Katie's Journal

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Team Driving

by @ 9:15 am on November 24, 2006.

It’s been a while since I last posted, but life just hasn’t been that interesting of late. It pretty much involves eating, sleeping, school (waaaaay too much school), and playing World of Warcraft (an awesome game I definitely recommend). And of course, playing with the horses when time and daylight allows (it gets dark so darn early these days!). I do have the story of Cap’n Jack to tell, but that will have to wait for another time (once I finally get some pictures). In the mean time comes a tale of two horses, and the forecart they had to pull.

To recap, I’ve been teaching both my boys to drive, with the intent to eventually get them working as a team. I started out driving them single, and we practiced that on the forecart for a while. They were both doing really well, so we proceeded to practice ground driving as a team. That had its moments at first, but the boys eventually began to figure out they were stuck together, and act accordingly. They weren’t perfect, but they were past the point of getting upset as they banged into each other trying to turn and such. I decided it was time to go ahead and get them hooked to the forecart. I recruited dad to help me change it out from the shafts to the team pole, and mom to help me get the horses hooked up to it. Getting everything adjusted wasn’t easy. Kota remember is 14.3 and Caleb is 17.3. For you non-horsey folk, that means it’s a full foot from the top of Kota’s back to the top of Caleb’s. With the horses being such different sizes, it made it hard to get everything even. In the end I got to a point that I decided would be good enough for a first attempt.

Once the horses were hooked up, my big plan was to lead them around and just let them get used to the idea of having the cart behind them and whatnot. The flaw there turned out to be that for the last 4 years I’ve owned them, when I bring them in together from the field, Caleb follows behind Kota. It’s just what he’s always done naturally, and I never thought much of it. They’re so darn used to that, I had trouble getting them to walk together with me leading them. This hasn’t been an issue while ground driving, so I attached the reins, and started walking behind the forecart. This went so well, that I actually hopped in after a bit. We only ended up doing one big lap around the field where we practice, but man was it cool. 

I ended up quitting for the day when Kota all of a sudden started to get fidgety. My reins turned out to still not be adjusted properly, and as it was, I had contact with Caleb, but not Dakota. And Kota was the one who needed correction. It seemed the wise choice to quit while I was ahead and readjust before trying again the next time. Again for you non-horsey folk, with team lines I’m still only holding two reins, even though I’m controlling two horses. So I don’t have one set of reins going to each horse. What happens is that my right rein splits in two about half way along, with one part going to the right side of Kota, and one going to the right side of Caleb. That way, when I pull the right rein, it should pull on both horse’s right side. Same idea with the left. Because of the difference in their size, the length of the rein after it splits needs to be different, and I’m still working out that length adjustment.

All of that brings me to yesterday, when I finally was able to recruit my help and try hooking the boys up again. I made some more adjustments to everything, and I’m pretty close to happy at this point. The boys did really, really well. No particular fussing, they did some really nice turns, and all in all I was thrilled with the day. We still didn’t do a whole lot because my new problem is I need my butt whacker. Driving single, the reins come over the horse’s bum to get back to me, and a little slap on the butt with the reins tells the horse to walk up (that is, walk faster). But with my two together (and again largely because of the difference in sizes), my reins come to me between the horses, so I can’t use them anymore the way I did. And especially with Kota, who is tending to lag behind, I need a way to tell him to get up. And that’s where the butt whacker comes in. I just need a way to remind him that he has to walk up a bit. So my hope for today is to get a whip holder installed on the forecart, and try again. In the mean time, here’re a few pictures dad took yesterday:

 

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One Response to “Team Driving”

  1. Mike Bond Says:

    Are you always that happy while playing with the horses, or are you just smiling for the camera? 😉

    WoW does indeed rock … eventually you’ll realize the error of your ways and join a PvP server (*cough* Maelstrom *cough*) 😛

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