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Check her out! (More pics added in post #5!)

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  • Check her out! (More pics added in post #5!)

    Behold, my 36" mini dressed up in her harness for the first time! It got dark in a hurry on us (curse you, Daylight "Savings"!), so this was the only decent pic I got of her--I'm hoping to go back and do more today. My friend with the driving Clydesdale helped show me what everything is and how it all goes, and did a little preliminary ground driving with her. The harness itself was no issue--she very much as a "don't give a crap" attitude. The bit was annoying to her, but all she did was mouth it (as you see here). I'm thinking of just putting the bridle on with the bit and letting her graze on the property or turn her out in it--just let her get used to it. Any other suggestions?

    She had a few pissy moments as my friend ground drove her, but as Firefly's motto is "avoid giving a crap if at all possible," they were mild. She did some pivoting and backing up, but my friend got her straightened out and within 5-10min, Fly was going forward and turning with little protest. She also has an excellent whoa--BIG bonus!

    My friend helped me practice a little itsy bitty bit driving her to get the feel, and I was pleasantly surprised how responsive Fly was. Of course, I had just ridden my hard-mouthed boy (who had worn me out, WHEW), so it was quite the contrast feeling her respond to a squeezed finger to turn. After the initial pissiness, all the ground driving training she'd had before I bought her (8 years ago!!) started to show itself. It's like a light bulb went off and she said, "Oooh, oh, this thing."

    There's a driving clinic I aim to go to and a show I'd like to attend (as much for contacts as anything)--I definitely want a professional involved, but for now, I can practice putting the harness on her and having my driving-skilled-enabling friends help out.
    Last edited by Lauruffian; Jan. 21, 2013, 12:58 AM.
    SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
    CP Trilogy 2002-2015
    My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie

  • #2
    Glad to hear all was a Non-Issue in reviewing her skills. Always so nice when there is no problem with new stuff.

    A suggestion for ground driving, might be for you to use lunge lines instead of reins, which will give you more distance between you and pony. You might want to drive off to one side, so you can SEE what rein signals are doing at her mouth, where her head goes with a pull. You have a LOT more leverage with such long reins, than you have riding reins and give signals.

    The other change would be to run the lines thru the shaft holding loops on the saddle and back to your hands, instead up high in the rein terrets. With pony BETWEEN the lines, you have control of both the front and rear, she is not able to "spin UNDER" the lines to escape or get away from you. That spinning is a trick they learn easily, you have no control because lines are ineffective with one spin. This doesn't happen in the cart, because shafts keep the body straight, so using the rein terrets to hold lines causes no problems.

    So for any kind of ground work, it is best to have the lines run lower on her sides, thru the shaft loops to carry lines, and keep control of her whole body while ground driving or long lining exercises to drag things, practice commands.


    • #3
      I wouldn't turn a horse out in a blinker bridle. With her vision limited by the blinkers, if she whacks into anything it's likely to affect her confidence. She needs to know that when you limit her vision with the driving bridle, you will keep her safe from running into the things she can no longer see. Leading her in the driving bridle, hand-grazing etc. is a good way to get her accustomed to it but I wouldn't turn her out at liberty in it.


      • Original Poster

        Ahhh, excellent tip RidesAHaflinger. Good insight.

        And goodhors, another good tip. She didn't try a full on spin, though she did go about a 100 degree pivot in the first 1-3min. Her lightbulb "oh this thing, I remember this thing" moment came shortly after. But having the reins that way will be helpful should she go from "I remember this thing" to "I remember this thing and DON'T WANNA at this moment."
        SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
        CP Trilogy 2002-2015
        My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


        • #5
          Definitely get your driving-enabling friends to help you get the basics of ground driving her down, and take your time staying in the round pen, arena, etc. I took a couple of months to ground drive my boy before I hitched him, and he already knew the drill. That was for my benefit. Give you practice, that way.

          And yeah, I'd run my reins through the tugs. They just seemed easier to hold that way.
          "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


          • Original Poster

            I'm back with more photos! We did some more ground driving today. My friend did most, but I did some, and Fly was such a good girl. Opinionated and obstinate, but a good girl. She isn't a tantrummy brat that will pitch a big fit, but she WILL make her displeasure known with a curled lip and grumpy ears. Still, she seemed happy and eager to be doing something--while I was riding my horse, she kept whinnying (and she is anything but buddy sour--that is quite beneath her), if bewildered half the time. And she was so much better! No backing up, no butt swinging, no spins. She had selective hearing and was offended by the (hay string) overcheck preventing her from snacking, but she listened--and she did it!

            Piccy pic pics:
            All dressed up in the daylight...the cute, it is to squee!

            Toward the end, my friend even got her trotting!

            Yes, I tried it a teensy bit

            My friend used the trees to limit her options while being navigated and make her listen--which Fly did.

            Fly would *love* to tell this mare to stop staring, if she could.

            Slightly bewildered expression, but she's listening!

            We were sure to end on a good note, and after untacking her I was sure to do something I never do with her--I hand fed her a treat. Trying to keep this as positive as possible. Such a good girl!

            I'm learning (and seeing for myself) just how much training she'd had before I bought her (I learned yesterday she had been ground driven in this exact bit--not sure why she's mouthing it like it's been dipped in rancid milk). She's picking this up far too quickly to be as green as I thought, but she's gone 8+ years without it. Her whoa is awesome. My friend chuckled, "It's her favorite gait." Indeed.

            There's a driving show next month I want to attend (relax, as a spectator ) so I can both see good driving and network with professionals. There's also a three-day driving clinic I will likely attend at least in part in May.

            So, cool.
            SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
            CP Trilogy 2002-2015
            My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


            • #7
              Bit used is a common bit for Driving, and even though she used it before, doesn't mean she likes the fit. Mini mouths can be TIGHT to fit with small width and LOTS of teeth in there. Quite a few Minis have teeth issues going, since teeth shrinking is the last thing to happen as people miniturize animals like equines and dogs. They OFTEN have full-size teeth in a head that doesn't have enough room, so the dental issues can be awful.

              You might want to bridle her, then try putting your finger in alongside the bit, see how much room there is. Does the joint hit her upper palate with any rein pull? Could the bit be too wide or too narrow, pinching lips or slopping around in the mouth. Does she have a thick tongue, so she really can't close her mouth with the bit inside.

              RAH has good suggestion about the blinder bridle. I would alternate using an open bridle and the blinder bridle. For Driving, you REALLY want equine to see things around them, KNOW what is happening and not be afraid of pulling noisy stuff, hearing folks moving around her that she can't see. The main reason for blinkers, is to prevent equine reading your body, whip language, and "helping you" by anticipating the next action. Not letting her see you or whip, making her WAIT for the command, will prevent accidents. Don't fall into a routines and "let her help" by choosing what to do, this is a BAD IDEA. Driving animals have to wait until given commands before moving off, doing turns and so on. NO letting them choose EVER, because they WILL try to take advantage of you later.

              If you need a checkrein, she should have enough room to get nose down about to her knees for pulling. Equine will counter balance body against their load, and if they can't lower head below chest a bit, they can't pull without it being painful. Back is in a bad position, no leverage with head forced up higher. No you don't want her eating either, but maybe a little longer checkrein would be more comfortable. You might also consider a muzzle of net, for when she gets further along and you want the checkrein off. We muzzled one of ours for biting her partner, soft net was comfortable, didn't have to worry about a nasty bite making the partner get stupid trying to get away from her. Muzzle didn't get in the way of reins or bit action, pretty invisible while driving, black cord on dark seal-bay horse.


              • Original Poster

                More excellent tips. I have always been on top of her teeth, knowing how minis can have such problems, and up to this point they've been okay (she's due this summer). But my thought has been turning to bit fit--making sure it's in her mouth correctly and resting properly without pinching, rubbing, or otherwise irritating. Do NOT want to make this a negative associating.

                I was thinking about giving her a little more room on the overcheck (or really, taking it off--when we're off the property and/or in an arena, there's not much green to tempt her). I want her focused, but not overwhelmed.

                I do have a grazing muzzle for her, so I might use that too eventually or instead.

                I learned the show in February has a "Hairiest Horse" halter class first thing in the morning. We might take her along after all.
                SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


                • #9
                  Squeee, cuteness abounds! (Sorry no good advice since I am a novice driver, just can not resist the cuteness.)


                  • #10
                    OMG ! ! !
                    that is just the cutest ball of fluff going

                    Only thing I would recommend is to keep your eye on the growth of mane in the bridlepath
                    It can make a big difference on the fit and security of the bridle if the mane growth is extensive
                    And not just for little horses

                    And make sure that the long winter hair is not getting pinched or pulled other places too - like the girth

                    But again - Firefly looks like a teddybear for sure


                    • Original Poster

                      Funny, I had *just clipped* Fly's bridlepath before yesterday's ground driving (and was irritated my new rechargeable cordless clippers won't hold a charge, grr). If I don't keep that thing under control, I can't even get her halter on through that fluff. Thank you for the Awwwws...she is a cutie.

                      BTW, here she is in her summer coat (with me and my boys).
                      SA Ferrana Moniet 1988-2011
                      CP Trilogy 2002-2015
                      My bloggity blog: Hobby Horse: Adventures of the Perpetual Newbie


                      • #12
                        She is way to cute not to post! Nothing super useful to add either! lol But will say she looks super cute in her harness and she is probably the only mini I have ever seen that isn't obese! She looks really good!

                        A Wandering Albertan - NEW Africa travel blog!


                        • #13
                          except for the MANE!
                          you almost wouldnt know its the same FLUFFY pony


                          • #14
                            Your pony is dead cute!!! I love the fluff. I have a little one too - not quite so small (10 hh) but he's a little power house. He is doing his first season of combined drives and I have had to keep him clipped all summer because even his summer coat is really thick. I'll post photos too, when I get some.

                            That's really interesting about the teeth and minis. I didn't know that - thanks goodhors. I've been having some problems with him letting me put the bridle on and take it off. He also often goes with his mouth open - reins slack and he's working in an outline, but mouth is open. I might get his teeth checked out again.

                            Is your bit a mullen mouth or jointed? I've found that the mullen mouth is more comfortable, especially for long reining and driving. The joint tends to hit the roof of their mouth - not pleasant.

                            I third the idea of working without blinkers too. A friend and I met up to drive yesterday. His pony had some scabby bits from insect bites. The scabs had come off and the strap from the blinkers was obviously irritating the sores. He couldn't drive because he had never driven the pony without blinkers.


                            • #15
                              I DO NOT want to suggest ANYONE hitch and drive without blinders! For me, that is UNSAFE in any sized equine. Having wrecked myself going blinderless, seen and heard of others wrecking while driving blinderless, the animal can see TOO MUCH or react badly to unexpected things!! Those other folks were EXPERIENCED Drivers with YEARS of driving, had experienced animals and this was not their first outing blinderless. But things went bad, horse reacted to something blinders would have covered up. Some of the wrecks were pretty spectacular, wrecking carriages to splinters, broken harness, horses down fighting. Most of the horses didn't drive again, and some of the Drivers never did either after recovering from their injuries.

                              Every Driver regretted going blinderless in their vehicle, thinking they "knew better" than what is recommended for Driving animals. My pony had been ridden and driven on the roads for over 5 years, before my deadly error in thinking she would go blinderless. I was "being kind" in letting her view the scenery. Black Beauty Syndrome strikes again!!

                              Working the animal on long lines, ground driven, without blinders is NOT like hitching without blinders. Animal can see the stuff around him, being dragged behind him. Nothing is making odd noises he doesn't understand at this point in his training. He is NOT AFRAID of whatever is behind, can see it, noisy or not, in this ground work. When you hitch the vehicle, Equine needs to be FOCUSED ahead, not seeing YOU or WHIP in your hand that gives signals. They can read body language like any expert, will CHOOSE signals you don't know you are giving, and respond incorrectly to the signals. Blinders prevent them seeing you give such signals, they learn to WAIT for the voice if handled correctly. I can't emphasize how important that waiting is!!

                              Even TINY animals can do damage when frightened, you CAN'T HOLD them if they try to run!! This is why your basic commands, much ground work before hitching are SO IMPORTANT. He knows what you are asking, how to respond correctly, is brave to new things. Surprising him with a big view, various distractions is not a good idea in the vehicle shafts. Being hitched is serious business! You don't need to have that vehicle tied on behind, make itself into a machine of destruction if he starts spooking around blinderless, jumping sideways!! A driving runaway is MUCH more dangerous than just having a loose horse someone fell off of!!

                              There have been folks trying to drive without blinders for over 100 years. They get away with it for a bit, maybe on one special horse, until it doesn't work that day and they have a runaway. Several historic accounts of famous trainers and equally famous horses doing no blinders, for a while. One guy even went BRIDLESS for a year or two, was very famous for it for a short time. Every one of these accounts ends up with horse/s wrecking badly, carriages trashed, people thrown out and injured. Those trainers went back to blinder bridles and REINS for their driving animals.

                              I am bringing this up, because folks are ALWAYS trying to do things "their way" and improve the training system. Everyone seems to think their idea is NEW! Not true!! Most have run into severe problems, which need to be shared among drivers, so folks are not hearing only the "good stuff" in the special story or "new way" of doing things. The majority of Drivers use similar harness, training methods, blinder bridles because they have worked so well over time. These are NOT "the Good Old Days" where Grampa did LOTS of things and trusted his TIRED horses, did a consistant ROUTINE daily, and had plenty of amazing tales to tell about it. Modern horses are not worked that way in most cases, woth calm scenery, endless acres of quiet fields just are not that common anymore. We have to do things with training for our present Driving settings, teaching to deal with surprises, distractions, cars with a non-horse skilled public going around us, to keep ourselves and our animals safe. Blinders are a big tool to help with that on driving Equines.

                              Originally posted by phoebetrainer View Post
                              I third the idea of working without blinkers too. A friend and I met up to drive yesterday. His pony had some scabby bits from insect bites. The scabs had come off and the strap from the blinkers was obviously irritating the sores. He couldn't drive because he had never driven the pony without blinkers.


                              • #16
                                agree with what has been said re bits; many of our minis really prefer mullens to broken bits. with youngsters we also frequently wrap the bits also...cut a 1 1/2" wide ten inch (approximate) long strip of bit wrap. also important to keep mini heads clipped so bridle doesn't slip off. Good luck! She's cute!


                                • #17
                                  I am with Goodhors when it comes to NEVER driving without blinders. I have only worked (from the ground) in riding bridles or blinkered bridles. (long lining, round pen work etc). I am a traditionalist as well so I always shudder when I see a driving horse/pony/mini sans blinkers. (just does not look right to me).

                                  Fly is a cute little stinker! Have fun with her!


                                  • #18
                                    Mullein bits can have their own problems for some horses, and they do not allow you to put pressure on one side of the mouth at a time. My gelding detests mullein bits and isn't thrilled by single-jointed snaffles, but he loves his French link snaffle, as it sits softly across the tongue and doesn't hit the roof of his mouth.

                                    One size never does fit all.
                                    They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

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


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by MunchingonHay View Post
                                      I am with Goodhors when it comes to NEVER driving without blinders. I have only worked (from the ground) in riding bridles or blinkered bridles. (long lining, round pen work etc). I am a traditionalist as well so I always shudder when I see a driving horse/pony/mini sans blinkers. (just does not look right to me).

                                      Fly is a cute little stinker! Have fun with her!
                                      Very interesting! I've never ever driven in blinkers, and I wouldn't consider starting, either! Personally as a style thing I find it looks hideous, but in things that actually atter, I don't find it necessary at all. Bomproof horse FTW. I really think it's a cultural thing. What the horse is raised to do. I do have racing photographs of him in harness racing blinkers, but I've never had him out recreationally with.
                                      Equine portraits in oil and pencil at www.facebook.com/ecrklaveness


                                      • #20
                                        Different strokes for different folks!

                                        I grew up with a very English influenced style of turn out. I have worked mainly with multiplies and was a private coach/4 in hand groom for years. I was raised that Tom Ryder and George Bowman are gods.

                                        We come from two different trains of thought.

                                        Originally posted by ecrklaveness View Post
                                        Very interesting! I've never ever driven in blinkers, and I wouldn't consider starting, either! Personally as a style thing I find it looks hideous, but in things that actually atter, I don't find it necessary at all. Bomproof horse FTW. I really think it's a cultural thing. What the horse is raised to do. I do have racing photographs of him in harness racing blinkers, but I've never had him out recreationally with.