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Favorite Asked Questions

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The most frequently asked questions about driving horses.
 
The single most important thing to teach a driving horse is; When you stop and say "stand" the horse will stand without moving for an indefinite period of time at your command.
1. Question:
    What type horse should I get to drive?
Answer:
     Almost any horse will drive, so the criteria falls on your needs and experience. Are you a beginner or advanced horseperson? Temperament and size are the main consideration. You need one big enough to suit your needs.
                 
3. Question:
     I have a horse already, can he be trained to drive?
    
Answer:
     Probably any well trained and mannered horse will pull a cart. A horse that frequently and persistently kicks, bucks, rears, shys and runs away, is not a good canditate for a driving horse. In gereral, if the horse does not behave under saddle he will not behave hitched to a carriage and can be very dengerous! 
 
 
5. Question:
     How much will it cost me to start driving?
 
Answer:
     Good driving saddle breeds are in high demand. Figure to spend at least $1,000.00 over the cost of the same horse. Draft horses are considerably less, but you will pay more for tack and upkeep.
Carts:
I recommend a two wheel cart for beginners, reason being, where the horse goes the cart goes. Driving a four wheel vehicle is like driving an 18 wheeler.
Prices vary from area to area. For saddle horses at entry level an " Easy Entry" type cart is fine if you do not plan to show. New in California, $600.00.
If you plan to show, for beginners, a "Meadow Brook" type cart  can be used for pleasure and show.
 
Harness:
For saddle horses a decent new leather pleasure harness is far superior to nylon. If you take care of it, it will last you twenty years or more and is sutiable for show and pleasure.  $500.00 and up. 
Drafts; a good used single harness will run $400.00 and up depending on your area.
Good used harness is hard to find!
Beware of bargin harness. You, your family, and others lives are more valuable than saving a buck or two on that cheap bargin harness.
 
8. Question:
     What is a CDE?
 
Answer:  
      CDE is an abbreviation for Combined Driving Event. The sport of combined driving is a blend of three distinct harness competitions designed to test the versatility of the horse and driver. The scores of the three phases are added together to determine the winners. The lowest score is the winner. The competition usually begins on a Friday, with phase one being dressage. This is a test where the horse must respond to subtle signals from the driver and show a willingness to go forward obediently, with energy, elasticity, and grace.
On the next day, phase two is held, where the same horses and drivers take to an exciting cross country marathon course, anywhere from three to 26 kilometers long. The course challenges the driver's judgement and skill, and the fitness, courage, and agility of the horse. It is a race against the clock as each  section must be negotiated at a predetermined speed and gait. On the last day, the event calminates with phase three, the cones or obstacle course. The course requires the horse and driver to negotiate an intricate route defined by cones, including narrow gates, bridges, and sometimes a water splash, The course allows only inches between cone markers and carriage wheels and is timed. Every entry has the same amount of clearance, so it is fair for everybody.
There are different levels of competition for the skills of the horses and drivers: Training, Preliminary, Intermediate, and Advanced. It is great fun, and is not as intimidating and difficult as it appears.
 
   
       
2. Question:
     Where can I buy a driving horse?
 
Answer:
     Look in the local want adds in newspapers, at feed stores and tack shops. Look for horses for sale at horseshows, playdays, and driving clubs. Look on the in a internet for links on websites for horses for sale.
Always take a knowledgeable person with you to advise you, and LISTEN to him! Don't buy a horse because he looked at you and whinnied, and you thought you and him "bonded".
Check our "Bulletin Board"  and "Classified Ads."
 
4. Question:
     Can retired track horses be trained to become a pleasure driving horses? (Standardbreds)
 
Answer:
     Yes. With a certain amount of retraining and depending on how well they drove to start.
A great advantage with these horses is they
already are exposed to commotion, loud noise, crowds, other horses, trailering etc. 
 
6. Question:
     What do I need to do before driving my horse?
Answer:
   The Begainner should take lessons from the most competent teacher he can find! A self-taught person inevitably contracts bad habits which can be  dangerous and very difficult to break,  even when he knows a  better way. The longer he drives without competent criticism the more fixed these bad habits will become. A pupil should make up his mind to do precisely what his instructor tells him.
Even well advanced persons still learn by attending clinics and watching another person drive. One never know it all! There is always room for improvement.  Keep an open mind, and accept criticism gracefully as they are only trying to help you!  There is always something to learn.
Driving can be very dangerous if proper training of the horse and person isn't done. A book or video is a great investment, reinforced with a competant instructor, and will help keep you and your horse safe. It is your responsibility to inform yourself on the basics of driving the horse in harness.
 
7. Question:
     How can I avoid accidents while driving?
Answer:
  It is important that you always pay attention to your surroundings at all time while you are driving your horse. Keep one eye on your horse, carriage, and harness and the other eye out for dogs, traffic, and objects, and conditions that might scare your horse. Keep your vehicle and harness in top condition always. Do not compromise your equipment. Be Prepared!
Never remove the bridle or reins while the horse is hitched to the cart for any reason.
Never put your reins / lines down or tie them to the dash board while you and passengers are still in the vehicle. Keep reins or Lines in hand at all times.
Never leave the vehicle while passengers are still in it. If the horses(s), harness need attention ask someone to do it for you. If not possiable all passengers must get out of vehicle.
The driver  must always get into the vehicle first, and is the last one out.
Improper harnessing, breeching not adjusted properly, wrap straps not properly adjusted or not on at all will cause the cart to interfere with the horse, and can cause him to kick or run away, or worse cause an innocent bystander to be hurt .
It is your responsibility to inform yourself  on the basics of training, hitching, and driving the horse in harness.
A few simple steadfast rules will make your driving experience a fun, pleasureable, and safe experience.
 
Question:
      What is the best way to make sure my horse is safe to drive on or along a busy road?
 
Answer:
     The best way is to accustom the horse to traffic before he is put to a carriage. Put the horse in a pasture next to a road so he can see and hear traffic. Have someone sit in a stationary vehicle and talk in a friendly manner, maybe feed him some treats and pet him. Introduce  the horse to school buses, large trucks, tractors, motorcycles,  etc. Let him sniff and walk all around it if possible. If the horse can be ridden, get him accustomed to traffic under saddle first. You can lead a horse or pony while riding another traffic safe horse who will transmit confidence to the young horse.
Many road conditions can prove dangerous to a horse that is afraid of traffic. Ditches, uneven sholders, narrow roads can cause the carriage to tip over if the horse whips around to avoid a car, truck, motorcycle or tractor.
For the first few outings on a road, if at all possible, choose one that is flat, has good shoulders, and light traffic. Make sure you take a good assistant along who can easily dismount from the carriage and go to the horse's head.
Most importantly, your horse should have confidence in you as his leader. He should be trained to stand without moving for an indefinite period of time at your command.
 
Question:
     What is the differance between "Lines" and "reins"?
When I say reins I am corrected to lines, and when I say lines, I am corrected to reins.???
 
Answer:
     When one is driving a light horse(s), Hitched to a carriage or light vehicle, they ane called reins. When driving a heavy, draft horse, hitched to farm implements, they are called lines.
 
 
 
 

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