Monday, February 2, 2009

Time for Another Horse to Learn to Drive

4-Year-Old Half-Arab in Western Pleasure Yesterday was the first nice day we’ve had in a long time – the temperature was finally above freezing. It made for a good day to haul a horse to training at Schubert Percheron Farms. My friend, Max, and I co-own a 6-year-old half-Arab/half-paint my daughter named Tío. Having a horse trained to drive only furthers and completes a horse’s education so Max decided it was time to send Tío off to Mike Schubert. Mike also trained Joon, my mare, to the cart and he did a wonderful job...now it’s Tío’s turn to learn the trade of pulling.

After unloading Tío from the trailer and letting him look around at his “schoolground” for the next month, he was put into a stall while Max and I got a tour of Mike’s new barn that he is building to accommodate his future full-time training business. At this point in time Mike only takes in outside horses in the winter, but with the plan to go full-time in the near future. Even though it isn’t quite finished, the barn is impressive with box stalls big enough for a draft horse to be comfortable in, tie stalls, large well-lighted wash rack, and a heated lounge.

I asked Mike what the next few days hold for Tío, how will he start the horse as Tío has never been harnessed before and has only been line-driven a few times. The first step in Mike’s program is to put the harness on Tío and put him in a stall to get used to the feel of all the equipment. Once Tio is comfortable while standing in a stall, Mike will turn him out into a paddock while wearing all the harness. This will let Tío get used to the movement of the straps and constrictions of being in a harness without actually being hooked to a cart.

Then it’s time to actually get hooked to a wagon, double-teamed with Mike’s training partner, his 18-hand Percheron stallion, Spike. If Tío decides to fight the cart, or gets scared and tries to run away, he won’t go far or fast while trying to pull Spike with him! The fields around the Schubert farm are also quite deep in snow which will make heavy going. Eventually Tío will be pulling a training cart by himself and then it will be a case of putting miles and time on him to turn him into a safe and steady driving horse.

Once he's got some carting miles under his harness, we'll be able to hook him up whenever we want to...and next winter at the barn we can give rides behind him as he pulls a one-horse sleigh complete with jingle bells!

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