Friday, March 30, 2012

Horse Driving, Driving My Emotions?

I love being around the miniature horses.  There is a saying "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man".  Actually that should read person.  Women seem to love horses and there are probably as many or more women who own horses than men.

I am taking driving lessons so that I can learn how to drive a little horse pulling a cart.  What is oddly unexpected for me is how much of an emotional journey this has become.  Am I too old?  Do I have what it takes?  Do people like me?  Does the trainer think I am not capable?  Learning something new is stretching me and I know that is a good thing but it also is a bit painful.

I really didn't know I was this insecure :)   Or self conscious.  Or afraid of trying something new even though this is something I really want to do.  I am a funny, complicated being.  I already know that.  I am working through this phase.  That is a good thing.

My trainer is twenty years old and somehow I have a hard time communicating.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  She is really nice.  She is patient but I do feel she is pushing me to do some things on my own too soon.  What I mean is:  The harness is really complicated and I have only put the darn thing on twice and the third time she says "I am going to have you put it on yourself and only help you if you need my help."  Well, I did need her help because it is way too soon for me to have memorized all the parts and how to buckle them all and how tightly to buckle them all.

You have to get the belly band on first.  It needs to sit just behind the mane.  You have to get the cinch through the buckle and then pull it sort of tight while you put one hand behind so you don't pull the horses hair.  And the horse is really hairy because it is winter.

Then you have to put the breast collar on.  The breast collar has several straps on it.  You have to ignore one strap, find the other strap and get it buckled over the top of the horse.

Then there is the actual harness that has straps hanging down the sides and a strap for under the tail and such.  There are the reins to get through the breast collar and onto the harness, as well.

Then there is the bridal which has a cavasson that pops over his nose but you don't do it up yet because the bridal has to go on first.  You have to get the bit into the little guys mouth and pull it up gently and slowly so that you don't clank it on his teeth because then he won't like the bit.  Then you tighten up the cavasson so that the horse can't spit the bit out.

I am certain I can learn this but, geez, this is a lot of stuff.  Then there is leading the horse. Getting the cart hooked up to the harness.  Now, you are ready to drive the critter.  That is sort of complicated, too.  You have to hold the reins just so but the reins want to slip out of position.  You have to gather the reins up if you want to go faster.  You are also holding a whip in your right hand while you are doing all of that.

I have been trying to ask the trainer about some of the ads on the local sales site.  Someone was saying that if you see a stallion you like you just geld him.  I'm not buying that story but I asked about it.  She told me to stop looking at the local farm and garden sales site and sent me a link to a horse ads site.  I have been to that site and a number of other sites including a site with lots of miniature horse breeders.  There really hasn't been any horses that fit my criteria [gelding, 10 to 15 years old, already trained to drive, gentle] with two exceptions that were actually in this area.  I called on those two and they were already sold.  Both of those were from the local farm and garden sales list.

Now I have found a nice sounding horse after perusing ads for months.  The lady got her first horse when she was fifty.  It is this little horse.  She has owned him since he was two years old.  He is sweet, doesn't kick or bite.  He comes with the cart and harness and all his little horse stuff like the halter, lead rope and winter blanket.  The cart is a nice Jerald Easy Entry cart.  The price is within the realm of reason.

I did see a horse or two from breeders that might be suitable but they were talking $2,000 or $3,000, no cart included, mind you. None of them were especially close by either.  At least a 3 or 4 hour drive if not further. This horse is $1,350 with all the accessories.  This is a pet and I have a limit on what I want to pay.  At the same time, I want to get a really nice animal and cart.

I talked to the lady who owns the horse on the phone.  The lady is very nice, seems very genuine and is quite willing to let the trainer come with me to see the horse and hook it up and drive it.  I wonder, though, if the trainer is going to want to do that.  We shall see tomorrow when I go for my driving lesson.  I would prefer an experienced horse person to go with me to see the horse.

After talking with this lady, I felt really optimistic about starting my horse career later in life.  She is really enjoying herself.  Since her friends all ride horses she now has a quarter horse she rides and she doesn't want to pay to board two horses.  She is moving on from carting but was really happy to have someone call that really wanted to use the horse for carting.  He really is in the prime of his life and shouldn't just be standing around.  She said she did have someone else call but they wanted a pasture buddy and that wasn't what she was hoping for with this horse.

Of course, I am not done making a paddock and shelter.  I told her it would be at least a week before I could take it home but she says no problem.  She already paid to board it for April so no hurry.  I'll update you when I know more.

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