Teaching a miniature to drive?

Discussion in 'Driving Miniature Horses' started by RebelZ, Jan 3, 2019.

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  1. Jan 3, 2019 #1

    RebelZ

    RebelZ

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    Hi all, so I currently have an 8 year old mini and would love to teach him to drive, however I have never driven a horse before and I’m not sure if breaking him to cart is a good idea when I don’t know what I’m doing. I have a lot of experience with horses in general, but not with driving and unfortunately I have no one who can help. Should I go for it and break him to cart or just leave it? thoughts?
     
  2. Jan 3, 2019 #2

    Marsha Cassada

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    Start off with ground driving and see how he works with that. You can buy a training surcingle fairly cheaply to get started. The bridle is the most critical, imo. You can start with just an open one, no blinders. I like to use a french link bit. You should go for it!
     
  3. Jan 3, 2019 #3

    MajorClementine

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    There are several great books on driving and youtube was a big help to me. Ground driving is where you start like Marsha said. The horse learning to move out in front of you is key. This is where lunging comes in and a surcingle as also stated above. Warning though... once you start driving you become addicted. And then you buy more carts and wagons... and harnesses.... and bells.... and boots.... and plumes.... Welcome to the club! Lots of helpful people here!
     
  4. Jan 6, 2019 #4

    Polkadots

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    I am going to be the downer here and suggest that if you don't have a clue about driving it would be best for both you and your horse to get some help with training him to drive. It can be incredibly dangerous and even fatal if you don't know anything at all. Harnesses come in several pieces and must be assembled and put on correctly to work well and safely. Even for ground driving you need to know what you are doing or you could get you or your horse, in trouble or injured or dead. You didn't say whether you have ridden before. If so, Western or English?. Do you know how to direct rein? Can you handle the reins and a whip at the same time?
    I would suggest driving lessons for yourself, on a well schooled horse by someone knowledgable about driving, to start. You could possibly train your horse once you yourself are more knowledgable.
    There are horses out there that are very forgiving and will put up with a lot of faux pas without you paying any consequences but without working with your horse I couldn't say if he is one of those and I wouldn't want to hear of either of you getting hurt. I have been a professional trainer for many years and have met many horses that were just not suitable for driving but have also met many more that enjoy it thoroughly and are a delight to drive.
    Driving is a lot of fun and it am sure you will enjoy it once you both know what you are doing.
     
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  5. Jan 6, 2019 #5

    Marsha Cassada

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    If the OP has a lot of horse experience, I think she should go for it. Horse and handler can learn a lot from each other, even through mistakes. No driver starts out as an expert; we learn as we go and each horse teaches us something. Ground driving will give horse/owner a good idea. Having a mentor is ideal, of course, but if I had waited around to find a mentor I would never have started driving. My horse and I could never compete in a dressage test, but we have a lot of fun together.
     
  6. Jan 8, 2019 #6

    jeanniecogan

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    IM WITH MARSHA. IF U GO SLOW AND MAKE IT FUN , ALWAYS STOP ON A GOOD NOTE, U CAN DO IT.
     
  7. Jan 9, 2019 #7

    MindySchroder

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    I had lots of big horse experience and did drive when I was a little kid. (My mom raised Shetland ponies.) But when I got back into the minis/ponies I had to teach myself how to drive again. And since I didn't have a driving mini I also had to teach my mini! I used my experience from the big horses to train the mini, and then later to train over 30 minis, ponies, donkeys and horses to drive :) so it's totally possible!

    I write a blog where I share a ton about driving. Feel free to take a look and see if you think it's something you can handle. Maybe reading a bit more and watching some videos will give you an idea if this is something you and your mini would enjoy:

    https://theessentialhorse.com/driving/
     
  8. Jan 9, 2019 #8

    Willow Flats

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    RebelZ this thread is so helpful because I have been on the fence as to whether to send my mare Nickers for training or do it myself.
    Lots of good points on here. I have been driving for a year now but that is still not that long. Mindy, I have your book, so looking forward to reading your blog too!!! The guy that trained my gelding said you have to think of training to drive like a pyramid with a solid base before moving on to the next step. If you skip things you end up with an upside down pyramid and things topple over.

    I feel encouraged to just start by slowly putting one foot in front of the other. She is doing well with ground work and I am getting her in shape in the round pen. Just had her teeth done yesterday and wolf teeth removed so in a couple of weeks I'll be able to get her in a bridle after I get the right bit and start the ground driving. I have put a surcingle on her and attached reins to her halter to see how she would go and she had no problems with it. The main thing I am reminding myself is to go slow and if I don't know how to do the next step to get some help. Especially with fitting the harness and cart which is my biggest concern.

    I have a Comfy fit Harness for my gelding but she is a lot larger and I don't want to have to adjust each time. Was looking at the Zilco as an alternative for her. Any suggestions?
     
  9. Jan 10, 2019 #9

    MindySchroder

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    I have the Comfy Fit harness and a MaraFUN harness. I will be getting a combination of a Comfy Fit Harness and MaraFUN for my bigger, small pony Mikey. I love the Comfy Fit because it's so soft and molds the to horse well. I've had a Zilco harness as well but it is stiffer and was more difficult to use when it gets cold here in Montana.

    I used to be a total leather snob but I've been loving my Comfy fit and maraFUN harnesses because they are as soft as leather but don't leave the leather dye marks all over the horse. LOL!

    Sky in her Comfy Fit harness. She's 37" tall:
    DSC00581.jpg
    Mikey the 41 1/2" small pony in the same Comfy Fit:
    handsomemikey.jpg
    And Zorro's MaraFUN harness. Zorro is 40":
    zorrinharness(small).jpg
     
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  10. Jan 10, 2019 #10

    Cayuse

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    Zorro! He's a cutie!

    RebelZ, I think if you start with ground driving and go very slowly and methodically, making sure the mini understands each new lesson introduced thoroughly before introducing the next step/lesson you should give it a try. Listen to the horse, they will often let you know driving is not there thing way before they are ever hitched.
    If your mini shows signs of not wanting to be a harness horse, you can stop. I have one that told me loud and clear it was not going to be his "thing" so we quit after working for months. I never did get him hitched. I felt I did not have the experience to continue and even if I did, I think this pony just was not suited temperamentally to drive.
     
  11. Jan 11, 2019 #11

    Angie

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    What is this "ground driving" you refer to? I'm curious about this.
     
  12. Jan 11, 2019 #12

    Polkadots

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    Ground driving is when you harness your horse and then walk behind him using the lines as if you were in the cart. It is safer to start this way when you have a green horse because you take the noisy cart out of the equation. You can also use ground driving early in the season or to settle a hot horse any time with less risk to the driver. If you start your horse in a round pen you can begin by lunging with the lines and then gradually work your way behind the horse to ground drive on the circle.
     
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  13. Jan 11, 2019 #13

    Patty's Pony Place

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    Here is the link to our FB page. There is TONS of data on this page, in both written form, and in video form. Training your mini to drive is like any other training one does - it all depends on your skill as a horseman, in how you deal with your horse, and the horse itself. Equipment is a key element as well, of course, and again, I refer you to the information you will find on our FB page. We are extremely diligent in terms of actual, factual data regarding harness style and actual factual function of given harness styles. Opinions are of no real value when it comes to learning how all of this works. Good luck to you! https://www.facebook.com/PattysPonyPlace/
     
  14. Jan 11, 2019 #14

    Patty's Pony Place

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  15. Jan 15, 2019 #15

    TerriMueller

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  16. Jan 15, 2019 #16

    TerriMueller

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    Polkadots,
    That's good advise. I would hate to have someone just think they can drive because they ride. It's a whole different method. Get trained and your horse at least some basic driving training. It's a lot of fun but can be dangerous too. The only thing you have to control the horse is your voice and two think lines. It can end in disaster.
     

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