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Making a drag.......ideas?

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  • Making a drag.......ideas?

    I'm preparing to continue training my mare to drive and I'm at the point where I'd like to have her pull a drag.

    I have a grass ring, and access to quiet paved roads.

    Any suggestions on what I should use as a drag and/or how to make a suitable one?

    Mare is a 12 year old 15.3 hand Friesian. She was started in harness as a 4 year old and brought up to hitch once (she has pulled a drag back in the day, but it's been 8 years so I'm not going to assume she remembers that) but was never finished.

    Would love to hear what you guys have used and what might be best suited for work on turf.


  • #2
    We really only pull tires of various sizes. And they do a GREAT job on the front area of the barn entry, leveling, smoothing stuff up.

    Not sure what you want a "real drag" for, when tires can do the same job for you and are pretty safe for pulling.

    If you are only doing review work in Driving, then you want something that is resistant but not weighty. You don't want it so heavy she is discouraged in trying to pull it very long or gives up trying to go forward! That is bad.

    I would suggest a lighter tire to start, off a medium size car, not a big truck tire and NOT some kind of tractor tire. She won't have trouble moving this size tire, but it won't get her sored up fast either because she hasn't done this pulling for a while.

    I would suggest you do review work with her out on the long lines, get the commands straight, get prompt responses. You say Whoa, she STOPS! You want all her voice commands in place, before you EVER think of hooking her to an object behind her. She should do all this work in an open bridle so she can see what is happening, not be frightened while it happens. You can work in an arena, ground drive her on the driveway or around the farm to sight see. Be CAREFUL that YOU are moving fast enough not to be hanging on her mouth, which you can see by walking to one side of her. No reward for being good if mouth is constantly being pulled. Carry a whip all the time, it is your tool to JUST touch her with for going FORWARD, since you have no riding legs. Touch of lash, along with voice command is ALL the whip use she probably needs. Rein slapping on the butt is a TV thing. NOT how you ask for Forward on a Driving horse. Rein slapping on the rump CAN cause kicking.

    You probably want to use a singletee to pull the tire and spread the traces. I would suggest you have help on hand to hook the tire for you. Be available for any adjustments or fixing needed. Helper can give horse a lead if needed with tire weight until she is confident, then step away. I do think you should add some heavy string to lengthen the traces and move singletree with tire out behind her, away from her hind feet as she goes along.

    I NEVER suggest using fence posts or logs to pull in a training setting. The end tends to catch on rough ground or other things, then may or may NOT pull free. They always JUMP when they get free, which adds an odd feel to the traces. They can really swing outward on circles, but again, the flat end does snag. I consider them to be a poor training tool. Tires are rounded, "give or bounce off" when they hit things, don't get hung up on things.

    You might look up Ground Driving, starting young horses, Long Lining, read the old posts on this Forum, that contain LOTS of information. Not sure how much Driving experience you have, but they cover a lot of ground in the stages of starting a horse. Driving is NOT as easy as it looks, so take your time with your horse, get both of you comfortable with things before moving to the next step. There is NO SCHEDULE of time it takes to get one going. If it takes 90 days, then that is what it takes to get horse RELIABLE for commands and staying calm, before you can hook a tire. You should consider this part as putting on your Basics again, because she is building trust in you and what you ask of her, knowledge of what her part is in responding. She will need this information as she continues her Driving training, to meet and face new situations quietly. Each horse is a bit different in accepting things, so they move at different speeds and none of them are WRONG or make you less skilled as a trainer. My young horse took a VERY LONG time, MONTHS, to get started last year. MUCH repeating of everything, so she could count on it being the same thing, before she could go to the next step. She was quiet and reliable when finally hooked to a vehicle, we had no surprises from her. She then smoothly (one end of summer to the other) moved along in Single training, to work in a Pair by Fall. However there probably won't need more than a run-thru session on commands after winter off, and I fully expect her to walk right off in the Pair again with no issues. She is SOLID in her training, worth the time investment to gain the work levels we expect from her in the future. This year she will be going out and about, meeting real situations away from home, to learn all the new stuff she will find at shows and competitions.


    • #3
      I went to the amish and got some shafts that weren't ideal for a cart so I paid 58.00 for the pair. attached the rear end of the shafts to a 6" board and got a cross bar.

      Attached Jhooks and a single tree for the traces and it workes wonderfully. I like the single tree better but sometimes it is hard to get traces hooked. I like to use it long lining even after they are trained so I can see the movement or if I haven't driven for months to see where their mind is before I hitch.

      I like this better than a tire because it also gives them pressure and moves with them like a cart.
      If the arena is a little sandy it helps get them in shape. I will try and post a video. I really had a hard time trying to video and hold reins. I was not able to use whip either so sorry about all my voice.



      • Original Poster

        Goodhors, thank-you for that lengthy and thoughtful response! I appreciate it.

        I had heard of using a tire before, but have never used one myself, so good to hear that you recommend it. I've always had a sand ring to start them in, so I used to use a sled-style drag, but that won't work on the turf, I don't believe.

        The mare and I have a long, trusting relationship. I raised her (she was an orphan at a month old) and started her both in harness and under saddle. She lines well, as we have continued that over the years off and on. Her voice commands are very good, as is her whoa. I had her pulling me on a drag quite happily and hitched to a road cart once. The equipment was borrowed though, and I had to give it back before we could go any further. Without the resources for my own cart and harness, I put the driving training on pause and we pursued other things....

        Now that I have a house and barn of my own, I have a place for a cart and a place to drive so I'd really quite like to get her going again.

        I've trained several horses in harness prior to Daatje and they turned out well. (two were Friesians (clients), and two were miniatures (my Mom's) ) So I do have some prior experience with the training process of a harness horse, but it has been a while.

        I've already prepared my family that I'll be soliciting help from them for our future training sessions. I'm happy to take my time, no rush, no worries.

        I'll definitely scour the archives here for more information/suggestions. I know what I know, but there's always someone who knows something else and I'm always open for ideas and techniques I may not have heard of.



        • Original Poster

          Thanks for the video clip! I like that set up too. Some great ideas here. We have a shop close by that sells replacement shafts and the like, so I could probably set something like that up quite easily.

          Originally posted by China Doll View Post
          I went to the amish and got some shafts that weren't ideal for a cart so I paid 58.00 for the pair. attached the rear end of the shafts to a 6" board and got a cross bar.

          Attached Jhooks and a single tree for the traces and it workes wonderfully. I like the single tree better but sometimes it is hard to get traces hooked. I like to use it long lining even after they are trained so I can see the movement or if I haven't driven for months to see where their mind is before I hitch.

          I like this better than a tire because it also gives them pressure and moves with them like a cart.
          If the arena is a little sandy it helps get them in shape. I will try and post a video. I really had a hard time trying to video and hold reins. I was not able to use whip either so sorry about all my voice.



          • #6
            We also do a travois, made of two LONG (10-12ft) green sapling trees from our woods. They are put on one at a time, horse is long lined with them dragging their ends so they work and make pressure on the side of the animal. Horse works in both directions with a single sapling snapped on with VERY breakable string. If string breaks, he is stopped, saplling gets reattached. He learns that stuff may change, from being on his side to down along his feet. No big deal. Stop, stand, wait for Driver to fix stuff, yawn. Very helpful to the beginning Driving animal, gets accepting of things happening around him, maybe scary but they don't hurt.

            When our animal is good with a sapling on both sides, both directions, then we put both on at once. Do everything all over again. Then as mentioned, we finally add the crosspiece to tie both ground- dragging sapling ends together, repeat the work again. Crosspiece is wide, probably 4ft, can be another sapling or a board like a 2"x4", firmly attached to those long saplings on each side. The crosspiece changes the saplings into a Travois, also changes how they feel on the animal while bumping along on the ground, much stiffer action. You can pull the tire from the crosspiece, adds another dimension to horse wearing the saplings and more resistance to the pull. All good things.

            We start with the tire and traces, move on to the saplings and pulling tire with the Travois. You almost can't do "too much" in these ground lessons, so horse is accepting of body and leg touches, moving against resistance (not much) of a load behind him. It is all confidence building, makes him more willing to try new things easily.

            By the time you get to Travois after tire dragging like we do, you can be trading open bridle for blinker bridle to get horse used to limited vision. He KNOWS what is going on around him, is not afraid of these things he has already seen, knows the lesson expected of him. Blinkers focus him ahead, not watching you or whip, listening for the voice with no visible body signals from you. As you work along, get horse more fit, you can change the light tire for a slightly larger tire for more weight or two small tires if that is all you have. Horse can STILL move that load easily, though it is a bit harder, more surface on the ground is adding resistance to being pulled. We actually never do pull tractor tires, but do use a couple tires off the F350 pickup, which are a good size. We have good sized horses, they don't have a problem with this load, though it might be way too much for a beginner pony. You don't want horse to FAIL to move his load, start jigging and back off to lose confidence. You want him trying FORWARD when asked, and he will if you let him always win by not overloading him now.

            Oh yeah, do NOT EVER ask horse to back up wearing one or both saplings or the Travois. The ends dig RIGHT INTO the ground and he CANNOT do as you ask by backing. These are forward-only devices!!


            • #7
              I found the tire(s) did an awesome job at dragging and levelling the arena and the driveway, too. I would use that, and you don't have the concern of any type of pokey/metal or anything else that the horse could get injured on if things go wrong. The bigger the tire, the better it worked in my opinion. And on the gravel, it made a ton of noise, so it was a good de-sensitizer. Oh, I also had a 2 x 4 board about 3' wide in front of the tire, which I used as a makeshift single tree to attach the trace to. The tire was connected to the "singletree" with a heavy duty chain and everything was attached with either quick release tugs or bailing twine, just in case I had to undo it all in a hurry.
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              • #8
                This is a great plan for the tire set up. This is what we use.

                Kanoe Godby
                See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


                • #9
                  When it comes to dragging I always find it very tough, I would require lots of training for that.


                  • #10
                    once we had done the dragging of the saplings like goodhors suggested, I built a drag out of 2 10 foot long pvc and acorss brace of 4 foot. It was 1 inc. Used 2 right angle to make a large u shaped drag.

                    Started the horse in with it not tied, let it drop out and horse had to stand while we fidgeted and fixed it. Then advanced to tying the "shafts" into the harness with bailing twine and driving him all over the pasture, across driveway, down dirt roads around the house.

                    Once it caught on a stump and exploded at the joint and Zanzer just stopped and stood. I ground drove him back to the barn with it broken. Never a problem.


                    • #11
                      My trainer uses PVC pipes and tires also. My friend used cedar tree brush.
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