A cart for Farley
|January 10, 2015||Posted by Melinda under Uncategorized|
A couple of months ago I decided to get a head start of Farley’s “*retirement” job and bought her a new-to-me harness (read about it here). After harnessing her up in “real” harness for the first time and getting some ground driving time in, I realized that she basically remembers everything I’ve ever taught her about driving over the last 7 years, and I was looking at hooking her up to a cart sooner rather than later.
*No, she’s not being retired yet. That is still hopefully several years out.
A week later I found this.
It was the right price (100 bucks) and looked like everything I thought I needed in a breaking cart – not pretty, tough enough to take some abuse, simple.
Ain’t she a beauty?
Sorta like the breaking cart I had used for pairs pictured here:
But then a mere 24 hours later, a day before I was suppose to go look at (and buy and take home…), Aurora sent me this, while innocently inquiring whether I had found a cart yet.
Aurora and Funder officially declared my craigslist cart a “POS seed spreader” and it was decided that yes, for about $100 more I should drive 1 1/2 hours and look at *this* one.
I made some haphazard measurements and compared it to a chart I found on the American Driving Association website that lists cart measurements as they correspond to horse size measurements. Which I won’t even pretend gave me any useful information since I’m used to historical 2 and 4 horse vehicles that fit a “standard-sized horse” – ie whatever Standardbred we pull out of the pasture and designate for teamster duty, and I never did learn all the “proper names” for various parts of a cart.
At the end I just threw my hands up in the air and said “meh” and handed over the cash. (obviously, since that is my husband that is posing with the cart in the above picture).
Fortunately it fit into the back of my pick up.
What I was not sure was whether it fit my horse, or the harness that was on my horse.
The next step was to throw a party and introduce everyone.
It took MONTHS for weather, time, and help (I ain’t stupid) to come together and finally be able to put the pieces together.
It was SO HARD not to post pictures of my pretty cart as well as my hopes and expectations when I got the cart back in November, but I really wanted to show off my cart with a horse so I’ve been holding onto this post for months.
After sitting in my trailer for almost 2 months, the perfect time happened to come on Sunday….which was my birthday.
I had all sorts of good intentions of having Farley drag stuff and slowly work our way up to my pretty cart yada yada yada.
Here’s what actually happened.
I ground drove Farley around the arena. I scuffed my feet as loud as I could, did bunny hops, and generally made as much commotion as possible.
- She was fine.
I had my husband run the cart along side of us while I drove her, touching the side of her with the shaft. Repeat on both sides.
- This was actually the part she was the most annoyed with. Having the cart by her side instead of behind her where she kept catching glimpses of it and it would randomly whack her. But eventually she was like “whatever”.
So, we put her on a leadrope and I put the cart on her. This is I thought was the moment of truth…..the shafts going on either side of her….and….
- …She was fine. Absolutely 100% fine with the shafts doing whatever behind her. Well then.
I held the cart in place and husband walked her around via the leadrope. That way I could drop the cart and it would just fall away from her if something happened – nothing was attached between her/harness and the cart.
- She was fine.
END OF SESSION 1
Me and husband decided it was would be poor decision making on my part if I attempted to do the next session on my own and we sorta agreed that I would wait until I had help again. I was so tempted but made do with dressage instead.
Today, one week later Farley and the cart met again.
I ground drove her.
- She was fine.
I put the cart on her
- She was fine
I put the shafts through the loops (but didn’t buckle anything) so that she was bearing weight but I could get the cart off quick if I needed to. And then husband led her by the leadrope while I stabilized cart.
- She was fine.
I attached the harness to the cart and then me and husband did a double lead line to halter, one on each side and lead her around hooked to the cart.
- She was fine.
I tried to ground drive with lines with her attached to the cart, while husband still had leadrope for security, but realized my lines were too short to drive behind the cart, and it was way too awkward and confusing for me to drive off the side…..so I stepped into the cart.
- She was fine.
I drove around the arena with husband trailing behind on the end of a 12 foot leadline “just in case”
- She was fine.
I asked very patient groundperson/husband if he wanted to hop in with me.
- He was not fine.
Matt: [with incredulous look] absolutely not
Matt: who will grab her head if something happens?
Mel: Ummm…I was sorta hoping it would go well.
Matt: Hope is not a strategy.
I had him unsnap the lead so we could go truly solo and GET VIDEO AND PICTURES.
- And she was fine.
And then we quit.
END OF SESSION 2
But maybe you don’t believe me.
Maybe my Dear Reader is shouting “Pics OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN”. Well, judge for yourself!
Everything fits well enough for now, and I have a local friend that can double check my adjustments for me when she gets a chance.
At the end of 20-25 min Farley was puffing, although not sweating through her winter coat, so I think it’s a good change in the type of work I’m asking her to do. My heart rate was also elevated, but for a different reason…..LOL. First time putting a cart behind a horse that wasn’t a Standardbred off the track that I assumed had some driving experience.
Going back to the huffing and puffing of little Miss Farley. It’s amazing how fast the body adapts and and quickly it remembers a previous type of fitness. Two recent examples in my running that illustrate this concept really well.
1. I did an interval run recently that was my “go-to” run in the last couple of years – 60 sec full out, 75 seconds recovery – after not doing it for MONTHS (6 months?). Previous times I’ve taken extended time off from this work out, I’ve had to start over at 5 reps and gradually build to 10-12. So I was amazed/disappointed, that this time I cranked out 10 reps without a problem and could NOT get my legs to go fast enough to really have the work out be anything but a 3.5 or so out of 5 effort. I had done that work out long enough and consistently enough that my body had been convinced to allocate resources towards whatever physiological processes were built for that work out, even if they weren’t used for a while. I got the hint and am moving onto other types of interval/speed/stamina workouts. I think this is how “base” is built. Convincing the body to hold onto what it’s building and adapting because it will be used eventually.
2. Last week I did a hill workout on the treadmill that kicked my ass. It was different than anything I had EVER tried (I can safely say I have never run up a 3 mile hill in one chunk, maintaining a constant speed, while the hill got steeper and steeper).
I literally laid on the couch in a sweaty pool of endorphins for 15 minutes before I felt steady enough to go shower. I was sore the next day, and the next day. And sorta sore for a couple more days after that.
Eight days later, after doing the interval workout described above a “candy run”, I decided it was time for some more hills. BRING IT ON.
I added one more segment to what I did last time – adding one more half mile at an increased incline.
And……it was so much easier. 4/5 effort. Totally fine post work out. Not sore the next day or the next. Same work out, same speed/pace, with just a little increase in time and incline eight days after the first work out. Next day…not sore. The day after that…still not sore. That’s how fast the body adapts when something is demanded of it (as long as proper recovery occurs).
When I looked at Farley’s increased respiration after a mere 20-25 min of working in harness, I realized that most of our work falls squarely into example #1. It’s similar to what she’s done before and because we’ve done a LOT of it she maintains it, or at least gains it back quickly. Nothing I throw at her for the rest of her career is really going to challenge her body – except if I ask a lot more speed (ummm….no. I’m quite happy with midpack finishes), or more distance (ummm…again no. 100 miles is far enough thank you very much).
Driving is like that treadmill hill workout. Different and new. Seeing her work hard in that 20 min was a good reminder that just because she’s endurance fit doesn’t mean she’s “cart fit” and I’ll be treating her like an “unfit” horse for our driving sessions.
It will be interesting to see what benefits I get from lightly driving her during the remainder of her endurance career and how fast those changes take place. My guess is I’ll get some benefits on uphills. It’s always been the weak point of my training program, and while dressage helped tremendously with her hill-climbing power, perhaps doing some work pulling a cart will be even better? I saw a post awhile back on a runner (like me) who doesn’t live near hills, that trains for hill races by pulling a tire along behind him, hooked up to a vest. This seems sorta similar.
Time will tell.
Here’s a short segment of the video that Matt got of us at the end:
What I posted…
One year ago: I was brave today, and, Introducing…another pair of ears
Two years ago: Oncology
Three years ago: The electrolyte debate
Four years ago: Wandering Minds
That’s great that it went so well and so easily. I really want to finish training my mule to drive, but witnessing a cart wreck at our barn has made me really hesitant. Congrats!
Yeah I’ve seen quite a few wrecks and knock on wood I have a perfect record so far. I may casually say that in riding you do end up coming off eventually…..I do not have the same philosophy when it comes to driving. I trust this particular horse in way that is difficult for me to explain, born out of the many times she has gotten us both out of jams and made good decisions. Even after all that my heart was still pounding when I stepped up into the cart for the first time. Not something I take lightly at all. Not every horse I own will go on a cart. Only the 100 percent reliable ones. And even then I’m a huge control freak when it comes to driving. We will see how it goes. Hoping it works out that I can get both of us evaluated by a pro in a couple of months to find the holes.
If you are careful and you think your mule has the personality I say go for it. It can be done without accidents. If your gut says you both aren’t ready then give it some time and come back at some point.
She’s 100% not reliable yet. But she was doing very well with the driving trainer before he had surgery and took a break. So hopefully in the future she can return to it. Good luck with the driving.
You too! Sounds like you are working with a pro? that should make it easier. Driving is a lot of run, even with the risk and I hope it works out for you!
That is so awesome how well Farley did! And she looks so good in the harness! Driving is something that scares me…known too many people/horses involved in wrecks that I don’t think I could ever do it, so my hat’s off to anyone that does it.
Her aunt is a champion driving horse in Canada so it’s in her blood! (completely hokey thing to say LOL). I’ve always thought her gaits and build would look really well under harness. Don’t’ get me wrong – She’s a great horse to ride and I dont’ know if I’ll ever have an endurance horse that *good* again, but she just isn’t that comfortable for me. Physically I don’t enjoy riding her because of her rough gaits so this is a good alternative.
I hear ya! After riding Mimi, just about anything is considered smooth!
Loved this post! Reminded me of past times at Warhorse. I lol’d sitting in SB at yours & Matt’s conversation. I could hear it in my head.
Also congrats on getting Farley under harness. No mean achievement.
ahahaha! I am ever so innocent in my inquiries, and you gotta love Funder for honesty, ahhh love you gals.
“hope is not a plan.” classic, LOL. Great post.
“strategy” Whatever! caught in my misquote as you can’t edit comments..lol
I love these driving posts! I really want to hook Nimo up to a cart if for no other reason than that it is something he’s actually been bred for:) But I like your philosophy of waiting until Farley is at the point of knowing her job really well and thinking of driving as a second job. I can’t even imagine how horrific a driving accident could be and I can see that waiting until a horse has seen everything under saddle can really help with learning to pull a cart.
Ground driving in some form has been a regular part of our work together so I think putting them on lines is a good complement to other activities especially endurance where you end up tailing. But the cart itself is different in my eyes. Most wrecks ive seen have been with horses that were not 100 percent reliable (known issues) and had quirks such as rearing, barn sour, buddy sour, refusal to go forward etc. So it makes me hesitant to try it with a horse that hasmt proven itself overtime. Imo carts are not for horses unsafe under saddle or are iffy under saddle. Thats where ive seen the wrecks.
Thank you. Im never quite sure how much credit to take in situations like this. Farley is such a tolerant beast.
Should have been in response to my dads comment above. Sigh
She looks great in the harness and with the cart! Very cool 🙂
…and now I wanna cart again. Mine is still “in the shop” (iow, being ignored and rained on with two flat tires and a broken support spar) and my horse isn’t yet reliable in harness.
I WANNA CART!!! Can I have the POS seed spreader? Then nobody will care if the Dragon kicks it to splinters, right?
I found myself thing of the Bob Lee incident on the “death cart” at Warhorse those years ago. I was watching when he hit the berm and everything flew apart. But everything looks calm and controlled in your pics.
Uh oh, one big difference between what you do and what I’ve done (and was told to do). You are starting the horse with blinders on. I never do that when I break to drive. The driving trainer that was my early mentor said she never puts blinders on a horse until they are WELL broke to cart, and then only if they will be showing. You want your horse to see everything going on around and behind him. Otherwise you’ll be big exaggerated sideways head movements as they attempt to see things around them. I’ve seen 2 horses get their reins caught on the shafts trying to see to the side, something they could do without turning their heads if they hadn’t had blinders. One of my good friends breaking her horse put blinders on against my suggestion. As they were hooking the horse up (probably the 4th time or so), a strap fell and brushed against the horse’s hind leg. The horse couldn’t see anything behind because of the blinders so panicked as he tried to turn his head and neck to see behind him. He tried to twist himself sideways to see what was touching him, then took off. Smashed the cart and never driven again. Sorry, I always mention my opinion when I see blinders on a rookie driving horse….
Interesting. All her grounddriving previous to getting this harness was done without blinders since I was adapting my riding tack to lines. In an actual cart I’ve never driven a horse without blinders so honestly didn’t know it was an option to drive without. I actually HATE the blinders on this bridle – they are way too close to her eyeballs, and I feel like when she’s really working it might cause some irritation? Now that I know that it’s acceptable to drive a cart without them, I’ll try both ways (with and without) and see if there’s a difference in her demeanor.
My guess is that it isn’t going to matter. She isn’t a reactive horse and I can’t remember the last time she was suprised and startled. Although how much of her “being OK” with this was because of all the ground driving over the years without blinders? mmm….guess I’ll never know for sure.
Just checked with a couple of my driving mentors and they all use blinders with their green horses from the start. So maybe this is a regional thing? Still, I think it is worth trying both ways – and like I said, I don’t think the blinders on this bridle are ideal anyways.
Did more research (or at least reading and poking around) on this because I thought the issue (blinders or not with a green horse) is an interesting one, and it looks like it’s quite controversial over what’s “best”. Not black and white as all. I think the best thing that can be said is that it really depends on the individual horse and the driver perference. After some thought and talking to my driving mentors, I actually think that continuing to use blinders is something I do want to do with Farley. Both issues you mention (getting hung up because they are looking around, and getting startled but unexpected contact) are 2 issues I do not anticipate with Farley. And I think the benefits in this case outweigh the risks.
thank you for bringing this up though! Neither me nor my mentors were really aware of this practice and it was definitely good food for thought!
Glad you did your research! Just wanted to bring up an alternate method. I just don’t see the “benefits” that you think outweigh the risks. The only thing I’ve heard is it keeps distractions away, or helps them focus. But it seems to me like those distractions are constantly going on around a horse when they are outdoors, and to me the worst thing that can happen is for a horse to hear or feel something but not be able to see it. Like you I would not dream of driving a spooky horse, but my friend who had the big wreck has the most laid-back Arab mare I’ve ever known. She ties her horse overnight to a trailer (she did some endurance) with, no lie, about a 20 foot rope to give her room to move. That horse seems to know how to not get tangled up, or when she does she stands there calm and you never knew when she did it. So my friend figured she’d be the perfect driving horse. Have fun driving! I haven’t driven at all this year and I miss it! I’m thinking of dragging the plastic sled behind him this weekend if the snow hangs around!
Re: the risk vs benefit: My mentors have seen more accidents related to unexpected lateral movement (experienced and non experienced horses) than anything associated with the horse not being able to see that lateral movement. So the consensus among my group here is that blinders prevent more accidents then they cause. My mentors come from a variety of backgrounds (competitive draft driving, combined driving, standardbred sulky racing, etc) and they were in agreement even after a long discussion. So I’m Inclined to follow their collective advice. The overwhelming opinion was that the reasons for removing blinders were relAted to a horse not ready to be on a cart yet.
Accidents happen when working with horses and even if everything was done right (ie using blinders or not, depending on your philosophy, experienced horses or not, helmets or not). The goal of is to minimize risk and then hope Murphy’s law doesnt screw you. Removing blinders was explained to me as akin to not wearing a helmet because a handful of people get more hurt with them occasionally then if they weren’t wearing them at all. Neither is zero risk, but you must make a choice.
That isn’t to say something won’t happen that will change my mind in the future. I’m always open to reevaluation. However at this time, with my current driving experience and seeing the type of accidents that have occurred around me in the last 10 years, and the collective wisdom of my mentors, I think I’ll stick with the blinders for now.
I hope this helps you understand my decision even if you don’t agree with it! 🙂
So very awesome! Farley looks like a pro for her first time!
Thank you liz that comment means a lot coming from you. I think im proudest of how at the end of the video she smartly came to a stop and didn’t even quiver when the cart hit the breeching. All these things that I didnt necessarily teach but she just did. I really dont deserve this horse and she keeps me humble