There has been some interest from others here in learning to drive. A couple of people are curious as to how to get started. Obviously you need a horse and at some point a harness and a cart, wagon or buggy.
Getting started though, about all you need is your basic ground driving or long lining equipment. A bridle, long lines or two lunge lines and a surcingle. So far I have found the surcingles are ranging in price from $20 at Horse.com, or Stateline Tack for a synthetic surcingle to a couple hundred dollars for a nice leather surcingle. No need to go all out, sparing no expense and buying a harness yet. Wait until it is perfectly clear that your horse IS or is NOT suitable for driving. Even so, you can find a good harness at a reasonable price. One that will fit properly, hold up to use and last.
I am going to be starting two horses in harness and bringing them along. One being our Arab stallion Pal (the horse in my profile avatar) who has hung out and done a lot of nothing long enough. He is broke to ride, I have ridden him and so has JR. Pal seems to have this self proclaimed allergy to work and sweat though. He will do what you ask, but makes it clear, he's not thrilled with the idea. Maybe that will change?
The other horse I will be bringing along is the OTTB mare. Mommy mare is the one with the bad knee that I posted the pictures of here on the blog. While she may never make a competitive driving horse (No CDE's in her future!), she may make an elegant pleasure horse and be able to do the simple driving classes, going around the ring a few times.
Most horses with a job are happier. Horses who are trained to do something are typically easier to place or sell- even in a crappy economy. Think about it. Would you rather spend the money on a horse with no training or one you can do something with and enjoy. If you don't have the time or means to train your own, most people will go with the horse who knows their job.
With our two horses it is going to be an adventure and we will see where it goes. Not every horse is suitable for driving. These two have a calm demeanor about them. They don't easily spook or get rattled and flip out over little things. Even if something startles them, they just don't go full blown stupid on us. Despite both of them being horses who typically get a bad rap because of their breed, breeding status or previous career, these two may just be good ambassadors later on for- this is what they CAN do if given a chance.
Since most horses are started in long lines before anyone climbs on their back, you should have a pretty good feel for your horse and how quickly they learn as well as how they react to new things. With our horses we lunge them before we ride them. Even the old farts who have been there and done that, still get to let it all out on the lunge line before we get on. The driving horses will be no different. Trust me, accidents happen quickly and are not fun.
** Shameless self promotion warning....
I have been searching for new recipes and the cooking is really taking off. Join me on my new blog Cheap Chef in my adventures with food. Dinner should taste good but it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg to make it.