Posted 02 July 2012 - 02:50 AM
Good discussion here. I'm another that says "What's the rush?" Driving a mini is not the same as driving a full-sized two year old due to the difference in the relative weights of the horse and his load and as such, what would not bother me in a full-sized horse is something I'm very much against with the little ones. Pound for pound they are incredibly tough but it's not fair to make a young, growing animal haul their own weight in my opinion. I taught my yearling the basics in-hand, introducing him to the voice commands and ground-tying and ponied him from my cart behind my older horse, and as a two-year old he learned about the harness, bitting, light lunging, and gained more knowledge of what I was asking in the in-hand work. He was still very spindly and mentally immature on some issues so I did not even consider hitching him although I'm a light person myself and he could probably have done it without strain. His three year old year we resumed training but some family issues caused a delay in his progress so he was not actually hitched until August and was in a pair shortly thereafter with my experienced horse to gain miles. We pushed hard for a competition in September, did well, and the pair went on winter vacation immediately to let him process everything he'd learned so quickly. This spring as a four year old he's starting his first serious driving work where we focus on the driving itself and not the how-to-pull-a-cart part. He's grown up and ready for it now but I'm still taking things at his pace and being happy with small steps as I reinforce what he's learned and introduce him to new things. He's mentally ready but physically tires easily and needs a lot of Long, Slow Distance work to build basic fitness. At five years old I expect he'll finally be ready to really start driving like an adult with no holds barred, and it will be funner and safer because of all the prep time we've put in. I can't wait!
Horses, like people, are never "finished." The work of self-improvement is never done.
Proud partner of Arrowstar's Dakota, Evergreen Miniature Horse Club's 2008 Preliminary Combined Driving and Western Country Pleasure Under Champion
RIP Oak Bay Turbocharged Edition, April 15, 2008 - March 17, 2013
Beloved Partner of Leia and Kody
Taken Too Soon
RIP Spyderman, January 12, 1977 - May 27, 2010
You are (still) missed