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For those who start horses for driving . . .

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  • For those who start horses for driving . . .

    Silly question, maybe. I'm in the middle of a discussion and would love to hear from those experienced starting horses to drive.

    On the one hand, my husband [who has started horses under saddle for almost half a century and who works with "riding horses with people-problems," shows youngsters in hand, etc.], says a horse with the right temperament is rarely too old to train for a job [although he draws the line at some over-15 horses because it feels unfair].

    On the other hand, a friend who wants to help me learn to drive & who has offered to train a horse I acquire to drive, says after they are 5, they aren't as "safe" to train & she has seen people get hurt trying to get an older horse to drive. I appreciate her concern for my health, but I'm not sure she is going to be my ultimate driving role model. And I don't know how much experience she has.

    I my own mind, I'm thinking it depends on temperament & on how they are approached. But what do I know?

    The discussion arose because there is a small local auction where there will likely be minis, ponies & horses trained to drive by the local Amish population. My driving friend will be attending & firmly believes in "Amish-trained" horses. I understand the pros & cons of "Amish trained" so that isn't really the question, either.

    I was planning to go to the auction, too. But my husband and I have talked about starting one of our current horses [6 years old this year, so if we wait for spring, we probably wouldn't start her driving until she is 7]. We do have specific reasons - conformation, temperament, etc., for looking at this particular horse. Except if that "over 5 - look out" warning is accurate, she is not to be considered . . .

    I'm the newbie with driving. What do you all think?

    I truly could go either way. And can find someone else to help me learn to drive, if necessary.

    Thanks
    Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

  • #2
    I only train my own horses to drive, but of them, only one has been 5 years old. My mini was started at 11, I started my Arab cross when he was 10ish, my Morgan at 5, my pony at 20 some, and a friend's QH at 25. I think it just goes to temperament mostly. And if they're under saddle and exposed to a ton of stuff, driving is just one more crazy thing people ask of them.

    Of course, some handle being asked far better than others.

    Comment


    • #3
      The OTTB I'm starting is 10 this year and coming along nicely. My last TB I drove was started at 9 and took right to it. My pony was started at 5 (she's 25 this year), but older isn't a big deal if they are used to working and have the right temperament.

      I would be very careful about taking an unhandled older horse and expecting them to drive, but a been there, done that horse that takes things in stride should be fine at almost any age.

      Comment


      • #4
        I see no problem with teaching an "older" horse to drive.

        I started my now 8 year old to drive when he was 6. Now I did a lot of in hand shows with him as a youngerster and started him under saddle as a 3 year old, so he had a lot of "real" world experience, but he was not mentally ready to drive (at least I felt) until he was 6 (we did send him to a trainer for one month to get him hooked. I did all of the groundwork and tire pulling before he was sent away though. He gave the trainer no issues and was driving within a week).

        He was still a bit gawky at things and not as brave as I would have liked. So I worked at it under saddle and waited a bit. It really paid off for me as he's a great driving pony!

        I don't think you will have any issues started an older animal, just take your time and do all of your groundwork and enjoy!

        Comment


        • #5
          "Amish" trained I take with a grain of salt. Some take REALLY good care of their horses and train them well and others ... do not (ill-fitting tack, intimidation and fear used to train, etc.). Just like any style or discipline there are good eggs and bad and it isn't fair on either end to lump them all together.

          That said I don't think there is any magic age in which a horse becomes untrainable. I am personally of the opinion that driving is more mentally taxing on a horse whereas riding is more physically taxing (not that driving isn't physical or riding isn't thinky, but the demands are different).

          I think if you cover all your bases and train correctly there's no reason an "older" horse can't be trained to drive.

          As others noted, temperament is really the most important thing in a driving horse. Most people run into trouble because they go way too fast and assume if the horse doesn't freak out it must therefore understand what you asked it to do and you can move on to the next "step"... not always!

          Comment


          • #6
            As I've been chronicling on the eventing forum, I switched my 12 YO homebred eventing horse to combined driving earlier this year and it's going really, really well. My mare had no previous driving experience at all, not sure if she'd ever seen a horse and carriage.

            This is a video of her at Katydid CDE last weekend.

            She competes as a 'pony' now because she's 14.2hh and has been USEF-measured. Her size, or lack of it, was why I didn't want to keep going in eventing with her, even though she's a great jumper and was very successfull.

            Good, slow training is probably an important element but if the horse has the right mindset, is sound and likes to understand/learn new things, I don't think there's any such thing as too old.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks, all. You just verified what I was thinking. Plus, I'm not in a hurry for anything, any more - I enjoy the process . . .
              Hidden Echo Farm, Carlisle, PA -- home of JC palomino sire Canadian Kid (1990 - 2013) & AQHA sire Lark's Favorite, son of Rugged Lark.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CERT View Post
                "Amish" trained I take with a grain of salt. Some take REALLY good care of their horses and train them well and others ... do not (ill-fitting tack, intimidation and fear used to train, etc.). Just like any style or discipline there are good eggs and bad and it isn't fair on either end to lump them all together.
                ^
                AMEN!


                & to everything else CERT says! The young (30-something) Amishman who trained my mini did an awesome job.
                And while I also think mini's temperament helped - he's a pretty unflappable baby - he sure got started in harness well.

                I have started telling people who Play the Amish Card re: supposed poor or harsh training that it's like saying they sent their horse to a <insert religion of choice> Trainer.
                Religious lifestyle does not automatically include poor horsemanship.

                JER So COOL to see your ZiZi's progress!

                I'm gonna make my mini watch that vid
                *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JER View Post
                  As I've been chronicling on the eventing forum, I switched my 12 YO homebred eventing horse to combined driving earlier this year and it's going really, really well. My mare had no previous driving experience at all, not sure if she'd ever seen a horse and carriage.

                  This is a video of her at Katydid CDE last weekend.

                  She competes as a 'pony' now because she's 14.2hh and has been USEF-measured. Her size, or lack of it, was why I didn't want to keep going in eventing with her, even though she's a great jumper and was very successfull.

                  Good, slow training is probably an important element but if the horse has the right mindset, is sound and likes to understand/learn new things, I don't think there's any such thing as too old.
                  Congrats on this impressive change of career! She looks terrific!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not about age. Temperament & approach taken. Something known to be spooky to thing behind not a great start. Taking time & going thoroughly through each stage of training is best. Just because OK on day 1 doesn't mean ready for next step. allow time for things to show up & work through them & you will have a well trained animal. My Amish trained knew trot fast & little else. Many years latter a really nice guy to drive but took a lot of retrofitting commands & expectations. Time is the biggest trainer.

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