Wrap Strap

How do you train a horse (and myself! haha) to drive?

I am getting a mini weanling next week, and want to teach him to drive. I have never driven before, let alone trained a horse to drive. I have no way of learning to drive before training (besides using a fake horse, lol. I can do that, we have a saddle rack with a horse head on it, haha), nor do I want to pay a trainer to do it. Sooo, here I am, clueless! lol. So at what age do I do what, and how in the mini world do I drive?! haha, thanks.
Look guys, I have no other option but to train him myself. Please just answer my question. =)

You can certainly train your miniature to drive by yourself as long as you do your homework and properly prepare your horse. You won't want to actually have your mini pulling you until he is about 3 years old, but you can do plenty beforehand. You of course will need to teach him voice commands like walk, trot and whoa, which will be extremely important once you are driving. You can get him used to all sorts of items that you may come across in everyday life - mailboxes, walking over a tarp, bridges, etc. The better socialized and desensitized he is the better. You'll also want to be saving up for a good quality leather harness and easy entry cart. Here's a pretty simplified time line - be sure to do your research before starting! When he's about 2 you can start getting him used to wearing a harness and bit (make sure to have your vet check his teeth first to make sure there are no problems in his mouth that will make taking a bit uncomfortable) and begin ground driving. Once again, ground drive through everything! When he ground drives reliably - walks, trots, stops, turns and backs up, introduce him to a cart. First pull the cart yourself (at a walk and later at a jog so he hears the noise) while your horse follows you. Let him sniff it, set the shafts on the ground and let him walk over them, get him used to you lifting them up over his back and feeling them on his sides. Once he feels 100% comfortable, set the shafts in the shaft loops and lead him while he pulls the cart. As he gets more comfortable you can start attaching the harness to the cart and eventually you'll be in the cart driving. If you have anyone nearby that drives it's a good idea to see if they can give you a lesson on how attach your wrap straps and traces. It can be hard to see in books. I would suggest prior to starting your training that you read or view as many books and videos on the subject as possible. Check out Doris Ganton's book on training a horse to drive, and take a look at Ozark Mountain Miniature Horse Tack website for a selection of driving training videos.

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