Sky has been ponying behind Zorro and I when we go driving. And though she works up a sweat, I know that she needs to up her game a little bit, but not out on the road. At her age I don't want all her exercise to be on the hard gravel road. She has a clubbed front foot and I know it causes her some trouble sometimes.
In between taking her out on the road we have been ground driving and long lining here at home on the driving track.
(I have BIG plans for hitching both Sky and Zorro as a team and having them pull a tractor tire around the track. I'm thinking this may also be a way to groom the track for driving in the winter and using my sled! But only time will tell if that will work.)
But for now I thought I would start Sky out by having her drag the small sled, with a few rocks in it, on the driving track.
At first I just used the long lining harness with a collar and hames and traces. I rigged up a trace carrier that I slung over her hips and clipped to the back strap of the long lining harness. It was pretty red neck but it worked!
I tied loops into the rope that is attached to the sled and I clip the carabiner clips to those loops. Pretty simple set up! I'm not using a single tree, though it would be a good idea because sometimes the traces do touch her hips. But they don't do that all the time. I tied the loops far enough apart on the rope and that helps keep the traces from rubbing.
Today we received her new Pleasure harness with purple pads! It's always so exciting to get a box with new harness in it. No matter how many times I get one of those!
I wanted to use two harnesses, not alike at all, to set Sky and Zorro up as a team, to show how to go about it and to show that it's possible. So that's my next project! And now I need to figure out how to go about it! I have the parts from the harness shop with all my little notes from Nelson so I have a place to start.
I have to say that this little harness is very nice for the price! You can see more about it HERE. My harness has the buckle in traces upgrade which adds $30 to the base price of $350. (For the mini size!) I asked for a pad on the breast collar to be purple and I have the extra long pad for the saddle in purple, as well.
To pull the sled with rocks, Sky needs the collar and hames because... low line of draft. So she is using the All Purpose Mini and Small Pony collar. And the traces that came with the Pleasure harness. I can do that because I got the buckle in breast collar upgrade!
She is also doing this work in the English bridle, the open bridle option, because I feel she is calmer in the open bridle. I'm using the long lines so I can be BEHIND the sled...
Which brings me to my tip for the day: Always walk BEHIND the sled or tires or ?? because if you don't you just might get run over by the load. LOL! Which is exactly what happened to me the first day we did this. And once again I was so glad I'm not driving draft horses.
So, our first lap is done with only one rock in the sled. I leave the biggest rock in there and then add one rock at the end of each lap. When we have done three laps and all three rocks are in the sled, then we turn around and do the track the other direction. I take two rocks out and she pulls the one big rock and then I add the other two at the end of each lap. 6 laps total equals 2 miles on the track. When we go to the small track for the cool down then we walk 2.5 miles. It will be nice to do this with BOTH ponies at the same time so I'm not walking upwards of 6-7 miles a day when we do this (because I usually drive Zorro further)! Though it's VERY good for me to that... We are all getting in shape together!
Here is a video talking about all of this - Enjoy!
Even when horses have been driving for awhile I think it's super important to go back and do some ground driving and long lining here and there. This keeps things interesting and I can teach things on the long lines that are a lot harder to teach with a cart attached.
If you have any questions about doing this please leave a comment below or shoot me an email!