Starting driving your horse - info and resources

Discussion in 'Other Disciplines' started by Esther.D, Jun 1, 2006.

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  1. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Jan 3, 2003
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    Since this question seems to arise fairly regularly I thought a thread of info and resources would help answer some of the initial questions :)

    Can I drive my horse?

    Provided it is old enough to be ridden, fairly sane, sensible, fit and healthy then yes you can. No-nos are - bad in traffic, very spooky, kicks, bucks (a lot), generally hard to handle or nervous etc. Any breed can drive, some are just generally better suited than others (generally the calmer working breeds - eg arabs can and do drive but can be harder to break to drive and then potentially not a novice drive).

    I have been told (or my horse acts like) it has been driven before

    Always assume a horse has never been driven unless you have actually seen it for yourself. Its safer that way. So start from scratch with the early stages.

    Can I break my horse to drive myself?

    Yes, but do make sure you get some driving lessons, preferably some experienced help and at the minimum never attempt it without plenty of helpers on the ground in case things go wrong. Do not attempt it if you are not generally experienced around horses and if in doubt go back and repeat previous step rather than moving on if horse seems uncertain of something - better safe than sorry, accidents with a vehicle attached can be nasty.

    Where do I get lessons?

    If possible get to an LHHI (Light Harness Horse Instructor) - if in the UK. There are not many of them but they are well worth going to and trained to a very high standard. Find instructors here
    failing that contact your local branch and ask their advice for help/finding someone for lessons.

    Where can I buy a carriage/harness?
    Here are a few useful websites for this (bear in mind these are all different qualities and the prices generally reflect that - they are merely a list rather than necessarily recommendations!):
    New Carriages

    Secondhand carriages/harness

    New harness/accessories

    Choosing a carriage
    Think first about what you are aiming to do with your horse/pony and what your budget is. This has an affect on what you buy. However, especially if horse is just getting broken to drive, the best bet to start with is an exercise vehicle which will often look something like this or if you have a bit more cash some of the cheaper Bellcrown pleasure vehicles are very nice and they do a good starter set with synthetic Tedman harness, whip and video starting at £970. Benningtons are lovely but more pricey (keep an eye out for them secondhand) and Fenix are very very very nice but more for the serious competitor or someone with plenty of pennies to spend! When looking at exercise vehicles make sure welds etc are safe as there are some very dodgy home-made vehicles out there. Avoid mini wheels and axles as they make the carriage very heavy, motorbike wheels are generally fine. Once you have got going you can move onto the marathon/three phase vehicle suitable for HDT or the gig for private driving or just decide what vehicle you want for pleasure driving (sticking with the exercise vehicle is always an option here).

    Choosing a harness
    Again think first about what you are aiming to do with your horse/pony and what your budget is. Again don't spend ££££ on a show harness if just starting. Your best bet are probably the good quality synthetic harnesses such as Tedman, Duraweb etc, alternately John Willie do a very good exercise harness that Wally and I can vouch for as virtually indestructable (mine is 15 years old - hers is older - and both are still going strong!). Cheap synthetic harnesses can be a false economy as they are at best stiff and inflexible and at worst actually missing vital parts and unsafe! Avoid cheap indian leather harnesses for the same reason as you would in riding - poor quality leather liable to crack and snap, and often very poor workmanship.

    What can I expect to spend?

    This is hard to say exactly as it depends on horse size/your requirements/where you live etc. But at a rough guide I would expect to spend on average

    £250-£550 on a basic starter vehicle

    £200-£500 on a starter harness

    Obviously you can spend more or less but a whole lot less and you may be looking at a false economy of poor quality (and possibly dangerous) equipment and a lot more and you may regret it if you or the horse don't take to driving or you snarl yourself up in the early stages and scrape your beautiful vehicle down a wall etc.

    Books/videos on driving
    Can get all from - (or of course Amazon!) these are a good base to start from:

    Starting out -

    Jane McInnes - Between the Shafts (Video)

    Breaking to drive
    Sallie Walrond - Breaking a horse to harness (book)
    Claire Wigmore - Breaking to harness (Video/DVD)

    General links (Scottish Carriage Driving Association)

    Some very quick definitions:
    Private Driving - this is the showing side, focussing on traditional turnouts such as this

    Horse Driving Trials (HDT)- this is the three day eventing of the driving world, with dressage, cones (equivalent to showjumping), and a marathon (equivalent to roads and tracks) and obstacles (equivalent to the cross-country).

    Indoor Driving - this is the winter equivalent of HDT but takes place in one day (as do some of the club level HDT events) in an indoor arena. Often a good place for novices to start HDT.

    Scurry Driving - fast and furious sport, consisting of pairs of small ponies competing against the clock around a cones course, usually at full gallop.

    Carriage driving clubs (UK)
    Generally clubs are geared to particular interests, however don't be put off if your local one is primarily a driving trials group as most have picnic drives too and most of the BDS areas have some competition driving as well as pleasure drives, so do contact your local groups and ask. Drivers are generally known for their friendliness and welcome new drivers.

    Driving trials clubs:
    Pleasure/private driving:
    Scurry driving:
    Indoor driving :

    Outside the UK? (Australia) (USA)

    If anyone has any more useful links/info please pm Wally or I and we will add them :)
    N.B Please note that the links are just that, they are not necessarily recommendations as we do not have personal experience of all the sites/companies.

    Have fun and drive safely!
    #1 Esther.D, Jun 1, 2006
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2008
  2. Wally

    Wally Well-Known Member

    Apr 16, 2000
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    Just to add to Esther's links

    Here is another one to the BHS register for Light Harness Horse instructors. Scroll down to the bottom of each list to find LHHI in the area.


    Hilary Mackay
    Latchley, Cornwall Tel: 01822 833136


    Christine ****
    Kensworth, Dunstable Tel: 01582 872676
    Sharon Wootton - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving
    Tel: 01480 470395
    Derek Wootton - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving
    Tel: 01480 470395

    Colin Pawson - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; Multiples; RDA Driving
    Tidmarsh, Reading Tel: 01189 842619
    E-mail: Web site:


    Mary Robbins - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; Multiples
    Winchmore Hill, Amersham Tel: 01494 725240
    Christine van Reen
    Chesham, Bucks Tel: 01442 833013


    Clare Bourne L.H.H.I,
    Ely, Cambs Tel: 01638 721655

    Andrew Counsell - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Tel: 07787 544194
    Irene Parker
    Stithians, Truro Tel: 01209 861235
    Hilary Mackay
    Tel: 07976 905532


    Georgina Stewart - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Tel. 01433 651878

    Caroline Dale-Leech - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Darley Dale, Matlock Tel: 01629 733583


    Mark Broadbent - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving; Scurry Driving
    Nr Tiverton Tel: 01363 866532
    email: Web Site:

    Paddy Broadbent
    Tel: 01363 866532


    Sophie Adkins - Pleasure & Private Driving;
    Bishops Waltham Tel: 01489 891466 E-mail:

    Caroline Douglas - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving; Scurry Driving
    Brockenhurst Tel & Fax: 01590 682678 E-mail:

    Richard James - Law Society Expert Witness
    Fordingbridge Tel: 01725 519322


    Sarah Wildy - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Weobley Tel: 01544 318606


    Sara Howe ● - HDT, pleasure driving, RDA driving, lectures.
    Tel. 01732 459518


    Margaret Brockie - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Bolton BL3 Tel: 01204 531301

    Pat Calderbank - HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving
    Leyland PR26 Tel. 01772 423630, mobile 07734 176 827.


    John Parker
    Diss IP21 Tel: 01379 384496
    Email: Website:

    Susan Townsend
    Tel. 01379 384496


    Anne Chambers -HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving
    Newark NG23 Tel: 01636 821154


    Shirley Reeder - Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Bury St Edmunds IP28 Tel: 01638 716096

    Sallie Walrond HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Bury St Edmunds IP30 Tel: 01284 828296


    Gary Docking LHHI - Pleasure & Private Driving; Scurry Driving
    Midhurst GU30 Tel: 01798 867034 Mobile: 07771 904777

    Bill Vine
    Hailsham BN27 Tel: 01323 841641

    Araminta Winn - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Billingshurst RH14 Tel: 07771 900100


    Richard Ellis Pleasure & Private Driving
    Chippenham SN15 Tel: 01666 510761

    Clare Wigmore LHHI (4) Available for lectures, demonstrations, videos, group instruction.
    Salisbury SP5 Tel & Fax : 01722 712237 E-mail:



    Jacky Brittain ●
    Tel: 01461 600224

    Eileen Cornish ●
    Tel: 01501 771679

    Julia Gourley
    Tel: 01651 872119

    Alex Hogg ●
    Tel: 01620 829818

    Maureen Hogg ●
    Tel: 01620 829818

    Jane MacInnes - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving; RDA Driving
    Aberdeen AB12 Tel: 01224 732310 Email:

    Andrew May - (T); HDT; Pleasure & Private Driving
    Dolphinton, West Linton EH46 7AF Tel: 01968 682366

    Leslie McRonald
    Aberdeen Tel: 01224 867262

    George Stuart ●
    Tel: 01592 563992

    Ann Varley ●
    Tel: 01576 610399



    Mark Evans - (T); Pleasure & Private Driving
    Llangadog SA19 Tel: 01550 779066
    E-mail: Website:

    Rowena Moyse
    Swansea SA4 Tel: 01792 874299
    email: Website:

    Anders Leijerstam
    Tel: 01446 781900
    Email: Website:

    Maureen Francis
    Crickhowell NP8 Tel: 01874 730386
    #2 Wally, Jan 23, 2007
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2007
  3. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Jan 3, 2003
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  4. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Jan 3, 2003
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    And for those of you wanting info on working heavy horses etc -

    Jonathan Waterer is the chap to speak too. His website is and it contains all of his contact details.

    He is also a dealer for harness from Aaron Martin Harness in Canada and is best placed to advise on working harness and collars.

    (thanks to klebert for this info).
  5. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Jan 3, 2003
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  6. chickyd444

    chickyd444 Jasper 1993-2008 'Legend'

    Feb 19, 2007
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    brilliant :) loads or really usefull info, i have printed off to put in my file :)
  7. Esther.D

    Esther.D Moderator

    Jan 3, 2003
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    Oops should have locked this post again so it doesn't grow updated it today and forgot to lock it again, glad you like it though! :)
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