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Friday, April 3, 2009

Minx the driving horse

After my work was done last weekend (posts coming soon, I promise), I got my reward......driving Minx! Please ignore the ribs in her pictures :( After her ride on Saturday and the excitement of being put back in the 40 acre pasture with her friends, she was ribby again. She'll look fine and then I'll take her on a ride/travel and overnight she looks like she lost 75 pounds! :( I'm currently in the process of putting lots and lots of weight on her with beet pulp, oil, and unlimited hay!

When she bowed her tendon(s) is 2007, instead of hand-walking I did ground driving (why handwalk for their health if you can get the same thing accomplished while exercising their mind?). It was immediately apparent she knew what she was doing. After some research I found she spent 2 years on the sulky racing track, which I had suspected, but now was confirmed. I don't have access to a cart and harness at home, so I never did hook her up and see what she could do.

After the CHAS training was done and everyone was packing up, I asked D* if I could hook her up. She's so much smaller than the other Standardbreds! Most of the Standardbreds we use for harness can use draft tack. Minx definitely cannot. Unfortunately, I didn't have all the time in the world and I used the cart tack that was put together (didn't have to go looking for parts), which was too big. It would work OK for a short outing though.

The moment of truth (if a horse has ever done this before) is putting the cart on the harness. She was a little watchy, but good. The wind was BLOWING and she was very good considering.

Normally with a horse I've never driven, I would was spent more time ground driving, but we were pressed for time and I know this horse much better so we moved much faster.

I walked behind the cart until we reached the pasture and then hopped in.

She was amazing! She probably has not been hooked up to a cart in 5-6 years. The wind was BLOWING, the other horses were galloping around in the pasture next to us, yet she was perfect and focused. I couldn't keep the smile off of my face. I've never driven a horse that was so responsive to my slightest whisper. She seemed so comfortable in the cart.

My mom was present and took a short video of our excursion around the pasture. She looks uneven because the ground is fairly soft (pasture was just harrowed) and she's pushing stronger into the collar with one shoulder. The cart wheels are very narrow and sink in soft ground. After the video we went out onto the road (dirt) and did some trotting. She moved much better once off the soft ground. Click here for the video.

After we were done, D* offered to let me take a set of harness and the cart home. I took a rain check because I wanted to make sure I could find a suitable network of trails that I could use. I'm so excited! I probably won't have time to pick up the cart until next month. I'm going to try and piece together a set of harness that uses a breast plate instead of a collar, and is sized smaller (in the video you can see how big the tack is. Not well adjusted AT ALL).

Her confirmation looks very natural in a cart. That same way of moving/confirmation is not as pleasant under saddle......

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