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Only Driving Horse at Multi-Discipline Barn: WWYD?

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  • Only Driving Horse at Multi-Discipline Barn: WWYD?

    I've got a question, hoping I can get some thoughts and answers.

    I board at a multi-discipline barn, most people ride western or english, and there's a hunter/jumper show barn on the property. I'm the only one with a horse trained to drive and a cart (technically, the barn owner's Saddlebred mare drives, but hasn't done it for years). While I've had quite a bit of support from some of my barn mates -- including the people who've wanted me to bring the cart up to their horses so they can check it out -- or say we look good out there, I've gotten wind that not every thing is all cheeseburger in paradise.

    I had an incident today. I was down by the tack room area, my horse was standing quietly in the cart, and another horse maybe 50 feet away just basically wigged out as she was being led away from us and nearly jumped into her rider's lap. I've got my own personal views about this particular horse namely, that she doesn't get worked much, and has been spoiled and allowed to get away with a lot because her rider is insecure and into the Parelli thing, but the mare's owner says I deliberately spooked her horse. I did talk to my barn owner, and no, I'm not in trouble, but I'd like to avoid such incidents in the future.

    I already know I'm not supposed to be driving by the jumping arena if there's a lesson going on in there, and so I do try to stay away. I'm able to drive in the big arena beyond the trees, it's just a matter of getting there. We can go a really long way around a carriage barn/storage garage, but I dislike passing so close to the main driveway gate which is usually open during the day, so if there's no lesson going on, I drive parallel to the jumping arena towards the tack room and wash racks and then we cross the driveway further up.

    Anyway, does anyone board at a place where you have the only driving horse? How do you deal with barn mates who are less than enthusiastic about it? (Even though they can't handle their own horses and are more apt to blame the cart to make up for their own short failings)
    "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan

  • #2
    If the BO has no issues with your horse driving around I would leave it to the BO to deal with the people who are annoyed with you (and not their own horse).

    Other than that, be friendly and courteous, just like you would be any other place and leave it at that.


    • #3
      Threads like this make me really happy that I keep my horses at home. There is an arena adjacent to a harness racing training track in our area. Many horses that hauled in to that arena for horse shows had to watch the harness horses trot around the track. Most of them adjusted and realized that the sulky wasn't eating the horse it was chasing....or at least it wasn't going to eat THEM . Some horses adjusted sooner than others. All of my horses have adjusted to watching me drive my donkey. I drive past them while they are in the pasture, I ride a horse on a trail ride while my husband drives the donkey cart. It IS possible to mix driving and riding horses. I participated in a parade once where there were several driving horses and many riding horses. There was one horse that was wigged out by the carts. We asked that the riding horses follow the driving horses so they can "chase" the carts and feel better about them. Nobody died or got hurt that day. The horse that was wigged out got over it before the end of the parade. Exposure does help but not if the owner is freaking out.
      "My biggest fear is that when I die my husband is going to try to sell all my horses and tack for what I told him they cost."


      • #4
        The whole riding horses/driving horses mix thing can be so funny . . .

        My own Hackney was driven in everything from single to 4-in-hand - - and yet at times I could not get him past a cart while he was being RIDDEN. - go figure

        We used to run a fun day called Autumn Leaves ( in NJ )
        it was for riders and drivers - as our club HCHPA was for both groups
        we did not seperate out riders from drivers and basically never had any real problem with that

        The other NJ club (GSHCS) rund a poker drive & ride that has both groups going at the same time - and again rarely and issue

        The big ride& drive Turkey Trot at the Horsepark of NJ tends to have seperate track and I think parking? for the two groups

        In the winter we board at an indoor with many dressage stallions
        we avoid driving during their riding times
        same thing with the one other boarder who also has a dressage horse

        but its a small barn and we can plan to avoid each other

        One thing you could offer is a "de-spooking session" for other riders at your barn to get their horses used to the cart in a controlled and planned session
        there are several other threads on here about ways to do that

        then just be respectful of places to avoid or times you need to avoid places
        and keep trying for harmonious co-existance


        • #5
          Originally posted by Drive NJ View Post
          and yet at times I could not get him past a cart while he was being RIDDEN. - go figure
          My Haflinger did this to me.
          She drives.
          We were at the park and a woman was driving her pony around the one field, I was riding said Haflinger. My horse was snorting and carrying on about that scary thing over in the field.


          • #6
            I am curious why you are reluctant to go driving near the open gate of the main driveway.

            On one hand I can hear your annoyance about people who have horses who haven't been exposed to driving horses and think they have a right to never have to encounter even the sight of a driving horse, no matter how non-confrontational.

            On the other hand- it seems to me that you aren't that confident about your own horse's behavior either.


            • Original Poster

              Originally posted by Plainandtall View Post
              I am curious why you are reluctant to go driving near the open gate of the main driveway.

              On one hand I can hear your annoyance about people who have horses who haven't been exposed to driving horses and think they have a right to never have to encounter even the sight of a driving horse, no matter how non-confrontational.

              On the other hand- it seems to me that you aren't that confident about your own horse's behavior either.
              Oh I'm willing to drive by the open gate, it's just that its the entry onto the property, and there can be a fair bit of traffic as people come and go. As my hearing isn't the best, I usually can't hear things if I'm not looking very closely for them (I.e. watching for traffic in one direction while not hearing anything approach from the other side). Mitch is road trained, so cars don't bother him.
              "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


              • #8
                I board at a place where I am the only driver. Pretty much the only driver in my area, and I'm likely the only driver most other horses in my area will ever meet.

                There are several boarders, one of whom is a trainer who is often bringing in new horses, etc.

                Everyone is very enthusiastic about having us around, and the BO has gone far out of her way to help us transition over to this sport. But I also go out of my way to make sure people know "I'll be out on the trails today from 11-1", "I'm doing two laps here and then into the woods", etc. The trainer might have a green TB, or a boarder or BO might be riding a particularly fresh one that day, and they do not need the added excitement of seeing us go cruising by, or worse yet happening upon us unexpectedly.

                Most often everyone is happy for the training opportunity.

                There have been people who trailer in for trail riding however, who are concerned about running into us. So with a heads up, I work around their schedule.

                If I see riders in the distance, I call loudly ahead so they know I'm out and about. If I run into someone and my presence might be bothering their mount, I leave and go a different direction and if avoiding them on the trails or track is impossible, I find another spot to school and/or call it a day.

                If I were someplace communal first, and someone else came up with their horse and their horse flipped out, I wouldn't be concerned about that. Where the horse is led by its owner and what its exposed to and how it reacts is its owner responsibility. If I drove into someplace communal however, other horses present first and they flipped out, I would feel responsible.

                Sometimes it stinks to be the only one of your kind and have to deal with slightly different rules than anyone else, but I believe in safety and keeping the peace & harmony primarily over anything else. If I were in your shoes, and it wasn't a danger, I would take the long route around by the road.

                (I don't mean for this to sound holier than thou, sometimes sincerity is tough in words) but I try to remember that as the only driver many people in my area many will ever meet, to them I am an ambassador to the world of driving. People will judge driving - even just a little bit - by how I and my horse behave, because I am their only exposure to this discipline.

                Out of all the disciplines I've been exposed to, I can honestly say I have not met a friendlier, more helpful, understanding, shirt-off-your-back and tightly knit group than drivers... and I try to do my best to exemplify that to others.
                Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                • #9
                  There are boarding barns that do not allow driving at all (I have even heard of barns implementing that rule when there are drivers currently boarding there). So don't take the fact that you have a boarding barn that you like that allows driving for granted!

                  Be courteous to your fellow boarders. Some of their horses ARE scared of your driving horse. Some of them may have less knowledge and experience handling horses than you, thank goodness for every new person that gets into horses!

                  It would be the same for anyone doing an activity in the minority at a mixed-discipline boarding barn. If only one person was jumping or running barrels or poles they would be expected to pick up after themselves and would probably not be allowed to put their equipment out at certain times, for example.


                  • #10
                    I don't drive. From a general horsemanship perspective, I think your barn mates ought to take you as a wonderful despooking opportunity.

                    Someone once talked me into taking my four year old green bean gelding to a local unrated show to get him some exposure. Imagine my surprise when I got to the show grounds and found a couple dozen little kids tooling around in carts pulled by minis. There were also a handful of Haffies and other drafts pulling larger carts. I hadn't been aware there were driving classes at this show until we saw them all warming up! Luckily my boy, who as far as I know had seen neither a mini nor a cart prior to this show, was fine with both. I would have been much happier to know how he would react to a cart before finding myself surrounded by them at the entrance gate to the ring!


                    • #11
                      OP - I was in your position in two different barns. In both cases the barn owner or barn manager were fully supportive of my coming to the barn, and in one case gave me a garage to keep my 4-wheel vehicle in at no extra charge. The very few people that weren't so welcoming, I worked to convince them that I wasn't a problem. I knew the horses that were most likely to be reactive, and did everything I could to stay away from them.

                      I have the following thoughts re your situation: First, there will ALWAYS be people who don't know everything they should about horse handling- that should not become your way of explaining away a situation. Be aware of those horses/people and try to avoid being part of an "incident" (this is a broader comment than just when you have the vehicle out and about). Second, I would apologize to the other person, even if you didn't do anything intentional - it makes you the bigger person in the end, and gives the BO one more reason to support you. Last, you could offer to help desensitize that person's horse or others, in order to build bonds with those who aren't comfortable about the driving thing.
                      We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                      • #12
                        OP, how did you know about my past boarding arrangments in VA???

                        BTDT. Honestly, it wasn't fun. Add driving a saddleseat ASB to your mix and you have a boarding nightmare. I generally tried to be accomodating of others - I drove in out of the way places at off times. You're still going to p!ss the special boarders off. One barn was pretty cool, a real hodge podge, but the BO liked me, liked my horse, and would help me hook the mare. This BO tolerated her h/j ponies for the board, but didn't really like them. Other barns, it was a total nightmare, I drove (or long lined) down the driveway so that I wasn't freaking out ponies in the ring. Then I got told not to use the driveway. WTH? Where am I supposed to go?

                        I'm not as good a person as others on this board. Perhaps it's the double whammy of driving & doing saddleseat, but my attitude toward others has gone down the toilet. I was always up front with perspective BOs, but since the driveway debacle, I find myself demanding more tolerance. I pay the same board and therefore expect the same use of the amenities. It is very easy to let yourself be used a door mat under the guise of "keeping the peace". Every horse that spooks IS NOT YOUR PROBLEM. You don't need to intentionally agitate them, but bottom line is it's not your problem, it's their's (and often those horses have other problems [i.e. their owner] anyway)

                        Bottom line, being the only driver in hunter hell is one of the reasons I went to a full training saddleseat barn 2-3 hours away. The nice local barns didn't want a SS drivng ASB & the ones that would let us in were dumps. Wish I could give you more sunshine, but alas, no.
                        Visit my Spoonflower shop


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by carp View Post
                          I don't drive. From a general horsemanship perspective, I think your barn mates ought to take you as a wonderful despooking opportunity.
                          Absolutely! With all the general chaos that goes on at a horseshow, I never would miss an opportunity to expose my horses to some "monster." Desensitizing horses to new and scary things just makes it easier for them to deal with horseshow environments.

                          I boarded for awhile at a H/J barn where the owner bred Welsh ponies. Most of them were destined for the hunter ring, but he did occasionally hitch up a cart and drive one around the property. Most horses freaked the first time they saw the cart coming around, but they all got over it.


                          • #14
                            BTDT, on both sides of the fence.

                            When I showed H//J, one A show we went to had driving classes on Sundays.
                            My TB Could.Not.Believe/His.Eyes , consequently we did not use the warmup ring on Sundays
                            No Biggie, after 3 days showing we did not need much warmup and I did not want to force the issue and possibly upset some of the drivers with my spazzing TB.

                            One barn I boarded at had a mix, WP, English, dressage, what-have-you, including one guy with a Morgan trained to drive.
                            And though it had been probably 10 years since my TB had seen a cart......
                            The sight still spooked him!
                            One notable dressage lesson was spent with him on a 15m circle, a lovely round circle with his head remaining bent completely to the outside at all times so he could watch this cart.

                            Sorry, but I side with those who say you have every right to use the property as directed by your BO/BM and other riders need to deal as long as you are not recklessly or heedlessly endangering them or yourself.
                            *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                            Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                            Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                            Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                            • #15
                              I don't drive (yet! Hope to sometime!), but there is a super sweet woman and her mini that board at our mixed boarding barn. She generally writes up on the calendar a month in advance when she out driving, especially in the indoor. Then those of us with skittery critters are forewarned and/or can use the time to desensitize. Works for me and I think it's a win/win.
                              Semi Feral


                              • #16
                                Pony and I walked down the aisle last week so we could watch the jog cart. He didn't care about the cart at all, or the horse, or the training gear the horse was wearing. I'm of the belief that desensitizing is a good thing and that any BO worth his salt that would sign a contract in full knowledge of your chosen discipline should support your right to use the facilities. I'd put in a caveat about not being deliberately disruptive, but if I felt like training my horse to carry a flag where does the line lie? Flags snap and wave and are pretty spooky things!
                                Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                Incredible Invisible


                                • #17
                                  I don't drive, but there is a lovely morgan at our barn who rides and drives. All the rest of us just ride, but we love to watch Rio and the cart. We all see it as a despooking opportunity too.
                                  ~Former Pet Store Manager (10yrs)
                                  ~Vintage Toy Dealer (rememberswhen.us)
                                  ~Vet Tech Student
                                  Mom to : 2 Horses, 4 Dogs, 2 Cats


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by dreamswept View Post
                                    How do you deal with barn mates who are less than enthusiastic about it? (Even though they can't handle their own horses and are more apt to blame the cart to make up for their own short failings)
                                    As someone else said, there are always going to be *special* boarders just about anyplace one goes in life, I wouldn't get too upset by it, though I know its easy to say.

                                    But perhaps you can convert this incident into an opportunity to make a better friend out of this person? Consider approaching the boarder and asking them if you can be of assistance as a training opportunity for them. If they're not interested, you can still attempt to foster good will by inviting them for a drive, etc. I find people are generally fascinated by driving and usually eager for a chance to partake.

                                    I can imagine is must be tough for some people in some stables. I am incredibly fortunate to board at a place that is entirely experienced horse owners, and that has a lot of places to go and many routes to get there so I almost always have an option of getting out of someone's way. I keep my horses at a separate barn away from the main activity so I hitch alone and my tack and carriage aren't in anyone's way. I also keep a different schedule than the other boarders for the most part, so I'm normally I'm the only one schooling during the week.

                                    If I were feeling as if I were constantly in other peoples way however, or as if I weren't permitted full use of the facilities, I would likely be singing a different tune. I recognize its easy to chime in all hunky-dory when my limited experiences have all been positive.
                                    Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


                                    • #19
                                      I feel your pain, I'm in the same boat as you are and I'm the only driver in my area (outside of a few mini people but they do not normally bring their horses out much) I've been banned from driving at one barn (after it was OK when I told them my OTSTB rides and drives and I would be storing my cart there) because of two Parelli people (I hate throwing them under the bus but if I hear left brain introvert one more time I'm taking a hostage) felt that I was torturing their horses by my "jughead" and cart.

                                      I'm moving barns (again) because my last barn banned carts on premises even for storage. Thankfully the new barn is very excited on having a driving horse on the premises and several riders want to learn how to drive.


                                      • #20
                                        What Buck said. I boarded at a lot of barns when I drove and always made it a point to take the initiative and OFFER to help people despook their horses to the cart. We would have despooking to the cart clinics and made a game out of it for them: each horsie had to be brave enough to step up to the standing cart and get a cookie from me, then walk around the cart and do it again from the other side, then stand still while I drove off first in one direction and whoa - if ridden horsie stays still he gets another cookie - and then in the other direction and whoa - by which time ridden horsie is usually WAY more interested in when the next cookie is going to come from than anything else.

                                        I've found that as long as the driver OFFERS, most people are quick to take them up on it, and if not, well, it sure sucks to be THEM when theirs is the ONLY horse in the barn still spooking at the cart rather than viewing it as a traveling snack bar!
                                        "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief