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Brief Guide to Starting a Driving Horse (From The Ground)

Every time you interact with your horse you are training him. That means that even if you don't think you are a trainer, you are! You can do a lot of things to get your horse prepared for life and driving. Here is a brief guide to help you help your horse. This is not an all-encompassing list, but instead a list of the behaviors I consider extra important to master to train the driving horse.

Life Skills:

  • Accepts a halter on and off

  • Leads calmly

  • Stands tied without pulling back

  • Comfortable with being touched all over and with having the tail lifted

  • Loads easily into a trailer

Leading skills (from the ground)

  • Walks forward when asked without walking ahead of handler

  • Leads with handler walking on near and far side

  • Halts promptly without crowding handler

  • Turns left and right without tugging or pushing

  • Jogs in hand: halt, walk, trot, halt transitions

Lunge/Longline Work:

(Make sure to watch my video and read the blog post on Longlines!)

  • Halts and stands quietly

  • Rein back 2-3 steps

  • Transitions halt-walk-trot-walk-halt

  • Maintains circle and balance without falling out on the circle

  • Spirals in and out on the circle at walk and trot

  • Reverse direction at the walk

  • Lengthens stride and comes back at walk and trot

  • Responds promptly primarily off voice commands only

Longlines and Obstacles

  • Makes transitions at markers (such as cones)

  • Walks and trots through cones place on the circle (at the width of driving competition cones)

  • Steps over poles

  • Longlines past scary objects (flapping tarps, flags, etc.)

  • Walks and trots through shallow water without hesitating

Testing Your Skills to Prepare for Putting to the Cart/Carriage (I want every horse to show me the following very reliably before I hook them the first time)

  • Reliably stands 100% of the time for harnessing/unharnessing, tied/untied, ANYWHERE

  • Stands while adjusting harness tied and untied in any location (no header)

  • Longline walk and trot with change of direction at the walk while dragging a tire

  • Drag tire over multiple surfaces (grass, trees, through puddles, gravel, pavement, etc.)

  • Unphased by straps, heavy buckles, and other things flapping on the sides and around the legs (hind especially) at halt, walk, and trot on the longlines

This is just a brief list on minimum life skills every driving horse needs to know to prepare to drive. Use it to check on your own work with your horse and know that if you teach these things to your horse before you send him to me, you're training bill will be a lot cheaper because you'll have done so much of the work already!!

Drop a comment or send me a message if you have questions!

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Great Post! Good to see you writing again!

Feb 04
Replying to

Thank you, Bonny! And thank you for always being a fan and supporting me! <3


Do you teach carriage driving and if so do you have lessons/classes and the cost?

Where about are you situated, state, suburb?

Warm regards

Christine Baker


Feb 04
Replying to

We teach! You can click Book Now here on the website for lesson availability and to book. We are in Caroline County outside Denton, MD :)

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