Monday, July 1, 2013

A Sunday Drive

So much happened this weekend that I will do a couple posts to cover it all. We have been cursed with high humidity and storms off and on for the last week. Mom finally got a Sunday off, so we were determined to harness Rosemary for her first drive since, geez, I think last summer. New harness and a much smaller sarcoid means she is ready.
The horses were inside and Mom was putting the driving bit that came with the harness on the headstall to try. Rosemary's petite head forced us to poke some more holes into the cheek pieces. We will probably have to cut some of the ends off so they will fit in the fancy channel which hides the sides. Mom was about to start grooming her when the skies opened and it started pouring. Damn weather!!
Fortunately like a lot of summer storms it passed quickly. Now the question was whether or not the footing was be okay? Mom decided to try it. She put Rosemary in the center aisle for grooming and harnessing. Rosemary has gotten good at standing for this part.

Good Pony
Hey! Where did she go? I am ready to go.
Fancy headstall with driving bit
 Before trying to hook her to the cart, Mom ground drove her to make sure Rosemary could deal with the bit. Previously we have used a 3 piece loose ring just like we ride her in. This bit is a ported bar with a curb strap. Once before during training Rosemary did not really like this kind of bit before so we definitely wanted to check. The reins we put at the softest setting, to the rings which means the curb is not engaged. Rosemary ground drove like a champ even with a big flat bed for of stuff being unloaded right by the barn. Mom said go get the cart.
Hooking her to the cart took a bit of time. One, Rosemary wants to get to driving and does not stand as well and two figuring out the new harness arrangement. Finally she was ready. We walked her out and Mom mounted. That pony clicked right into work mode. She loves to drive. A couple laps around the arena at walk and trot were all she needed to go for a stroll.
Warm up laps

I hitch a ride

We set off down the road which is lined by corn fields. Rosemary avoided puddles, they might eat her and tried to drift close to the corn. Fast food drive through attempt. Overall she listened and adjusted really well. The maturity we have seen under saddle was apparent in harness too. She trotted up the hills, sat back on the downhills and almost always turned when asked. At one point she tried to run into the corn. Nope sorry girl, back your butt up and turn. I am always amazed at how the figure out how to push the cart on tight turns. Then is was a trot up the big hill, and onward down the road. Mom drove her up another hill and one rabbit bounds away. Then I looked down to see another fuzzy butt take off nearly under Rosemary's feet. Pony girl just kept going.
This side of the field has long grass which helped to keep Rosemary honest. It was here that I took the reins. I did better about keeping my hands together and using more subtle signals. Rosemary needs very little to know what you want her to do. Unlike riding, all you have is your hands and a whip. Kind of a heady experience to drive.
After I played with some turns we headed back to the arena for a final lap. Long grass and humidity make for a tough work out. As we went down a little hill, Rosemary walked then stopped. She picked her head way up and would not move beyond a step or so. I knew something was wrong. I passed the reins to Mom and went to look. Sure enough Rosemary had her tongue over the bit. This type of bit can cause this to happen. She stood still as I tried to help get her tongue back were it should be. I love that her reaction was to stop. Better that than to react with speed. Once that was fixed, she walked on for me no problem.
The last turn, she decided to take advantage of my inexperience and pulled toward the barn. Again I gave the reins to Mom, checked her mouth, no issue. I told Mom to make her complete the turn. With me standing between her and the barn she decided it was easier to do as we asked.
So despite the rain, we had a great Sunday drive. You would never know she has not driven for such a long time. Her steering, bending and straightness have all improved. She was so good, Mom said "I actually had fun." When you can just enjoy the drive and not worry so much about what she is doing, the experience becomes more than training.


  1. Awesome! I love reading other blogs with horses that drive. I used to use the 3 piece snaffle with my mare for driving, but switched to a straight bar with the cheekpieces similar to that bit. Driving is so much fun, we are just getting into it, learning a lot, but having a blast!

    1. Both Rosemary and us just started learning to drive last year, so we are still picking things up too.
      My first time in a cart was with our friend's Halflinger so I love seeing yours.

    2. There is no other feeling than cruising in a cart!