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Hit a snag, and a couple questions too.

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  • Hit a snag, and a couple questions too.

    Yesterday was my very first solo drive w/o my trainer even being here. I had to lead Cookie & cart out of the crossties and she was fine for several steps - then she suddenly *hit the wall*, went back a few steps, up a little, then backed a few more steps. She calmed quickly so I didn't abort the drive. She was perfect the entire drive.

    When I was grooming Cookie today, I was vigorously brushing her chest, she reared up a little in alarm. I found that her chest is tender but there are no marks or rubs. Now I'm sure that's what frightened her yesterday, same exact reaction.

    What about the padded breastcollar would have made her chest sore?

    What needs to be adjusted to keeo it from continuing?

    Her false martingale was loose, but I loosened it another hole today. She did fine the entire drive. That's all I changed. I only want to make one change at a time.

    Could it be a line of draught problem? Yesterday the cart was not balanced well, so I raised the tugs after the drive . Before today's drive, we adjusted the seat and I think we remedied that. The shafts are at the top of the bc padding. I can now move the tugs down another hole to get them in line with the bc. I don't want to change a bunch of things at once. On yesterday's drive she was working, today she seemed more comfortable. How do I keep her chest from being sore?

    Also, she is not shod now and has no boots. Our roads look like blacktop, but are actually slurry sealed, which might be pinchy. She is fine walking, but when trotting sometimes wants to get over in the grassy berm. She is never lame. How long (time or miles) till we need foot protection?

    When going uphill, how much slack should there be in the breeching? That is so difficult for me to discern when she's standing still, not pulling.

    One last thing for now. She stopped to poop in the road. No one was behind us, but should I have kept her moving forward? This is new. Cookie NEVER goes while we're out riding. Umm, should I have gone back later to shovel it off the road?

    As Kermit the Frog said, it's not easy being green!

    Yip
    "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
    Yip,

    as for the manure in the road, I don;t worry about it out in the country where I live. It is usually squashed and scattered before I can get back to it. My neighbors know I am out if they see it and watch for me!!!

    As for your horse, these e/e carts are not well balanced by their sheer design. You can do only so much. You do want your line of draught as level as you can get it, and that ain;t easy to do with these guys.

    I use a padded breast collar on all of my harnesses. There are some nice ones out there. Without seeing your harness and cart up close, it is difficult to say exactly what your problem might be.

    How often do you drive your horse and where do you drive her? That could affect her as well.

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi, Yip! I like the way you're working through this.

      Is your mare by any chance near her season? I have two mares who become very, very touchy about their chests and between their front legs when they're PMSing. It's actually the first sign that they're about to come into season. Only one of them is driven, and is more often ridden; the other is only ridden, so it isn't driving related.

      Another thought: poor little Fairy Luna is still recovering from the many insults to her body that she endured before coming to us. Most of her trouble is in her hind end, but it often shows up in the way she pushes -- or doesn't push -- into the breastcollar. I have found that if I gently massage her chest first, and then give her plenty of work in walk to warm up, she works out of it completely.

      I second Cartfall's suggestion about the padded breastcollar. I bought my harness from Driving Tidbits, and the pads are the best I've ever seen. The pads are not terribly expensive, either.

      Not sure I agree that e/e carts (I have a new term!) are that hard to balance. I suppose that as compared with a four-wheel carriage they are, but I like the interactive part of balancing the cart, and find it almost instinctive now. Do you find it easy to slightly tip your weight forward or back to balance the cart?

      The horses that I most often drive on the road are shod all around. Of course, that can add a slip factor, so the next step would be studs, but I haven't yet gone there. The mare that is driven less often on the roads is shod in front for other reasons, and the mini is not shod at all.

      As for the breeching -- I've always looked for about a hand's breadth of slack when the horse is not braking.
      Last edited by MySparrow; Oct. 23, 2009, 08:51 AM. Reason: clarity

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        How often do you drive your horse and where do you drive her? That could affect her as well.
        I have Laurel's bio harness, complete with padding. I have driven her 3x in the last 2 weeks, on slurry sealed hard pavement. It's smooth and level, but it's pinchy if I walk on it with my bare feet. 2 weeks ago with my trainer's cart, then waited while mine got new tires and I restored the shafts. We're good to go now. I plan to drive 4-5x a week, starting at about 1.5 mi. and working up. Right now we're just walking. I think the major problem with balance is that the shafts aren't level - like the cart was stored shafts on the floor. Don't know what to do about that.

        Is your mare by any chance near her season? I have two mares who become very, very touchy about their chests and between their front legs when they're PMSing. It's actually the first sign that they're about to come into season. Only one of them is driven, and is more often ridden; the other is only ridden, so it isn't driving related.
        Well, I would have NEVER thought about that! Cookie is not mare-ish at all. If I don't lift her tail, I wouldn't know when she's in season. I didn't look yesterday but will today! She useally has a heat in the spring where she can get really stupid. Like thinking of nipping when I just pat her shoulders. Hmmm... That would account for some recent unusual reactive behavior.

        Another thought: poor little Fairy Luna is still recovering from the many insults to her body that she endured before coming to us.
        While being trained 2 years ago, Cookie wore a collar. I don't know if it fit properly, but I think not. When she came home she was terribly reactive on her rt. shoulder and wouldn't even let me groom her there. The chiro came out and fixed it, and it hasn't been a problem since - but she is just getting back into pulling now...

        Do you find it easy to slightly tip your weight forward or back to balance the cart?
        In my gig cart, yes. In this training cart, not so much. There was a difference yesterday after hub. turned the backrest around, placing it farther behind the seat. That helped a lot. I believe the shafts are warped upward and I bet that's the other part of the problem. The tips have to be rather high in relation to the tugs.

        As for the breeching -- I've always looked for about a hand's breadth of slack when the horse is not braking.
        So, would you see the breeching actually moving when going up a good hill? Like a gap between it and the horse? I saw it wasn't up against her but there wasn't much of a gap while going uphill. My trainer is in FL or I would have her over for a lesson and get this rig set properly. Her mom is ill so I don't know when she'll be back.

        Thanks!

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

        Comment


        • #5
          I use a solution of vinager and alum to wash the shoulders and chest when starting a new horse. I am not sure if it works or not but an old mentor of mine told me to use it and I have not had problems since.

          If your horse is new to pulling and the skin is not hardened up it can be a problem. I always go over any pressure points before and after harnessing to see if there is tenderness. Just my thing.

          There are many things that can cause the soreness. I like the way you are working through to see if you can figure it out. LF
          Lostfarming in Idaho
          http://i512.photobucket.com/albums/t...etPleasure.jpg

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Yip View Post
            Yesterday was my very first solo drive w/o my trainer even being here. I had to lead Cookie & cart out of the crossties and she was fine for several steps - then she suddenly *hit the wall*, went back a few steps, up a little, then backed a few more steps. She calmed quickly so I didn't abort the drive. She was perfect the entire drive.
            I know others here will disagree with what I'm about to say but..... You should not harness and put to when the horse is in cross ties. Neither is it safe to harness up alone.

            At what stage are you unclipping her from cross ties?

            I don't know when she backed up a few steps??? Was it as you're mounting the carriage??

            Where are the reins ? At what stage do you pick them up and mount?

            When I was grooming Cookie today, I was vigorously brushing her chest, she reared up a little in alarm. I found that her chest is tender but there are no marks or rubs. Now I'm sure that's what frightened her yesterday, same exact reaction.
            You need this sorting before you proceed otherwise she will start to jib and a driving horse that jibs will quickly start seriously evading and then not wanting to be in harness at all. The consequences can be worse than a riding horse that has been extremely saddle sore and with severe back pain.

            What about the padded breastcollar would have made her chest sore?
            Several things:

            collar in the wrong position and particularly if it's on the points of her shoulder blades. A collar shouldn't interfere or be on the bones of the horse's shoulders.

            plastic/biothane (call it what you will) harness. Again I know many here will disagree with me, but it just doesn't have the give and flexibility to be as comfortable to wear. Think of the difference in wearing plastic shoes or leather shoes.

            sweaty or dirty horse. Grooming must be meticulous in areas such as where the collar fits. Salt from sweat or a little bit of dirt under the collar can rub. It's like having a grain of sand in your shoe. Feels like a boulder and rubs and hurts and blisters over time.

            To help avoid that you can use a fleece girth guard sleeve and just put it on the breast collar.

            Bad stitching on the harness. Sometimes there's stitching on the inside (horse side) of the harness and the stitching rubs.

            What needs to be adjusted to keeo it from continuing?
            Any or all of the above. Dependent on the root cause and it's the root cause you need to sort out.

            Her false martingale was loose, but I loosened it another hole today.
            Why has she got one at all??? Just take it off.

            Could it be a line of draught problem?
            I doubt that would cause the horse to be sore on it's chest. From what I remember this is a big horse and the cart is not one you can balance well anyway but a horse of that size shouldn't struggle and be sore on her chest and shoulder because of that.

            Yesterday the cart was not balanced well, so I raised the tugs after the drive . Before today's drive, we adjusted the seat and I think we remedied that. The shafts are at the top of the bc padding. I can now move the tugs down another hole to get them in line with the bc. I don't want to change a bunch of things at once.
            If you want to post a photo with her standing on flat ground side on and you sitting in the vehicle we could comment more accurately about her harnessing and carriage balance.

            Also, she is not shod now and has no boots. Our roads look like blacktop, but are actually slurry sealed, which might be pinchy. She is fine walking, but when trotting sometimes wants to get over in the grassy berm. She is never lame. How long (time or miles) till we need foot protection?
            Depends on the horse: conformation and footform. Depends on the surfaces you're driving on. Depends on the terrain. Depends how often you drive. Though personally speaking I want traction for driving horses. So mine are all shod. If she's showing signs of not wanting to work on hard surfaces then don't mess about, get her shod.

            When going uphill, how much slack should there be in the breeching? That is so difficult for me to discern when she's standing still, not pulling.
            Indeed hills..... consider getting her shod for traction.

            When the horse is in neutral position (so just standing on the flat) there should be a hands width in front and a hand behind. So when going up hill and the collar is on and the horse is in draft, then that is two hands behind the britching.

            One last thing for now. She stopped to poop in the road. No one was behind us, but should I have kept her moving forward?
            Yes.

            Umm, should I have gone back later to shovel it off the road?
            I don't but then I live in a VERY rural community. Unless it's outside someone's farm entrance, then a groom sets down and shovels it up and onto the grass verge in the hedge bottom. If it's right outside our stables or house then I do and it goes on the rose beds.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Neither is it safe to harness up alone.

              At what stage are you unclipping her from cross ties?
              Kids are on their own. Hub. travels with his job. I am alone. If I waited for someone to be here with me, I'd never ride or drive. That's just the way it is.

              I have her harnessed, put to the cart, lines in my hand - then unclip the ties and she stands till I tell her to walk on (or I mount).

              I don't know when she backed up a few steps??? Was it as you're mounting the carriage??

              Where are the reins ? At what stage do you pick them up and mount?
              I had the lines and had led her out of the crosstie area about 15' (to get over the big bumps and past the crosstie pole/tree) and we were in open lawn when she backed up. She was walking fine, it was when I asked her to halt that I think the bc engaged and hurt her sore chest, startling her. That's when she backed up. I would have mounted as soon as she stopped & I stepped to the cart if she hadn't begun backing.

              After she stopped backing (maybe 4-5 steps) she calmed quickly, so I walked to the cart, picked up my whip (already had the lines) and mounted. She has never moved a foot while I mounted or dismounted.

              You need this sorting before you proceed otherwise she will start to jib
              I will figure out the pain first if it returns. She seems totally fine now, so not sure how to proceed?

              collar in the wrong position and particularly if it's on the points of her shoulder blades. A collar shouldn't interfere or be on the bones of the horse's shoulders.
              I didn't know that. I'll check it out next time I harness.

              sweaty or dirty horse. Grooming must be meticulous in areas such as where the collar fits. Salt from sweat or a little bit of dirt under the collar can rub.
              She's always clean and well-groomed, but I will go over that area with several diffenrent brushes to be sure even the fine dust is out. I will get in the habit of cleaning the padding every drive.

              you can use a fleece girth guard sleeve and just put it on the breast collar.
              Are you saying to remove the heavy padding on the bc and use just a fleece sleeve to cover it? Or leave it as it is and cover the entire thing with the fleece?

              Bad stitching on the harness. Sometimes there's stitching on the inside (horse side) of the harness and the stitching rubs.
              I will check it over to be sure it isn't rubbing.

              Her false martingale was loose, but I loosened it another hole today.

              Why has she got one at all??? Just take it off.
              I put it on when I saw the bc was riding up and down on her chest as she strode - so she wouldn't get sore, of course! I could take it off.

              From what I remember this is a big horse and the cart is not one you can balance well anyway but a horse of that size shouldn't struggle and be sore on her chest and shoulder because of that.
              http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2547/...6e35d4e5_o.jpg

              Cookie is 14.2 hh. and very drafty at #1000+. **The cart in the pic is my brand new gig cart, NOT the training cart I'm using now.** The harness adjustments are the same now. And the overcheck is GONE. My instructor adjusted it this way.

              ***When I look at the line along the traces, they are higher at the singletree than at the bc. I bet that's why the bc was bumping up and down during that drive - and why I thought it needed the flase martingale. What should I do, if anything?***

              If you want to post a photo with her standing on flat ground side on and you sitting in the vehicle we could comment more accurately about her harnessing and carriage balance.
              I'll try to get those tomorrow while hubby is home. That's exactly the assistance I need.

              Though personally speaking I want traction for driving horses. So mine are all shod. If she's showing signs of not wanting to work on hard surfaces then don't mess about, get her shod.
              We are very hilly! So far we haven't been out on slippery, wet roads. She seems fine while walking (have ONLY walked on our solo drives) but when we were trotting with the trainer aboard, she did want to go into the grass berm. I believe she'll need shoes or boots.

              When the horse is in neutral position (so just standing on the flat) there should be a hands width in front and a hand behind. So when going up hill and the collar is on and the horse is in draft, then that is two hands behind the britching.
              OK! I didn't know that about the front! I believe I have justexactly that front and back, but will check to be sure.

              Thank you, Thomas. I love how you pick even the smallest things apart. I bet you're an engineer, or could be, by trade. No detail is too small to not be perfect.

              Yip
              Last edited by Yip; Oct. 24, 2009, 11:42 PM.
              "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Yip View Post
                Kids are on their own. Hub. travels with his job. I am alone. If I waited for someone to be here with me, I'd never ride or drive. That's just the way it is.
                You're evidentially a lot bolder than I.

                I have her harnessed, put to the cart, lines in my hand - then unclip the ties and she stands till I tell her to walk on (or I mount).

                I had the lines and had led her out of the crosstie area about 15' (to get over the big bumps and past the crosstie pole/tree) and we were in open lawn when she backed up.
                Doesn't sound like you were interfering with her reins. So let's presume it's not that for now.

                Got to say though that I am very concerned that you're leading her in walk by the reins with her carriage on the back.

                IF you must drive alone, mount as soon as you've got the carriage on.

                It's really not wise to lead a horse that is put to from the side by the reins.

                She's always clean and well-groomed, but I will go over that area with several diffenrent brushes to be sure even the fine dust is out. I will get in the habit of cleaning the padding every drive. Are you saying to remove the heavy padding on the bc and use just a fleece sleeve to cover it? Or leave it as it is and cover the entire thing with the fleece?
                I don't know what the "padding" is made of or how it's fitted??

                I use leather harness in the main or else webbing for all mine and I've a couple of ponies in that have plastic harness. What I do to save a lot of cleaning and messing about is use a synthetic fleece girth guard and put the breast collar through it.

                Can you see on this photo:



                I put it on when I saw the bc was riding up and down on her chest as she strode - so she wouldn't get sore, of course! I could take it off.
                It shouldn't be moving at all. You don't have fixed swingletrees or attachments do you??? That's just off the photo..... You need mobility particularly if a breast collar is used. As the horse walks his shoulders move alternately. Constant friction from side to side caused by a collar which might be held firmly by unyielding traces frequently results in sore shoulders. Some vehicles with a solid trace attachment are even swung to right and left in time with each stride. Ensure you've got a swingletree which is providing for that movement.
                http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2547/...6e35d4e5_o.jpg

                Cookie is 14.2 hh. and very drafty at #1000+. **The cart in the pic is my brand new gig cart, NOT the training cart I'm using now.** The harness adjustments are the same now. And the overcheck is GONE. My instructor adjusted it this way.
                Whoops! Not like me to get muddled up with a horse! I thought for some reason your's was some great clodding percheron cross!!! Is it a hafflinger?

                The line of the traces look high . Wither straps look quite far forward on the withers and there looks to be a lot of collar - too big?? Those shafts are very far forward and I wonder if they also might be interfering on the shoulder and perhaps even the collar??

                ***When I look at the line along the traces, they are higher at the singletree than at the bc. I bet that's why the bc was bumping up and down during that drive - and why I thought it needed the flase martingale. What should I do, if anything?***
                It is for sure a very high line of draft.

                We are very hilly! So far we haven't been out on slippery, wet roads. She seems fine while walking (have ONLY walked on our solo drives) but when we were trotting with the trainer aboard, she did want to go into the grass berm. I believe she'll need shoes or boots.
                Driving puts additional stresses on a horse and so if you do shoe remember that a wider set shoe with a strong toe and as much length from the heel as possible. The horse needs a good platform from which to work with plenty of support and stability. A driving horse shod with riding shoes will often not go well and even look uncomfortable. A strong clip is vital to hold the shoe in place and a slightly square toe on the hind shoe, with a toe clip aids purchase. But remember strength doesn't mean weight. Driving shoes need to be longer from toe to heel and wider around the actual hoof. This extra length and width gives the impression that the horse is standing on his shoe with the heels well supported and creates stability and confidence. I use 3/4 fullered shoes which have a groove around 3/4 of the shoe into which the nail holes are punched. Fullering keeps the shoe slightly lighter and gives grip. I also personally use road nails (tungsten) in the hinds.

                Thank you, Thomas. I love how you pick even the smallest things apart. I bet you're an engineer, or could be, by trade. No detail is too small to not be perfect.
                My degree was electronic and electrical engineering and then I did mechanical engineering. I earnt the bulk of my money with my own Agricultural Engineering business and then responsible for Engineering Services for a couple of the world's largest animal feed manufacturers and barley maltings. So well spotted!
                Last edited by Thomas_1; Oct. 25, 2009, 10:37 AM.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  There ia a lot there to digest! I'm going to print it all out so I won't have to rely on my memory.

                  We suspect Cookie is a grade haffie or a cross thereof.

                  One thing I will say now is the breastcollar is very wide and padded, both underneath and over top and bottom edges. I have noticed the way it fits her and have wondered if therre is too much padding above and below for the low set of her neck.

                  This is our harness. The black is the bio. breastcollar and the red is the fluffy top of the pad. I think the underside of the pad is smooth leather, with some padding in between those 2 layers. It does look very wide for her. I'd be happy to buy a girth cover and remove the wide pad.

                  http://www.drivingtidbits.com/Script...p?idproduct=17

                  I'll address your other points soon, and thank you very much!

                  Yip

                  PS -I KNEW you had to be an engineer! Your attention to detail is just like my dad's! I am also detail oriented and try to improve on every design, but don't have the math skills for the career.
                  "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Groucho Marx

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