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Why Drive?

Is driving a career option for your horse or pony?

By Leslie Potter | May 2010 Extra

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Carriage driving horseDriving can make a great second career for an older horse, or an intermediate step in a younger horse's training to get him accustomed to wearing tack and responding to the bit. Generally speaking, driving is easier on a horse's back and joints as they are not bearing as much weight directly. It should go without saying that driving at speed for long periods of time or going up and down hills will still cause wear and tear on the joints, so any type of work should be done conservatively with older horses or horses that are still growing.

Ponies and miniature horses are often ideal for driving as many breeds and bloodlines have been bred for that purpose. Even a miniature horse can pull an adult in a cart. Driving can also be a great second career for a pony or small horse that has been outgrown by his young rider.

Driving is an option for horse and pony owners who are unable to ride or those who prefer not to. Driving provides training and exercise for a horse and gives owners quality time with their equines without ever having to put a foot in the stirrup.

Any horse can benefit from the exercise of driving. For a show horse in training, working in harness can add variety to the training routine without foregoing the physical benefits of regular work. Pulling a cart is like cross-training for a riding horse. Driving works different sets of muscles than riding and when properly done will help strengthen the muscles of your horse's hind end and topline. While some die-hard riders are skeptical of working out of the saddle, upon actually giving it a try, most will find that driving can be a fun way to work your horse.

Go on to Prerequisites for a Driving Horse

Go on to Driving Equipment

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Reader Comments

Arwen    Rivendell, ME

3/3/2014 7:33:15 AM

I can't wait to start driving my 3 year old filly! Since we live in a rural area, we should have lots of fun exploring together.

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

4/2/2012 7:09:55 PM

What a great article! I LOVE driving. I've been driving my mini for 5 years now and we have so much fun exploring together.

I also drive a couple of draughts and it's great to be able to bring my non horsey friends with me.

CAROLANN    JENSEN, UT

8/24/2010 12:31:00 AM

THIS IS A WAY THAT A HORSEMAN, LIKE MTSELF, CAN CONTINVE TO COMPEATE WITH ABLE BODIED HORSEMEN. BEFORE I BROKE MT BACK I COMPETED IN LONG DISTENCE ENDURANCE RIDING, JUMPING, AND SHOWING MY ARAB STALLION IN FORMAL DRIVING AND PARK. BUT TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH I LOVED ANY FORM OF DRIVING.
AS FOR PICKING YOUR HORSE. HE SHOULD HAVE A NICE EYE. YOU CAN TELL ALOT ABOUT A HORSE ABOUT HOW HIS EYE LOOKS. DON'T RUSH YOUR GROUND WORK. IF YOU THINK YOU'VE WORKED ENOUGH, PUT IN ANOTHER WEEK. THEY HAVE CARTS THAT THE DISABLED CAN EASILY GET ON BOARD.

Deborah    Quakertown, PA

4/17/2010 8:20:58 PM

Nice to see an article that encourages this wonderful sport,but I would like to comment that not every riding horse is suitable to be a driving horse. It is imperative that any potential driving horse stand willingly,without question. Any horse that is spooky,with a tendency to spin,is not a good candidate. Despite what some people seem to think,it is not"easy" or something "anybody can do". It requires excellent reinsmanship,with light and sympathetic hands. You no longer have legs or seat,so must know how to use your whip and voice in their place. Safety is paramount,as an accident involving a loose horse dragging an overturned vehicle in his wake can be a real disaster. There is nothing quite like being seated behind your horse,watching him use his body,something you cannot do in the saddle. Driving,when undertaken safely,with the help of a knowledgeable "whip"(driver) is some of the most fun you can have with your horse! You can take along non-horsey friends and family and hold a conversation. Thanks for encouraging driving and most importantly,doing so safely!

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