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Newbie Question - Hills

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  • Newbie Question - Hills

    I live on quite a slope and my Morgan is already excelling well in ground driving (Getting to go undersaddle) and I would love to move on and also teach him to drive. However.. This slope is my problem!


    How can I get down this hill safely with my Morgan in harness? In either a sleigh or Cart. Do carts have brakes or am I SOL about getting down the hill?
    Chambermaid to....

  • #2
    In a cart, the horse is the brake. The breeching on the harness is what enables the horse to hold the cart back on a downhill.

    Where I live, there are few flat areas and the hills are about that steep. Both my ponies have done fine on the downhills (although they definitely prefer going uphill).

    If you graduate to a four-wheeled vehicle, then you can have brakes. I'm sure my current pony wishes I would spend the money.

    I've never driven a sleigh, so I can't speak to braking with one.



    • #3
      this is not an iceberg's chance in H*LL I would go down that hill in a sleigh, but to be honest, I am afraid of sleighs, they always tip.

      Totally agree with the above poster about brakes on a 4 wheel (both front and back wheels) and breeching for the cart.

      I would also go down zig zaggy if there is enough room to make big switching backing turns.

      Add boruim to shoes or road studs, or the little tack in road studs the farrier puts in. With bigger globs of boruim on the back shoes so your horse's back end will not slip underneath himself.

      I would also make sure your morgan is super confident in his tack, driving and feeling the weight of the cart 'pushing' into the breeching.

      Getting a really great solid foundation is important here.


      • Original Poster

        Perfect! Thank you so much! We are just starting out and I will be sure that he has the best training possible and confidence in his tack that he can. We won't be doing it this year for certain, but we can certainly practice on the dry road for next Christmas. It would be so fun to offer sleigh rides through the town when it snows well when no cars will be out.
        Chambermaid to....


        • #5
          Munching On Hay's last line is probably the most important thing mentioned. Even if you get a 4 wheel vehicle with brakes, your horse still needs to know well (very well!) how to deal with the feel of the cart pushing onto the breeching.

          I have some hills that I go up (cantering up hills in harness quite possibly is indeed the greatest thing ever!)...... and some I go down. Some are steep, although not as long. Either way, I am always careful to make sure my horse is using his haunches going down a hill. I try to get him to really hold back down a hill, especially with my big QH, who can get on his front end sometimes. If he gets out on his front end while going down a hill (especially when I go down paved hills), I am quite sure he would lose traction easily and slip, because he's not using his hind end to hold the cart back (I only have a 2 wheel vehicle).

          So, getting him to carry himself "sitting" a little on his haunches, is something I pay particular attention to.

          And once I get down the hill, I can turn around and shoot back up. Tremendously fun!

          (like at 4:33 and 5:00 in this video... Those are hills we are going up, you just can't tell too much because of the fish eye lens on the helmet cam..
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5e0iKMN0wY )
          eBook on Amazon - The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Horse
          My Blog - Life in 2014; Horses, Life, Photography


          • #6
            I just want to say that is such a pretty picture!!!! It would be awesome to drive a pony and cart along that road. I've never tried sleighing (we never get snow here) and I have to say that going down a hill could be scary. I'm sure you'll work something out.

            As a friend and I were driving my ponies the other day, I realised how much more confident they and I are. I am now okay about trotting down hills that a few months ago I would only walk down very carefully. You might be surprised by the progress you have made by next Christmas.


            • #7
              Can you take the vehicle to the bottom the hill separately, then ground drive him there and hitch on the flat with a helper? You could then practice going up a little and turning around and coming down a lot less hill.