Teaching a horse to drive might sound difficult but it is actually quite simple. As a matter of fact, by the end of this article you’ll be able to teach your horse the basics.
Between the invention of the automobile and today, driving has evolved to be more convenient, safer, and efficient than ever before. Similarly, teaching a horse to drive has many similarities to teaching a normal horse to combined harness and for the driver, yet different techniques are needed for the student.
Teaching a horse to drive is a great way to bond with your horse, and it can also be a lot of fun for both of you. It’s important to remember that this is a process that requires patience, but the benefits are incredible!
First, you’ll want to start by choosing a harness that fits your horse well and is comfortable. You may need to go up or down in size depending on how big your horse is and how heavy they are as well as how much weight they’re pulling.
Next, you’ll need some sort of cart or wagon with wheels large enough for your horse—you’ll want something that’s not too heavy or tall so that your horse doesn’t have trouble moving around while wearing their harness. You might also consider using a cart with an open back so that your horse isn’t enclosed in any way during training sessions (this may help them feel more comfortable). Make sure there are no sharp edges or anything else that could injure them during this process!
Once you’ve chosen the right equipment for your situation, it’s time for training! Horses are naturally curious creatures—so if something new comes along and catches their attention (like a new piece of equipment), then
The first thing you must do is teach your horse to respond to the cues of the harness, reins, and whip.
Once your horse has learned to respond to these cues without hesitation, you can begin teaching him how to drive.
To begin training your horse for driving, you will need a cart or buggy with a seat for you and room for your horse in front of you. The cart should also have a pole that extends from the front axle to the rear axle so that it can be pulled by a horse or other animal. The pole should be long enough to extend out at least four feet on either side of the cart.
Once you have assembled your cart, find a spot where there is sufficient space for both you and your horse to walk around freely. You should also have an open area where you can practice turning corners without running into anything or anyone else around you. Make sure that no one will get hurt if something goes wrong during training sessions!
Now that everything is set up properly, it’s time to introduce your horse gently into his new life as a driver!
Place his halter over his head and attach it securely around his neck so he cannot escape from it once he learns how
Teaching A Horse To Drive
Driving horses is often associated with something from another era. After the advent of cars, there was no need for us to ride in horse-drawn carriages anymore.
We could hop in our cars and get there much faster than in a pony-powered wagon. While driving your horse to the grocery store or work might not be practical, teaching your horse to drive has some amazing benefits for you and your horse.
Spook Proof Your Horse
Last week I had the pleasure of going out driving with a friend of mine. He hooked his favorite welsh pony to a four-wheel cart and we set out to view the countryside. My friend teaches all of his horses to drive, he considers it part of their basic training, and after just a few miles, I understood why.
Image by Michele Cook
The rigging jingled and the cart rocked as we headed down the driveway onto the road. The pony kept going. A large feed truck zoomed by without a tap of the brake. The pony kept going. Four dogs jumped a fence and ran up to the pony barking and carrying on (and scared the bejesus out of me). The pony kept going. I think you get the idea. This pony was pulled from a field as a stud, gelded and trained just three months before we took our little drive.
Driving your horse gives you the opportunity to expose your horse to many different things that they wouldn’t see in the ring or on the trail. That exposure will help your horse trust you and teach him that not everything is a horse-eating monster.
Steering and Voice Commands
When you ride a horse, you can use your hands, legs, seat, and weight to control your horse. When you are driving, you have only your hand and voice to control your horse. Teaching your horse to drive will greatly improve these two aids.
Many trainers use ground driving to improve these commands before getting on a horse for the first time. I can tell you from experience, steering is a nice thing to have on a young horse who isn’t quite sure what you are doing up there on top of him.
Image by Michele Cook
Getting Started Driving Your Horse
Ground driving is always a good place to start. You can use a plain bridle with the reins removed. For safety, use a surcingle and run your lines through the side loops to keep them from dragging on the ground (you can use two lunge lines if you don’t have a harness yet).
Start in a round pen or small paddock and position yourself behind and slightly to the inside of your horse. Ask him to walk forward with the command of your choice. You can use a cluck or a shake of the lines to encourage him. If he is sluggish, you can hold a carriage whip and give him a light pop on the butt to get him moving forward.
Once your horse is willing to walk and trot from the ground you can begin putting him in full harness and asking him to pull the shafts of a cart. If you have zero experience with driving a cart, this may be the point you will need a little help from someone more experienced. While driving isn’t as popular today as it was 100 years ago, there are still plenty of driving enthusiasts out there willing to help you out.
Before you start driving your horse there are a few precautions you need to take:
- Make sure your cart or carriage is in good working order. The brakes should hold their pressure and the wheels should turn freely.
- Have you farrier put on borium shoes if you plan on riding on the road. This will help keep your horse from slipping on the pavement.
- Check all harness parts for wear. It’s no fun to have a harness break while you are going down the road.
- Attach an orange triangle to the back of your cart to help people see you better. If you can find one that lights up, even better.
- Do not drive at night if your cart is not equipped with proper lighting.