I'll be totally honest with you all: the reason I haven't bothered to get any pictures or videos of O with her cart is because the entire setup is complete junk. And as such, my training cart has earned a name: Janky the Training Cart.
Now, Janky was the right price: free. After a long search, I had committed to buying a pretty decent training cart, heavy duty and sturdy. Unfortunately, right before I emailed the seller back with a definite "yes," he sold the cart to someone who had come to buy a horse that day. Bahhhhh curses.
Luckily for me, the guy was a super nice citizen of the world, and he felt bad that he basically sold the cart right out from under me. He wrote me back saying that he had a beat up but structurally sound metal cart that hadn't been used in a long time just sitting on his property, and would I like it for free? You're dang right I would!! I raced up to get it before he changed his mind. It basically is a piece of crap, but it is completely suitable for the task of breaking a horse to drive - if she were to freak out, kick, go nuts, etc, there's more or less zero that can be done to damage the cart. It is more or less balanced enough, makes a lot of noise, and is lightweight enough to teach her to pull without it being exhausting.
Basically everything about my setup is just *not quite right.* My training harness is too big, and therefore nothing sits quite the way it needs to. The breeching hangs too low, even when raised as high as possible. The hip strap is too far forward. The breastcollar is either too low or too high no matter what I do (currently is sitting too high), and is too long. The tugs had to have a bunch of holes punched in them to lower them enough to accommodate Janky's low sitting shafts (which seems to be a common problem with metal carts). Janky's shafts are heavy and WAY too long for O, so they pull the tugs backwards. The traces are too long. The back rest is currently Vetwrapped on, because otherwise it would just fall off. I keep it all clean and the workload light, so we don't risk any soreness or rubs, but once we move beyond simple training stage I definitely will be wanting a properly balanced cart and better fitting harness. I don't want to risk her getting rubbed or sore.
And did I mention Janky doesn't even have a real seat? The wood rotted out and the seat cover blew away on our way home from the place where we picked it up. I meant to go get a board and fix it, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Ah well... I'm still super thankful to have it for this preliminary stage of training.
She has been hooked four times now and has gotten better each time. The first time, I did my typical process of leading her around while pulling the cart myself on both sides of her, letting her stand and smell the cart for as long as she wanted (this is a big thing for her, she needs to look at and process things in order to accept them), pulled it behind her, put the shafts up over her back, slid them in and out of the tugs, and finally held the shafts in the tugs and walked her along with it behind her. She didn't care, as usual, and it wasn't long before we had the traces hooked and I was walking behind the cart. I didn't do up the breeching the first day, since we were just walking along and I wanted to be able to quickly release her just in case it all went to hell (and also we were just walking on a flat surface). By the end of the session, I was sitting in the cart and we were walking along pretty as a picture.
Session two she was hooked fully, breeching included, and we did a few steps of trot. Session three we were trotting all over the place, and even went up some little hills. We walked down the hills with me outside of the cart, so she could get used to the idea of slowing the cart down with the breeching herself. Today we did about the same as the last session, with some good forward trotting and some solid whoas. She is doing really well with figuring out how to balance herself against the push of the breeching, and she is more than happy to take weight and pull with the breastcollar. We're still going in an open bridle, and probably will continue to do that for at least a little while. In-between driving sessions, she always has a day off or a lunge, ride, or groundwork session.
Janky? Yes. Functional? Yes. Fun? Oh yes!!