New to Driving - Questions

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Tess

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Hi Everyone,

It has been awhile since I last wrote on here, but I have a few questions. First of all, I am interested in driving minis, but I have no experience with that. I have never even seen a mini and cart in person before... And here are my questions.

1) I think I should start by taking a driving lesson (sort of like how people take riding lessons) at a local barn? Just to see if I even like it. (I know of a place near us that raise and show minis, but I don't know if they drive or not, I could ask).

2) If I do like driving, how would I go about doing it myself? (This is a multiple part question).

A) Should I consider having one of my minis trained to drive by a professional?
i) One consideration I want to say is that my two minis are quite small, one is 28" and the other is hardly 30".
ii) Secondly, Lily, (the 30"), has a bit of an attitude that I am not sure would be quite right for that kind of work...if you know what I mean. :)

B) Or should I consider purchasing an already cart-trained mini?
i) Upside to this would be the fact that it would not need extra training, but downside would probably be that there are very few options for cart-trained (not-show-quality/non-expensive) minis in my area.

C) Last option would be to purchase a larger untrained mini that I would have trained by a professional?
i) Upside to this option would be that I could learn more about training and driving while a trainer was training my mini, but the downside would be that it would not be an experienced driver.

Let me know what you all think. Right now I am still in the contemplative stage of this idea, so any ideas would be appreciated. I am considering different new ideas with minis, and this is one of them.

Thank You!
 

Marsha Cassada

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Of course, it would be ideal to find out if you like driving first!
You could start out with your own horses. If you can learn via video, you could start with that. I would purchase a surcingle and begin by ground driving your two. Even if you never drive them in harness, it is a great way to work with them and enjoy them. You might invest in a good driving bridle, or you can start out with an open bridle. The bit is important, imo.
There is a lot of tweaking to do with our experiences and equipment, but everybody has to start somewhere!
My avatar horse and I started together. Neither of us knew a thing! We muddled through and have a great bond. Good luck!
 

plaid mare

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The driving site here on the forum is a great source for information. Marsha, and others are so experienced in driving. There are members who have books on amazon. I too plan to start my horse in the near future.I am going to avail myself of as much information as I can before I invest the money. For ground work I am using an old tire. It provides safe resistance, and gives the horse the idea of pulling. It's a two person job. One at the head, and one with the long reins behind the tire.
 

MajorClementine

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See if you can find a driving society or club near you. They would be a great resource for driving lessons or a "trial run" to see if driving is something you are interested in.

I agree with Marsha, there are tons of online resources if you decide you want to train your minis to drive. Starting out with basic solid commands like "whoa" and ground driving is a ton of fun and your driving foundation.

You could have a professional help you train your first mini. A trainer will usually be willing to train you and your mini both so if you aren't feeling confident in your abilities alone a trainer is a great way to go. My first driving horse, Clementine, I had trained by a wonderful local gal. She also taught me how to harness and drive her. She was by no means a "finished" driving horse when I took her home but we both knew the basics and have continued to work from there. Once I knew more what I was doing I was able to work with my other minis (don't ask how many... I seem to have a problem....) without the aid of a trainer.

Your minis should be able to pull you just fine in a well balanced cart with a good fitting harness. Especially if you work them up slowly. Just like you starting a new workout program. You don't run a marathon the first week of training. If you can train them to drive double you've increased your pulling potential by a whole bunch. Plus you can work two horses at once. Win-win.

Good luck! Looking forward to your journey!
 

Willow Flats

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I'm in agreement with everyone here to first drive a mini (and if possible drive more than one) to see if it is something you want to do. Then think about what kind of driving you want to do, and you will better be able to decide if you want to train one of your current minis or purchase a larger mini. Ground driving your current minis is a great start to see if you would like to do the training yourself. I got lessons on how to properly fit a harness and cart from a professional when I first began and was really glad I did.

I have two driving minis that are both a lot of fun, but one is much larger so she is a lot more powerful and has a longer stride so she covers a lot more ground. She is also great for taking passengers because she has much more endurance. The other mini I will only take a small child along. My friend and I were talking about my two minis the other day and decided that one is like driving a golf cart and the other is like driving a sports car and they both love their jobs!

Best luck to you! I hope you decide to do it.
 

Cheryl W

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Hi @Tess

I am a newbie here, but we purchased a 4 y/o mare this summer (our first mini) and the gentleman we bought her from did some basic training in harness with her. I have had big horses but haven't driven before to speak of.

Ezzie is young and green, I'm green but not young. ROFL I am grateful we spent a bit extra to have her basic training done. She can be a spitfire and has attitude, but in harness, she is lovely and willing. A few little bumps in things, but due to the excellent advice and information on this site, we've gotten through those.

Working with a trainer is a safe and intelligent option and I would do so if we had someone closer to us. For now, we muddle along with Ezzie and are still working on building a stronger bond.

Let us know when you try out driving. You will certainly love it!
 

MindySchroder

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So many options and all are great! This is your journey and you should decide what is best for you and your minis.

I personally prefer larger minis, small ponies for driving. But I live and drive in the mountains and though we have stretches of flat road we have to climb hills to get to them ;) So I need a pony that can handle that.

There is so much information you can find online, on YouTube and by reading to educate yourself and decide if this is something you want to take on or if you want to find someone to train for you. We live in a place where there are not people who train driving horses. Some of them used to do that but at this time there is NO ONE that does it. So being self sufficient was something that I had to learn. (But I was raised driving Shetland ponies so that helps!)

I have a blog where I share EVERYTHING, good, bad and the pretty ;) about my driving and my ponies. You are welcome to come on over and take a look! www.theessentialhorse.com

The people here are wonderful and so helpful. Driving is the BEST. I think you will really enjoy it!
 

Patty's Pony Place

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You surely do have many options, and any one of them might turn out to be the best for you. Absolutely, there are lots of excellent resources for learning. We have done multiple videos on harness and cart fit, and function - they are available to see on the Patty's Pony Place FB page, and some are on my Supertonk FB page. The real trick to all of this research is to sift through actual knowledge VS "opinion" based data. There are absolutes in terms of fit, function, and physics, that are not subject to opinion. Be wary of advice given that is constantly accompanied by the "it's just my opinion" line, followed by - but I have great stuff I can sell you!! Nothing gets people into trouble like opinion and sales based "experts".
 

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