Our friend Mindy Schroder writes a fantastic blog over at theessentialhorse.com which features glorious pictures of her ranch in Montana and her beautiful pony, Skye along with her practical advice, and experienced tips. She posted this recently, and graciously gave us permission to share. We welcome your comments below, and be sure to visit her full post to read the rest of her great tips for “Proper Driving, from Posture to Harnessing. We’re sure you’ll learn something!” ~Maren
Miniature horses have some of the biggest hearts of the equine world… especially pound for pound. They will throw their entire body, heart and soul into working for someone they love and have a connection with – contrary to popular belief that all ponies and minis are a$$holes! (Believe me I’ve heard that over and over in all the years I’ve been driving ponies and minis!!)
With that in mind what can we do to help make their job easier and more enjoyable? There are many little things that add up to a happy horse and happy driver!
First of all – posture. Posture is very important when riding, though I feel it’s often overlooked when driving. After all, we are sitting in a cart not on the horse – so how could our body position effect the horse? The answer is A LOT! I see so many people driving their horses like this:
Arms straight out, back rounded, leaning forward in the cart. Surprisingly I see many people driving like this in the show ring! The posture in the above photo isn’t even as bad as I’ve seen. Typically when someone is driving like this they are putting pressure on the saddle of the harness which is putting weight and pressure directly on the horse. If you find yourself driving like this… lengthen your reins!! Typically people are doing this when they feel a bit out of control and are shortening their reins too much. A rule of thumb – don’t put pressure on BOTH reins at the same time as that just causes the horse to push into the pressure more. Hold lightly with one rein and put a little bit of pressure on the other. Not turning pressure but “talking” pressure.
Just as when riding, you want a bend in your elbow when holding the reins. There should not a straight line from the horse’s mouth through to your shoulder, but a straight line from the horse’s mouth to your elbow…
Click here to read the rest of her article: Proper Driving from Posture to Harnessing