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Re-introducing a horse to harness & cart after a wreck

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  • Re-introducing a horse to harness & cart after a wreck

    Here is the scenario.

    23 year old Arabian mare, 14 hands, my ex-distance horse. Pretty much a pasture potato pulled out of the pasture maybe 4 or 5 times a year for a short and slow trail ride. She is my sane, always trustworthy girl

    Used to drive nicely.

    Bad wreck, cart overturned, she bucked out of it breaking the narness. This was 10 years ago. Hurt seriously, 3 artierial wounds, had to have surgery and could not be put back immediately in harness as cart was pretty much a wreck. By time she put back in harness several month later, all she did was stand and shake. Never tried again.

    My game plan is to introduce her open bridle in ground work to the harness again. Lots of ground work, re-sacking her out, eventually re-introdce the blinders, use of a dray (false pvc shafts) with lots more ground work before attempting to try the cart.

    Why would I do this? I ride her less and less. She needs a job. I will hitch a horse up and drive before I will saddle and ride one. She would get some use here at home occasionally. It also will keep her physically and mentally acute. I know Arabs can live incredibly long lives and driving seems to me to be easier on her than riding her. She is in pretty good health and there is no physical issues why she shouldn;t pull a cart.

    Any ideas or opinions or suggestions?

  • #2
    after a wreck

    I had a grey Arab mare sent to me last year with the exact same story also from Fl.
    I was able to get the mare driving again, it took awhile but she drove again even up and down the road with light traffic. Now most will look at that as a good result. But the mare had no quality of life doing it.
    Like your mare this one would shake...I mean just stop, stand and shake in fear. Anything or nothing would set it off. If you took your time and just let the mare recover, it was possible to walk away and carry on driving. But if you did not read her correctly, I am certain she would blow.
    Her owner was a novice driver & had owned and breed the mare for a long, long time so she ( I feel) could read her mare very well also, but I feel did not have the driving skills to handle the mare if she did indeed blow as I was and still am, sure she would.

    I sent the mare back to the lady and explained that the mare did get back in the shafts, but it was my feeling that she should not be driven. So yes I failed the lady, but I helped the horse I feel.

    Often the answer is not, can it be done. But should it be done.

    Robert
    Tandem Hill Farm
    www.tandemhillfarm.com

    Robert j Chambers on Facebook

    Comment


    • #3
      I know you said you ride her less and less but what is she like to ride out?

      Is she forward and confident generally?

      What was the root cause of the accident she had?

      How much driving had she done previously?

      What long reining have you done with her: before the accident and since?

      I've done quite a few that have had accidents but to be honest it takes a long time and whether it can be recovered tends to depend on answers to the above to a large extent.

      At 23 I seriously wonder about this and think that rather than thinking of planning to put her back to harness that I think you'd be better to stop thinking way ahead and merely start thinking about getting her to long rein and ground drive. One thing I do know with horses that are being recovered is you think about each stage and get them going well and ONLY then decide whether to move on to the next one and ONLY if the horse is absolutely comfortable and showing signs of being ready to progress on with no signs of fear and evasion.

      Comment


      • #4
        IMO Reintroducing a horse to harness/cart depends so much on the horse's personality and what THEY want to do.
        Our old boy Macrae did not like driving when we first taught him. I think he did not like how the cart moved around him. We had a (for us) big wreck when he spooked at a hunter who came into the field from a treeline. Macrae took off an ran (very unlike him) and ran across the old plowed furrows of a cropfield. At one point the cart was pulled over a high furrow and went airborne. When it landed a wooden wheel shattered and he finally stopped. For years after we never drove him again since we had another good driving horse and Macrae had shown he just did not like it. This was a horse that you could use to drag big branches to clear off a blocked trail.

        Fast forward to Macrae was 35yo and to unsteady to be safe riding anymore. BUT he HATED being retired. We tried ponying him off our other horse but it was not enough. So we finally asked if he would like to try driving again. This is when we got one of those EZentry light pipecarts. At this point he took to driving right away. While we never went far or long. We drove Macrae a couple of times a week for the next 5 years. He drove right up til he fell in the field and couldnt get up. He was a great horse.

        OTOH we took a friend and their Paso Fino to a clinic to see if he would drive. He had the training as a youngster. The very experienced clinician spent some time long-reining the horse and even put the cart to this boy. But stopped before actually driving and told the owners that this was not a safe driving prospect. Sopme things just arent worth risking danger.

        Try some of the basics of training but if she tells you this is not her thing . . . you should listen.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
          I know you said you ride her less and less but what is she like to ride out? This mare is the horse I trust impeccably under saddle.

          Is she forward and confident generally? She is forward and confident under saddle. She wants to go, especially when we are out on the trail.

          What was the root cause of the accident she had? My stupidity and not paying attention to details. Long story short, the tugs were put on sloppily and when she picked up a trot, the slack in the tugs caused them to fall the little hooks on the shafts. Because she moves out with the big Arab trot she has, the tugs went to slapping her about the rear legs. This caused her to go more forward and they slapped her even more. She being an ex race horse took the bit and wansn;t coming back to me. I have never experienced anything like that in my experience before or since. She was a true run away. We were coming into a series of 90 degree corners and I knew the cart would go over. I did a tuck a roll out of the cart. She kept on going. The cart went over, she bucked outof it and came home. When we found the cart, the shafts were twisted like a pretzel. It was an easy entry pipe cart. I think two things occured here with her--I left her and she was hurt alone.

          How much driving had she done previously? She was trained by an old Standardbred trainer. I put her to cart and drove her a lot. We put a lot of miles out in the woods--driving over logs, through lakes, miles and miles for a couple of years.

          What long reining have you done with her: before the accident and since?
          She was my second driving horse. In those days, I had not earned my name nor had any wrecks. I was immortal in my ignorance and non-experience. So to answer your question, none before because she was already trained--why did I need to do that? (rhetroical question) and afterwards, my one attempt was so dismal, I put her harness away and sold that cart even after we had fixed it. I was going to get out of driving.


          see the answers above

          Comment


          • #6
            not to be offensive ---- but i think your still a novice driver like myself
            and i wouldnt attempt to put her back into harness at 23yrs old


            perhaps if she was younger and given time of driving for a while i would consider it but only if in the hands of expreince dirver trianer was there to help me not only re trian her
            but help in all the way back into harness and also afterwards

            shesa good riding horse so you say- and she comfortable with her new and long standing carreer of being one so why change

            sometimes we have to be a little bit unselfish and decide not whats right for us in what we want but what right in what the horse wants

            in this case the mare has adapted and been a sucessful horse with being ridden
            if you want to keep the mare happy then continue in that ridden work

            as she one that can be left and then got back on agin at any time with out the who arh henries -- give her credit where its due shes an honest horse

            but your not being honest with yourself------------ meaning you pull her out of the field 4-5 times a year would it be the same to drive her as and when type
            thats not consitence for any horse

            so you have got to be honest with yourself and from the posting i get a feel as uncertainty
            and lackof confidence hence why you ask as you have doubts

            and ask yourself why and what level are you actually at in comparsion to where you want to be

            as i understand it i think---- you using the horse as you want to get back into it
            but the horse might have issues but unsure if you have the knowledge to sort out or even get there

            being uncertian to horse - is also a doubt - a doubt is a confused signal same to is lack of confidence which
            is another question you have to ask your self

            cnfident-- you have time off - as in like rusty dusty -- not wise to bring on an old girl with history of bad accident plus being old as in over 20yrs and with out a decent trianer
            mmight be another accident waiting to happen

            so - go get some lesson and do it that way if you still want to get back into it then consider a smaller pony and ones that agin been broken to drive already but be consistent
            and makre sure you have a trianer to listen to

            Comment


            • #7
              I wouldn't hook her to drive either BUT if you need a companion for walking, why not try an open bridle and surcingle and take her out for "walkies." I have found it is a great way to get some exercise. I do it on young ones (2 years old). It gives them a great foundation.

              But that is beside the point, just like walking a dog benefits its owner, so can walking a horse. It makes going for a walk or a hike so much fun and enjoyable being behind a horse! It gives me something to think about and do and gets them outside and working their bodies.

              Just a thought.
              Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF
              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZPHDzgX3s

              Comment


              • #8
                OK I'd suggest that you don't try anything at all by yourself.

                To be honest it all sounds as though it's possible....... BUT....... and this is a huge BUT.......

                She needs to be long reined, long reined and then long reined some more and with harness on just as is normal when starting out a driving horse and then assessed.

                But this needs to be done by someone who is VERY experienced at long reining and with assisters as well.

                Only then and once she's been assessed should there be consideration as to whether she progresses to the next stage.

                BUT..... then what? She's 23 and your experience is your experience. Can you cope and manage if she looks to you for a lead and to push her forward if something happens.

                I'm thinking from what you've said that the answer is not going to be a resounding "Absolutely YES"

                But can you therefore manage to drive her and ensure if something flaps or triggers her flight and fright instinct and memory that you can keep her and you safe? Again I'm thinking that's not going to be a resounding "Absolutely YES"

                So I'm thinking that if you want her to do something at her time of life that it's preferable to let her do something that's not going to test and challenge her (or you) at all. Might just me being soft but I don't think that's the right approach with mature ladies...... or mares

                How's about either walking her out or else learning to long rein and once you're pretty good at that and you've got your tutor to get her going nicely then how's about long reining her? You could have her started long reining just with a surcingle and riding bridle and no flappy driving harness stuff to trouble her.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by goeslikestink View Post
                  not to be offensive ---- but i think your still a novice driver like myself
                  and i wouldnt attempt to put her back into harness at 23yrs old


                  perhaps if she was younger and given time of driving for a while i would consider it but only if in the hands of expreince dirver trianer was there to help me not only re trian her
                  but help in all the way back into harness and also afterwards

                  shesa good riding horse so you say- and she comfortable with her new and long standing carreer of being one so why change

                  sometimes we have to be a little bit unselfish and decide not whats right for us in what we want but what right in what the horse wants

                  in this case the mare has adapted and been a sucessful horse with being ridden
                  if you want to keep the mare happy then continue in that ridden work

                  as she one that can be left and then got back on agin at any time with out the who arh henries -- give her credit where its due shes an honest horse

                  but your not being honest with yourself------------ meaning you pull her out of the field 4-5 times a year would it be the same to drive her as and when type
                  thats not consitence for any horse

                  so you have got to be honest with yourself and from the posting i get a feel as uncertainty
                  and lackof confidence hence why you ask as you have doubts

                  and ask yourself why and what level are you actually at in comparsion to where you want to be

                  as i understand it i think---- you using the horse as you want to get back into it
                  but the horse might have issues but unsure if you have the knowledge to sort out or even get there

                  being uncertian to horse - is also a doubt - a doubt is a confused signal same to is lack of confidence which
                  is another question you have to ask your self

                  cnfident-- you have time off - as in like rusty dusty -- not wise to bring on an old girl with history of bad accident plus being old as in over 20yrs and with out a decent trianer
                  mmight be another accident waiting to happen

                  so - go get some lesson and do it that way if you still want to get back into it then consider a smaller pony and ones that agin been broken to drive already but be consistent
                  and makre sure you have a trianer to listen to
                  GLS-- not to be defensive or offensive either-- but I think you are reading this all wrong. The things you say are in my mind way off base.

                  This is said not in a nasty manner. I just don;t see what you are saying as being the true situation. These things happen when we have no communication other than the written word.

                  I am not claiming to be a trainer in any sense. Not am I having doubts. It is simply a thought I had and proceeded to ask these folks who have always stepped up in a positive and constructive manner for suggestions or opinions.

                  You gave me an opinion I guess.

                  As for getting another pony, I have two that drive awesome now, why would I want to get another one?

                  As for being honest with myself--I like to think I am pretty on the level with myself in my abilities and my choices in life.

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Cielo Azure View Post
                    I wouldn't hook her to drive either BUT if you need a companion for walking, why not try an open bridle and surcingle and take her out for "walkies." I have found it is a great way to get some exercise. I do it on young ones (2 years old). It gives them a great foundation.

                    But that is beside the point, just like walking a dog benefits its owner, so can walking a horse. It makes going for a walk or a hike so much fun and enjoyable being behind a horse! It gives me something to think about and do and gets them outside and working their bodies.

                    Just a thought.
                    great idea.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      As always you guys have given good sound advice.

                      This is not something I absolutely must do, just an idea that raised its head.

                      And it seems that more experienced folks than I seem to think it is not a good idea. That is prett much the same response I got over on the CDL

                      It could possibly be done, but there seem to be a whole lot more negatives than positives to the discussion.

                      Thanks

                      Comment

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