A statement in Driving Mini Horses posted by Target’s Mom on 14 December 2011 –
“It seems that a lot of people are “lurking” here so I thought it might be helpful to post some driving photos with a bit of an explanation. For example, age/training of mini, activity represented, type of cart, anything else you can think of.”
To which I posted:
This has turned into a really long post w/ lots of pictures – kind of demo-ing our training of two ponies single before we got into going as a pair (which I will do next). To see lots more pics of these two – go here – BELL or BIT or Driving Moss Foundation
The above photos are of Bell. 1st one she is pulling a pvc pipe attached to the single tree. The 2nd one, taken the same day, was pulling a tire with Vicki (my pony driving friend). The 3rd was with her during her first hitch with our 18 yr old daughter, Madira, getting to drive her… She’s hooked into an OLD sulky style cart w/ no identification. Though sized for larger ponies – the wooden pieces aren’t nearly as large as a Houghton or Jerald… (?) The single tree parts and the orange training harness are all “custom made” from braided haystring.
Here are two of her driving as well. The first one she is pulling the old sulky with the “training harness” on PLUS her suckling daughter is exactly 2 months old. GG went to all of our lessons 1x weekly from June 29 thru beginning of November when it was determined that Rex couldn’t teach us anymore and my mares and I just needed driving time. Sometimes, she was attached to her dam (both as a single hook up with & w/o the cart and as a pair with and without a drag. She was weaned before the pair was worked hooked to the wagon and I haven’t hooked her with them, yet.
The last pic is of Bell after a 2 hour drive at the Moss Foundation in Southern Pines. We now have a single leather harness and this is a borrowed sulky cart with a basket. Her daughter is locked in a safe stall at the barn of a friend’s who we drove with – she didn’t go out with us. The sulky is too large – the shafts are too wide for this mare, they are much thicker in wood then what mine is and it is much heavier. Also, there are no footman’s loops for the holdback straps so we found out they just weren’t that effective. And the larger diameter shafts meant my wrap straps didn’t wrap as many times around so there was quite a bit of forward and backward movement w/ the cart (Bell got a serious workout!!). I was really glad that we didn’t encounter any serious hills or long grades on this particular drive! We did on a later one (no pics) but had different harness and carts…
The pics above are of Bit. The 1st one is after our “tire incident” (her galloping about bounced the tire up onto our barn roof when haystring single tie finally broke). The 2nd and 3rd are during our lessons at Rex’s – while still ground driving single. The 2nd pic – he’s asked her to step up onto a “ramp” (a draft horse drag that is out of commission at the moment) and in the 3rd he’s gone thru the basics and gotten her to enter and stand in the bathtub. It would be a long time before I accomplished the same thing – trust and relaxation. Once I got both – she and I progressed tremendously!! Yes, we are using my “custom made” haystring braided harness and open bridle. I don’t remember at this point when our first actual hook to a cart was… I didn’t always get pictures and I’m currently going thru other blog entries trying to see if I let people know when I did her first cart hitching. We did find that she did NOT like a metal ez entry cart – lost all composure and forgot training… Hooking to the lighter, wooden, sulky jog cart went much better. She still doesn’t do well in front of the metal ez entry cart. “LOVEs” her sulky and works fine single in it… Walk, trot, canter & GALLOP – slinging us around like real yahoos now – what a blast! Took well over a year to get to that point and part of that journey is detailed below.
Hauled 6 or 7 ponies to a friends’ barn to drive ponies. Great chance to work out as having issues with having other ponies move around her while driving AND with having ponies in front of her or “leave her behind”. Lots of practice and I was thrilled with the pic above of me getting an awesome trot (for her)!! Both of my younger daughters also drove her that day. She did do some “airs above the ground” a couple of times when asked to stand or “wait”. But she got to quit working when she finally quit doing all the “silliness”.
At Rex’s, “in the bush”, 3 ponies and carts out and about – Bit and I did most of the leading but did lots of “Indian Drills” (person in the rear passing the ones in front to take the lead), too. She did stand when had to make adjustments to another pony and cart – I was out of our cart & really glad that I had the 30′ driving lines on her as she stood w/ lines in my hand while I moved around the other pony to help. Still in open bridle and training harness. I do have a leather harness with a blind bridle that fits now – but it’s being used on Bell – Bit’s sister today.
Right before this, we’d gone on another drive with a LARGE group of draft horses and riders as well. Bit had displayed and demo’d all the wrong actions – dancing, prancing, “screaming”, pawing, leaping on her hind legs only while going down hill (I was holding her back, she was listening enough not to run after the ponies ahead of us or run away but this was her response to being held back. She did the hopping “levades” down a fairly long and steep hill. I lost count after 10 leaping hops – and later she was one TIRED pony. I had the riders behind our group joking -real yahoos- about the fact they’d just take her off the trail shoot her and leave her for the buzzards.).. I didn’t give up on her & my “squeaky wheel” of a pony gets lots more drive time and attention.
During this photo, w/ 6 other ponies and carts, she did awesome until she got tired of the stallion acting like a stallion. Then she started getting really irritated – pinning her ears, gnashing her teeth & switching her tail a lot. Then while the stallion at the head of our group and us almost at the end we hit a section of trail where we could all canter our ponies and did. When stud boy pulled up ahead of us he went into “talking mode” and Bit had a complete meltdown (from 3 carts back) – ears flat back, head snapped up, squealing and then she kicked/bucked. Cart didn’t get airtime – but the third whatever it was she was doing she connected to and broke the circle bar on my cart… That stopped her reaction as she must have got it w/ the rear of her cannon not her hoof – she was limping… I laughed and said …”well, got what you deserved goofy, we are long ways from trailers now…” A short rest and couple of checks – while sore, she wasn’t broken but was much quieter, mannerly when we finished up our drive. Silly girl, you have lots to think about. After this, I go to predominantly driving her as a pair with her full sister. Not many pics of her single now…
Because of our “issues” and my cart being broken, we are at Rex’s getting work in a full size sulky w/ her way out in front, LOL. In this shot, she kept trying to charge ahead and chase/catch up to her buddies or back to the trailer – so he’d grabbed a pick and was walking at her head (but still driving/directing her with voice and lines – it was impressive and I had a VERY hard time trying to do the same). Not sure how or if other trainers do this – but it WORKED. She ran into the pick only a couple of times before she realized she couldn’t get away or around and maybe she should just start to relax and “work” properly. We actually spent many hours with working her on ground driving w/ us almost leading her, switching to ground driving more towards the rear & from directly behind – by herself, with a drag and with either my or Rex’s sulky cart – from both sides. Did LOTs of whoa – where we would then move up to her head or body and rub or touch her, then away – always expecting her to stand still… Again – all of it paid off (there were several times we were at Rex’s for more than 4 hours, UUUFFFF). She also finally calmed down every time her haunches or hind legs brushed, rubbed or stayed in contact with the shafts.
Awww. This one she’s working – by herself. But her sister is also working – vicki is driving Bell. We are hauling “lumber” that had been down in the back since February! Have lots more to do – that is something we plan onb working on this winter while there’s fewer thorns/weeds… She’s wearing proper harness for working! Blind bridle, collar and hames, biothane 3 strap w/ farm spots… There is extra lines – I didn’t have single bio lines yet – so the pair set is used on her w/ the stub lines snapped to the rings on the collar and left hanging.
And here we are – driving single, down the road, leather harness but blind bridle has been “injured” by rubbing (need to take it in to have it stitched) so in open bridle again. We are behind the wagon where her sister and another green/beanie are driving and Vicki has turned around and snapped this shot while driving!!