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Willow Flats

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I think I have mentioned before that carriage driving is not a popular sport here where I live. There are some local people that drive full size horses, but I haven't met anyone in my area that drives minis. In general, minis are not held in the highest regard (putting it nicely) by the rest of the horse world in my area so I have been pretty isolated. I recruited my husband to drive, but he is only available on Saturdays, so I have been trying to keep my two horses driven and in shape on my own with a whole lot of other things to do.

So here is my news!!!! I found out that there is a family down the road that drives teams of Percherons. Long story, short, one of the daughters actually LIKES minis and I have hired her to drive a couple of days a week with me and to work with my horses in general. She is a junior in high school but seems really competent and drives in the Draft Classic. She probably knows way more than I do, so I am really excited! She is going to drive her golf cart down here on Wednesday after school for the first day of her first job. :)
 

MajorClementine

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That's amazing!!! It sounds like the perfect set-up. I wish I had someone like that I could hire to drive one day a week for me. My minis sure could use it. And especially with someone who is as knowledgable as this gal sounds. Let us know how it goes!
 

Willow Flats

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So today was to be the first day with my new helper. We have had a lot of rain, but had two dry days and today was dry and I went out and walked the driving areas earlier and it didn't seem too terribly bad. Last week the tires on my cart doubled in size (caked with mud!) Just before she was due to come today it started raining, which wasn't in the forecast and now we need to reschedule. :(

The upside is that there is grass sprouting everywhere so it won't be long before I have a nice carpet to drive on. My husband did a lot of grading this summer so I don't think I'm going to get the lakes I had last year. I'm just going to have to be patient.

Here is how I found this girl: This summer I was in the back end of our property and thought I saw a man following behind a horse way in the distance...Just both their heads, thinking that would be too fast to be ground driving a horse, but not sure what I was seeing, so I climbed over the fence and ran the full length of my neighbors pasture to see if I could get a closer look and stood there waiting and sure enough I could just make out a horse and carriage. I couldn't tell what property it was so I Google Earthed our place and looked for a horse property. Whenever I drove by the place I thought it was, I slowed to a crawl, and also walked by a few times! But I never saw anyone out front and their place is gated so I couldn't knock on their door. I know a lady down the road from them so I asked her if she knew if anyone drove horses over there and she said yes, she had seen them out driving occasionally so I gave her my number and asked her to let me know if she ever saw them out. A few weeks later I got a call that they had driven down the road so I ran down my long driveway like a little kid to the road and waited and sure enough here came the husband and wife driving these big beauties and I shamelessly stepped out and introduced myself. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures!!!! And yes, I felt like a stalker.

I'll keep you posted. Praying this all works out!
 

Willow Flats

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My new helper came today. My gelding's name is Kriss Kross and the mare is Annie. They are both trained to drive but Annie is new to me and still green and needs work on her ground manners and has an attitude in general. So I have been spending a lot of time working with Annie and since it is just me, I was driving them one at a time. My husband and I drove them twice at the same time but didn't ask much of them and kept a wide berth.
One day after I was done driving Annie and unhitched her, I was loving her up and praising her while Kriss was watching us. When I walked her in past him he hauled off and gave her both barrels and they got in big time fight. Fast forward to today with my helper... She wanted to get an idea about where they were and how they react to things so we took them for a walk outside our property together, past the scary barking dogs. As we started out Annie threw a kick at Kriss. We walked down the road and waited for traffic to go by. All good.

Hitched them both and then she drove Annie while I was driving Kriss. We drove around in a large circle going towards each other and Annie would speed up when we passed, but after a bit she calmed down, and Kriss seemed fine. Then she suggested we get side by side and Kriss got really anxious. She said lets trade horses and then asked me to walk ahead with Annie. When Kriss saw me going away with Annie he lost it big time! He threw the biggest fit and would not calm down. I ground drove him around after I took the cart off so he wouldn't think he won but he was beside himself. Then we took them back out on leads together down the road. So now we have some clear goals. I had been keeping them separate by panels for most of the day except when they are out in the pasture because Annie wolfs down her hay and Kriss grazes on his hay and I didn't want him to starve when she came to eat his. She helped me figure out a way to configure my dry lot area so that they can be together most of the day and let them establish a leader. And we will start working them together and work out some issues. So all in all a good day! She is much more than a helper because I can see she is going to teach me some things!

I hope this isn't too long and too much information.
 

MajorClementine

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Sounds like a very productive day for sure. And sounds like you've got a buddy sour gelding like I do. Working them apart will help. My riding gelding is so sour on my mom's mare. But once we're out of hollering distance he usually calms down. And my driving mares buddy is sour on her too. Whenever we go drive he paces and hollers until we get back.

I'm a little jealous you have someone to work with. Not only will you get twice as much done but it's always easier and more fun to get out when you've got another person to work with.
 

Willow Flats

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I probably didn't paint the best picture! I have been driving them one at a time myself (apart) and they each have no problem leaving the barn and the guy left behind could care less. They really haven't bonded and have been separated by panels when they are in the dry lot and never bothered with each other in the pasture because they were too busy eating and just ignoring each other. As of late Kriss had been ramming his rear end against the gate between them and kicking at Annie.

Now that we are taking them out together Kriss especially is not happy to be near her. Kriss is very sweet and content to be trotting around our place, but falls apart when I take him anywhere. So I got Annie thinking she could be a horse I could take places and maybe possibly give Kriss some confidence as a travel partner. My helper thinks Kriss was upset that I was leaving not Annie. He also wanted to be ahead of Annie, not beside or behind.

Her suggestion is that there needs to be a clear leader between the two of them and that I should keep them together. It is hard to watch them fight it out :eek:. They drive teams of horses so they have to have cooperating horses. Kriss needs to learn to drive in company so we are going to work on that.
 

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I'm following you now. If you get them running as a team you can adjust the traces as well if you have one that is clearly dominant and wants the other horse behind them. Candace will nip at Blue if the traces are even he ends up not pulling much cause she keeps him back just a tiny bit. So we shorten his traces so even when he is a step behind her he is still pulling equally. Having an evener on your team pole will help that as well.

Sounds like you've found someone who will really be able to help you guys out. You'll have to post some pictures as you guys progress. Hopefully you can get Kriss traveling with more confidence by teaming him with Annie if they sort out their differences.
 

plaid mare

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I'm following you now. If you get them running as a team you can adjust the traces as well if you have one that is clearly dominant and wants the other horse behind them. Candace will nip at Blue if the traces are even he ends up not pulling much cause she keeps him back just a tiny bit. So we shorten his traces so even when he is a step behind her he is still pulling equally. Having an evener on your team pole will help that as well.

Sounds like you've found someone who will really be able to help you guys out. You'll have to post some pictures as you guys progress. Hopefully you can get Kriss traveling with more confidence by teaming him with Annie if they sort out their differences.
 

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