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ISO advice on starting a green mare, please.

Hi All,

Thanks for reading my post!

I have a 2 1/2 year old Clydesdale mare and am keen to teach her to drive. The problem, I’m a complete greenie to driving and so is she so looking for any and all advice on starting a youngster.

She’s has a tonne of ground training in the sense that she leads well and has been exposed to lots of different scenarios (walked her out on trails, she’s swam in the ocean, etc) and has a very calm disposition.

For now, I’d like to start ground driving her at home and would welcome your expert advice :slight_smile:

Congrats on your Clyde mare! Driving is so much fun, its a sport the whole family can enjoy.

Where are you so we can recommend a trainer? (Just a general area).

I am of the camp “everything that can be done on the carriage can and should be done on long lines”. The key is practice, practice, practice! Learning how to walk behind, give the correct cues, not get your hands, whip, lines tangled up :winkgrin: You can teach dressage movements from the ground as well. Its a great tool to have in your toolbox.

Many moons ago when I was starting a filly (we were both learning by doing) someone pointed out several things to be sure I did prior to the first hook up to the carriage. In addition to the above (you want to walk miles behind the horse, lol)

  1. get the horse used to wearing all parts of a harness prior to hooking up. Blinkers will be new to yours, so use the bridle with them when doing ground work.

  2. The horse needs to learn to push against the pressure of the breast part of harness - useful to have someone lead the horse while another person walks behind holding the traces firmly enough that the horse can feel the pressure.

  3. Horse also needs to learn to NOT react forward to the breeching when it comes against their hind legs. Similar to above, I held the horse while someone else pulled on the breeching straps.

  4. Horse should respond well to basic voice commands - walk, trot and whoa.

  5. You want to get the horse used to the concept of shafts - I think I used a broom or something similar, holding it alongside the horse. On a similar note, she should have the vehicle pulled up behind her without actually hooking her up; let her see it, hear it, etc.

Have help available of some sort: I had two guys nearby - one was a western rider but had all kinds of horse sense and was actually the first to back my filly and to sit in the vehicle. Another was a Vietnam vet who was horse savvy and did know something about driving. Once we got the basics done I then found a trainer to help me learn what I needed to know to show her.

Good luck, go slow, have fun.

Thank you both, lots of good information there.

We tried our first ground driving lesson and she did really well. I don’t own a cart yet so just working her on the ground for now then thinking of getting her to drag something like tires for a while, to build her fitness and get her used to the idea of having something behind her.

We might look for a trainer when it come time to hitch her to a cart so any recommendations around San Diego county would be great :slight_smile: