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Swapping Sides with Pairs (and Teams)

It’s important to switch sides when you school your pairs. Sometimes we get so comfortable with a particular horse on the left and another in the right that we don’t want to switch them.

Time for a switch.

Sometimes they drive a little awkward when you first walk off on opposite sides of the pole, but the end result of straighter and more responsive horses from the schooling is worth it!

These are the wheelers in my four in hand. The left horse is 18 years old and has spent the last 15 years on the right hand side of the pole.

It was rocky at first, but he quickly settled and enjoyed his new found left position.

The one on the right in this picture has been going on the left and making it very clear he hates being the left wheeler. He was thrilled to be on the right of the pole once againand I think we’ve now established their new positions in the team…..

Training is a continuous journey of development and redevelopment!

But, Jess, my experienced hoses have always been on the same sides of the pole...

Should I swap them? Yes!


Switching sides helps to keep them even in strength. You’ll find when you switch sides, one side of each horse has become stronger than the other side from always being on the same side. Often horses (like my left on this post was on the right for 15 years) find new straightness and a fresh mind from switching sides.

Some, like my right horse above, hate switching sides, but it is needed to keep them straight, evenly muscled, and fresh in the brain.

Even if they’ve been on the same side their whole lives they benefit from a new perspective.

I have one that will not drive on the left of the pole. She’s been broken to drive about a year. First time I put her on the left she bucked and kicked and was very angry. Drove her the past year on the right and she’s been happy. We've also spent a lot of time schooling single. A few days ago, I tried her again on the left. No bucking or kicking this time, but a very clearly agitated horse that was not benefiting from the change. I’ll drive her for the next year on the right where she’s happy and give her a try on the left again next winter.

It’s all a process and each is an individual, but our outcome goal should always be to develop the most well rounded, straight forward moving, responsive, and light horses that we can. Switching sides for pairs and single driving is the way to achieve a pair moving this way: as one horse.

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