So, the first week with the new pony is over. Spent the first few days just getting to know him, hand walking, grooming, that sort of thing. We worked on not diving for grass, and not swinging around to face me and check my pockets for cookies every time we halted. There was one tentative testing nip, which was shut down swiftly and definitively and has not been repeated.
About mid week it rained for 2 days, when it finally cleared up I decided to see how he ground drove. It was still a bit cold and blustery, and all the turned out horses had their crazy hats on. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best day, but I wanted to see how he handled it. At first he handled it in a way that made me question if I had made the right choice. He was listening, mostly, but he was a tense ball of just holding it together energy. Didn’t actually do anything truly bad, but felt like he wanted to explode. So I took him into the middle of the arena, got a nice halt and stripped his harness off. He kept standing until I sent him off then proceeded to run his fool head off for a good 20 minutes. Then he stopped and trotted his little heaving sides over to me, stuck his nose in my hand and was done. I tacked him back up and ground drove him till he was cooled out without any further fuss.
I ground drove him again today. It’s still a little cool and overcast and the turned out horses once again had their crazy hats on. From what I am told there are a couple of horses here who just always have their crazy hats on. This time we went for a long walk across the street to the jumping arena and riding field. This is where I will likely be doing most of my driving, the other arena is just too deep. He was, mostly, wonderful. We need to work on straight, and smoothing out our turns a bit, and I’m not very good at maintaining a light even contact while ground driving, but that shouldn’t be as big a problem once the cart is in play. There was no tension or pent up energy to deal with though.
The only issue I had today was grass diving. It’s harder to pull his head up in harness than it would be if I was riding and I could just lift my reins and kick him on. My harness does have an overcheck, which I took off because I wanted to see what I was dealing with without it. So, question one is what is the best way to stop him from eating. I’m assuming forward is the best option? Should I put the overcheck back on, adjusted fairly loosely?
Question 2 is about the bit. He is currently using a loose ring mullen mouth. It’s fairly thin. Owner said it was just the bit that came with the harness. He gets pretty fussy with it, head tossing and mouth gaping. I am wondering if something a little milder would make him happier. Maybe a rubber mullen mouth? I worry that it will be too thick for his palette.
I will probably wait until he is out of quarantine and I have the full run of the place to hitch him the first time. The big field isn’t fenced and is right next to a moderately busy road. You have to cross that road to get back to the barn so in the event something catastrophic happens he would likely beeline for the road and back home. The barn property is fully enclosed and fenced in and loose pony and cart would be more contained.