Cold again!

Darn, but the temps are dropping again! May snow midweek.

We have been getting out every opportunity, usually driving both Pairs the same day. Getting some visible fitness doing longer distances. The arena is way too wet any kind of wheels or hooves cut right into the sand or mud, so it has to be roadwork for them. All are shod, keeping the shoes shiny! We found some really nice wet spots to practice water crossings, met a number of scary things that got less scary with more times passing by. Well everything except the various styles and colors of rolling garbage cans out for pickup! Alyss HATES pink and orange cans. Hawk hates black ones! Ring is not afraid if he is on the near side, but they eat horses if he on the off side. Lincoln is usually steady but often takes a notion to swerve left if there is misc trash is pile on the ground. Does keep us on our toes!

Shedding is erratic, despite getting sweaty. Usually sweating them makes the hair come off quickly. Not this year! They still have a good coat, though not winter wooley, not willing to give it up. Probably a good thing with this erratic weather. Close to 80F Sat and Sun, but only mid-50s and dropping today.

No young horses getting worked without firm footing in the round pen or barnyard. They are having a great time galloping from the back barnyard fence to the fence at the back of the field, really making a slough along the divider fenceline. And it is even MORE exciting racing up on the strong wind days we get between rain storms! Winds help dry things, then another rainstorm. Ha ha

We just purchased some “big square bales” because we were running out and I wanted to save some small bales for travel to clinics or drives. Predictions say more wet and cool going into May. These are our cushion, not letting horses into pastures until things are more solid. Then it takes me 3-4 weeks of timed turnout, before they can have free grazing time. The big bales flake off like the small ones, so are easy to feed. We just have to figure how much each horse needs of a 3ft x 3ft flakes! Glad we have forks on the tractor to get these off the truck and into the barn. Appealing because there is no handwork unloading. They are all grass hay, about 700 pounds each. Not sure what I will do with the ropes holding bales together, but there has to be some use I just haven’t thought of yet! Pieces are like 20ft of 1/4 rope each, on a 4 “string” bale. Hope we got enough hay, the farmer was cleaning his barn for the next crop. Husband said there was a line to get hay loaded. Farmer had these set back for horse customers who went out of business. Usually he has nothing left on hand by now. It was funny when husband said “I am off to get our 4 bales!” Ha ha Usually he gets closer to 80 small bales when we get hay, so 4 bales sounds ridiculous!

Hope other folks are able to get in some horse time now. Spring is showing us flowers, birds are singing loudly, peepers are quite noisy. They quit peeping as we pass, then start after we go by. Our “Pass Wide And Slow” sign is helping slow most passing traffic nicely. We wave and smile at everyone to keep things friendly.

Tell us what you are doing!


I love reading about what you are doing!
Though it makes me feel terribly inept. I’ve managed a few turns in the field with the two boys together, and that is about it at the moment. The young one (Sunny, not yet 3) does not get the idea of being on either side, he insists on only being on the off side of Buddy. We are working on this… It is not helped by the fact that Buddy prefers the near side and Sunny prefers the off side, in all situations. Including out in the field: that is how they stand, that is how they sleep (see the thread on things we see), that is how they move together, when waiting to be fed that is how they stand. I would like horses I can hitch to either side. With only two horses, and one not broke and the other Opinionated! I foresee some work in my future.
I’m thinking get Sunny working comfortably and understanding all the concepts and then deal with the problem of only wanting to hitch on one side. Or should I nip the one sidedness immediately? Thoughts??

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I would not worry about them being one-sided at this stage. Are they both quite good as single drivers? We try to get our young horses going nicely as singles, responsive to first commands, not needing to hear repeated commands and get a whip touch to move. He is following the rein on curves, turns, has great HALTS, stands quietly for increasing times. Still green but quite calm, paying attention.

You want the more experienced animal being “sharper”, promptly responding correctly when you ask things. He may need a tune-up to get that way, remember his training, before going back to a Pair. A point of interest is your vehicle. Does it have an evener with the 2 singletrees? For starting a new-to-Pairs horse, we tie the evener down. No back-and-forth action though singletrees move freely. This prevents one horse pulling the other horse back when starting. This avoids the see-saw motion as they try to move off with the untied evener. The young horse will probably be slower to respond, then have catch up to experienced horse but that is OK for a bit. You can improve his starts as he gains drIving time. Getting them to start evenly, together in step, can take a while!

Take a look at your Pair reins. Is the long rein attaching to the outside of both horses bits? The shorter, movable coupling rein goes to the inner side of both bits (pole side). If one horse is excited, throws his head, you will want that horse’s rein under the other coupling rein. Slightly self-correcting while you drive to remind horse to get head down. We do not put any rings where the reins cross. No extra weight nagging or delay of signals from hands to mouth. The coupler rein may need adjusting to get them comfortable, signals reaching both horses together

Achenbach reins are very nice for Pairs, you can move the coupling rein adjustment from the seat. Invented by a German coachman driver, with measurements to precisely let horses work together better than the more common, shorter coupling Pair reins you find. There is a book by Beno Achenbach that explains his rein system. Sometimes you can find a used copy on Ebay, or from the ADS or the CAA. Interesting reading!

Reinboard practice can help strengthen your hands, make you smoother as you take up or release rein lengths in turns. Reinboard is not hard to “cobble up” with a chair, some length of cord, a couple screw top pop bottles and a couple of small, swivel top pulleys. We use some western riding reins that fit our hands comfortably. We hang the pulleys from the chair back at a width about equal to the way reins come to you on the seat. Make a hole in the bottle caps, put a cord end thru and knot it inside the cap, run the other end of cord thru the pulley and make a loop to attach the rein to. Add some water to the pop bottle for weight that needs lifting and then drops back down when released. Doesn’t have to be full. Gives some “feel” as you move the reins, you can see if they are both even without looking down at your hands. Add some weight to the chair seat so rein pull does not tip chair over!

Husband usually puts the “reinboard” in front of the TV or computer while watching videos. He does practice holding a whip stick with the reins, just as you would have in the carriage. Try different holds, one-handed, crossed in your fist so rolling your wrist changes directiond, two-handed when you pull a bridge. Maybe you have a broken whip, they are less likely to hit things in the house as you move whip around during practice! Ha ha Some video we made while actually out driving, though bicycle riding videos are also fun to pretend you are driving along. You practice turns, circles, changes of speed, all without looking at your hands. Use whip “as needed” to aid pretend horse bending. Some videos move very fast, may want to save them until you have practiced more.

As with all good things, time and practice make you and horses better. Once the Boys are starting off well, more obedient, then you can start switching sides. They may act quite silly with the change! But don’t give up, it will get better with time and work. We have mostly left side horses, but obviously not all can be on the left every drive! So they get switched around every drive. Yes they were unhappy, but it increased their flexability, muscling, quit being silly on their “bad side.”

Thank you for the reply! So much information in it! The older one is a good single horse now (when I got him he had never been driven single, and wasn’t that interesting!), but you are right that he needs a tune up, it has been several years since he was part of pair. Thankfully both of them have got the concept of HALT. And stand, and wait, and no fidgeting. That was the first thing.
The vehicle is either a Pioneer work cart or the sled, haven’t hitched them to either together; I was just ground driving them the other day. I don’t use the cart much, its balance for a single horse is bad unless it has weight behind it, which makes sense given its design. For that matter almost all the work the older one has done recently has been ground driven (pulling logs). I confess, my driving is all slow and agricultural/forestry in nature; I’ve never actually done any carriage driving in the ADS manner.
Getting a rein board set up is a good idea. As you say, practice, practice, practice!

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