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Info for beginner drivers

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Info for beginner drivers
  • Hey,
    We have a pony who is about ten hands and built fairly stocky (breed I have no idea we got her to use as a babysitter). She is four now. My dad mentioned the idea to me about teaching her how to drive. I was a little put off by the idea at first, mainly because I have no idea how to even start. Right now I mainly barrel race but have shown WP and HUS in the past.

    Anyhow I spoke with our farrier (good friend), and he has extensive driving experience. He used to travel the country and usually drove draft teams for other people. However he has dealt with other breeds ponies included. He said that he would be more than happy to help me out, and had gear for me to use until I decide whether it was something I was going to stick with. With it being so late in the season nothing will be done until next year. He also mentioned it was something I might want to try with my 9yr old app gelding who gets bored pretty easy.

    The pony has good ground manners, longes well, and ponies well. I have not done any ground driving yet with her because I wasn't planning on her needing to know how to do that. The longing and mainly ponying was done for exercise. The app is one of my barrel horses, but he gets bored extremely easily. He knows his job so he gets rodes 5-6 days a week to stay in shape, but needs more mental stimulation (if I can't get out on a trail to ride him its generally horsemanship, or trail obstacles do give him something else to think about). He longes very well, great with voice commands, ground ties, I have ground driven him before when I was first breaking him out, and when I was still showing him in HUS but its been about 5 yrs (should just need a refresher course).

    My questions are:
    What are some good trainers that have books and dvds out so I can start getting familiar with the gear, terminology, and basics? I plan on working with our farrier but since I'll have to wait unitl next spring I figured I might as well use my time wisely and start learning the basics.

    What are some good places to learn about what constitutes as "good" gear? I know what brands I like in my saddles and what to look for, but am not sure if there is something different I should be looking for in driving gear. I plan on using my farriers gear for now so this is more for future reference.

    Would driving be good exercise for my app? Are different muscles worked in driving compared to riding? Would driving build up muscles that would what be counter productive to barrel racing?

    Thanks for your time
  • I would highly recommend "The essential Guide to Carriage Driving"
    It covers how the decide which harness is right for you and a lot of other equipment and is full of diagrams and illustrations. It's really a must have for anyone starting out in driving.
    The American Driving Society will have a list of driving clubs in your region. http://www.americandrivingsociety.org/
    For your equipment, stay away from the harnesses manufactured in India (sometimes listed as 'imported'). They are sized wrong, the leather stretches and is not strong leather and the hardware is very cheap.
    What region are you in?
  • Oh I could seriously spend some money there!  Thanks Chrys...[>:]
  • Thanks for the reply. I will definately see about ordering the book.
    My farrier mentioned a club in the area.
    I live in Illinois
  • If you can find an amish community in your area, it would be a source for good economical harness and such.  You may also find someone to green break it for you (safer).
  • Hi ROD!!!!  [':D']
    I bought a cart!!!  I need a harness, too.  AND I need to go get my cart!  (Painted Lady wishes I'd go get it as well!) [&:]
  • Good news!!  What kind did you get?  Pictures
  • It's still at Brenda's house.  I have to go pick it up from her.  It's made of wood (I love it) and it's two wheels and the seat will hold 2 people.  Zag will have racing flashbacks!  I'll try to find a pic on the internet of something close. 
    OH, the wheels have a hard rubber piece that will need replacing, unless I can figure some way to repair it.
  • This isn't it but it's similar.  Mine's a beautiful light color natural wood.  I love it!  Really good price, too.  Zag's 15.2 so I'm hoping it's going to work for him.  That boy was born to drive! I can't wait!  Now I have to get a harness. 
  • Hunter, if you have a full size pickup, that cart will fit in the back just fine.  Personally, I would put the wheels to the front of the truck that way you can secure the shafts to the hitch or bumper.  When you bring it home, take along a couple shipping boots and put them around the shafts where they rest on the tailgate.
    good luck! 
  • If you have amish nearby they can fix the rubber on the wheels with no problem.  Sure is nice to have the rubber rather than steel!!
  • [quote=Double Barrel]
    When you bring it home, take along a couple shipping boots and put them around the shafts where they rest on the tailgate.

    Exactly what I was thinking!!  I just got some shipping boots off ebay for about $5.  Full set of 4, brand new!
    It's supposed to be 16' but I think that's with the wheels on.

  • I have a 10-year-old miniature horse stallion that I'm thinking about training to drive. But I have zero clue how to drive or train it to drive. I've already ordered some driving books but my main problem is getting tack for him. Most of the harnesses I've found don't come in mini size, it doesn't help that he has a pot belly and a short head. The bit is a huge problem, I haven't found a bit that is small enough for his mouth. Does any one have an idea where I can get a good fitting harness and bit?

  • My standard answer is "find an Amish community" .  Most have a harness maker and he  can make you one that fits.  Also there is probably a young amish lad around that could train it for you too.  

  • two really good books for beginners:

    Breaking And Training The Driving Horse, by Doris Ganton

    A Guide To Driving Horses, by Sallie Walrond

    Both are presented in a conversational style that is easy to read and just as easy to follow.  If you can find them (amazon is a good start) the videos from Dorris' books are excellent and quite helpful.

    Amish or no, fitting Minis is always a process of trial and replacement.  Most minis are not quite regular in thier measurements.  Some will have a small head and everything else a bit past mini.  Some will have a big head, short neck and long back.

    A good reputable harness maker can be invaluable in fitting harness to a Mini.

    Best of luck with your little fellow.