Training A Horse To Pull A Cart

Training a horse to pull a cart sounds like a fairly simple task, but it’s not that easy as you may think. Pulling a cart is not just about attaching a harness to the horse and physically pulling it. Some special process is required.

Horses are naturally born into the world as a herd animal. They’re social animals, and they work together to survive and thrive in their herd. This means horses will go where the herd goes, no questions asked. But as a human, training your horse not to follow the herd is an essential skill to master, if you want your horse to pull a cart.

Training a horse to pull a cart is a lot of fun and can be very rewarding, but it is also a long process. The first thing you need to do is get your horse used to pulling a cart.

First, put the cart in front of the horse. If they are afraid of it, then they might try to run away from it or trample it with their feet. In order to prevent this from happening, place an apple on top of the cart and let them smell and eat it until they start getting used to the idea of having something like that around them all day long. Then when you have trained them enough so that they don’t mind being around the cart anymore, you can put some hay inside for them to eat whenever they want during their training sessions so that they will always be rewarded by having something good happen whenever they perform well during practice runs instead of just being rewarded with treats all the time like most people do when training horses (which only makes them more likely to respond poorly when not given treats).

Once they have gotten used to walking around with stuff on top of their heads or dragging behind them without running away or kicking at anything attached nearby (like other

There are many reasons why a horse owner might want to train their horse to pull a cart.

One of those reasons is for fun. Some owners love the thrill of going out on the open road with their horse pulling them along in a cart. This activity can be especially thrilling when it’s done at night with Christmas lights and music blaring on your speakers!

Another reason to train your horse to pull a cart is because you need it for work purposes. A lot of people use carts in their jobs, such as farmers who use them to transport goods, or delivery men who use them to deliver packages throughout town. If you’re thinking about getting into one of these professions, then it would be helpful if your horse was already trained to do so!

The final reason why someone might want their horse to know how to pull a cart is because they need it for transportation purposes. This could entail anything from taking your kids around town or transporting produce from one place to another.

Training A Horse To Pull A Cart

Certain horse breeds were developed specifically to be driving horses, pulling vehicles, such as carriages, wagons, and sleighs. The horses in these breeds tend to be relatively light, quick, and agile. These light draft horses are not the same as large draft horses that typically pull heavy plows or carts.

Breed Characteristics

Driving horses often have powerful shoulders and hindquarters combined with a strong, broad back, well-sprung ribs, and thick mane and tails. They also need to have stable, reliable feet. It needs to have an amiable temperament with a willingness to please its driver and easy to train to learn voice, rein, and whip commands. Ponies or horses can make suitable driving horses.


If you’re looking to develop a team of driving horses, first become proficient as a single-horse driver. When forming a team, match speeds and gait, and make sure the horses get along.

Here are 10 driving horse breeds commonly used for pulling carriages and other light vehicles.

  • 01 of 10 American Standardbred American standardbred horses racing on a track Barrett & MacKay / Getty Images The American standardbred is a very popular driving horse breed for both harness racing and pleasure driving. These horses have excellent speed and stamina, and they’re typically friendly and calm. Because they’re already accustomed to the harness and pulling a vehicle, former racing standardbreds can be retrained for pleasure driving. Breed OverviewHeight: 14 hands (56 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 800 to 1,200 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Thick mane and tail; muscular legs; deep chest; somewhat resembles a thoroughbred
  • 02 of 10 Welsh Pony and Cob Welsh pony hitched to a vehicle MBurger / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0 Whether you have a 3-foot-tall “type A” Welsh pony (the smallest size category) pulling a tiny cart or a larger cob pulling a two-seater buggy, these equines make wonderful harness animals. They’re generally hardy and easy to maintain. The larger members of the family are also comfortable being saddle-ridden. Breed OverviewHeight: 11 hands (44 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches)Weight: 400 to 1,200 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Small head; short back; high-set tail
  • 03 of 10 Hackney Hackney horse in a stable Johner Images / Getty Images With their high-stepping gait and elegant head carriage, it’s hard to believe hackneys are endangered in some countries. Hackneys were initially bred for riding and were crossed with driving breeds and thoroughbreds for added speed and style. In their heyday, hackneys were valued much like exotic sports cars are today. Breed OverviewHeight: 14 hands (56 inches) to 16 hands (64 inches)Weight: 1,000 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Muscular build; broad chest; high-set tail
  • 04 of 10 Cleveland Bay Cleveland bay horse Bob Langrish / Getty Images Originating in England, the Cleveland bay is a light draft horse for driving and riding. It was primarily used for farm work and to pull carriages. Members of the royal family have used this breed for competitive driving. Lately, its numbers are dwindling as its usefulness in daily life fades. Breed OverviewHeight: 16 hands (64 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 1,400 to 1,500 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Bay coat with no white markings except an occasional star on the head; muscular build; deep chest
  • 05 of 10 Thoroughbred horses in a wagon race Deanna Quinton Larson / Getty Images Known for their horse racing speed, thoroughbreds are also used in pleasure and competitive driving, especially for events that require swiftness. However, a former racehorse will need extensive retraining by an experienced equestrian for pleasure riding or driving, and sometimes its temperament might not be suitable for the role. Breed OverviewHeight: 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 1,000 to 1,300 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Deep chest; lean body; long, flat muscles
  • 06 of 10 Friesian Friesian horse team and cart Frans Lemmens / Getty Images The Friesian is a Dutch horse that originated in Friesland, a northern section of the Netherlands. This European breed can trace its lineage to warhorses from the Middle Ages that carried armored knights. Comfortable being ridden or driven, this horse breed has a showy, high-stepping gait and powerful, elegant carriage. Breed OverviewHeight: 14 hands (56 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 1,200 to 1,400 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Black coat, which may be gradations of true black; the only white marking permitted in a studbook registered horse is a small star; thick, long mane and tail; feathering on lower legs; muscular, compact body
  • 07 of 10 Morgan Morgan horse standing by a fence dcdebs / Getty Images Vermont’s official horse breed, the Morgan is a light workhorse that became popular in colonial New England in the late 1700s. An all-purpose horse, Morgans could plow fields, be ridden during a hunt, and pull the family buggy. They are ideal beginner horses and great family horses under saddle and in harness. Breed OverviewHeight: 14 hands (56 inches) to 15 hands (60 inches)Weight: 900 to 1,100 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Smooth lines; small ears; expressive eyes; crested neck
  • 08 of 10 French Trotter French Trotter Kili77 / Wikimedia Commons/ CC By 3.0 The athletic French trotter was developed in the 19th century to compete in trotting races. It’s a mix of several breeds that contributed their speed, power, and balanced strides. In 1937, the French Trotter Studbook closed to horses not bred in France. French trotters tend to be calm, gentle, and easy to work with. They’re popular for racing under saddle and in harness. Breed OverviewHeight: 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 1,100 to 1,400 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Muscular build; large head; deep chest
  • 09 of 10 Orlov Trotter Orlov trotter Photographs by Maria itina / Getty Images As one of Russia’s most popular horse breeds, the Orlov trotter originated during the 18th century as a hardy harness horse with speed and stamina, and a hereditary fast trot. These horses are generally powerful and agile, and they’re gentle and trainable. They’re often used in harness racing and pulling carriages. Breed OverviewHeight: 15 hands (60 inches) to 17 hands (68 inches)Weight: 1,000 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Large head; expressive eyes; deep chest; muscular build
  • 10 of 10 Shetland Pony chestnut Shetland pony Carina Maiwald / Getty Images The Shetland pony originated in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Despite their small size, Shetland ponies are pretty powerful and hardy. This breed pulled carts and worked in mines throughout the 19th century. They also gained popularity as driving ponies and companions for children. They are generally very gentle but can be a bit headstrong. Breed OverviewHeight: 7 hands (28 inches) to 11.5 hands (46 inches)Weight: 400 to 450 poundsPhysical Characteristics: Compact body; broad head; thick neck; short legs; lush mane and tail

Breeds to Avoid

Draft horses have the body structure and calm temperament best suited for pulling, hauling, or driving carriages. Breeds that do not make the most sense for driving carriages are horses that are best suited as riding horses or racehorses. Also, hot-bloods or racehorses like the Akhal-Teke and Arabians tend to be more nervous and energetic than horses more suitable for driving. They need to be able to work well alongside other horses.

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