Updated: May 10, 2022
I am constantly asked what people can do with their babies. Often people are reaching out to me to purchase a harness for their young pony so they can "start their driving training." They explain that they will just be ground driving for a few years.
The first thing I tell them is, "Don't waste your money on a harness right now."
For one thing, this is a baby and has no need to wear a harness at this time.
For another, they will outgrow the harness long before they get to use it for actual driving.
So, what AM I doing with Oliver?
I am allowing him to grow up. This means he gets to experience new things by tasting them, stepping on them, rubbing on them. He puts EVERYTHING in his mouth, so I make sure his surroundings are safe and the things he is putting in his mouth are not going to hurt him. (As much as is humanly possible that is!)
He walks on tarps, bridges, pavement, gravel, sand, in water, through mud puddles, crosses creeks, drinks out of creeks! He takes trailer rides to hikes, to the vet (where he mostly hangs around with Zorro and watches), to friends houses, to my mom's.
He camps with me, learns about electric fences in the form of little pens and the fences in the front yard. He learns about high lining so he is safe when we camp out in places where I can't put up an electric pen.
He stands tied and learns to be bored. He has learned to be patient (most of the time!) while I trim his feet. He has learned to enjoy brushing instead of wrestling with me and the brush. LOL!
He has learned to participate in haltering instead of backing up and raising, lowering or turning his head away from the halter. He has learned to come when I call him, no matter where he is!
He follows me around the farm when he is loose. You may recall seeing him photo bombing the trace length video. LOL!
He has learned to lead nicely on a lead rope, walk out with Zorro, and without Zorro. He has learned to walk in front of me, or whoever is leading him, as well as to following nicely behind. This is incredibly important on many of our hikes, where the trails are super narrow and tricky. Having a pony who can calmly lead or calmly and quietly follow is priceless.
He had a busy summer with lots of traveling and staying in strange places and I'm proud to say he adapts extremely well and always stays super calm and takes everything in stride.
Below is a video showing just a little bit of what we've been doing.
Everything I am currently doing with Oliver will translate beautifully when it's time to harness and hitch him. All this preparation is extremely important to helping form a well rounded and well mannered driving pony. And most of it appears to have nothing to do with driving!
If you have a young pony what do you do with them? Do you leave them out in the pasture to grow up and learn to be a pony from their pasture mates? Do you do a lot of hands on training with them? Do you train them for short periods of time and then turn them back out? I'm curious! Share your experiences in the comments below.
As always, please be kind in the comments. Rude or mean comments will be deleted here and on Facebook!