We got a little snow on Thursday night and then a good dump yesterday. After a late breakfast this morning, we had a solid 9+” of fresh powdery snow on the farm. After the driveway was cleared and the horses were fed, we hitched up Huey to his Kingston Saddlery sleigh to cut some paths in the front pasture. Everyone took a turn with the reins except Amanda, but she did get to ride until she was frozen.
The new addition for today’s session were sets of bells hanging off either side of the saddle and we got our side check in. Huey didn’t care about the bells. While we don’t usually need a side check, it keeps him from dropping his head too low (probably a bigger problem during grass season). Not bad for his 3rd time hitched.
For those who don’t know, Huey is our 16yo Dartmoor who’s registered name is Hedgehog Hollow’s American Eagle. While he has been a good riding pony for Amanda, and still goes on trail rides, Amanda is preferring to ride Devil in the arena. Huey needs a job and so we have been slowly working on teaching Huey to drive for the past few months. Even though we were told he was driven before we owned him, we wanted to take everything slowly and actually step through the entire training process. It was also beneficial for the kids to see the intermediate steps of training a driving horse. We have been ground driving Huey, including teaching Alex and Vicki how to ground drive and Huey has pulled a tire on the ground.
I recently built a set of false shafts which are poles designed to give the pony pressure like a cart, but without the expensive cart. Here is the document I used to make our false shafts: false shafts instructions. This afternoon, Anna did a little lunging with Huey in his harness and then we hooked him up with the false shafts.
Anna and I took turns ground driving Huey with the false shafts and made him walk and trot around the arena. He didn’t show any concern at all about the shafts, so we decided to move to the next step.
We decided to purchase our easy entry cart new from Kingston Saddlery. It wasn’t much more expensive than most used ones and we knew we could get replacement parts as needed. We were also able to purchase sleigh runners, so we are looking forward to the snow arriving.
Alex and Vicki were on hand to assist with the initial hitching of Huey to the cart. We started by approaching him with the cart and removing it to make sure he wouldn’t react (I think he slept through it). Then we actually hooked him to the cart and I ground drove while he pulled the cart. Anna started with a lunge line attached to his bridle in case things went wrong, but we removed the extra tending line pretty quickly.
Since everything was going well, the next step was to get in the cart and drive around. Alex and Vicki didn’t want to be left out and both took turns driving Huey around the arena.
We need to get a side check for the harness (that’s what the blue baling twine is doing right now) and some sleigh bells. The kids were singing Dashing Through The Snow as they rode around together, and Huey was a rock star. Now they are discussing plans for driving him at the 4-H fair in the summer.