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Tips for ground driving under harness, please

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  • Tips for ground driving under harness, please

    I have been ground driving Cookie using a surcingle and driving lines.

    This eve. for the first time I tried ground driving under harness and found it challenging. I ran the traces (sewn in) through the tugs, breeching straps, doubled them back and used One-Wrap Velcro to hold it all in place. The velcro held well, but the beta traces are very stiff and the big loop touched her sides as a rider's leg might. Cookie managed well and it didn't seem to bother her, but I can see where that could give a cue and become confusing.

    The breeching was attached to the traces loosely, and it slid a little side to side during turns. It didn't straighten out till I turned in the opposite direction. How can I avoid that?

    I ran the lines through the b/c rings, terrets, then through the rings on the hip straps on the rump. That short strap moved side to side, and I can see why it should, but it added another dimension to trying to keep her straight. Should I not use the rings on the rump? I would have more control of her rear if I need to come around to the side when weaving cones, etc.

    Can you please give me some pointers on how to make this harness work more easily when ground driving? How to keep the traces attached to something and out of the way? Will the betathane traces ever soften up or is this how stiff It'll always be?

    Oh, and she peed on it while in a halt! No more *new* harness! I was glad then that it is hoseable.


    Last edited by Yip; Jul. 21, 2009, 02:38 AM.
    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

  • #2
    Originally posted by Yip View Post
    Should I not use the rings on the rump?
    I would NEVER run the reins through rings on the breeching hip strap.
    In fact, I would never even have rings on the hip strap.



    • #3
      Not sure what kind of ends you have on traces, but probably are slots. I would get some small snaps and string, tie the snaps to the slots and then fasten the traces up on the backstrap. Should loop up enough so she can't get a leg thru, string would easily break so snap is free if she snagged on a fencepost or something.

      We run the breeching holdback straps up to the saddle and just loop them around the side of saddle, buckle back onto themselves. Breeching is often snug but not tight. The suspender strap holding up the breeching may not let it swing back to straight after bending. Lots of reasons for that, but in the end it should not be a problem, teaching horse that sometimes things are not perfect.

      The stuff flopping around, being in one place then shifting to others, is WHY you are doing ground work with harness on. Horse learns to disregard small things, not over-react when stuff changes.

      I would not recommend putting the lines up on her back at all until you are actually ready to drive with a vehicle. You have no body control with lines up high. We run long lines, long reins, thru the tug loops on horse sides, with lines around the rump area back to your hands to prevent unwanted turns. With the line around the rump, you are controlling both ends of equine, they can't spin and escape direction very easily. Lines running on sides, sliding around rump, upper legs, help with more desensitizing of odd touches while driving.

      I start my ground work with an open bridle, wanting the horse to see me and what is happening around him. NOT trying to surprise him at the beginning. We work in the blinker bridle later when he is more dependable on the lines.

      You should be carrying a whip all the time for touches to encourage forward or side stepping and turns. Think of it like a leg aid, for pushing sideways, getting a bend in the barrel. Light touches, not sharp snaps or noisy with constant cracking for noise.

      You might like to go to the post on training the young horse, read Thomas' post on what he does with his young animals. All good information for any horse learning to drive.

      I would not use the rings on harness for my lines at this time. They are not what you need for ground driving/long lining the animal who is not hitched.

      Hip rings for reins are common on horses driven for long distances on little or no contact, on a horse who is taller than the vehicle seat. Keeps the reins from sliding down to get snagged. Can be very helpful in many driving uses.


      • Original Poster

        I would NEVER run the reins through rings on the breeching hip strap.
        In fact, I would never even have rings on the hip strap.
        You sound very firm on this issue. Why do you feel this way? Pros? Cons? I am not knocking it - I'm just starting out and am trying to learn.
        "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


        • #5
          All you have to do is ensure that you keep things from interfering with what the horse does.

          I think you should be able to see on this photo what I typically do when the horse is in full harness:


          • Original Poster

            Thanks, Goodhors, that makes sense and I'll try it.

            Thanks, Thomas. That's perfect for the lines and I never would have thought of it. That gives real control of the quarters and should keep the horse straight.

            I fixed up my traces the same way but they are very stiff so weren't as flexible as yours in the pic.
            "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx


            • #7
              Originally posted by Yip View Post
              You sound very firm on this issue. Why do you feel this way?
              Simple physics. Rings on the hip-strap are for "floppy reins" and not for driving with a connection to the bit. Terret rings on the saddle are engineered to take the force of a deviation of the reins from a straight line, rings on the hip-strap are not & the geometry is wrong (hands-to-reins-to-rings-to-bit).


              • Original Poster

                Oh, thanks for the explanation, mt! That does go with what goodhors said about thier being used for horses going long distances. Not so much contact needed, I guess.


                "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx