How to Drive a Horse and Buggy

By an eHow Contributor

A horse and buggy was the primary method of transportation for many years. It is still the main method for Mennonites and the Amish.  Anyone, should they so desire, can drive a horse and buggy. It does take some practice, but it’s fun and a nice way to get around.

Instructions

Make sure your horse is properly trained for driving. Horses are not born knowing how to drive, so have a professional trainer teach your horse.

Once your horse is trained, take driving lessons with your horse from a professional trainer. Driving isn’t as easy as hopping in the cart and going, and a runaway horse and carriage can be very dangerous. Learn to drive from a pro to keep you, your horse and bystanders safe.

Make sure your horse is properly harnessed. The horse should be wearing a bridle with blinders, all of the straps and buckles should be securely fastened, and the traces should be securely attached to the buggy itself.

Pick a horse that’s suitable for the task. If you want to drive down the road, you’ll need a horse who is calm, quiet, desensitized to cars rushing by and well-trained. If you want to show your horse, he needs to meet the breed standards and be able to work in an arena with other horses.

Make sure you have a suitable carriage or buggy.  A miniature horse cannot pull a huge covered wagon and a draft horse cannot fit into a hitch intended for a miniature horse. Make sure the vehicle is safe and in good repair. Antique carriages may need work before they usable for driving. Also make sure you have appropriate tires. Tires used for show-rings will not handle the heavy wear of road driving.

Make sure your horse is properly harnessed. The horse should be wearing a bridle with blinders, all of the straps and buckles should be securely fastened, and the traces should be securely attached to the buggy itself. Make sure the harness fits and is appropriate for the horse.

Check your buggy to make certain it is in good condition, that the wheels are not loose and the brake works well.

Carry a whip in order to guide the horse, or help it to focus should it become distracted. However if your horse isn’t used to a whip, it will do you no good.

Drive the horse by holding the reins in the same manner as if you were riding: the reins should feed through your fingers from the bottom of your hand and up under your thumb.

Try to keep a soft tension on the reins without allowing any slack. You do not want to lean on the horse’s mouth-you want to be able to feel the horse through the reins and the horse to feel you.

Command the horse move by saying “walk”, “trot”. If your horse ignores your verbal uses, you may need to flap the reins or move the whip to get his attention. Ask the horse to stop by saying, “whoa”. You may also need to increase the tension on the reins to get the horse to stop.

Turn the horse by pulling on the rein that’s on the same side of the direction you wish to turn.13Be still as you are driving. DO not distract your horse by moving around excessively in the buggy-just as you would not move about excessively on your horses back as you are riding.

Be safe at all times. Observe the traffic laws if you must drive on the road. Try to stay on the side of the road if you can. Have reflectors on the buggy so that the vehicle is more visible to motorists, and be aware of all that’s happening around you.

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