Driving: testing the water. Help please drivers!

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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Ziggy is coming back in to work this month. I took him out on the long reins today and he was an absolute saint.

My groom Carol and I can't help thinking that he was driven before he was ridden and that he was good at it. He is relaxed, well mannered and easy to long rein. Carol has long reined him around bridleways scrambling up banks and jumping gullies and he has been absolutely fine.

Could anyone suggest some simple stages to test his suitability for driving, a step at a time? I am a terrible deep end plunger and could easily go out and buy a little cart and harness, only to discover that he can't stand it. It would be good to learn the ropes a step at a time.

I was thinking that if I could get as far as him pulling something like a tyre on the long reins that would be enough for me to invest in a learn-to-drive weekend (because I have no skills) but then what if he is scared of a cart?

Suggestions for stages and order would be great! Thank you!
 

chunky monkey

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Try pulling a tyre behind. It would need two of you. One long reining and the other dragging the tyre. You would only want something light obviously. The noise of the tyre dragging on the ground would see if his ears go back or if he spooks. I would do it on the grass field first then take on a gravelly track or tarmac if you feel that he accepts the noise. If no reaction get a chain and tie to the tyre then repeat in the field and then on some gravel. If you start off behind about 10feet away and as you walk round gradually get closer with the noise. Have a few sessions doing that. I wouldn't be tempted to drag at the side or in his eye line it might spook him.

Im no expert mind. I have a harness and last year I did attempt to start breaking mine, and all was going great until he suddenly bolted whist pulling tyre and I couldn't hold him. Two weeks prior to that we actually did a 5 mile drive with cart. I haven't put the harness on him since, but he has been long reined. I'm going to start again very soon but I need to order the correct size driving bit as the one on loan is too big for him. Once I get that then im good to give it another go.
 

notpoodle

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not sure where in Surrey you are but if you're anywhere near Farnham, you could contact the Stella Hancock Driving RDA group for thoughts and info :) google them for contact details (their web site is currently down, OH is running that)

Julia
x
 

eml

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Apr 29, 2002
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Send a message to Wally, she is our resident expert in driving!!

If you have never driven and pony is novice you may need hands on help to fit harness etc. As far as I understand ( all of two driving lessons!) you need to fit the harness to start pulling tyres and a quick release mechanism is essential. I have got as far as long reining on a few occasions and then decided I didn't know enough to proceed!!
 

chunky monkey

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Don't tie to the horse. Although I did that's how I attempted it first. Using a surcingle and bale string. But it really isn't a good idea and is very dangerous for someone with no experience in driving. That's why I suggest you have two people one long reining the other tyre pulling. I never had any body to help me which made it hard. Im still without help which is why I haven't attempted since he bolted. Someone has recently offered to help me, but Im not sure how good they will be as they don't really like horses. Im waiting a few more weeks to warm up. I also need to order an appropriate driving bit to go with the bridle.

If your on your own then tie the tyre to a piece of bale string and then tie round your waist. So yes you have to drag the tyre behind you. You need to see if you get a reaction to the noise. If he doesnt like it you can at least let go of the reins and untie yourself. Far better than having a horse bolt dragging the tyre. If once you've given it a number of goes you still think he could do it. Then get yourself a second hand harness or buy new. Mine was new and cost £150.
Having had the horse bolt on me last year I realised how bad things can get. I promise you its a real eye opener. Even having a horse that I considered to be pretty bomb proof.
 

Wally

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A quick release knot with someone holding the rope to pull in an emergency. I use a lead rope with a Walsall clip and clip that to the rim of the tyre and use a swingletree , just a bit of wood as a trace spacer. run the lead rope round that and use a quick release knot to secure then you or the helper can pull in an emergency.

Make sure you are getting him to pull using a proper collar.

Personally, I wouldn;t even attempt this stage on my own, it makes or breaks them, Get it wrong at that stage and you may never have a driving horse. Don't plunge in at the deep end carriage driving, when you have an accident with a horse and cart it's scary
 

Wally

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Jane & Ziggy - me again! the Brockham Harness Club might be near you as well :)

YEs, get involved with a driving club, offer help on rally days as a groom, sometimes folk need someone to back step for them. Your learning curve will be vertical but you'll learn all the safety dos and don'ts
 

Jane&Ziggy

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Thank you all. See, I knew I was pig ignorant. From your posts I have more questions, like:

  • why do I need to use a different bit for driving when I don't for long reining?
  • Why would I need a collar when I see loads of ponies pulling carts just wearing breastbands?

Not that I mind a collar at all, I just don't know which end is up!
 

Wally

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Thank you all. See, I knew I was pig ignorant. From your posts I have more questions, like:

  • why do I need to use a different bit for driving when I don't for long reining?
  • Why would I need a collar when I see loads of ponies pulling carts just wearing breastbands?

Not that I mind a collar at all, I just don't know which end is up!


It's called a collar whether it's a full one or a breast collar. You need a full collar for heavy vehicles. If you use a breast collar your cart MUST have a swingletree on the cart to attach the traces to or you'll soon have a very sore pony that could become collar shy,

You don't need a different bit for driving, Use any you feel suits your horse. It's only tradition that dictates driving bits purely though practicalities. One set of harness had to do for lots of different hoses. Driving bits generally have a huge variety of actions depending where and how you buckle the reins to them. So you could change horses quickly without messing about changing bits.
 

Jane&Ziggy

Jane&Sid these days!
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It's called a collar whether it's a full one or a breast collar. You need a full collar for heavy vehicles. If you use a breast collar your cart MUST have a swingletree on the cart to attach the traces to or you'll soon have a very sore pony that could become collar shy,

You don't need a different bit for driving, Use any you feel suits your horse. It's only tradition that dictates driving bits purely though practicalities. One set of harness had to do for lots of different hoses. Driving bits generally have a huge variety of actions depending where and how you buckle the reins to them. So you could change horses quickly without messing about changing bits.

Oh, how wonderful it is to learn from an expert! :angel:

I am off to research driving clubs in the vicinity. I know there is one in Ewhurst, a few people on here have driven there. As long as they don't only go out on weekends I should be fine!
 

Wally

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Yes he has a thumbs up. Very good person, kind to his horses and will teach you well
 

nat17

Minnie, Sam and Dolly
May 30, 2002
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I am excited just reading this!

My Sam drives, not with me but he did for 2 years before I got him, he was good at it and I think it gave him a lovely grounding for hacking alone:happy:
 
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