Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What a Drag!

O continues to truck right along with her groundwork like it's nothing at all.

At the recommendation of the trainer, I picked up two 10' PVC poles from Lowe's to use as makeshift shafts. I walked alongside her dragging them for a little while, rubbed her with them, slid them in and out of the tugs, and then let her drag them, one at a time at first and then both by the end. I lightly secured them with baling twine, just so that they wouldn't fall out, and could also be released quickly.

Not surprisingly, she didn't care at all. Looked at one, looked at the other, and then forgot about them. Because she's awesome like that.

One of my friends saw the picture and said that the britching is too low, so I raised it today. I also punched some more holes so that I can lower the tugs some. It's a good training harness but it's not an expensive one by any means, so it needs a lot of adjustments. Lowering the tugs will help her drag them easier - I had to help her on turns by pulling on each pole so it wouldn't poke her in the neck, and when I got behind her to drive I only turned her in big giant arcs. Some fiddling will help fix this. 

And today, even bigger news! She dragged a tire with no fuss at all! I managed to get my hands on a singletree, and finally was able to use it. We went through the same process as the introduction to the drag poles, and within no time she was dragging it by herself with me long lining her from the side. The only hesitation she had was when I first moved behind her to continue the long lining (I had been leading her at first). She felt the weight and stalled, wiggled her butt sideways, and looked at me like, "well now what do I do?" A few clucks and she moved right off, and that was all. She walked AND trotted while dragging it! How's that for her first proper drag!

 So far, she:
  • Wears full harness while lunging, w-t-c, including crupper and blinkers
  • Wears full harness while long lining, w-t-c, including crupper and blinkers
  • Long lines down the road in an open bridle
  • Has dragged a tire in an open bridle, w-t
  • Has dragged PVC 'shafts' in an open bridle, at the walk
  • Backs and goes sideways on the line lines
  • Halts and stands immobile
  • Stands immobile for tacking/setup of exercises/etc.

All of it with no fuss, no drama, no nothing. There's a ways to go get but she's doing great. We're off to a halfway decent start if I do say so myself!



  1. Awesome! She is really taking driving training so well!
    Another thing you can do with the PVC pipe is to shorten it and make it into a U shape, then have her step into it, like actual cart shafts. I used to bungee cord the end to the breeching and line drive Shy.
    There is a photo here to better explain. . .

    1. I am personally not a fan of the U-shaped "false shafts" as they don't give the horse an experience that is anything like what it will feel in the cart. Yes the shafts to sit on either side of the body, but in that arrangement they are suspended and independent of anything so they do not push into or challenge the horse in any way compared to in a cart where if the horse moves over it will push into his shoulder or hip (or both if he gets bound up) while the false shafts will always stay a respectable distance as the only thing they are attached to are the horse. When the horse moves in the false shafts he can still turn on his forehand, which is something he will not be able to do in a cart.

      The benefits of having two poles/pipes like here is that it introduces drag, and if the horse turns too sharp there is lateral body pressure. He can't turn on the forehand because the pole to the outside would discourage it as the horse's hip moved into it. You also have the advantage of being able to kick them around and otherwise beat on them so that the horse can be further desensitized to such sensations.

  2. Maybe she's found her true calling?

  3. Her expression is so funny! She's like "What's the big deal?!"

  4. That's awesome!!! She's such a good girl! I can't wait until you do your first CDE!

  5. Looking good! The PVC pipes work really well. As she gets more comfortable with them I would start kicking them around (or have a friend help) so she can get used to random bumps and thumps, something that will probably happen if you ever hit a pot hole with the cart or she takes a funny step.

    Sounds like you have yourself a driving horse in the making!

    With my filly I did the poles and tire w-t-c once I got comfortable with them walk-trot. Obviously the canter with the tire was more to check willingness and never more than a couple of strides, always in a straight line.

    It doesn't sound like she has issue pulling, but something to help her with the concept is connecting lines to the breastcollar and pulling on them until she leans into them and, eventually, steps forward (releasing with each initial try). This teaches her that the answer is to step into that pressure rather than sucking away from it and she will find a greater release there than trying to back off of it. You can also do this with the breeching so she can learn to sit into and hold the cart back (needed for hills!)

    Exciting stuff!