Problem child when hooked to cart

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Ike

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So I have trained three of my horses to drive with no issues. They were all very laid back and could have cared less what I did with them. Now I'm working with my wild child mare and she is almost totally opposite. I know she is going to be what you would call a hot mare. She is very friendly but has a lot of energy and can be on the spooky side with new things and of course those terrifying garbage cans
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She ground drives beautifully, I have never had any issues with her there, but I knew I was going to more than likely have some problems when introducing her to the cart. So this weekend I brought my cart in and left it sit in the girls pen so they could sniff it and chew on it and so on. After a while I had my sister who was up for the weekend just walk the cart up behind her and rub her on the sides with the shafts and all to just let her see it's not the boogeyman. No issues just sniffed. Then I decided since she's taking this so well maybe just walk her a few steps with my sister walking the cart with her just to see how she would take it following her. She did ok, just watched it a bit like hmm it follows me. Then I walked her out and had my sister walk beside us with the cart. She was a little worried at first about the wheels turning but relaxed after a minute. Then I gave her a break and put the harness on and ground drove her, do something familiar that she is used to. Then I decided let's see if she'll tolerate me actually hooking her up to the cart and just walking with it. Stood like a champ while I hooked her to the cart. I did take the head stall off and just had a halter and lead on before I hooked her so she could see what was going on. Then I thought let's see if you will take a few steps. She did and realized something was attached and following her so she stopped. I got a treat and gave it to her and she went a few more steps and after a couple more treats she walked just fine with it, forward. Then I got towards the end of the pen and we had to turn. As soon as the shafts started touching her side when she started to turn she turned into something out of a rodeo. Bucking and running in a circle around me. The cart finally hit a bump and she slid right out of the harness. So I walked her around and calmed her and brought her right back to the cart and just had her follow me around it and over the shafts just to show her it's still not going to hurt her. Brought it back behind her after a while and just rubbed her with the shafts and then walked her next to it again to end on a good note and let her know it's not going to eat her.

Does anyone have any tips on how I should be introducing her to the cart? Like I said totally different personality of horse than I have worked with before. She is very energetic and sensitive. Maybe she was just on overload from all the new stuff thrown at her this weekend but I would really like to have some input on how to approach this part of her training. Also just as a side note I do usually work by myself unfortunately. My sister is the only one who helps but she only comes up every few weeks so I'm kind of stuck doing things myself.

I do have local Amish that could work with her but I really want to do this myself for the experience because I know as I get more minis over time I will likely run into more like her. I am keeping it on my back burner though just in case.

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Chamomile

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Before hitching her to the actual cart it is a good idea to hitch her to a travois. That is a nice intro to having shaft like things along her sides and will help her learn how to turn and move while hitched up. Also if she gets scared you won't run the risk of having an accident with your cart which could set you two back quite a bit... I wrote a book about training a miniature horse to drive and there are lots of photos in there of a travois and how to hook it to the horse! Good luck!!
 

Ike

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Thank you for the advice! I'll definitely look into getting one or figuring out how to make one. I am by no means an expert driver or trainer, it's just what has worked for me in the past. Didn't grow up around other horse people and my parents never knew an eye from a hoof so I've always just kind of surfed the internet in hopes of finding good information. I honestly still don't know after ten years of driving my minis if I'm hooking the harness on right. Lol. Thank you so much
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paintponylvr

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First understand this - a lot of "hot" horses never become good driving horses. It's hard to deal with. I had to deal with it and it SUCKED. But I finally came to the conclusion that part of the reason I wanted to drive was to ENJOY the driving. IF my horse didn't enjoy it (and a reactive one doesn't usually), I certainly didn't enjoy constantly having to watch out for everything and be ready to put a stop to the next spook or melt down. The mare started fussing so much that rather than getting into shape, she was losing weight and condition. I finally traded that mare and her 2 yr old daughter, who was starting to behave in all the same ways, for a mare that was more appropriate and started having lots of fun again.

That said - here are some ideas that we have used. I LOVE my driving books and videos. Then instruction/help 1day/week with a Draft horse trainer, working with our ponies and having "homework" for the following week.

Have kids? Have sprinklers, pool, kiddie pool? Have "pool noodles"?

CHEAP, easy way to start getting her used to "things" touching her besides just the harness and a great way to use the summer noodles before they fall apart (ours lately only last the summer in the pool and one winter working with the ponies before they disintegrate). Then wood or pvc poles (I start w/ one @ a time, then 2).

My pictures will no longer attach in this forum - had 5,000 photos up in Picasa (done by Google) and Google got rid of Picasa and "took over". The "fix" that was recommended on Google forums work for my chicken and other horse forums but not here... BUT think I can link some? I'll try.

We actually started by dropping the traces on the ground - our reactive ponies have freaked out at that - and it takes a while to get them used to it. Once used to the traces, I've hooked it to a single tree - my first one was part of the pole from a broken stall fork - dragging on the ground. Then you attach items to the single tree for dragging - a tire, a pvc pole. Then graduate to the 2 pvc poles &/or travois idea. THEN introduce your shafts/cart again.

Bell:

pulling a tire - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNJ9pyVC4aAMowPLjHXoVoGTgE-LASp875M0ikF/photo/AF1QipOmXwgs8o_5SU26VrYft8Gk2bdslNsbqiSlXNSe

pulling a pvc pole from single tree - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNJ9pyVC4aAMowPLjHXoVoGTgE-LASp875M0ikF/photo/AF1QipP1lWEmXIk9LB04c3PVK8fPOgkR3ARZ1gOscXxf

This mare, Bit, was our 1st VERY reactive one, but I preservered with her and eventually got her driving. Still can't hook her to a metal ez entry cart - drives her insane. But our wooden sulky jog cart, a wagon as a pair, the forecart as a pair or 3 abreast hitch, logging both by herself and with a partner - she's a great driving pony now. Took forever!! with the help of a trainer and a friend and the support of the draft horse group I belong to to get her there. Took over 2 years to get her calmly driving - and there were many meltdowns along the way. I'm not sure I could deal with the type of work Bit put us thru now like we did in 2010 and 2011.

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipOMr_MXNxEabuJO__MgT5UooivoMi0SiZ_32K42/photo/AF1QipN7WYji5Q6F2rPNM5wFFI51OsrvIvKwPVk98ztP

One of the meltdowns - she's still wanting to whip around the opposite way when the shafts touch her. Needed help getting her around this curve.

https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipOMr_MXNxEabuJO__MgT5UooivoMi0SiZ_32K42/photo/AF1QipOOUP9lMLVKJRpLwEU2nxTG72ez8QaV1GZDmOLw

Pulling by herself - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipOMr_MXNxEabuJO__MgT5UooivoMi0SiZ_32K42/photo/AF1QipMYviza5u6MUF32UhRxPmA-5BzYuKJj9C2P8Tpo

Ami -

single pool noodle - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPGYZsGx1bCgSK9IQxnMrHqXvYQl-RwWD9VoH9k/photo/AF1QipOenGn5Qh0cNQTckE64J7LnL1ppAqUS0rHT15A4

pulling the singletree - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPGYZsGx1bCgSK9IQxnMrHqXvYQl-RwWD9VoH9k/photo/AF1QipM_XENTpWr3TQMJVgbAh1F7DWRoORv5qWKthHwN

single pvc pole - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPGYZsGx1bCgSK9IQxnMrHqXvYQl-RwWD9VoH9k/photo/AF1QipMnjGrFpkUymUxXwfQrte8hIxV8jhD9qpOlIDS8

2 pvc poles - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipPGYZsGx1bCgSK9IQxnMrHqXvYQl-RwWD9VoH9k/photo/AF1QipOy1sYEPtGh-vQUlms7y3iODsMqPvgh50yqAJeM

Cupid -

Not liking the single tree on the ground w/ 1st time in blinders - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipOyUX5M3ew8yJAUCzKVk7cssJKSQms2t_nFOybR

calming down - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipO2xEL9uaWvB9XcuFcCLV6ZOqTyPgcamUrVIK0x

prepping him for pulling - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipOJ7cDDX5PR-NYfTcpj7vtbsloApDcjHKJIU2ht

using the fence as a stopping force - 1st hook to tire - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipNui4PE-HhHyYG6KWrV3qIlvjNoyjyS3ZJpsEYN

trot work - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipMfXkzatBuGM2oTC_h-TOxi7fc5NJGU39sDSvsj

in the open - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipNcB0KEoYtEzSeODbT5oI1iGoM7l3sdvKjuS1YD

working w/ pvc poles as shafts - doesn't always work - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipNpjm0Ws-imqDoOt-z9vtmTllU5uL9oGoooRGfQ

obstacles w/ pvc poles - water - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipOOmTaO7GB8pLtWdieKyA-0aBCaP0mm2cE-t-3M

pvc poles - reminder that everything is OK - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipOmEw7O5ijDFLV287YSYjcls8noQOEa6ZbP1LDC

obstacles w/ pvc poles - the box - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipMenJ7u9uMRYKx79jveIvlGX1S71goQ7C_NrY-a

the box - 1 step at a time - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipPfTpSjVWgc-Eacsx35jtIr84DItFERtAmF1eV0

"poling" him - in the open - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipNn6LWzRcUly1N-Z2LMj4SHTYDO6ne2VWxtpwZ3

Logging - by himself - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipObDQNM_s-C8T7n-lg3IwZYVJTQDdm4dxsawRYk/photo/AF1QipPt3rBBHPGo4bpcBtwk9yE2BHycE8if5tbgTRt1

Logging - w/ KoKo - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipO6r06VuH9aljqPGfgHG2SG_4sOrkW3OXdWeEZc/photo/AF1QipNtZZTye7laqnuFg4cQZ7UK3EBC271SWCQ2F-lb

Logging - w/ Ami - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMajxu0_3YfI26urqr7aRrhQ93ubWkMVFjdoJO9/photo/AF1QipP61WuccvBt2JCk5HV5VBrYkmUCIDudBk6CljRl

KoKo -

single pvc pole - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMCJJtLucFB6LA8GBf6Lri4-6tnH7SP1bEkAkAC/photo/AF1QipOqZ1qmI96g9vMDmu7FGqEFdKv-36yyIo0v9dmC

pair of pvc poles - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMCJJtLucFB6LA8GBf6Lri4-6tnH7SP1bEkAkAC/photo/AF1QipO65N38g-SS7Hr6IX7CkFyuBvLqxBoco8Nplo9b

logging single - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMCJJtLucFB6LA8GBf6Lri4-6tnH7SP1bEkAkAC/photo/AF1QipMoHXStPcU2I-BLUNhjIamoCfNF50f0xI8zqgn8

Kechi -

single pvc pole - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMDtI1cedgMrJPv3SoVdCE1lEJB7UGRHGXBQbvr/photo/AF1QipMzmTcTqH8njnR2D2JbLy4ObNNgWc5j-Jq56c23

2 pvc poles - https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipMDtI1cedgMrJPv3SoVdCE1lEJB7UGRHGXBQbvr/photo/AF1QipPP-7UlhKDNl7Rkavj_CZEiJfukTh6qogF7iqh7

Hopefully, the pictures I've shown give you some ideas. I believe I still have others...
 
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Marsha Cassada

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If that is you, OP, in the photo you are young and optimistic and idealistic and enthusiastic. Those are the very best qualities to work with a reactive horse. I suggest you get a pair of driving gloves and wear them while working with that horse. It is nearly impossible to hold onto the reins of a bolting horse without gloves.

I also have to work alone, and this is a huge challenge with training.

Sounds you are starting off well with introducing the shafts to her.

If it turns out she never settles down, allow yourself to admit that some horses are just meant to be pets and not have a job.

Pat Elder of RosaRoca training has some excellent tips for desensitizing. She has a book.

Do keep us posted on your progress! We are all still learning.
 

paintponylvr

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Pat Elder's book is also now a video. I have several copies of her book and haven't gotten the video yet.

YES, I agree that you are starting off well.

Here is a set of training shafts we made. This is the only pony i have pictured with them in use - IC

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walking over the shaft trainer & then following the shaft trainer -

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milk jugs -

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FurstPlaceMiniatures

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My strategy for working a reactive horse is to make them bored.

When she's bored of ground driving, ground drive with the tire. When she's bored of the tire put pvc poles on her sides. When she's bored of that hold her next to the cart and shake the crap out of it so she gets used to the noise. You get my point

Each of those stages should take WEEKS. Not days or minutes. That way when something new happens the reaction is "FINALLY" not "AHHH!"
 

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