Buying a harness?

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LostandFound

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I don't drive, but the new mini does. Well, supposedly he does. If I wanted to ground drive him, I would need a bridle, reins, and some sort of surcingle anyway, so would I be able to buy a harness and just use what I needed? And if I was going to buy a harness, the 2 cheap ones I see are tough one and ozark. Is one better than the other? He is either a big A size or a small B size if that makes any difference.
 

Abby P

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You can use what you need off a driving harness, but unless you plan to ultimately drive him in a cart, it's probably not worth getting a full driving harness if all you need is a surcingle and a bridle. The driving harness has a lot of extra stuff on it that you won't need for ground driving. So I think it's more a matter of your end goals. I have both and unless the pony needs to pull something, I use the surcingle because it's just one thing to do up! Also if you'll be doing both, it's a pain switching back and forth with the same harness, because each time you'll have to re-attach the whole "butt" assembly on your harness to drive, and take it off again to ground drive. But I am exceptionally lazy when it comes to anything requiring buckles (especially Conway buckles, arrrgghhhh!), so YMMV. :)
 

LostandFound

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Well, I probably could use a halter and 2 ropes but he is a stallion, my driving area is all grass, and my driving skill mostly involves hoping I don't get tangled in the reins. Your driving skill is very impressive, Kelly. I hate to have to take a bunch of stuff on and off. I didn't think of that. But I would think I would take off whatever I didn't need then if I ever got a cart I could put it back on. I don't really want to drive but I wouldn't mind getting a little cart that he could pull around and work for his keep a little if I need things moved around.
 

Abby P

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Right, it would only be a big deal if you're going back and forth constantly!

You can certainly ground drive in a halter, I often go on the trails in just a rope halter and a single line, but if I want to ask him for anything more difficult (which some days, could just be "please behave yourself", other days, the beginnings of basic dressage) then the bridle really helps a lot.
 
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When I first started, I just bought an inexpensive surcingle and long lines, then just used the halter. The first step is just getting the horse used to being IN FRONT of you and following your signals. You can find mini-sized surcingles online from minitack.com, tough-1, and others.

If you want higher quality, you can also order just the driving saddle by itself without the rest of the harness!
I can't endorse Chimacum Tack: Harness and Equipment from Mini-Draft high enough. Mindy and team are beyond awesome and will help you 1:1 with a driving saddle if you need.

Now, both my boys drive carts and we have full harnesses and nice equipment...But you can start simple and build up as you go :)

My next goal (as soon as I can find an affordable tandem pull cart) is to hook them together and work on pair/tandem driving :)
 
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Following this with interest! Mostly the ground driving part, never having done it. As far as I know, my littles don't have any experience in this either. Stupid question, but how do you start them off in driving 101? If they walk beside you normally, how do you get them to move on from way behind? Thanks for the video Kelly! Now I'm excited and it's winter...ugh!
 

Cayuse

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What I did was buy an inexpensive harness to ground drive with. I like to ground drive in a bridle and I like my lines to run through the turrets to keep them steady. And I find using a crupper keeps everything from shifting. I just fit the harness as if I was going to drive and then run the hold back straps through the buckled shaft wraps and buckled them back onto themselves. This snugged things up. And if I decided to hitch after ground driving, I was good to go. Chicks horse supply has a bunch of inexpensive harnesses. I tried a Tough1 and sent it back, the quality was really bad.
 

Willow Flats

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What I did was buy an inexpensive harness to ground drive with. I like to ground drive in a bridle and I like my lines to run through the turrets to keep them steady. And I find using a crupper keeps everything from shifting. I just fit the harness as if I was going to drive and then run the hold back straps through the buckled shaft wraps and buckled them back onto themselves. This snugged things up. And if I decided to hitch after ground driving, I was good to go. Chicks horse supply has a bunch of inexpensive harnesses. I tried a Tough1 and sent it back, the quality was really bad.
Everything Cayuse said is the way I prefer to do it. This is because I found my sursingle would slip around and I'd have to adjust it. Just wanted to add one thing here. Sometimes a new to ground driving horse will spin around and try to face you so for those like this I run the reins through the tugs on the side of the harness saddle to make it easier to control their hind end so they can't do it. When they get the idea I just move the reins back up to the turrets on the saddle. With the sursingle you have the option of running the reins through the lower rings if you encounter this issue as you teach them not to turn and face you.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I think it would be a mistake to start with an ill fitting bridle and bit. A simple headstall would be better than a cheap driving bridle. Don't spend your money on a poor bridle. If you can, find out what kind of bit he drove with in the past. If he has been driven in the past you will know right away.
 

Dragon Hill

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One other thing, when you buy a one size fits all harness, you will find they don't fit. One part will be too big, another will be too small. But I started out with a nylon Tough 1 and it got me by until I could afford a nice custom harness.
 

MindySchroder

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I wouldn't waste your money on either of those harnesses to be honest. If you don't ever plan on hitching him to anything and are not planning on doing in hand dressage work a simple halter and two long lines will take you both very far. I use a little rope that has a loop on each end. This rope lays across my pony's back and my lines thread through the loops to keep things tidy, when I need that. Mostly I don't use anything but the long lines!

I have tons of information on my blog about training ponies to drive as well as walking, hiking and ground driving ponies. You can find that here: www.idriveponies.com
 

LostandFound

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Well I can't swear that I won't try to hitch him to anything. But I'm definitely not trying to do this with a halter. I think that is just setting us up to fail. Though I guess I could deal with a regular bridle, 2 lead ropes and a surcingle. I figured it wouldn't cost much with the cheap harness but I don't want to spend a fortune on a good one and find out I can't handle him.
 

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