Driving pony bad behavior

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doug

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My 18 year old daughter has always wanted a driving pony. This past fall she found one she liked and could afford. The seller said the pony is 8 years old and well broke for driving. We were sent video of her being driven. When we went to look at her the seller said she couldn't harness her for us because she had already sold the harness and cart. (I know now this should have been a red flag) the pony was calm and very friendly so my daughter bought her. She saved her money and got a harness and cart. When we harnessed her we found we couldn't line drive her. All she wanted to do was keep twisting around to see what was behind her. When hooked to the cart she doesn't want to start. If you try to make her go she rares up and trys to twist around. The only way we can make her go is for one person to take the bridle and start her off. Once she gets going she will trot right along but she doesn't like to walk. If you stop she fidgets and won't start again. We are very discouraged. Is there any hope she can be made better if so where do we start and how. Thanks in advance for any advice. Doug
 

MaryFlora

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Welcome from Minnesota!

It sounds like your mare is being asked to do something she doesn’t understand, much like someone telling me in German how to bake a cake, and doing that over and over, still in German. We would both be terribly frustrated.

She sounds like a good tempered mare but overwhelmed. There are many very experienced owners and trainers on this forum that will be able to point you in the right direction. Absolutely doable and fun!

It is totally understandable that you all are discouraged, including your little mare, but you are in the right place to get good solid feedback. While you read and gather information, perhaps go back to basics, go for walks on the leadline, practice stopping, making circles, backing up, standing quietly, just building a happy confident partnership.

Again welcome!
 

Dragon Hill

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I would treat her as if she had no training and start with the basics. If she is already well mannered as far as handling, leading, and standing tied, I would line drive her until she consistently walked forward, stopped, turned when asked. To help with her wanting to turn around, you can run the lines through the shaft loops instead of the rein terrets. Once she has those basics down, it's time to ask for standing still quietly, and backing. Patience and lots of practice is all it takes. Master the very basics before asking for more.
It sounds to me that she is so good natured that the previous owners rushed through her "training" and skipped steps. Her wanting to trot and not walk makes me think she is very nervous about driving, because she doesn't understand.
Oh, and welcome!
 

Marsha Cassada

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What a great insight: that she doesn't understand what you want. You must have had her a while for your daughter to save up to buy the cart. Horses can teach us such valuable lessons! I wish I had had my horses when I was young; it would have made me a better parent.

Another issue could be the incorrect bit. Some bits that come with headstalls are a broken snaffle. These are pretty painful on the horse if used incorrectly. The harder you pull on the reins, the more painful the bit is. You might try a french link or a butterfly arch. Understanding how bits work is pretty important. Maybe you are using a bit that is different than what she was used to.

I agree about people selling a horse "broke to drive" and then not being able to prove it. I sold a driving horse several years ago and the people who came to look at him marveled that they would actually see him driving, and even able to take the reins themselves. That was not the case of the other "driving" horses they looked at.
 

Cayuse

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Is there a trainer in your area who could come evaluated her so you know exactly what your dealing with? It could be something as simple as an issue with the bit bothering her or the harness needing to be tweaked or maybe "wires getting crossed" in the aids given. She may be used to being asked a certain way and you are asking something of her in a different way (not saying that's bad, just that there are different ways do do stuff) and she's baffled. Then again, she may be completely untrained. I think a pro trainer could help you sort through this puzzle in short order.
 

LostandFound

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Sounds like minor issues that are probably a combination of the pony just needing a little refresher and a driver that is inexperienced. Although it could be any of the other issues people have mentioned. My suggestion would be to find a driving trainer and spend the money on a month of training for the pony as well as the driver.
 

Abby P

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You've gotten a lot of great advice but I just wanted to add that my pony, who came from the Amish, was indeed very well trained to drive. However, when I first tried ground-driving him he had obviously never been asked for this and was constantly turning around until he figured out what the heck I was trying to do.

I also did find, as someone else mentioned, that if he was unsure what I wanted or the cart wasn't balanced or something else was "off", he also would refuse to go forward and if I insisted, he would go but he would buck and occasionally also jet forward very fast. It was obviously a communication breakdown and he was anxious because he didn't understand or was having a hard time, and so I went back to basics - ground driving, basic groundwork - until we got onto the same page.

I definitely second the idea of a trainer since you have no idea whether your mare is actually trained or not. I had proof my guy was so I knew the issue was with me and the equipment! But just because they don't ground drive doesn't necessarily mean they were never trained - not everyone, apparently, starts their horses this way.
 

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