Guest Author - Kim Wende
Driving a horse is fun and a rewarding sport, but it takes patience, consistency, dedication and a lot of time. If you are not prepared to put in the time needed don't start. You never want to rush or skip steps in the training process. Take your time and let the horse process the lessons.
I am not trying to scare you, but you need to know that driving can be a very dangerous sport. When the horse is finally hitched to a cart if something goes wrong and they get away from you they are now dragging a weapon, which can hurt everyone around them including other animals.
The horse should be at least three years old, but you can start ground driving a two-year old to prepare them for hitching as a three-year old. You will also want to keep in mind what type of driving you will be doing with the horse. Will you be competing in the show ring or just for pleasure driving down the road?
Look for these qualities when choosing a prospect for driving:
Healthy – yes this should be obvious, but sometimes people purchase horses that have not been well cared for and they are on the thin side. When the horse is fed properly and they gain weight they may be a totally different horse.
Good conformation – you're not going to get a perfect horse, but you want to look for the obvious. For instance you would not want one that is pigeon-toed. Horses with straight up and down pasterns will have a shorter and choppy stride.
Sound hooves (no hoof no horse) – the hooves are the horse's foundation so make sure they don't have problems with their hooves.
Good disposition – a horse with a good disposition is one that is fairly even tempered, willing to learn, is friendly and is not unpredictable.
Easy to handle – this is a horse that is quiet and well-mannered.
Trainable attitude – a horse with a trainable attitude is willing to learn and they have a good attitude when doing so.
Curious not spooky – a horse that is spooky is not a good prospect for a driving horse as they can be very dangerous. A curious horse is one that is willing to investigate things and not bolt away every time they see something new.
Training a horse to drive is fun and rewarding, but it takes patience, consistency, dedication and a lot of time. If you've never trained a horse to drive it would be best to work with or hire a professional. Driving is a dangerous sport and if not done properly can result in injury or even death to you or your horse.