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Do you drive alone?

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  • Do you drive alone?

    I recently broke my horse to cart, and have been going out about 2x a week. It is SO fun. I am hooked. However, I have only been going out with another person "just in case". My horse is very well behaved and I have taken out most of my family for rides. Sometimes, I get the itch to drive him alone, but tell myself "no" or "not yet".

    Do you drive alone? I could see with a mini, you don't have much choice, but they also aren't very powerful and you could easily muscle them if the situation arose. I drive up and down the dead end road that the farm is on, and that is all. We don't wander far as the other roads around are too large with too many cars, and I don't think the drivers have the brains to pass wide & slow.

    If you DO drive alone, how many horses (or ponies) do you drive, and how far do you go? I suppose it would also be good to know how well broke your critters are.

    Also, how do you put-to when you are by yourself? I have always learned that tying them up in carriage is a big no-no, and I have only ever put-to with someone at his head. He doesn't move a muscle. Could I bridle him, and slip a halter over his head and then attach the cart?
    "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".

  • #2
    We never drive alone. Ever.

    Many years ago my husband was hooking by himself, a single pony who is super quiet. He had a lead rope attached to the pony and had half of the carriage hooked, and was on the other side finishing hooking up and the pony spooked and pretty much took off. With half of the carriage attached. The pony has been driving for many years and is pretty much bomb proof, but you never know. Luckily nothing major happened and he had the lead rope in his hand so he was able to stop him, but that was the last time he ever tried to drive alone.

    We now drive a pair and I always head both ponies as he hooks them up. They have been there and done that, but again, you never know. Once hooked, I'm always on the back just in case. Nothing has happened with the pair, but I would rather be there just in case.

    I also prefer to drive with someone who has horse experience. Nothing worse than someone who doesnt know much about horses trying to help you out of a situation and making things worse...

    I know its not always possible for everyone as you have to really co-ordinate with others when you want to go out. But driving can be very dangerous.

    Just my thoughts on the matter. I'm sure others have different opinions.


    • #3
      Nope, never.
      Kanoe Godby
      See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


      • #4
        All the time.

        I drove/jogged my first horse by myself all the time. When I first started driving her I needed help getting her hooked, after a while it was no big deal. At one barn, I was the only boarder & the BO rarely did anything with her pony. If I didn't do stuff alone, I wouldn't have done anything at all. She could be obnoxious to hook. Her repertoire of tricks was impressive, but not huge; I knew all of them.

        I won't drive my current mare alone, I don't trust her (she has a long & colorful history) & I don't spend that much time with her (boarded a couple states over.) Driving where she's at means sharing the road with a semi-trailer full of logs. I don't have any problem taking Mom's pony up for donuts by myself on the same roads.
        Visit my Spoonflower shop


        • #5
          All the time, also.

          If I had to drive or ride with others, I would never get out.

          My advice? Do what works for you and your horse.


          • #6
            If I didn't drive alone, I would never drive!

            It took me about 2 months before I felt confident enough to drive alone in rings, and about 2 months more before I was willing to hit the trails completely solo. Even 3 years later, I don't like driving on the roads solo (very nutty 50-70mph traffic where I board and no shoulder), I've only gone alone a few times and I've never liked it.

            I've always hitched solo however. In the beginning with a cart, I tacked and bridled my horse and had him single tied with a neck strap facing a fence and would hitch him there. Rather like this (starts at 3 min in): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHv34wehqQ8

            But with some differences... I always make sure my horse is standing square and no pawing, etc., I would hand walk my hitched horse away from the wall and point him in a safe direction before mounting, and I certainly didn't mount the cart not holding the reins!

            I didn't do this very long however, my horse rubbed his bridle off on the fence once, and I was always afraid if he got to bouncing around the shaft tip could somehow get caught in the fence.

            So then I started hitching like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTrPP3542cg starts about 2:25. Again, I make sure my horse stands square.

            Now with a 4 wheeler w/ folding shafts, I park the carriage in a safe spot, tack and bridle my horse at one location, then lead him to the carriage and back him into position for hitching. I wouldn't do that with shafts that were able to be stepped on, but with the carriage, they are safely folded away.

            The few times I've had someone head my horse or hitch one side while I do the other I've gotten totally confused! haha, NOT used to having another pair of hands around.

            I have a moderate level of trust in my horse and my ability to keep control of a bad situation and I consider my horse moderately well broke and obedient - certainly we have much room for improvement.

            But I've also been flung from my carriage and I can honestly say it came without warning, we weren't doing anything wrong or reckless, and there wasn't a darn thing I could've done to stop it, and I'm very lucky I didn't lose the reins or get badly hurt, etc. Driving is dangerous, well trained horse or not.

            If my horse is really blowing fireballs I will think twice about driving him if I'm the only person on the farm, but as long as there is someone around we go out and have a good time.

            These sorts of things are a very individual decision. I think its always best to be on the cautious side.
            Being terrible at something is the first step to being truly great at it. Struggle is the evidence of progress.


            • #7
              I'm another one who drives alone all the time, and would never be able to go out if I depended on other people. My husband has no interest, my daughter lives a hundred miles away now, and my current pony doesn't like to haul two people anyway. On the other hand, he has never given me a moment's concern when hitching, putting to, or driving. I enjoy my time alone with him and have no desire to change it.

              When my Hackney was still alive and driving, I did worry about being out alone with him but went anyway. We drove for many years with a few scares but no damage to me, him or anyone else. He was a hot little guy, for sure.

              Most of the time, my husband is around and would notice if I didn't come back within a reasonable time. I'm easy to find because there aren't all that many places to go from here and I don't have a trailer. But I still go out when my husband is out of town and no one would have any idea something was wrong if the pony and I didn't come back. Yeah, it's a risk, but one I am willing to take.

              The funny thing is--the couple of times I had a problem with the dearly departed crazy Hackney (either a bolt that scared the pants off me, followed by a flat tire, or just a flat tire, before I got my airless tires), my husband was supposed to be home but was nowhere to be found when I called him. He will not carry his cell phone, and both times that I would have appreciated someone else ground driving the pony back home, husband was next door talking to our neighbor and had no idea I needed help. Obviously I survived, and it wasn't even that big of a deal, even though I don't walk too well. But I can if I have to--I just pay for it later.

              I usually go out for about an hour. I used to go for longer but my pony is getting up there in age and is happier with limiting the time and distance these days. About the farthest I can get from my house is maybe four miles at the most--we generally are within about two miles due to where I live in relation to the places where it's safe to drive.



              • #8
                Originally posted by triple.c View Post
                All the time, also. If I had to drive or ride with others, I would never get out. My advice? Do what works for you and your horse.
                Same here...If I had to have company, I would never have ridden or driven. People just aren't interested in coming along on a drive. Same with riding...lots of ring riders, few real trail riders most places.
                "Sic Gorgiamus Allos Subjectatos Nunc"


                • #9
                  Count me in as another person who would never drive if I didn't drive alone. Granted, I tend to stay in the arena as it's the only place I can drive on the ranch without the other horses melting down and I don't dare leave the property in the cart (blind turn, no shoulder and too damn fast drivers on that road) but if I didn't do it all myself, I'd never get to drive. And the way I figure it, I ride a lot alone by myself (even doing the short trails on the property solo) so it doesn't hurt me any to drive alone.

                  Also, the arena I drive in is on the bottom of the hillside where my barn owner's house is, so they can generally look out and see me out there so if something happened, it's possible they'd know, so I'm not totally alone.

                  Originally posted by buck22 View Post
                  So then I started hitching like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTrPP3542cg starts about 2:25. Again, I make sure my horse .
                  I solo hitch just like that too. I put my cart in the arena first, go tack up and then hitch the same way. My Haflinger was trained to pull carriages as part of a business, so he's solid as a rock when it comes to standing in harness. He's mischievous and can be a prat sometimes under saddle and hand walking, but put that harness on and he's a professional.
                  "My time here is ended. Take what I have taught you and use it well." -- Revan


                  • #10
                    I drive my aged gelding alone. He's smart, the been-there, done-that guy. Wouldn't drive the 4YO alone....

                    I went trail driving alone once. Fort Worth has these marvelous trails along the rivers and decided I would try them. Well, there's no way to drive from the parking area to the trails- there's a barrier! So I had to harness my boy, lift the cart over the cable, jump Sunny over then hitch. No place to tie! He stood BEAUTIFULLY and we had a wonderful time. Except for the fact, some of the trails run along the levees.... I am leery of heights and there we were, 100 feet above the river on one side and 50 feet to a grassy area on the other! If he'd have spooked we both would have crashed.... but he didn't.
                    Field of Dreams Miniature Horses

                    JEM Canadian Sunrise HOF: 2007 Res Nat'l Grand Champion WCPD
                    Redrock Lots O Spots HOF: 2014 National Grand Champion WCPD


                    • #11
                      I won't be for about a year, until I feel like I can trust my cob completely. And really, part of the lure of driving for me is that it's a way for me to share my fluffbutt with my non-riding friends by going for drives together! so it shouldn't be too hard to find driving buddies, at least for a while. I already have a huge lineup of people wanting to go out! haha!
                      Curious about Trans* issues? Feel free to ask!
                      Saving Pennies To Get My Own Canoe


                      • #12
                        I don't think I'd take a green horse out alone for a while yet- but if you are able to put lots of miles on now, with a helper- I think you could be ready to go solo (depending on you and your horse of course) pretty soon.

                        Also- As for tying while in the carriage- I think that the rule may have been misinterpreted or expanded over time beyond the intention.

                        I would say- Never unbridle and then tie up a horse who is hitched to a carriage.


                        Never tie a hitched horse (even with a bridle on) unattended for a long time. If you have to leave the horse for a long time- unhitch, unbridle and tie.

                        and lastly- Never tie to the bit.

                        Coupled together that might be read- "never tie a carriage horse in the shafts."

                        but if you have a way to tie without tying to the bit- your horse is trained to stand and tie- and your horse is bridled and you are right there- there is nothing AT ALL dangerous about tying a horse to hitch . It's wonderful if your horse stands like a statue without a header- it's a premium skill! - but if you don't have a header and your horse might wiggle- it's much safer to hitch tied than it is to try to hitch untied and have a horse walk a step or two when you are in the middle of things. JMHO!


                        • #13
                          Yes ~ I know the risks but also know my ponies and horses well ~

                          YES ~ I know the risks involved and I know my horses and ponies very well ~
                          Zu Zu Bailey " IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE ! "


                          • #14
                            Yes, I drive alone. Always have. Hitch in the crossties and drive straight out of the barn. Drive straight back in and tie up in the crossties to un-hitch.This is the way we always did hitching at the (standardbred) track and the method stuck with me. My current driving horse is a 20 yr old standardbred gelding that raced until retirement at age 15. He is about as 'bomproof' as a horse can be and we (he & I) enjoy a nice jog around my country block about 4 times a week.


                            • Original Poster

                              That is a handy idea, your barn must be very wide! Our barn doors are far too small to fit a cart though, sadly. I had him all harnessed up today, ready to go. And then there were no people at the barn, so I unharnessed and brushed him some more. A little voice in my head told me to wait. I suppose I will get out there alone when I am ready!
                              "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".


                              • #16
                                I usually drive alone, both single and pair. Of course I drive Clydesdales and they have been trained to stand there like statues while I hitch them. When I go to shows, I try to remember to get a header because people freak out when I leave my horse standing there while I bring up the cart. If I drive the pair, I back them up to where I need to hook them and then hook them. I have been driving a friend's (Clydesdale) stallion and thought I needed help hooking and unhooking him, which meant I had to make sure someone else was there to help, but this past weekend, his owner made me realize he was feeding off my nervousness about hitching him and he, too, could just stand there for hitching and unhitching. Now, I would NOT even try this with my young Clydesdale who is just learning to drive nor would I do it with my mini-donkey who is just getting ready to get hooked to a vehicle. I drive on the property where they are boarded (about 200 acres). I am only there three days a week, so I don't want to miss opportunities to drive because I do not have help. We can also hook in the barn which has really wide aisles. The key thing is to know your horse(s) and do what is safe.


                                • #17
                                  OP - it is wise to listen to that "inner voice"...

                                  I drive my single ponies & single horses alot, alone. However, I request a helper (my hubby) when I drive the ponies as a pair....just in case... so that means I only drive the pair on the weekends, when hubster is around to assist.

                                  Things can go wrong in a nanno-second flash when driving, so if you don't feel like you can do it alone, don't! Be safe.
                                  ‎"Luck favors the prepared, darling." ~~ Edna Mode


                                  • #18
                                    I am getting the itch to drive, have not driven my horse since last November and have driven an Arab (Zanzer, thanks cart fall!!!!) in January. The roads are too muddy yet and the carriage is still "in storage". I have been riding on my own most of the winter. I try not to drive alone, but my horse is very experienced and the odd time I do end up going by myself and it is nice, just her and I trucking down the road, but it is backroads, still sometime idiot drivers, but I try not to go too far and usually there is someone around the barn that knows I have gone out or would leave a note on the board. Yes, it is wise to listen to the "inner voice". I hitch by myself, horse is tied up with the snap of the lead rope on her noseband (halter would also work) or if she is not tied I keep the reins with me while I hitch. If someone is going with me who is an experienced horse person, I will get them to head her while I hitch. When I showed, the header, who was usually my husband, had a lead shank clipped to the bit and was only released when I was in the cart and would give the word. That is my usual thing when we are not at home. Djohn, glad you are enjoying the driving. It is great fun, especially with family and friends.


                                    • #19
                                      Almost always drive with someone, though sometimes its someone to for hitching and loading up and driving in the ring alone while the other of us gets the next horse ready or cleaned up.

                                      Would probably not drive a pair without an assistant.

                                      Joan, I'm sure your guys are great at standing for hitching, and thanks for finding someone to help at shows for the rest of us. Sets a good example to newer drivers for one and in some ways helps protect your horses from others as well.

                                      Still remember the driver who left her fully hitched pair standing the the driveway at the USET while they went back for her forgotten whip. Horses were told to stand and were doing their job, but almost got creamed by a fellow competitor backing out of a parking spot too quickly without looking.


                                      • #20
                                        Put my eggs in the basket of "I'd never drive if I didn't drive alone".

                                        One of my goals for the near future is to set myself up to be able to *travel* alone with my driving horse, too, so I can actually go to trails, shows, clinics, and other events without needing a 2nd person... this means a new truck for me and a large enough horse trailer to fit cart & horse.

                                        My current set up of 2 trailers & 2 trucks and relying on my husband's involvement & interest just is not working.

                                        I love it when I can get a passenger in my carts -- extra conditioning for the horses (woot woot!) But yes, I am always always alone otherwise. Arena, roads & trails. No travelling for me in 2014 without that truck & trailer, which is a big bummer, but hopefully 2015 will be better.

                                        I also have 2 minis that I trained and started and drove tandem alone, and I will be looking forward to getting a pair (hackneys probably) someday, and yes.. that will be alone, too.
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