Monday, January 27, 2014

Driving Miss Disaster

When talking to the generous gentleman up north about what I’d done with the Fancy Pony to prepare her for driving, he determined, “If she’ll pull a tire, she’ll be fine.  You should be able to just hook her up.”
So, I took a conservative approach.  I drove the tire around some more…
And we pulled it over the grass…  and up and down the gravel driveway…

Having established that she was fine with this, we hooked up to the horse cart in the indoor arena…
While leading her around, the shaft poked her in the neck when she turned.  We made noises of disappointment and unhitched from the cart.
Trade for the pony cart!
It sits a little high, so the cart is tilted up a little.  We got her all hitched up, and she stands perfectly still for the hitching process!  With some prodding, she finally moved her butt over so we could drop the shafts down on either side of her body.  Once hooked, we led her around the arena!

Then, I sat in the cart while my friend led her around the arena…
She slowly let out more line and stepped back, further out of the fancy Pony’s sight (because she can see so much in blinders, right?).
We practiced walking short distances and stopping.
She seemed to be taking it like a pro…

We took a break to think about things before returning to take a single lap around the arena.  We practiced some starts and stops again.  We continued to walk our single lap….

We made our turn around the far end…
Then, she humped her butt…  I tried to bring her to a halt, but that wasn’t in the cards and she tossed her but up a little.  That definitely isn’t OK, so I tried harder to get a halt, but she decided trotting was more her style…  At that point, she kicked with the left hind.  I have no idea what she kicked at or what she didn’t like.  Then she cantered and continued to kick each stride with that left hind.  Since the brakes weren’t effective, I tried turning (better than careening in a straight line, right?)…
First, she just turned her head and bolted on forward.  Then, she decided to go ahead and turn…  Sharply…  Still kicking…
I was ejected from the cart, it was flipped, and away they went as I watched helplessly and prayed that something broke so she could be parted from the cart.
My prayer was quickly answered as the harness broke.  The cart was left upside down, and the Fancy Pony practiced for the Kentucky Derby as she continued her laps, trailing bits of harness and my cotton driving lines…
Really impressive was when she got the lines tangled about her back legs, she didn’t push all the way out to her full stride length.  She pushed until she met the resistance of the lines, and then handily picked her legs up to begin the next one!
Finally she heard my voice, came back into herself, and stopped to look at me.  With help, I removed all the excess bits and pieces.  I tied the pony, and recovered the cart, which seemed to have survived OK.  I went back to work a little more with the pony.  The last thing I wanted her to learn was, “Oh, if I cause a wreck, I don’t have to do anymore!"
Onto the circle we went, driving to the right (no cart).  No problems!  Reverse through a serpentine, and we drive along to the left.  After a couple of laps, it reappeared: the hump, the bump, and then the kick!  She continued on a few strides until she nearly fell on her face.  Then, we drove some more.
I’m not sure what was bothering her, but it seems to be related to the crupper.  You know, the same one she has been wearing since we began this enterprise!
Later, after cleaning up and putting everything away, the resident western trainer (who I hold in high regard and have a great deal of respect for) commented to me, “I think you were just pushing her too fast.  That’s just my opinion.”
Talk about adding insult to injury.  Nothing was hurt except some harness and my pride, but my pride and my confidence has been badly damaged.  I’m left questioning my competency...  Probably because it comes from someone I respect.  Otherwise, I would probably just shrug it off and get on with it!  On the other hand, I don't want people feeling like they shouldn't speak their minds around me, because I truly do want to know what others think!  They might have some seriously valuable insight!

I'm not giving up on the driving.  My parents want to fix the harness quickly so we can get back to practicing and training.
I know it can't all be success and rainboes and unicorns...


  1. Having an uncontrollable horse in a cart is way more terrifying to me than being in a saddle!

    I don't think you pushed too hard. Bobby was driving with me in the cart in a week. It can happen. He did spend several days trying to lay down in the harness to get out of having to pull the extra weight of my BM who was helping me....

    I think you just have to see what you can get away with. I'd suggest hooking her back up to the cart and putting the tire in as her "passenger" while still line driving her from the ground. That way you have more control of her while she gets used to the heavier load.

    1. That's a good idea. It is terrifying to think of the out of control horse while I'm on the ground when the cart is attached to her... On the other hand, the pony cart is pretty light, so *if* we ran into problems, it's not like it is so huge that it would completely clobber me...
      I also think I can adjust the shaft loops to hang a little lower so the cart isn't quite so high in front...
      I wasn't terrified while I was in the cart, because I was still with her. The terror didn't hit until I had been ejected and was helplessly watching the train wreck unfold further!!
      I was also thinking lots and lots of leading with the cart attached. :)

  2. Scary. That's really awful, and I completely understand the hurt confidence. I don't have any advice besides feel better!

    1. :)
      If nothing else, it feels better just to have it all written and thrown "out there." Not to mention the healing salve of time and accomplishment! I shall overcome!

  3. *hug* I am glad no one was hurt. Without risk there is no reward, you had a mild setback but that is all it is a setback. I like Carly's suggestion.

    1. It makes me feel better that so many people have been telling me the same thing. It really is just a minor set back. Somehow, I feel more determined than ever to make her a driving pony after this...
      And here I was feeling so bad about the broken harness... My dad laughed at me for that! ;)

  4. You are brave! My horse is trained for this and I'm still too scared to try! The tire idea is a great one!

  5. Scary! Glad no one was hurt though. It is a little hard to tell because the cart is too small for her and she may be a little to close to it? Sometimes if it runs up on their hind legs they get weird about it.
    Glad you got back in, my horse tries that on occasion and it is not fun at all. That is why I have stopped driving her by myself because I am not equipped to handle it when she does that.
    Carly is right though, sometimes the extra weight throws them off, too.

    1. That was the exact reason I had my friend lead her around with me sitting in it before we even thought about driving unassisted! I figured the weight would feel different than an empty cart.
      She is so hard to fit! The horse cart was seriously too big and literally stabbed her in the neck! We knew that wasn't going to work, for sure!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...