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Trainer Q&A - Other Training Questions - How do I introduce my horse to cart driving?

How do I introduce my horse to cart driving?

Jester Asks:


I have a 2 yr old that I would like to introduce to pulling a cart. He has gone thru his basic ground work fine. He has not been broke to the saddle.

How should I begin?


Our Trainer Answers:

In the early stages of teaching your horse to drive you must first get yourself and him familiar to the harness and bridle. Once you have him properly geared up, we must teach him to steer right and left off the bit. I like to start all my colts in broken mouth ring snaffle bit. Begin in the round pen with your drive lines attached to the bit and send him out on the circle as if you were longeing him. Let him go around a few times and get relaxed. It is important to note that your drive lines need to be long enough for you to follow along at a safe distance. Position yourself behind your horse and slightly toward the inside of the circle. Let's begin turning to the left first, with your horse going on a left circle in a firm and clear voice say "Haw" lift your left rein and bump him gently in the mouth until he turns into the middle of your round pen. As he's almost to the other side, again in a clear and firm voice, say"Gee" and lift and bump him gently in the mouth with your right rein until he turns to the right. Voice commands are a handy way to communicate with your cart horse and give him a 'heads up' are what you are about to ask him to do. Note: Do Not overwork your horse at these exercises, let him make a couple of rounds in each direction before you ask him to turn, and always use the voice commands. When he is doing a good job at making his turns, and is nice and relaxed, cross the round pen, and as you are almost to the fence, say "Whoa" in a clear and firm voice, stop walking and bump him with both reins evenly. The fence should help him understand that you want him to stop. I like to end my first few driving lessons with a nice 'whoa', if he gives it to you the first time you ask, put him away. If he doesn't quite get it at first, stay calm, drive him around bit more and work on it. A good stop is of the utmost importance in a cart horse and should always be rewarded.


Thank you and happy trails!