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poniesrule

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Ok, I'm sure I am repeating posts by others, & this is probably more rambling than anything.... but here we go anyways!

I am brand new to the mini-world. I grew up around "big horses" & even went to school for equine management, and as it usually does, life got in the way. I took a short break from all things horse & now have 2 little girls who are horse crazy like me! My oldest is 7 & a little shy around the big ones, my youngest is 2 and completely fearless and slightly obsessed
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Now to the topic at hand... We had an opportunity to give a "free" mini a home. She's super tiny & needs some TLC, won't be much but a pasture pet & a great learning experience for my kiddos. And shortly after we got little Princess, we had the opportunity to purchase 2 show mini's. We are super excited, especially since the gelding is 8 & broke to drive, and the mare is 3 & started driving. They really are addictive!

I used to call myself an experienced horsewoman, but I am humble enough to know that is NOT the case anymore
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I have driven a number of times, but it's been a while. I bought the carts & harness & show halters and EVERYTHING with the new mini's just because I figured it's better to use what they're used to and work into replacing things as I get more comfortable. The gelding has been shown successfully in country pleasure driving. I suppose since I can't ride him & he's broke to drive, that's why I'm posting in this forum?!

Can anyone/everyone offer me a piece of advice as a new driver and new mini owner? I'm not sure what I am looking for here, but it's a place to start? I plan to just get out and play every day & get to know them. I'm thinking of ground driving them before doing too much in the cart, don't want my inexperience to be the cause of an accident.
 

fourluckyhorseshoes

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I totally agree. It is something I would not recommend doing alone. Find a trainer that not only trains horses, but people too. They should be friendly and willing to work with you.
 

paintponylvr

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Did the folks that you purchased the two "show minis" from move out of town/state? Can't you get lessons from them? I know that if someone has sold out, it can be difficult to work with the folks who purchased the animals. I've run into that a couple of times myself, now. BUT that would be ideal - since they would "know" how to work the minis they sold you - along with all the proper adjustments to the equipment.

Otherwise - find a trainer/instructor (BEST). When you look for a trainer you might want to find someone who can work with you who knows HOW your little ones were started/trained. WHY - because if you drove them the way I drive mine (not like the current showring horses), you could end up in a wreck. Your trained guy would be trained to a specific level and with a specific set of cues - there are a lot of things that may not have been done with him (was he trained with breeching? most showring minis are not!!). I don't know that I could take your little guy and drive him - because I've never driven to show ring standards - though I drive A LOT and I love to drive! You can find a trainer that trains other horses/ponies similar to the minis (Hackney pony, Arab, Saddlebred, Morgan).

Any driving you do with the "solid" trained guy, could reduce his training level (not the right way to put it...) or "untrain" him - to a point. Can you bring him back? YES. Can you reach his level? YES. Can he teach you? YES, but... again, you need to know about him and his training.

or start with renting DVDs (google equine movie rental - think there's two companies now) and purchasing books. There are some DVDs out there by Mini Horse show trainers MAY be helpful to you. There are also a couple of "tried and true" books for starting at the beginning...

Breaking and Training the Driving Horse by Doris Ganton, is a great book that is probably the least expensive (less than $20) and covers a lot. It doesn't come close to covering everything (what book does?), but is a good start. Also the DVD by Mary Ruth Marks - general training for the driving horse with some footage of different carts, carriages and breeds of horses throughout.

Peruse the websites advertised here thru LB to see what they offer in driving training books/DVDs. Then go look thru the ADS (American Driving Society - hmmm - just went out there and wasn't finding the Book List I thought they had...) and thru Rural Heritage. There are quite a number of books and DVDs out there now - some pertaining to showing the mini, some pertaining to pleasure driving, some addressing Carriage driving and competition and last but not least several farm type (the main type of driving that I myself currently do) - training, use, presenting and showing.

AND last - buckle in and start reading thru this forum here on LB. It's loaded with info, ideas, advice and tips! I'm still researching myself - I was going thru posts over Christmas dating back to 2009! In your research, there is a couple of places where the harness is "broken down" - with not only parts listed but also what the different parts pertain to in a harness (steering, pulling, stopping/brakes, etc) and why they are important.

I didn't write all this to scare you off - but to give you a heads up and some ideas as to what to look at/for. Driving is a blast - and eventually I hope to be doing some show ring driving myself (I even have the cart and the show harness - but none of my ponies/mini are ready for show ring type work). Your children could learn to drive too. Taking the family on a "picnic drive" is FUN. We do that a lot with the Draft Horse Club we are part of (our Shetlands also "do" farm work).

Can we see pics of your little horses - both the show ring two and the one you got first? I think I can get away with saying we all love to see the new horses!!
 

Performancemini

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Welcome! Welcome! Yes, where are you from? Paintponylvr has given you wonderful information. We enjoy our minis at shows, county fairs and a couple of them go trail driving and do parades. We have 2 in particulair that are really fantastic with the children and we got to elementary schools, retirement centers and more with them. There are lots to do with the minis! Keep us posted!
 

poniesrule

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Thank you everyone for your kind words & insight! I guess I should have said that I will be working with the original owner A LOT! She lives about 1 1/2 hours away (as do most other mini breeders/trainers in Nebraska). I have driven the gelding a couple times already. He's very laid back, which is a plus. He has been driven with the breeching out and about, and also without when in the ring. The mare has only been started, she's only 3, so she will be my little project should I choose to keep going that route. I have been reading up on all things mini since September & am obsessed with Lil Beginnings forums! I'm trying to answer everything but I'm sure I'll miss some ;) my goal isn't big shows, more 4h and open projects for me and my girls to enjoy together.

My experience is mostly starting colts & showing western. I know the minis are a complete 180, but feel it's a way to get my girls involved, like taking the kids for a drive, but mostly just going and grooming and hanging out. I also know it won't be happening right away
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I am comfortable in saying my experience is greater than most people starting out fresh... I do know the basics. & I'm totally not offended by anyone's answers! Learning is everyone's greatest asset!

My profile pic (avatar??) is my little Princess. She's coming 2 in May and is a special girl. She was being kept in an outdoor dog kennel & was full or worms, & I just HAD to adopt her. With working with an equine specialist, we've gotten rid of the worms & put some weight on her, only to discover that she has subluxating patellas. She wouldn't hardly move when we got her she felt so yukky... As of right now, she's not in pain & We are still considering our options (injections vs. surgery), but have high hopes to start taking her to area schools & nursing homes. She's smarter than any horse I've ever met, & has been a blessing in disguise. I'll try to get up pictures of my 2 others ASAP, we go pick them up this weekend!! Thanks again everyone. I enjoy reading through all the posts & forums daily!
 

paintponylvr

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Well, then, sounds like you are starting right!!

Some good folk in the NE and IA area. You can also check out the mini/shetland clubs in those areas.

and here's how we started in 1995 - we'd had the ponies (a mini sized Shetland mare and much larger Shetland stallion) 2 weeks. I, too, came from a big horse background... and wanted the ponies to get my 3 little girls involved with something their size... AJ's sire was in MN and his dam was bred on a NE farm (still in operation in Fullerton).

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1 year later, w/ our first Shetland foal (from that pair), Stuffy -

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and 16 years later (Nov 2012) - same Shetland pony, Stuffy, now a mature mare! With Skye (now married and 2 little girls of her own) and our 2nd grand daughter, Gwendolynne.

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Skye does ground work with the ponies, doesn't really drive (she can sorta drive a trained pony like the mare above... and still rides her NSH mare in a halter and western saddle). Madira has pretty much left all animals behind as she's in college and a relationship with a guy who thinks she will live the rest of her life w/o animals (I think they are both mistaken - but could be wrong) and the youngest, Sierra, still rides big horses (jumping 3'6" courses & barrel racing) but has also pursued driving lessons herself - both single and pairs. Pleasure type driving/training - trails, training and farm work. She had fun earlier this year - "yee-hawing" with a pair of ponies on some very hilly trails. They all had a blast! Our big horse riding girlfriend rode in the back seat of my wagon - and thought we were trying to "kill her",
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She said she'd stay with riding...

and we went from those 1st two ponies to now having 20+ (34 equine total at the moment). That original Shetland stallion was with us until July 2012 (deceased) and we have 1 granddaughter & 2 grandsons out of that little filly above as well as a 2008 1/2 arab/shetland pony son and a 2013 Shetland son (last foal) that may follow in AJs "hoof prints".

Edited to add - To make it more driving related - here's a pic of Madira driving AJ after we'd started learning to drive... (not a safe way to do this, but...)

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a pic of Madira driving an IA farm bred pony that we trained to drive from "scratch" in 2010, same cart as above! -

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Edited to add 2 driving pics...

Since I didn't say it in original post - WELCOME! Glad you joined us.
 
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shorthorsemom

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welcome to the world of mini horses. You will love it.

Getting a trainer to work with you would be terrific. The more you learn the more there is to learn.... I have extensive biggie riding horse experience, I also navigated for a friend in a few CDE shows on big horses and was groomer on a few shows. I jogged standardbred race horses for a few years.

I thought I knew what I was doing, only to find when I finally started getting into mini horse driving, that I found that I knew very little in the big picture and that driving and handling a cart and harness has changed quite a bit and there is so much more to learn. I have learned that if I drop my left rein on a right turn then my boy will buck. haha. just thought I would toss that one in. Importance of good hands. My boy is very smart but not so forgiving of my errors and we have had some interesting lessons. I have been fortunate to have a friend work with me and on numerous occasions when my driving boy has made a monkey out of me I have been very grateful for her extensive experience and advice.

keep us posted along the way. Mini horses are terrific. Your baby is cute. I love her color.
 

Casey0Lee

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I am in the same boat as you Poniesrule. I got a bred mare and a weanling from a breeder this past fall. The mare is broke to drive and has been shown, but she hasn't been driven for a while. She is due at the end of June, so when the time gets closer I am going to purchase a cart and harness for her. After she foals, I want to ease her back into it and do some tril driving around home.

The weanling is a doll. He is going to be gelded this summer and eventually I will have him trained to drive as well.

I'm excited about the bun that's in the oven. Hopefully everything goes well.
 
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Sandee

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poniesrule, the hardest thing for me to get my "head" around after the big horses was driving these little guys and not being able to use my body weight, or legs to move them. After that it's pretty much all the same. Good luck and have fun!
 

Performancemini

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Yeah Sandee-and if you rode western, don't try to neckrein them LOL!!! (actually had two people trying to do that at our place a few times!)
 

shorthorsemom

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If you drive with a hyperbike you can use body and legs to steer them. LOL. Just kidding, but I do notice that when driving my boy if I drop my shoulder or look to the side etc. I communicate right down the reins just like riding horses.
 
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Sandee

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Definitely they will get the same messages thru the reins that your English horse would pick up on. Since the western riding is done with such a loose rein I don't feel the reins make the same sort of contact. Instead I think they pick up the body shift of weight which the mini can't feel.

These little guys are just as smart and intuitive as the bigger horses.

My big horse once stepped out of a box "turn around" (my fault for losing train of thought) but I tensed in the saddle and she totally stopped and pulled her foot back in. The only comparison there is when my minis/shetland start to act up or get excited I can let out my breath (which I was probably holding) and they relax too.

These little guys can be very light on the bit. I've had an old mini take me through cones with just crooking my little finger on the reins. It was a fantastic feeling.
 

studiowvw

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The best stops I get with my very forward mini mare is when I "think stop". How ever the "thought" gets down to the feet (subtle feel on the reins? reduction in my own energy? telepathy
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?) it is the one that works and stops her feet AND her brain.

She can pull like a freight train - I can pull harder, but pulling harder has proved to MAYBE stop her feet, but her head is not stopped, and as soon as I release, she's off again.

Whatever else it says to me, it reinforces my basic thought about horses - training goes best when you start softer than you realize you can, and release quicker than you knew you could.

I.e. a cue starts in your head (visualize) and you should release when the thought is in their head.

You may have to repeat this a few times to reinforce what you are looking for, but you always start as light as you can and release again.
 
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