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Mini in cart to whoa and stand still

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Taylor Jo

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I have a mini that KNOWS the word whoa!!!! He stands for halter, he's been trained for cart and I bought him last July. But, since I've had him he won't whoa or stand still in his harness.

I've tried ground driving him and he turns to the left but he won't whoa. I've tried putting him up to the fence to face him forward to stop him but he turns away from it and won't go up to it. I have put him in a corner and he dances all over the place, he shifts from foot to foot and tries to back up, turn left, turn right, anything but not whoa or stand.

I have put him in his cart and he whoa's for about 2 sec's when headed to the barn for me to get out. Other then that he won't whoa or stand. I tried a header and he turns his back to him and faces the other way and then walks away he won't stand for that either.

I just talked to his trainer who trained him and she said to put him in a corner w/ his cart. Well I tried that but he won't go in a corner I can't EVEN get near a corner I go that way and he deflects it. She said to try a treat in the headers hand but he won't get w/in 4-5 ft of a header.

He stands perfectly for halter, when I lunge him free- I say whoa he whoa's.

He gets VERY nervous in the cart like he doesn't know what I want and gets all antsy, slobbers all over the place. I'm just ready to give up. Any advice would be helpful thanks.
 

Keri

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Okay, here's my experience with it. I have trained two that were kind of like that. Whoaed perfectly for halter and in-hand obstacle (ground tie, etc.). I would even ground drive them and they would whoa forever. But as soon as I got them in the cart, it was a totally different story. So here's what I did. I would ground drive them in the cart. Make sure you have really long lines. Mine are about 20 feet. It is kind of dangerous since the cart can roll back on you or the wheel catches you, so drive with you off to the side. Then you just ask them to whoa. If its for 2 seconds, fine. Make sure you praise them and tell them good job. Then as the training goes on, ask for a bit longer. I do this for about 15 minutes and then we move on to something else. It may take a month, but it works. Then I start asking them to whoa while I'm in the cart for just a few seconds and then ask them to walk before they do it. Make it your idea always. That's what's worked for me. Never go on a cart ride and then whoa to get out. They are learning that the only time they need to whoa is to boot you out of the cart and get back to more important things such as feeding.

I also tie my horses up for an hour or two at a time. The two that would give me problems would never stand tied without pawing and such. So tie them somewhere safe and let them work out their frustrations. Teaches them patience.
 

Jill

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I am a real chicken and the importance of WHOA cannot be over stated. I know this is not the answer you will want to hear, but in my opinion, this is a horse who needs to be out of the cart and back to lots of ground driving before being hooked up again.
 

Margo_C-T

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With all due respect...I'd say this horse either: doesn't have the training it really should, or possibly, just isn't 'cut out' to be a driving horse. There ARE horses, both large and small, that just aren't meant to be driving horses.

That said, I would suggest giving your horse every chance to become a proper driving horse. Your description sounds to me as if the horse may not really understand what is expected of it, and is reacting with either avoidance or refusal--both ways in which a horse may manifest confusion.

Go ALL the way 'back to basics' in driving.Make sure the horse's teeth are in good condition. Let the horse wear its bit while you groom or otherwise work around it, or even to eat a meal or two(as long as you are around to keep an eye on him)..so that it can become comfortable w/ the bit; also, be SURE that the bit 'suits' the horse and is comfortable for him---the basic 'broken mouth' half cheeks that come with most harness are poorly fitting crap, and uncomfortable if not worse for most miniatures; seek help in finding a bit that both fits and that the horse LIKES. Then--practice a 'whoa' and 'stand' when the horse is wearing the harness(saddle, backband, crupper and breeching--loop the wrap straps and breeching holdback straps through the tug loops and buckle them, so there are no unsafe 'dangling' straps, but with a halter and lead on over/under the bridle(an open bridle, to start with, no reins)), and 'in hand'. Quiet, patient, and absolutely consistent repetition, with clear verbal praise and a pat or rub when he 'does it right'-and maybe, a treat ever so often, at first--but not every time, and not 'from now on'! Gradually extend the time you ask the horse to REMAIN unmoving ("stand")after it halts in response to the 'whoa'. As the horse becomes 'solid' at the proper responses, graduate to quiet, at-the-walk-only, ground driving, in a reasonably confined area, again, practicing the 'whoa' and 'stand', consistently and quietly-and also, practicing turns and varied circles/serpentines in BOTH directions(You said the horse 'turns left'; does it also turn right??) If the horse gets nervous or excited, go back to the more basic level until he is fully relaxed and accepting, then try ground driving again. I would not suggest using the fence or a corner as a 'barrier'--though it might be a 'temporary' aid, it will not really contribute to the horse TRULY learning and understanding what you want of him... to be safe to drive, he HAS to understand and respond to 'whoa' and 'stand' WHEREVER you are, not just if you are 'facing' a fence! Do NOT even hook the horse to the cart again,until it is quiet, calm, accepting, and reliably responsive to the commands of 'whoa' and 'stand'.[This is a very 'condensed' version of what I'd tell you if I were there with you and your horse in person---just not time or space here to go 'into' this subject as should be done....]

In my opinion and observation,a LOT of miniature horses that have basically been 'trained' (to drive)to get into the show ring' are often VERY lacking in the real basics of driving, and as such, can't really be considered as solid, fully trained, and (most of all!) safe, horses to drive. They are 'rushed' through 'so-called' training, so as to 'get into' the show ring ASAP...some manage to do alright under those circumstances; but many....not so much. I have seen MANY 'show ring' miniatures over time that literally were NOT dependable, or even safe, to drive anywhere else(and some aren't even safe in the show ring....). It often is NOT the horses' fault--they have NOT received the time, exposure to ALL possible aspects of the 'real' world, and variety of driving experience each may need in order to become a "solid" driving horse. This hurried and very incomplete approach makes for nervous, 'uptight', unpredictable horses who may use avoidance just in 'defense' because they really don't understand what you want of them....

I am unimpressed by the 'trainer's' recommendations. I have no idea where you are from, but can you find a 'real' driver to help you and your horse? Perhaps someone w/ a long and successful history of training and using light horses for driving? Any ADS-rated drivers, for instance?

You know, a horse CAN be properly and FULLY trained(to the use of breeching, for example-you can always leave it off for the show ring!), and still be a successful breed show ring horse. Yes, it WILL take MORE time to accomplish, but when the 'reward' is a good-minded, versatile, dependable driving horse---isn't it worth it??

Best of luck,

Margo
 
T

Taylor Jo

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Hi Brenda.......

Hi Taylor Jo!!!!
Thanks Keri,,,,, I'll have to wait till I get to that point though cause he won't even whoa or stand w/ him being ground driven. I would be EVER so pleased IF he would EVEN do it ground driven IF only that was the problem :) I agree w/ you though that success starts at 2 sec's and that's fine. The only time I get a whoa out of him is next to the fence when he's going to be unhitched that he does know!!!!!

Taylor Jo

Okay, here's my experience with it. I have trained two that were kind of like that. Whoaed perfectly for halter and in-hand obstacle (ground tie, etc.). I would even ground drive them and they would whoa forever. But as soon as I got them in the cart, it was a totally different story. So here's what I did. I would ground drive them in the cart. Make sure you have really long lines. Mine are about 20 feet. It is kind of dangerous since the cart can roll back on you or the wheel catches you, so drive with you off to the side. Then you just ask them to whoa. If its for 2 seconds, fine. Make sure you praise them and tell them good job. Then as the training goes on, ask for a bit longer. I do this for about 15 minutes and then we move on to something else. It may take a month, but it works. Then I start asking them to whoa while I'm in the cart for just a few seconds and then ask them to walk before they do it. Make it your idea always. That's what's worked for me. Never go on a cart ride and then whoa to get out. They are learning that the only time they need to whoa is to boot you out of the cart and get back to more important things such as feeding.

I also tie my horses up for an hour or two at a time. The two that would give me problems would never stand tied without pawing and such. So tie them somewhere safe and let them work out their frustrations. Teaches them patience.


Jill, I've had him MORE out of the cart then in the cart cause I thought WHY put him in the cart if he won't even stop this is crazy. So I've been working more w/ him ground wise. My conclusion was IF I can't get him to ground whoa or stand how can I possibly get him to do it in a cart. So I a argee w/ you 100%.

Thanks.

I am a real chicken and the importance of WHOA cannot be over stated. I know this is not the answer you will want to hear, but in my opinion, this is a horse who needs to be out of the cart and back to lots of ground driving before being hooked up again.
 
T

Taylor Jo

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Thanks Margo. I'm SOOOO about ready to give up and you really couldn't have said it better. That's what I was just telling my husband, he's not had enough training or he's not cut out to be a driving horse, period.

He's only 4 and when I got him he'd only been driving a year. I just bought him last July and I didn't know what he drove like when I bought him cause I bought him on the internet. I have been working w/ him these past few months and I'm "new" at this and not a trainer.

When I say he turns left what I mean is when I say whoa instead of stopping he'll turn left on me or start doing circles instead of stopping. He'll get all nervous, like he knows I want something from him but he's not sure what. When I put him in the cart and he's "going" he goes beautifully. He trots fast and slow and walks perfectly. If I head to where his halter and lead rope is at and tell him to whoa he'll stop just long enough for me to get out before he starts prancing all over the place and turning. So he does KNOW whoa.

I do agree w/ another writer who said also that you can't have him standing in a corner forever and what's he going to do when he doesn't have a corner.

I've had the harness on him 'a lot' he tends to be a nervous horse, such as he paces his stall. I do have a

'good' bit in his mouth I purchased a good one when I bought his harness it's a no pinch snaffle. I also recenctly had his teeth checked and they were fine.

You had some VERY good idea's. I really appreciated your reply. I can't address about other miniature horses however cause I am new and I only know what mine does. And I believe he's only green broke if that. He does know how to turn and he know his trots and walk.

If I have him in the round pen he knows whoa. It's ALL about that harness. I put that on him and all training goes out the window.

Thanks for your help, I'll have to give what you said a try and see if that helps.

With all due respect...I'd say this horse either: doesn't have the training it really should, or possibly, just isn't 'cut out' to be a driving horse. There ARE horses, both large and small, that just aren't meant to be driving horses.

That said, I would suggest giving your horse every chance to become a proper driving horse. Your description sounds to me as if the horse may not really understand what is expected of it, and is reacting with either avoidance or refusal--both ways in which a horse may manifest confusion.

Go ALL the way 'back to basics' in driving.Make sure the horse's teeth are in good condition. Let the horse wear its bit while you groom or otherwise work around it, or even to eat a meal or two(as long as you are around to keep an eye on him)..so that it can become comfortable w/ the bit; also, be SURE that the bit 'suits' the horse and is comfortable for him---the basic 'broken mouth' half cheeks that come with most harness are poorly fitting crap, and uncomfortable if not worse for most miniatures; seek help in finding a bit that both fits and that the horse LIKES. Then--practice a 'whoa' and 'stand' when the horse is wearing the harness(saddle, backband, crupper and breeching--loop the wrap straps and breeching holdback straps through the tug loops and buckle them, so there are no unsafe 'dangling' straps, but with a halter and lead on over/under the bridle(an open bridle, to start with, no reins)), and 'in hand'. Quiet, patient, and absolutely consistent repetition, with clear verbal praise and a pat or rub when he 'does it right'-and maybe, a treat ever so often, at first--but not every time, and not 'from now on'! Gradually extend the time you ask the horse to REMAIN unmoving ("stand")after it halts in response to the 'whoa'. As the horse becomes 'solid' at the proper responses, graduate to quiet, at-the-walk-only, ground driving, in a reasonably confined area, again, practicing the 'whoa' and 'stand', consistently and quietly-and also, practicing turns and varied circles/serpentines in BOTH directions(You said the horse 'turns left'; does it also turn right??) If the horse gets nervous or excited, go back to the more basic level until he is fully relaxed and accepting, then try ground driving again. I would not suggest using the fence or a corner as a 'barrier'--though it might be a 'temporary' aid, it will not really contribute to the horse TRULY learning and understanding what you want of him... to be safe to drive, he HAS to understand and respond to 'whoa' and 'stand' WHEREVER you are, not just if you are 'facing' a fence! Do NOT even hook the horse to the cart again,until it is quiet, calm, accepting, and reliably responsive to the commands of 'whoa' and 'stand'.[This is a very 'condensed' version of what I'd tell you if I were there with you and your horse in person---just not time or space here to go 'into' this subject as should be done....]

In my opinion and observation,a LOT of miniature horses that have basically been 'trained' (to drive)to get into the show ring' are often VERY lacking in the real basics of driving, and as such, can't really be considered as solid, fully trained, and (most of all!) safe, horses to drive. They are 'rushed' through 'so-called' training, so as to 'get into' the show ring ASAP...some manage to do alright under those circumstances; but many....not so much. I have seen MANY 'show ring' miniatures over time that literally were NOT dependable, or even safe, to drive anywhere else(and some aren't even safe in the show ring....). It often is NOT the horses' fault--they have NOT received the time, exposure to ALL possible aspects of the 'real' world, and variety of driving experience each may need in order to become a "solid" driving horse. This hurried and very incomplete approach makes for nervous, 'uptight', unpredictable horses who may use avoidance just in 'defense' because they really don't understand what you want of them....

I am unimpressed by the 'trainer's' recommendations. I have no idea where you are from, but can you find a 'real' driver to help you and your horse? Perhaps someone w/ a long and successful history of training and using light horses for driving? Any ADS-rated drivers, for instance?

You know, a horse CAN be properly and FULLY trained(to the use of breeching, for example-you can always leave it off for the show ring!), and still be a successful breed show ring horse. Yes, it WILL take MORE time to accomplish, but when the 'reward' is a good-minded, versatile, dependable driving horse---isn't it worth it??

Best of luck,

Margo
 

hobbyhorse23

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First of all, welcome to LB!
Take a deep breath- with a little help I think we'll be able to get you and your horse driving happily in no time.
Are you a youth member? Have you driven at all before getting this particular fellow? How old is he and how long has he been in the cart?

Taylor Jo said:
He gets VERY nervous in the cart like he doesn't know what I want and gets all antsy, slobbers all over the place. I'm just ready to give up. Any advice would be helpful thanks.
Don't give up, you've already got a handle on the problem. Your horse is not doing this to be naughty or because he's hopeless but because he doesn't know what you want and that lack of understanding is making him nervous and upset. Rather than try to force him into it from the cart go back to the beginning and show him exactly what you expect from the ground. Let him know that standing is a good thing, a relaxing thing, and that doing so will bring him praise. Does he stand well while tied? How about when he's not stretched out for halter but is just standing around? If not, start there. If he already stands well in those situations then teach him to ground tie. Get him to set up in a comfortable balanced position and either tug down gently on the lead line or use a hand sign like a "stay" command for a dog and tell him to "Whoa, stand." At first just stand there with him for a few minutes without moving, then say "Okay! Good boy" and release him. Walk him around then set him up and do it again. If he moves calmly put him back where he was and repeat the command then try again. Reward him enthusiastically when he stays put! Eventually begin to back away, set down the leadline, and at some point walk in circles around him. He needs to understand the idea of staying put on a voice command before you add in things like blinders and carts and all that scary stuff.

Once he's ground-tying reliably in a halter have him do it wearing the harness. He's likely to get nervous and try to turn and find you when you go out of his range of vision- just reset him and use your voice to reassure him that you're there while you're out of sight. Praise him the first time he stands still while you do this! It's a scary thing for an insecure horse. When he can do that well ground-drive him and ask him to stop using the exact same voice commands you've been using in the previous steps. Only ask him to stand as long as he's comfortable; it's important that you give him the request to move off BEFORE he does it himself. Then you can praise him again! (Are you noticing a trend here yet?
) Gradually extend the duration of his halts until he can stand as long as you need him to without fussing. I know carriage drivers who will literally bring a book and read it in the cart after getting in.


Now that we know for sure he has the basic skills to do what you're asking it's time to consider what else might be contributing to the problem. It's possible if he's a very green horse and wasn't properly introduced to driving (i.e. a couple of weeks of "training" by an amateur or pushed through too fast by a trainer in a hurry) that he doesn't really understand how to maneuver the cart and is frightened by the shafts against his sides. He feels trapped so he panics and the more you insist he stand, the more panicked he feels. If he gets rattled and forgets all you've taught him about standing as soon as he gets in the cart at all then I'd be concerned that might be the problem. You'll need to slowly and carefully teach him how to make turns and hold the cart back until he understands his job. Have a parent or horsie friend walk next to his head with a leadline attached backing up your commands in a way he's familiar with until he understands what his job is and make sure you hold some contact on the outside rein to help him move that shoulder over into the shaft instead of bending only his neck and getting poked for his efforts.

Speaking of getting poked uncomfortably, that's the next possibility we need to look at. Your harness or cart might be hurting your horse and causing him to object the way he is. You need to make sure that the harness itself is comfortable with no sharp edges or stitching rubbing him, no bumps or lumps digging into his back, and that the bit isn't pinching the sides of his mouth when you ask him to stop. Then you need to make sure the harness is adjusted correctly so that he can physically do his job. If you post a picture we could help you tell if anything needs to be fixed.
Then you need to make sure the harness is connected to the cart correctly. Are you using breeching and a pad under your saddle? If not, he could be objecting to stopping because the shafts pull the saddle forward into his withers and it hurts. Many otherwise calm driving horses will object to backing a cart without breeching for that reason.

The other thing to check is that he's physically comfortable in his own body. Does he have a sharp tooth digging into his cheek and hurting him? Could his back be out and twinging every time he stops the cart? Does he have a sore under the harness? The only way horses can tell us something hurts is to act up in complaint and it can easily be mistaken for misbehavior.

In this case from what you've described I'd say it's probably a training thing possibly aggravated by an equipment problem so I'd start with retraining "Whoa, Stand" on a leadline and build his confidence in what you're asking. Please post a picture so we can see your cart and harness on the horse and we'll be able to give you more feedback.
I'm sure you and your horse will really enjoy driving when everything comes together.


Leia

Edited to add: Serves me right for replying between calls at work and not checking to see what everyone else has written while I was replying! When I started this no one had replied yet. :DOH! *LOL* I'm going to leave it as written but will apologize for the assumption you were a youth
and will add that if he's nervous as soon as the harness goes on it's definitely either a discomfort issue or perhaps he's uncomfortable with the restriction of his vision from the blinders. Can you see if he does it either wearing the harness but in an open (blinker-less) bridle or wearing only the blinker bridle and not the rest of the harness? That would help us isolate the cause. I'd say Margo is probably spot on about this guy's training and his natural inclinations if he's that nervous in the barn.
 
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Keri

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Forgot to add, that one of the geldings I was playing with turned left and backed instead of whoaed. Both of them were "cart trained" when I got them. Just start at the beginning with the basics then put them in the cart.

My thought before was he was a good boy on the ground drive. Guess I read wrong. I think that them being cart trained, they've actually had a bad experience in the cart. So every time you put it on, they freak. My one use to rear and just be a bear. And the other one was backyard driven. So he didn't know whoa until you stopped him at the barn. He still chomps on the bit when he gets nervous, but I can handle that if he behaves elsewhere.


Just hang in there! You'll be fine! Takes lots of patience to get them where they should be.
 

Katiean

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We are training a mare right now that has been in the cart for about 4 days now. She is a fidgeter (sp) when it comes to being tied or standing on a lead so we expected the same with her in harness. What we have done with her so far is My 10 year old niece is training the mare so I feel the most important things is walk and whoa. We put her in harness but leave the halter on under the bridle. I use a long lead rope and with no tention on the lead I walk behind and let Jessie give all of the commands. I stay back so the horse can not see me and figure out she is on a lead. I will tell Jessie when to turn and how far up the road she should stop. When we are near finished with our session I have her turn and bring her into line as if she were in a class. Then I go stand in front of the horse like she were in a class. She fidgets a bit she stands. I have someone come along and tell her to back her horse. She backs 4-5 steps and comes back up into line and stops her. I then uncheck her. and we make her stand. the first day she jumped around but now she is standing. I then re-check her and Jessie backs her out of the drive and drives down the road. All I am there for is to stop a runaway. If Ellie rears because she doesn't want to do something I let Jessie take care of it because she is the one that is going to show her. I guess my best advice for a fidgeter would be to have the horse stand in front of someone like at the end of a driving class. Have the horse back and come back to stand. I would repeat this over and over until the horse gets the message you are the boss.
 

hobbyhorse23

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I guess my best advice for a fidgeter would be to have the horse stand in front of someone like at the end of a driving class. Have the horse back and come back to stand. I would repeat this over and over until the horse gets the message you are the boss.
There's good advice in the rest of that post but this is how you GET those breed show horses who won't stand without a header. It drives me nuts to see horses hopping around in line and freaking out the minute the header steps aside. There's just no excuse for it! It's also not a good idea to use back to teach them not to move forward as they start to figure out they can use a high-speed retreat as an evasion. VEEEERY dangerous in a driving horse. It also encourages rearing and leaping forward. Far better to allow a horse who's about to blow to move forward, work their little buns off, then invite them to stop again and see if they're now willing. If they're not...back to work they go. Do that enough times and they figure out pretty quickly that a chance to stop is a good thing and not to be ignored!

Leia
 
T

Taylor Jo

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Thanks for the advise. He'll ground tie w/o a problem. He'll stay there and I have him like I said in show halter, or training for it I should say. Of course w/ the ground you leave for to long then he'll start eating grass but he will stand there for a few minutes. He's a different horse in halter then in harness. In harness he's a nervous wreck. He doesn't even ACT like he likes it, he fights the bit biting at it, and like I said slobbering. ANY training that he does have it seems to ALL go out the window when he gets in the harness. It's like he becomes this blumbering idiot. It's like he knows he should whoa and he should stand but he can't just seem to help himself he HAS to move.

I put the harness on him and stand next to him w/ the harness on and try to make him stand still and he wiggles, moves, turns L turns R, backs up, does everything and anything but stands there. It's like he's obsessed w/ moving.

I don't know what he would w/o a harness type w/o the blinders as I don't have one.

I've had his teeth checked. His harness is fine, I've had someone check the set up and that's fine. There's no pinching or anything like that, he's got a pad under his saddle and nice one so he's nice and comfortable. When I put that on he doesn't have a problem at all other then he doesn't like it cinched up, but he gets over that soon enough. I don't have a pic of him harnessed up.

I just feel like I'm beating my head against a wall and I truly am beginning to believe this horse DOES NOT like driving. Some horses love it. But, I'm not so sure about Oreo, he's FAR happier w/o that harness on.

I thank you for your post and you've got some good idea's. But, the thing of it is what works for him w/o the harness doesn't work w/ him w/ the harness. I'm working w/ 2 different horses here. One does and one doesn't it's weird.

Thanks for your input I appreciate it..... Taylor Jo

First of all, welcome to LB!
Take a deep breath- with a little help I think we'll be able to get you and your horse driving happily in no time.
Are you a youth member? Have you driven at all before getting this particular fellow? How old is he and how long has he been in the cart?

Taylor Jo said:
He gets VERY nervous in the cart like he doesn't know what I want and gets all antsy, slobbers all over the place. I'm just ready to give up. Any advice would be helpful thanks.
Don't give up, you've already got a handle on the problem. Your horse is not doing this to be naughty or because he's hopeless but because he doesn't know what you want and that lack of understanding is making him nervous and upset. Rather than try to force him into it from the cart go back to the beginning and show him exactly what you expect from the ground. Let him know that standing is a good thing, a relaxing thing, and that doing so will bring him praise. Does he stand well while tied? How about when he's not stretched out for halter but is just standing around? If not, start there. If he already stands well in those situations then teach him to ground tie. Get him to set up in a comfortable balanced position and either tug down gently on the lead line or use a hand sign like a "stay" command for a dog and tell him to "Whoa, stand." At first just stand there with him for a few minutes without moving, then say "Okay! Good boy" and release him. Walk him around then set him up and do it again. If he moves calmly put him back where he was and repeat the command then try again. Reward him enthusiastically when he stays put! Eventually begin to back away, set down the leadline, and at some point walk in circles around him. He needs to understand the idea of staying put on a voice command before you add in things like blinders and carts and all that scary stuff.

Once he's ground-tying reliably in a halter have him do it wearing the harness. He's likely to get nervous and try to turn and find you when you go out of his range of vision- just reset him and use your voice to reassure him that you're there while you're out of sight. Praise him the first time he stands still while you do this! It's a scary thing for an insecure horse. When he can do that well ground-drive him and ask him to stop using the exact same voice commands you've been using in the previous steps. Only ask him to stand as long as he's comfortable; it's important that you give him the request to move off BEFORE he does it himself. Then you can praise him again! (Are you noticing a trend here yet?
) Gradually extend the duration of his halts until he can stand as long as you need him to without fussing. I know carriage drivers who will literally bring a book and read it in the cart after getting in.


Now that we know for sure he has the basic skills to do what you're asking it's time to consider what else might be contributing to the problem. It's possible if he's a very green horse and wasn't properly introduced to driving (i.e. a couple of weeks of "training" by an amateur or pushed through too fast by a trainer in a hurry) that he doesn't really understand how to maneuver the cart and is frightened by the shafts against his sides. He feels trapped so he panics and the more you insist he stand, the more panicked he feels. If he gets rattled and forgets all you've taught him about standing as soon as he gets in the cart at all then I'd be concerned that might be the problem. You'll need to slowly and carefully teach him how to make turns and hold the cart back until he understands his job. Have a parent or horsie friend walk next to his head with a leadline attached backing up your commands in a way he's familiar with until he understands what his job is and make sure you hold some contact on the outside rein to help him move that shoulder over into the shaft instead of bending only his neck and getting poked for his efforts.

Speaking of getting poked uncomfortably, that's the next possibility we need to look at. Your harness or cart might be hurting your horse and causing him to object the way he is. You need to make sure that the harness itself is comfortable with no sharp edges or stitching rubbing him, no bumps or lumps digging into his back, and that the bit isn't pinching the sides of his mouth when you ask him to stop. Then you need to make sure the harness is adjusted correctly so that he can physically do his job. If you post a picture we could help you tell if anything needs to be fixed.
Then you need to make sure the harness is connected to the cart correctly. Are you using breeching and a pad under your saddle? If not, he could be objecting to stopping because the shafts pull the saddle forward into his withers and it hurts. Many otherwise calm driving horses will object to backing a cart without breeching for that reason.

The other thing to check is that he's physically comfortable in his own body. Does he have a sharp tooth digging into his cheek and hurting him? Could his back be out and twinging every time he stops the cart? Does he have a sore under the harness? The only way horses can tell us something hurts is to act up in complaint and it can easily be mistaken for misbehavior.

In this case from what you've described I'd say it's probably a training thing possibly aggravated by an equipment problem so I'd start with retraining "Whoa, Stand" on a leadline and build his confidence in what you're asking. Please post a picture so we can see your cart and harness on the horse and we'll be able to give you more feedback.
I'm sure you and your horse will really enjoy driving when everything comes together.


Leia

Edited to add: Serves me right for replying between calls at work and not checking to see what everyone else has written while I was replying! When I started this no one had replied yet. :DOH! *LOL* I'm going to leave it as written but will apologize for the assumption you were a youth
and will add that if he's nervous as soon as the harness goes on it's definitely either a discomfort issue or perhaps he's uncomfortable with the restriction of his vision from the blinders. Can you see if he does it either wearing the harness but in an open (blinker-less) bridle or wearing only the blinker bridle and not the rest of the harness? That would help us isolate the cause. I'd say Margo is probably spot on about this guy's training and his natural inclinations if he's that nervous in the barn.
Thanks appreciate it....I don't think Oreo has had a bad experience. I think he's green and he's NOT getting what I'm asking maybe.

quote name='Keri' date='Apr 13 2008, 01:49 PM' post='1002689']

Forgot to add, that one of the geldings I was playing with turned left and backed instead of whoaed. Both of them were "cart trained" when I got them. Just start at the beginning with the basics then put them in the cart.

My thought before was he was a good boy on the ground drive. Guess I read wrong. I think that them being cart trained, they've actually had a bad experience in the cart. So every time you put it on, they freak. My one use to rear and just be a bear. And the other one was backyard driven. So he didn't know whoa until you stopped him at the barn. He still chomps on the bit when he gets nervous, but I can handle that if he behaves elsewhere.


Just hang in there! You'll be fine! Takes lots of patience to get them where they should be.


It sounds like your doing a great job w/ her. I wish Oreo would do that well. I think all training goes out the window w/ him when I hook him up or even ground drive him. Something is just NOT connecting. I don't know what it is but it's something or that and he's just not meant to be a driving horse.

Thanks for the input. Taylor Jo

We are training a mare right now that has been in the cart for about 4 days now. She is a fidgeter (sp) when it comes to being tied or standing on a lead so we expected the same with her in harness. What we have done with her so far is My 10 year old niece is training the mare so I feel the most important things is walk and whoa. We put her in harness but leave the halter on under the bridle. I use a long lead rope and with no tention on the lead I walk behind and let Jessie give all of the commands. I stay back so the horse can not see me and figure out she is on a lead. I will tell Jessie when to turn and how far up the road she should stop. When we are near finished with our session I have her turn and bring her into line as if she were in a class. Then I go stand in front of the horse like she were in a class. She fidgets a bit she stands. I have someone come along and tell her to back her horse. She backs 4-5 steps and comes back up into line and stops her. I then uncheck her. and we make her stand. the first day she jumped around but now she is standing. I then re-check her and Jessie backs her out of the drive and drives down the road. All I am there for is to stop a runaway. If Ellie rears because she doesn't want to do something I let Jessie take care of it because she is the one that is going to show her. I guess my best advice for a fidgeter would be to have the horse stand in front of someone like at the end of a driving class. Have the horse back and come back to stand. I would repeat this over and over until the horse gets the message you are the boss.
 
T

Taylor Jo

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I reread your reply and I can't find it and not sure if it was you or not but someone suggested that I try him w/o the blinders. I was like I don't have a harness w/o blinders. I was just talking to my husband and he's like take his REINS and put them on his halter and see if he whoa's like that and work from there.

I was like derrrr. I can try that. So we'll go back to that step and see if it's THAT STEP. Thanks....

First of all, welcome to LB!
Take a deep breath- with a little help I think we'll be able to get you and your horse driving happily in no time.
Are you a youth member? Have you driven at all before getting this particular fellow? How old is he and how long has he been in the cart?

Taylor Jo said:
He gets VERY nervous in the cart like he doesn't know what I want and gets all antsy, slobbers all over the place. I'm just ready to give up. Any advice would be helpful thanks.
Don't give up, you've already got a handle on the problem. Your horse is not doing this to be naughty or because he's hopeless but because he doesn't know what you want and that lack of understanding is making him nervous and upset. Rather than try to force him into it from the cart go back to the beginning and show him exactly what you expect from the ground. Let him know that standing is a good thing, a relaxing thing, and that doing so will bring him praise. Does he stand well while tied? How about when he's not stretched out for halter but is just standing around? If not, start there. If he already stands well in those situations then teach him to ground tie. Get him to set up in a comfortable balanced position and either tug down gently on the lead line or use a hand sign like a "stay" command for a dog and tell him to "Whoa, stand." At first just stand there with him for a few minutes without moving, then say "Okay! Good boy" and release him. Walk him around then set him up and do it again. If he moves calmly put him back where he was and repeat the command then try again. Reward him enthusiastically when he stays put! Eventually begin to back away, set down the leadline, and at some point walk in circles around him. He needs to understand the idea of staying put on a voice command before you add in things like blinders and carts and all that scary stuff.

Once he's ground-tying reliably in a halter have him do it wearing the harness. He's likely to get nervous and try to turn and find you when you go out of his range of vision- just reset him and use your voice to reassure him that you're there while you're out of sight. Praise him the first time he stands still while you do this! It's a scary thing for an insecure horse. When he can do that well ground-drive him and ask him to stop using the exact same voice commands you've been using in the previous steps. Only ask him to stand as long as he's comfortable; it's important that you give him the request to move off BEFORE he does it himself. Then you can praise him again! (Are you noticing a trend here yet?
) Gradually extend the duration of his halts until he can stand as long as you need him to without fussing. I know carriage drivers who will literally bring a book and read it in the cart after getting in.


Now that we know for sure he has the basic skills to do what you're asking it's time to consider what else might be contributing to the problem. It's possible if he's a very green horse and wasn't properly introduced to driving (i.e. a couple of weeks of "training" by an amateur or pushed through too fast by a trainer in a hurry) that he doesn't really understand how to maneuver the cart and is frightened by the shafts against his sides. He feels trapped so he panics and the more you insist he stand, the more panicked he feels. If he gets rattled and forgets all you've taught him about standing as soon as he gets in the cart at all then I'd be concerned that might be the problem. You'll need to slowly and carefully teach him how to make turns and hold the cart back until he understands his job. Have a parent or horsie friend walk next to his head with a leadline attached backing up your commands in a way he's familiar with until he understands what his job is and make sure you hold some contact on the outside rein to help him move that shoulder over into the shaft instead of bending only his neck and getting poked for his efforts.

Speaking of getting poked uncomfortably, that's the next possibility we need to look at. Your harness or cart might be hurting your horse and causing him to object the way he is. You need to make sure that the harness itself is comfortable with no sharp edges or stitching rubbing him, no bumps or lumps digging into his back, and that the bit isn't pinching the sides of his mouth when you ask him to stop. Then you need to make sure the harness is adjusted correctly so that he can physically do his job. If you post a picture we could help you tell if anything needs to be fixed.
Then you need to make sure the harness is connected to the cart correctly. Are you using breeching and a pad under your saddle? If not, he could be objecting to stopping because the shafts pull the saddle forward into his withers and it hurts. Many otherwise calm driving horses will object to backing a cart without breeching for that reason.

The other thing to check is that he's physically comfortable in his own body. Does he have a sharp tooth digging into his cheek and hurting him? Could his back be out and twinging every time he stops the cart? Does he have a sore under the harness? The only way horses can tell us something hurts is to act up in complaint and it can easily be mistaken for misbehavior.

In this case from what you've described I'd say it's probably a training thing possibly aggravated by an equipment problem so I'd start with retraining "Whoa, Stand" on a leadline and build his confidence in what you're asking. Please post a picture so we can see your cart and harness on the horse and we'll be able to give you more feedback.
I'm sure you and your horse will really enjoy driving when everything comes together.


Leia

Edited to add: Serves me right for replying between calls at work and not checking to see what everyone else has written while I was replying! When I started this no one had replied yet. :DOH! *LOL* I'm going to leave it as written but will apologize for the assumption you were a youth
and will add that if he's nervous as soon as the harness goes on it's definitely either a discomfort issue or perhaps he's uncomfortable with the restriction of his vision from the blinders. Can you see if he does it either wearing the harness but in an open (blinker-less) bridle or wearing only the blinker bridle and not the rest of the harness? That would help us isolate the cause. I'd say Margo is probably spot on about this guy's training and his natural inclinations if he's that nervous in the barn.
 

hobbyhorse23

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Or even just ground-drive him in the halter. Attach the reins to the rings on each side of his cheeks, put the rest of the harness on him and see how he does. If nothing else it may help to desensitize him.

You may be right however; some horses are just not meant to drive.


Leia
 

susanne

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You say that he's only 4 now...you've had him since last July and when you got him he had been driving for a year. That means he was started as a 2-year-old...

That's awfully young for any horse to start being driven, and some horses mature later than others.

I think he's way too young to give up on. You need an experienced trainer to at least evaluate him, and he may well need to be started from the beginning.
 

MiniHunterHorseFan

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I have a horse who is just getting started in driving in the show ring and he's not a big fan on standing still in the cart. He is great on ground tie like yours.

Last show was his first to drive. He did beautifully on the gaits but when it came time to stand still he did not want to. He'd keep turning around. A harness maker there and the judge said his blinders were to close together and he couldn't see. That may be your problem.

Also what I've been doing to train him is work him with alot of trotting, get a good workout before practicing whoa. Then see if he'll stand for a few seconds. If so praise him excitedly and then have him walk off. If he dances around, tell him, 'quit, bad boy' and drive him around, do trotting get some more good work out and try whoa again. The point is to teach him that stopping is a good thing, he gets to rest not work. Today he stopped and stood still beautifully! Let us know how everything goes with yours.
 

jbrat

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You could try tying him up (using the halter) with the harness on (straps up safely) and let him stand with it on while your close by. Get him use to the feel of it. Just throw the harness on every chance you get. Even if its just for a few miniutes while you clean out the stalls. Maybe let him eat his supper with it on. Lunge and free lunge him in his harness.

I'd try removing the blinders too. Some horse get real nervous having thier normal site limited.

If things seem better w/o blinders, be sure to do alot of ground driving with someone pulling the cart all around him and alot behind him. You don't want him to freak out seeing the cart cashing him.

Best of luck!

Please keep us updated on his progress.
 
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AceyHorse

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You've got lots of great advice here, I guess I relate as my horse is a horse that can tend toward nervousness(and panic!) when he doesn't understand what I am asking of him and if he isn't comfortable with the situation.

I totally agree with what everyone has said and go back to longreining until you are completely comfortable that your lovely guy understands everything, including that stopping and standing still is okay and not only ok but a good thing too.

This may sound odd but I find that when I'm long reining a horse that doesn't want to stand still make stopping not just about stopping if you know what I mean. Give it a reason or purpose.

Stop and relax if he dances around just ignore him, stay calm and give him the whoa signal and don't give up, when he stops make sure you release all pressure, give him a scratch, praise him, let him relax in that position. Turn stopping and standing still into a positive thing, hes gets a nice scratch and a moment to relax, I think the most important thing is that you relax too, take a breath, enjoy the scenery then, when all is calm gently ask him to move off. Do you lunge him before you harness him up? You might find this takes a the edge off him a bit if he gets a change to get out some of that energy before you go.

I found with my horse also when I harness him up and get ready to go, that just because we have the harness on doesn't mean its time to go, I purposefully fluff around, I put it on, then give him a scratch, then adjust a few things, pick up the reins, put them down, scratch him again, wait till he relaxs and then gently say ok lets move off. Sometimes I put the gear on him, fluff around and take it off, just so he doesn't think everytime it goes on "oh we're off"

Its a long slow process but once you get him to relax and realise everything is okay you'll be on the up and up. But I would say don't go anywhere near the cart until you have got him completely happy longreining so you can both stay safe.

There are alot more expericenced people here than me, but this is what I have found works for me, and the most important thing I would suggest is that you are in an extremely relaxed frame of mind and take everything super slow.

Oh and don't be afraid to turn him out, he won't forget everything and maybe come back to it when hes matured a little bit. Good luck!

Anna
 
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rabbitsfizz

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You've had some good advice but since we are not there, and cannot see what is going on, and YOU have to deal with this, this is my two cents.

He should not be slobbering all the time...something is wrong, there, he just should not be doing this.

He should not be jiggling around all the time, this is not normal, he should not be ding this.

He should not be nervous in harness, a harness horse may be on it's toes, it may be full of itself, but it is not nervous, he should not be acting this way.

There are three HUGE red flags, right there.

My guess, and it is a guess since I have not seen him, is that he is not, in fact Harness Trained.

He may well be harness broke...define "broke"

I would seriously advise you to get expert help- even if you can only get an expert out once, to look, poke around and give advise, it would be money and time well spent.

When I start a horse I do not do so until they are at least three, before that, sorry folks, here I go again, BUT before that they are not old enough, mentally and physically, to pull a cart.

End of story as far as I am concerned.

Your horse is absolutely typical of "Tinker Ponies" I have bought in the past, force fed a load of information before they were old enough to understand it.

Some grew up OK but a lot, a serious number, grew into their strength as they turned four or five, and rebelled.

Some were downright dangerous, but these were big, cob animals- what are now called "gypsy vanners" and they were very strong.

Minis can be abused without any cruelty truly being involved merely because of their size.

Take a two year old gelding and a big man and a cart...well, how much fighting, especially with the addition of blinders (well named) and a "Check" (UGH, see my signature!!) do you think would happen??

I reckon you could have a two year old actually driving round the field in around half an hour under those circumstances!!!!

Now, if this is what actually happened then it would explain an awful lot.

Go back to absolute basics and work on teaching your boy that being in a cart is lots and LOTS of serious FUN.

Teach him to enjoy it.

Assume he has never been bitted properly, and get the bit checked, and his teeth checked.....get everything checked!!


Teach him to go forward onto the bit and to not fear coming up onto it...and throw away the check if you are using one, they have no place as a training aid, especially not on a horse with these problems.

Get a bridle without blinders- I can get you a link if you wish.

DO NOT DRIVE HIM IN THE CART...OK??

If you ignore EVERYTHING that I have said, PLEASE for the sake of your own safety, listen to this bit of advise, as it could save your life.

I am just on the verge of starting a two year old colt I bred...he will be loose schooled, taught the basics of groundwork and maybe, MAYBE, at the end of the year I might see if he is OK about a cart...personally I doubt it.

This colt is built like a brick outhouse, and could pull my weight without a problem.

Next year is fine, though.

Next year he will be ready.
 
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evedex

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If your horse won't stand when ground driven, he isn't ready to be in the cart at all!

I cannot stress enough that WHOA is one of your most important gaits....SAFETY FIRST! If he won't whoa with blinders on, try training him in an open bridle first then move on to blinders when you have a solid WHOA and STAND.

When you finally get him driving DO NOT ask him to back up for a long, long time. Often the anxiety of having to push the cart back will keep a horse from wanting to stop. They cannot see backwards and you are asking him to walk into a heavy object behind him and push it...not a natural thing. Since you stop before a reverse...if he doesn't stop, he doesn't have to reverse....so take your time getting to that point.

But do a LOT more ground work with him. Your trainer was hired to get him driving in a finite time and I am afraid they rushed the job...take him back to basics and take as many weeks/months as you need before you ever introduce the cart again.

JMHO
 

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