Carriage Driving Centre Grayswood
Tel: 01962 777863
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Training your horse

At Grayswood we have a long history of producing safe, happy driving horses for our own use and for our clients.  We have trained horses of different breeds and sizes - shires to shetlands.   With the right approach and patience most horses will happily learn to drive.

We can also arrange for horses to be trained under saddle; however it is often better to focus on one skill at a time to prevent confusing the horse.  To have both driven and ridden training will increase the duration of their stay.

If you are interested in talking with us about having your horse trained to drive, then please arrange to visit, meet us first hand, see our facilities and meet our horses.  
Frequently asked questions

Is my horse suitable for driving?

Many horses come to us for training as a second career, when outgrown or the owners can no longer ride.  We think that this is a great idea.  However it isn’t always cheap to re-school a horse and buy the right equipment so we strongly recommend that you come along and have some lessons with us first to decide if driving is the right choice.  Once you are happily driving, send your horse along to learn next.  We can help guide you with decisions about which harness and vehicle to buy.

Before you bring your horse to us you will need to decide what type of driving horse you want us to produce.  Do you want to show?  Do you want to compete at driving trials?  Or do you want to take your time around the lanes and tracks enjoying the outdoors?   This will affect how the horse is schooled before it is ready to go home.  

You need to be realistic about your horse’s temperament and capabilities too; if he is a steady laid back fellow, it is unlikely he will perk up enough to win at Windsor Driving Trials!  A sharp sensitive pony isn’t going to turn into a plod when put in a carriage, but she could be a wonderful competition or private drive show pony.

We will be honest with you through your horses training, discussing progress and how your horse will meet your goals.  
Can I visit my horse?

Owners are very welcome to come and see their horse at any time but let us know you are coming so that we can be here and make sure we won’t have worked your horse earlier in the day.  Owners can observe the training process and ask any questions on progress.  As the time approaches for your horse to go home you will be encouraged to drive them and discuss any further fine tuning you might want in preparation for driving at home.
How do you train the horse to drive?

Once the horse has settled with us, we start familiarising them with harness and blinkers.  Blinkers limit the horse’s ability to see so they can become worried initially.  The next step is long reining to develop steering and brakes. When the horse is working comfortably we will introduce the vehicle.  The horse sets the pace; rushing or forcing each step before they are ready to go on can frighten the horse unnecessarily.  
How long will it take?

Starting with a nicely handled young horse with no history of frights or bad management we would reasonably expect to take 5 to 8 weeks to produce a driving horse with some experience of roadwork and traffic.  The longer the horse stays the more traffic training and schooling they will receive which is often  a sensible option for owners who are newer to driving.

Some older ridden horse will adapt to the change quickly and turn into driving horses in a fairly short time.  Others may take longer to settle.  Having trained literally hundreds of horses over the decades we know to take each horse at the speed it needs, firm but fairly working through each step.  For this reason it can be difficult to give an exact timescale at the start.
What if my horse doesn’t want to drive?

From experience we know when it is prudent and safer to stop the training. Some horses are just not happy being driven.  To force them to drive, and then send the horse home to an inexperience driver could cause an accident, harming both the human and the horse.

Sometimes the horse and owner are just not well matched as a driving partnership.  Perhaps the horse is too sharp or not great in traffic but would drive well for a more experienced or confident driver.  

However it comes about, this is a tough decision, usually made after some weeks of training.  It is a disappointment to everyone to call a halt.  Although this happens very rarely, we will not be afraid of recommending to the owner when it is time to call it a day, especially when it is the safest decision to make.
Producing a safe driving horse is more than just teaching them to pull a cart; the horse needs to have the confidence in people to deal with different situation. Once the horse is happy in the carriage we set about building up their positive experiences including traffic training.  

As a working farm, the horses get used to farm machinery and different sights and sounds quite quickly.  It would not be unusual to see a donkey or pig around the farm if we have a specific problem to cure.  Even puddle training is taken seriously here – a horse & carriage leaping over a busy road because it is scared of getting its feet wet is not safe!