Curly horses are well suited to work in harness pulling carts. In this post I’ve collected a few shots of our horses working in harness.
In this first series of photos, curly leopard appaloosa stallion Spot O Rust is shown pulling a training cart.
The photo below shows a grey gelding in a simple DIY horse harness designed to orient a horse to the particular cues and senses of pulling a cart. When a horse pulls a cart, they must learn to
A. tolerate shafts pressing against their sides and hindquarters (limiting their freedom to turn naturally)
B. desensitize to the sounds, movement, and weight of a cart bumping along behind them, and.
C. The horse must learn to respond to rein cues without a rider. Natural for horses already trained for riding, this can be a challenge for young horses.
It’s not unusual to ground drive young horses before breaking either to saddle or cart, an additional step of training that can be very helpful is called “long lining”. Long lining is a combination of lunging and long lining in which the horse is worked in a circle around the handler, but rather than a single lunge line clipped to bit or halter, two very long reins (lunge lines work) are used. In long lining, the ground driving handler moves to the inside of a circle and, with outside rein passing through a D ring on saddle or surcingle and circling the horse hindquarters, and inside rein passing through D ring on saddle or surcingle the horse is worked in a circle around the handler. While lunging is typically used to exercise horses, long lining provides both exercise and training, where a horse can be taught to halt, lengthen or shorten strides, and collect off the outside rein without ever having a rider mount for the first time.
In the photo below, a horse is being long lined in the setup described, with a half-pad held in place by a training surcingle.
This horse is being introduced to a cart with a set of simple PVC training cart. With $10 worth of PVC pipe, pipe glue, a salvaged set of wheels, and a bit of leather string to provide a breakaway connection between shaft and surcingle, this horse can be broken to many of the sights, sounds, and sensations of pulling a cart without the potential danger of damage to cart or injury to horse if the horse was to panic as they were growing used to the cart.