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twoblackminis

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Background on the troublemaker; 6-year-old green Miniature gelding. Very playful (loves to 'baby play' with the 3-year-old Standarbred colt!!) and very saucy. He's 36" tall, so pretty big for a Mini, but ittybitty compared to our foundationbred Quarterhorse and 16hh dressage horse ;) LOL

Our farrier has been helping us train the Miniatures, since he has YEARS of experience driving and breaking draft teams, saddlebred-crosses, arabs, NSH's, STBs ... anything that can go behind a cart, he's driven ;) It's a running joke, because we have our two black minis who will eventually be a team and the farrier has his huge black percheron team ... they look so cute when their all together!!


But back to the point of the thread!! We have been ground driving the Mini on and off for the past three years. Last year, I started backing him into the shafts to get him used to them touching him. He's always taken this all SO well!!

But this year it seems, he's determined to be a turd. I've only had time to lunge the mini a few times a week this spring, so the farrier decided to take a hand at ground driving him. Mini was great fo 10 to 15mins, then BLEW UP! Spooked, jumped around, spin in the lines ... we checked all the harness, bit, his hooves .. he was fine!! So pushed him forward and tried again ... was great for 10 to 20 minutes then BLEW UP again!!! It was the same story the entire time. At one point, the Mini flipped himself in the lines and fell!!
Totally scary. Mini was shocked and a bit upset, but got himself up and kept on truckin' (we stopped and checked him for injury, but he was fine!!)

We kept ground driving him since we didn't want him to feel that he'd 'won,' he was being really, really, really good so we backed him into the shafts and hooked him up. Lead him around with the cart on and he was SO SO SO good!! Gently ground drove him (with the cart now attached) and he was awesome! And then ... he BLEW UP ... AGAIN!! Ack. You'd think we would have learned, right?!

Long story short ... he flipped in the harness (and cart!!) twice! Mini sustained no injuries and the (metal!!) cart needed a slight chiropractic adjustment ... We gently ground drove him after the last freak out and than stopped ... again, to make sure he didn't 'win.'

what?! I gave the mini a day off to "recover," and have been lunging him walk/trot to keep him obedient. I am apprehensive to ground drive him myself, since he can TOTALLY take advantage of me. Our farrier is coming back out in a few days to ground drive him again, but ...

Any suggestions for us?! ?!
 

JMS Miniatures

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Does he work ok when your just working him in a halter like lunging?

I'm wondering if his teeth need to be checked.
 

kaykay

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I know people hate it when I say this but not every horse is meant to be a driving horse. (Just like every horse is not meant to be a jumper etc) He may just not have the right disposition for it.
 

twoblackminis

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I only lunge him with a halter, since he's very responsive on the lunge. I'll try lunging him with the bit for a few weeks, to see whether his mouth is bothering him.

His teeth have been done by a DVM who specializes in dentistry for the past two years. I'm wondering whether his wolf teeth are finally popping up?? Dentist said they were starting to come in last year, but didn't take them out since they weren't bothering him. Dentist is scheduled to come out next month, so we'll see then.

Thanks!
 

shelia

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Is there something out there that may be scaring him? Does he see a dog or anything? What about flies or bees? Is there something on the harness that may be getting fur caught in it and pinching?
 

Magic

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His teeth have been done by a DVM who specializes in dentistry for the past two years. I'm wondering whether his wolf teeth are finally popping up?? Dentist said they were starting to come in last year, but didn't take them out since they weren't bothering him. Dentist is scheduled to come out next month, so we'll see then.

Thanks!
Wolf teeth could definitely do it!!
I had a mare with a trainer a few years ago, and I asked that she be seen by a dentist and I paid for it, but apparently nothing was done and she had wolf teeth that really interfered with her driving. Luckily Carl Mitz was at nationals and looked at her for me and took care of her mouth, then she was just fine, poor thing. Our whole show year was pretty much a bust up til then because of teeth that weren't done when they were supposed to be, sigh....
 

Jetiki

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After his wolf teeth have been removed, I would go back a couple of steps in his training, get him absolutely solid while being ground driven, once he's completely fine ground driving then re-introduce the cart, at this point if he misbehaves then take him back to where he is comfortable and go again, he may not want to be a cart horse but you can give him the chance, it could be his teeth, it could be so many other things, but me personally I won't put a horse to the cart until he's solid in his ground driving.

Karen
 

twoblackminis

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Thanks everyone!

shelia, that was the strange thing ... he freaked out at completely different spots each time! He's been at the farm for two years now and has seen the chickens before, heard the dog barking from the house, seen the 'scary' trailer in the grass ... this is NOT a spooky mini! (Edited to add: I lead him around the area that we were working him in before and after the ground driving/cart incident and he was totally fine!! Walked around quietly with his head down, just truckin' along ... not a care in the world!!) We lead him in parades and let kids maul him with love and attention. He is SO trustworthy and quiet and solid ... it's just not his normal thing to run when he's upset!!

Each time he blew up, we checked his entire harness, checked the bit/mouth, checked every strap that was touching him ... !!!

I may also try lunging him with his pony saddle on. Just get him used to walking/trotting with "things" touching his back. Could also modify the harness to lunge him in it ... again, get used to the straps touching him.

Teeth are being bumped up on the list. May see if our regular DVM will do them sooner (DVM dental specialist comes in from a different province, so he can't be called in any sooner.)

So here comes a bunch of trial and error ... check and see what he's cool with, and see what he's upset about
And probably back to square one, just to make sure everything is solid in his basic training.

You guys are awesome!
 
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MiLo Minis

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Do NOT put a bit in his mouth again until you have had him checked out, the wolf teeth removed and time for his gums to heal. They very likely are the cause of his trouble. There is a possibility that he is just acting like a spoiled brat who goes along with it and then suddenly decides he doesn't want to cooperate in which case he will need to be driven through it BUT I would not assume that until you have had the teeth looked after - they are the cause of 90 percent of the problems you run into with a driving horse. There is a possibility that he will continue to act badly for a short time afterwards as he will be expecting pain at any moment. Don't hitch him again until he is going well grounddriving. As Kaykay said, there is the odd horse that is just not a driving horse but I would leave that decision until after the visit from the dentist.
 

Keri

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I would for sure check his teeth before you do anything drastic again.

Also, has he been trained before for cart? Wasn't sure if you were the one who did everything or if he was bought trained. I worked with a mini who was trained wrong. No matter what, he would resort back to his old ways in order to try and get out of driving properly. I agree, some horses are just not meant to drive.
 

mondak

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I am with Kaykay on this one. This situation sounds eriely familar to my gelding that I tried to drive. He ended up with a scar the length of his cannon after a bad accident in cart...please don't get hurt.
 

twoblackminis

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Thanks everyone for your concern and help.

I am going to talk to our DVM dentist and see whether he can make a quick stop in sooner than next month, I would really rather HE did the Minis teeth since he's super experienced.

The Mini has never been trained to cart. We bought him as a 4-year-old; the owner had started him ground driving and was at the point of putting him in cart when she broke her wrist in an unrelated incident. She then sold him to us and he had a good 6 months to be a pasture puff while we got the farm up and running smoothly. Last summer I had time to do a bunch of lunging and ground driving with the mini and he was really good; patient and quiet and responsive -- hence why I am so confused with this whole attitude spree!!

We gave him the winter off mostly; although continued basic groundwork, manners and lead him down the road, across the bridge, the railway tracks ... etc etc. Really quiet and wellbehaved again!!

Anyways ... basically he's NOT broke to cart, but has been extensively ground driven and lunged plenty (although not enough to hurt his joints!!) We work on only lunging walk, slow trot and fast trot ... no canter since I don't want him to canter in harness.

I will continue to lunge him in halter (it's good excercise for him and he enjoys the attention!!) though, but no bit till the dentist comes!!

Just pondering here ... maybe I could ground drive him in his fitted halter and use it sort of like a side-pull. No bit to hurt the mouth, but can still work on the basic ground work??? Hmmm ...
 

HGFarm

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I agree with kaykay also- this is not to be taken lightly- especially if everything else checks out. Some just can't take it, just like some full sized horses are not going to be suitable for particular jobs either.
 

hobbyhorse23

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First of all I really want to compliment you on your horsemanship. Everything I read and everything I "picked up" from your post tells me you're someone I'd like and would get along with very well as we are of one mind when it comes to how to approach training a horse. You are looking first for legitimate reasons for his behavior, you're pushing through but not excessively, and now you're backing off until you figure out what's going on. Good for you!
Horses NEVER do things like this without a reason and 99 times out of 100 it is pain of some kind, either from their mouths, their equipment, or their bodies. The other 1/100th of the time it's a mental thing and the horse either doesn't understand something, is pitching a fit because he doesn't like it or doesn't understand it, or is having a true psychotic break and isn't safe to drive again. I've had all three at one time or another and with the help of a lot of intuition and listening to the horse have gotten through most of it. The one horse (my Arab, ruined for driving before I got him unbeknownst to me) was just too traumatized to ever drive again but is now comfortable surrounded by a herd of minis in easy entry carts. The mini worked through the traumatizing flashbacks he was having, released them, and is now 100% driveable and trustworthy. You have to be willing to credit them with higher thoughts and feelings than many people do, be willing to see things from their side, and think about what would make something you maybe don't like worth it to you if you were in their place. That's called being a good teacher!

I strongly feel in your guy's case it is pain of some kind, maybe something pinching that you weren't able to feel? If he's that calm the rest of the time a strong reaction like that with no warning and then a bewildered look afterwards is probably his response to sudden pain that he KNOWS he hasn't earned and is confused and hurt by. It could also be something mental but I'd have to see him. Can you get pictures the next time your farrier comes out and drives him? I'd like to see the equipment you are using including a closeup of the bit. The wolf teeth are quite likely to be a problem as well, my DVM dentist warned me to make sure I never drove a horse that had those coming in as it would be quite painful.

We kept ground driving him since we didn't want him to feel that he'd 'won,' he was being really, really, really good so we backed him into the shafts and hooked him up. Lead him around with the cart on and he was SO SO SO good!! Gently ground drove him (with the cart now attached) and he was awesome! And then ... he BLEW UP ... AGAIN!! Ack. You'd think we would have learned, right?!


Last year, I started backing him into the shafts to get him used to them touching him.
Do you mean backing him up into the shafts while they are lying on the ground, or being held parallel to the ground? That's not generally a good idea in carriage training. I know drafters and teams back up and are asked to step over their own poles when hitching but for a single horse you should lift the shafts so the tips point up over his back, roll it up to the horse and drop it down around his sides then bump them gently back and forth so he knows they're there.

twoblackminis said:
Anyways ... basically he's NOT broke to cart, but has been extensively ground driven and lunged plenty (although not enough to hurt his joints!!) We work on only lunging walk, slow trot and fast trot ... no canter since I don't want him to canter in harness.
Actually cantering can be a very gymnastic exercise for a horse and will help keep their backs loose and supple. Even if you don't intend to ever canter him in harness it can be good physical therapy to allow them to do it on a lunge line so they learn to balance and use themselves correctly at all gaits. I myself do canter in harness but then again I compete in combined driving events where at the upper levels speed, control, and suppleness are EVERYTHING.
I want even a green horse or strictly show animal to know how though as that way they won't panic if it ever happens by accident. You teach the voice command on the lunge then give that command in harness (say going up a hill), let them do it once or twice then let it go and never do it again. They won't usually try more than once or twice after that and you quietly bring them back down to a trot. Easy!


Just pondering here ... maybe I could ground drive him in his fitted halter and use it sort of like a side-pull. No bit to hurt the mouth, but can still work on the basic ground work??? Hmmm ...
Lots of people start their yearlings that way. It works fine!


Leia
 

wildoak

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I do feel your pain. I have a 6 year old gelding who has been pulling the same type stunts. He has been shown since his yearling year - multiple top tens at World - so I can't imagine that something on the showgrounds would really have terrified him but nontheless, he ran off with me in a driving class in January. He is a fairly high strung horse, but has been handled, shown and hauled for 5 years now with no incident. I started him driving as a 3 year old, no issues but also not much impulsion so I quit and drove another. Started back with him last fall and he was a different horse, lots of energy and "go" but he never gave me a problem until that show. Now he freaks randomly when I'm ground driving or leading him through the barn and acts like he has scared himself to death. The only time or so I've attempted to drive him at home since January he has blown up.

Carl has maintained his teeth all of his life, checked him just last fall so I don't think that's the issue but he will be checked again. He's also been chiropracted.

Don't mean to hijack your thread, just looking for similar clues to behavior. Have you had your guy looked at by a chiropractor? If he has flipped the cart, he's probably got ribs out or at least some soreness from that even if it wasn't the original culprit. Good luck with him, and stay safe.

Jan
 

Katiean

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Our mare blew up. She was ground driven for about a week. She was then put in to the cart. What she would blow up on was the stopping and standing, then walking forward and stopping again. She didn't have a major blow up until the day after the first show. for the first show she was a little bit naughty. But, she was ok. The next day was a day off. We were in the indoor arena and Jessie was on the far side of the arena. She stopped her and then asked her to back. Up the horse went. I wasn't watching like I should have been. As soon as the horse went over. Jessie jumped out of the cart and held the mare down and called for me. After I got the mare up and made sure the mare was all right. We re-harnessed her and took her around again. We then took her into the middle of the arena and asked her to stop. She did as asked with out problems. I asked her to back. She did with out problems. I asked her to step back forward and stand. Once again no problems. I guess she figured out that it was easier to do as she was told with out blowing up.
 

twoblackminis

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HGFarm, trust me this is NOT being taken lightly, hence why I am having the Mini fully checked out before attempting to even ground drive again. We're sticking to lunging for now, since that is what he does well.

for a single horse you should lift the shafts so the tips point up over his back, roll it up to the horse and drop it down around his sides then bump them gently back and forth so he knows they're there.
That's what I meant LOL
And thanks hobbyhorse, I may try cantering him on the lunge line. He certainly loves to canter (not gallop,) in the field!!

Much to the minis disgust, I stuck my hand in his mouth last night and fished around ... his wolf teeth have popped up and are bothering him, also think that I found a nasty hook at the back. I have a call into our regular DVMs, to see whether they have Miniature floating gear.

I also lunged him (on the halter!!) last night and he happily trotted around and showed off to everyone.

We had the chiropractor out for our rescue standardbred and she checked the Mini too ... she had to put one rib back in place but said everything else was fine.

Thanks everyone
 

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