes. These have stood up to some rough treatment, but I'm always aware of the risk of taco-ing a wheel.

                                BY FAR my favorite cart is my HyperBike by Graham Carriage Works -- this cart is so much fun! It's almost like riding your miniature horse.

                                http://s1201.photobucket.com/albums/...wheeeeeweb.jpg

                                http://s1201.photobucket.com/albums/...ps-out-web.jpg
                                Last edited by susanne; Dec. 15, 2012, 07:27 AM.
                                They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by susanne View Post
                                  I want the Comfy Fit, but I'm afraid it will take forever to afford one...so I'm thinking of buying the Amber Hillside harness and then upgrading the breast collar to the Comfy Fit Deluxe / Freedom Collar.
                                  That's what I did. My mini came with a leather harness and I've been replacing pieces as I can afford them. I love my Comfy Fit Deluxe collar. It's soft and supple and unless you really look, you can't tell it's not leather.

                                  Originally posted by susanne View Post
                                  BY FAR my favorite cart is my HyperBike by Graham Carriage Works -- this cart is so much fun! It's almost like riding your miniature horse.
                                  Those carts do look like a ton of fun and owners who have them just rave about them. However... I don't know, maybe it's my age...but they seem a little... indecent!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I always tell people that I'm the poster child for gimpy drivers, so if I can clamber in and out of a HyperBike, anyone can. You want a good whoa on your horse, but that's true for any cart; once you've done it a few times, you can get in and out much more quickly than most carts. I have days when my right foot is less willing to go into the stirrup, but since I'm seated at that point, there's little danger.
                                    They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                    Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      One suggestion for the CTM carts:

                                      If you are buyinng the mini cart, ask for the pony cart axle. The extra width in the wheelbase helps make up for the high center of gravity inherent to all easy entries.
                                      They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                      Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth

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