What does it take to keep a harness horse in good health? Driving vet Rosie Mould MRCVS offers her advice
From a fun outing with a pony and trap to the four-in-hand championships at international FEI level, driving encompasses a huge variety of activities.
Any type of horse or pony can learn to pull a carriage, as long as he is confident and well trained enough to go forwards with a wheeled “creature” chasing him. The sport offers a second career for riding ponies who have been outgrown, an alternative for ponies not compatible with small children and a shared experience for families and friends.
Just as the ridden horse should carry weight on the hindlimbs to free up the forelimbs for movement, the driving horse should push with his powerful hindquarters – rather than pull – and use his shoulders and bodyweight to propel the carriage forwards. Once momentum is achieved, the effort required to keep the carriage rolling will depend upon the surface, the gradient and the requirement for twisting and turning.