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Hi, if you are going to train to drive, my suggestion would be to go to the beginning and teach whoa and stand. Make the stand so that the horse relaxes totally and literally doesn't move a foot. Then I would start long lining and ground driving in an open bridle. When you advance to harnessing and hitching stay in an open bridle and make sure the horse understands each step. After the long lining and ground driving out around the neighborhood start with light poles put to the tugs with instant release ties and work the horse that way out and about. Then make a travois of heavier poles held together over the neck. When the horse goes quietly and relaxed in your neighborhood hen lay the shafts in the tugs. Always lift the cart over his back and bring the shafts down to the tugs. If you have a friend who will walk with you and hold the shafts from falling out of the tugs do many circles so the horse gets touched from both sides by the shafts. Then harness properly and have a ball. Be safe and remember you are 11 to 12 ft away from the horse and you are at his mercy but if you do not skip any steps you will have a safe horse. You can always use blinders after the training if you want but I have seen more accidents because the horse did not know what the cart was (a noisy monster that followed him everywhere and they could not get away from it). I have 7 trained driving horses and ponies and all of them can be driven by amateurs. Now my newest (a 2 yr. old Friesian filly is at the trainers and is starting her neighborhood work) I can't walk behind them any more. As with all things the more time you spend before going to wheels the safer you will be. Once you are attached to the horse shying, two tracking, bolting, jumping up on a curb, etc are not possible without the cart overturning. There is a good book be Doris Ganton on starting the driving horse.

One comment to keep in mind when teaching your youngster to ground drive....they don't like not being able to see you if you stand directly behind them. They'll turn this way and that, get all tangled up, and try and whirl around every chance they get! You can see from the photos I keep my reins just long enough to pass from one side of her hip to the other. I've been studying a book on the art of long reining and am ready to do some more advanced exercises.

I really learned the power of targeting the other day. Cita encountered a pair of fire breathing, horse flesh eating, saber toothed llamas for the first time. THere's a pair in the neighborhood that love to run up to the fence and sniff noses with anyone who comes by. She was so tense, she was humming. If she had chosen to flee, don't know if I'da stuck with her. I said the words "touch it" and got a barely imperceptible flick of the ear in my direction. She was still with me, and she did tip toe up to them. C/T!!!!!!! THey sniffed noses and I felt her whole body relax and everyhing was hunky dory.

Sandy driving Cita:

Driving Cita

Driving Cita

Driving Cita

Driving Cita

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