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Is this a good idea or not so much?

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  • Is this a good idea or not so much?

    I have a coming 4 year old large pony that is started under saddle and I've been driving with long lines only for a couple of months now. I'm not very talented with all that rope, but I've managed to get him going fairly well, goes well in the arena as well as around the 60 acre ranch. On the property there is a saddlebred/morgan trainer and they do a lot of driving with these little 2 wheel carts (buggies???). Of course, their horses are all trussed up as show horses with chains, long feet, a lot of "hype" as they're going along and very high head sets. My pony will most likely be a hunter or maybe a dressage pony, so all this is not the "look" we're going for, lol! HOWever, the trainer is VERY talented/experienced in the driving/long lining arena. He mentioned the other day it would be fun to "play" with my little guy. Because he's young and only being ridden 2-3 times a week at this point, some other type of "work" might be interesting for him. I AM concerned though about all the "trappings" that go along with said trainer's style of training. Am I nuts for considering doing this? Would it be beneficial or not so much? Questions I should ask trainer? I know absolutely nothing about driving training, so please be kind to the newbie asking, truth be told the carts kinda scare me (ie Willy Arts)

  • #2
    You can do it with a regular harness. That was all I had when I started driving my carriage horse. I did not used the over check and I didn't use the martingale. I tried the martingale but he always fussed and went very well without it.

    I would say yes, definitely use the trainer's expertise but only under the conditions that he is not to be trained like a fine harness horse but rather, as a carriage horse. If he does well, you can get a carriage harness with breeching later. That's what I did. Be careful when not using breeching, don't want the cart running into his butt.
    Ride like you mean it.

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
      You can do it with a regular harness. That was all I had when I started driving my carriage horse. I did not used the over check and I didn't use the martingale. I tried the martingale but he always fussed and went very well without it.

      I would say yes, definitely use the trainer's expertise but only under the conditions that he is not to be trained like a fine harness horse but rather, as a carriage horse. If he does well, you can get a carriage harness with breeching later. That's what I did. Be careful when not using breeching, don't want the cart running into his butt.
      Ok, see that's the information I need. I don't know the difference between any of these types of driving & certainly don't know the terminology to be able to explain myself.

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      • #4
        I'd go for it. Do some research, look at pictures and videos - what you want is carriage driving or combined driving rather than show driving or fine harness.

        We've just finished our CD season here. I have done a first full season with a 10:2 hh pony who was completely unsuitable as a small child's riding pony - way too hot and too keen to go. Now he's calm and relaxed and would make a great riding pony - not that its really going to happen. But more than that, he has muscled and developed so he looks like a small warmblood. I noted as I looked around at all the harness ponies that they are all well muscled - obviously fit to compete in a full CD, but they have great top lines and well developed shoulders and gaskins. I hadn't planned on it, but I've now decided that the full size, hunter type pony that I have just started under saddle will also be started in harness because I am really impressed at the correct development of all these harness ponies.

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        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by phoebetrainer View Post
          I'd go for it. Do some research, look at pictures and videos - what you want is carriage driving or combined driving rather than show driving or fine harness.

          We've just finished our CD season here. I have done a first full season with a 10:2 hh pony who was completely unsuitable as a small child's riding pony - way too hot and too keen to go. Now he's calm and relaxed and would make a great riding pony - not that its really going to happen. But more than that, he has muscled and developed so he looks like a small warmblood. I noted as I looked around at all the harness ponies that they are all well muscled - obviously fit to compete in a full CD, but they have great top lines and well developed shoulders and gaskins. I hadn't planned on it, but I've now decided that the full size, hunter type pony that I have just started under saddle will also be started in harness because I am really impressed at the correct development of all these harness ponies.
          That's also very helpful about the topline development. This one could certainly use some help in that department! I worry about the mouth being made "too hard" by the ground driving (not even sure about actually attaching him to a cart just yet!) because you have such long lines and *everything* is all about the mouth. Of course I know there are voice commands and body language (somewhat, anyway), but it really is mostly reins.... I like mine to be butter soft in the mouth.... Thoughts, comments about that?

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          • #6
            Making a mouth "hard" or "wooden" will not be a result from ground driving, it would be a result from the driver being too heavy handed. When I take on a horse/pony that is too wooden, I take him right back to the ground and drive him in long lines and get him soft again. (in a round pen).

            My only suggestion is that if the trainer needs a lot of gadgets to produce a nice round top line, I would not have him work my horse. But he can most certainly lay a nice foundation on him if he does what you want; which is to produce a forward going, round, balanced pony that listens to aids and is light.

            How about him teaching you how to ground drive, long line? Practice makes perfect.
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            • #7
              I am with the thought that the handler "trains" the mouth, over time. I don't want what most folks call a "light mouth" because those animals won't take the bit with the LEAST bit of rein pressure. They often hide with chin-on-chest, so getting a forward with control is difficult! The wooden mouthed ones are USUALLY just uneducated, because they don't get any reward for giving to the bit or going correctly.

              You do have a lot of leverage with long line length, but it isn't that hard to keep your equine "meeting you at the bit" with attention to your hands. I want mine to hold the bit, take rein if I give to them. They also will give to the bit, come back to my hands when asked, but not be hanging on the bit.

              I see those "light mouthed" horses totally over-react when they feel the bit, heads fly up, skitter sideways, which I think is back to mouth being "uneducated" in the training.

              Heck, if you want to think light mouthed, it should be the young, beginning horse. Instead the beginner equines usually are the worst at moving INTO the bit pressure and hanging on your hands if you let them! Long lines are a step in the training, you start teaching horse about giving to the bit, and also moving forward into the feel of the bit, but NOT hanging on you. They get more tuned to how YOU want them as education continues.

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              • #8
                Even as disparate as fine harness, racing and roadsters are, the foundations are the same. In the racing world, we rarely do anything drastic with the overcheck beyond having it where the horse holds its head until they have begun to establish gait (usually around 200 miles of jogging) and then around 300 miles appropriate hopples may or may not be added. So there are many hours of foundation work laid before anything different is done. With race horses, there is no taking hold of the horse until it starts at speed, and I would assume fine harness is the same way. You want that horse to steer and stop properly before you build speed, and by that time, they are pretty well broke.

                I say go for it, and chances are pretty good the trainer will not want to make the pony into something it isn't suitable for.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Dune View Post
                  That's also very helpful about the topline development. This one could certainly use some help in that department! I worry about the mouth being made "too hard" by the ground driving (not even sure about actually attaching him to a cart just yet!) because you have such long lines and *everything* is all about the mouth. Of course I know there are voice commands and body language (somewhat, anyway), but it really is mostly reins.... I like mine to be butter soft in the mouth.... Thoughts, comments about that?
                  WOW. I'm trying to chalk that up to ignorance and not be offended. The hardest mouths I've come across have been on hunters, not show saddlebreds.

                  The trainer is using a jog cart; buggies have 4 wheels.

                  If you would like help, ask him, and just tell him that you just want a safe pleasure driving pony. He can do that. I would be he thinks your pony is kind of typy and thinks he could pull himself together well. It's flattering. If you're at all inclined to break this pony to drive, you could do a whole lot worse than a saddlebred/morgan trainer who probably jogs horses every day.

                  Don't worry about saddleseat equipment - we have a different goal than a "nice round topline" YUCK!
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dune View Post
                    Ok, see that's the information I need. I don't know the difference between any of these types of driving & certainly don't know the terminology to be able to explain myself.
                    Nor will your trainer understand the terminology. Carriage driving is with the dressage frame in mind unlike the fine harness driving. He might be helpful for basics and safety but not for the way of going so I would be cautous.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Dune View Post
                      That's also very helpful about the topline development. This one could certainly use some help in that department! I worry about the mouth being made "too hard" by the ground driving (not even sure about actually attaching him to a cart just yet!) because you have such long lines and *everything* is all about the mouth. Of course I know there are voice commands and body language (somewhat, anyway), but it really is mostly reins.... I like mine to be butter soft in the mouth.... Thoughts, comments about that?
                      Consistant contact is key in driving. That doesn't make them hard mouthed. But if you are afraid of contact then driving won't be very successful.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Originally posted by red mares View Post
                        WOW. I'm trying to chalk that up to ignorance and not be offended. The hardest mouths I've come across have been on hunters, not show saddlebreds.

                        The trainer is using a jog cart; buggies have 4 wheels.

                        If you would like help, ask him, and just tell him that you just want a safe pleasure driving pony. He can do that. I would be he thinks your pony is kind of typy and thinks he could pull himself together well. It's flattering. If you're at all inclined to break this pony to drive, you could do a whole lot worse than a saddlebred/morgan trainer who probably jogs horses every day.

                        Don't worry about saddleseat equipment - we have a different goal than a "nice round topline" YUCK!
                        WOW. NO need to take offense, my goodness, simply asking questions and thanks to all those who offered their input. I never called the carts a buggie, either, btw. Reason for asking about making the mouth a bit too hard *for my taste*: Watching them go around and their "half-halts" were pretty strong looking, both from the trainer & the student I watched. I don't know if they just "look" that way or if they truly are, maybe drivers get used to that and they don't mind it....? It looks as if the horses are really "taking" the drivers around the arena. Of course, I know they have different goals than I would, much showier and all that. Just some musings and honest questions, no need for anyone to have hurt feelings or get defensive. TIA!

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