Driving a single (strong-willed pony).

Driving a single (strong-willed pony).

We’ve got a car coming past now, so I’ve got the reins slack nothing on him at all, and he’s not taking any notice. What I’m going to do now, I’m going to take the brake off this vehicle and ask him to hold it. See him hold the whole weight of this vehicle – its a big vehicle. He pulls it alright; he’s a strong pony, but with this weight if I ask him to whoa stand still whoa just ask him to stand still while this van comes past. Walk on. He’s holding all that weight on a hill going down which pleases me no end. I’ll put his head right over on the car; he doesn’t bother. Go on then, trot, trot steady. He’s a little bit hard-mouthed but that’s not my fault, but I’m only driving him in a piece of rubber. Let him have a look at that, no real reaction. He’s keeping his line nice, I’m not pulling his head off, if I let the reins go down there with no rein at all on the pony. If I lift the weight of that rein you’ll see he starts coming over this way; I’m not putting any weight on, just holding the rein up in the air. And the mere weight of the reins will steer him now. Whereas he wouldn’t have had that before; he was hard work! We’re re-educating him to a rubber bit and that’s a very important statement. This horse’s mouth was as hard as iron – anybody could come here, put a bit in him and I guarantee he’d take the weight of your body on his mouth. He would take the weight of your body on his mouth. Let this car come right past, walk, good boy. So I’m happy with that, you know so if I can control him on a piece of rubber without pulling his head off, or fighting with him… trot. Come on, good boy. Trot. Nice and steady. I want him to do a little steady trot now. Well you know what he was like when you had him so I know there’s a big improvement and we can improve him a bit more yet. Get him the best we possibly can, but what we had to start with the horse had, you know, been allowed to do what he liked, he’d buck people off, wouldn’t have them ride him, he was bargy, pushy; he had no manners whatsoever. My concern has been all along that the people that own him, whether they can carry on keeping him in his place, you know, an animal (that’s what he is) and he’s got to do as he’s told – are they strong-willed enough to keep him in that place and obviously there’s a certain amount of skill in that. So you always get this dilemma when you break horses; are you handing them over to someone to continue – who will listen to you and continue to keep the horse at the same standard. Because he’s the type of pony that as soon as he sees a chink in the armour any daylight at all and he’ll be through. He’d take a liberty. But when he knows his place as he’s learning now, he’s absolutely lovely. He really is. I’m going downhill now; I’ll ask this pony to take all the weight of this carriage and I’ll say to him “Whoa” Whoa lad, whoa. Even if I ask him “Come back” Come back a little bit He’d push this uphill, well that’s a good little pony you know. There’s nothing wrong with him. Walk him right along these barriers and he’s doing it lovely. Change that for a whip – I can give him a touch anywhere I want to. He won’t react, he’ll behave himself and do as he’s told. And let me tell you anyone that says you must never hit a horse on the quarters is stupid. And this is why they’re stupid; You’ve got your whip out there and it gets caught in the hedge, the first thing you do is pull it back. And that’s where it will land, or up his neck, according to the length of the whip, or up his ribs. And they say you should always hit a horse between the pad and the collar – when you can do it, lovely. When you can’t, the horse has got to accept that on his quarters, because it might be an accident. You didn’t mean to do it, or you drop it on his quarters – if your horse is going to start kicking and bucking it wasn’t broken right and that’s the truth. This horse here is going down the road, he’s been here 5 weeks. Is he terrified? Is he upset? I’ve got him in a rubber bit and he’s doing what I’ve asked him to do. And its nothing to do with “oh today’s roads” and all these modern vehicles and all that. Hello there, alright? I’ve listened to these people telling me “You need a very firm contact on your horse – if I wanted to stop him now, no brakes, no brake at all, watch. Whoa. Just with a piece of rubber. Been in stand still babe. Been in training 5 weeks. Is he panicked? Is he upset? Is he worried? No. Walk on. Nice bright pink car. This pony – I told the people in my opinion he wasn’t suitable for them. I still believe that’s true. Just a feeling; the way they are, the way I have had to be with this pony tells me that… they bought the pony and obviously want to give him a lovely home which is fine but whether they’ll be able or the ability to drive this pony, because he will take a liberty. He looks so calm and quiet here but if he sees a chink in the armour he will take a liberty. He won’t stand still when you’re putting the harness on he’ll do those things. He’ll be a nuisance. He won’t want you to pick his feet up. He’ll put his ears back, he’ll threaten you. He’s done all of that, we’ve got that out of him and he’s become a nice manageable little pony so what I would say to you is this. If you ever see someone say “This horse was broken by Barry Hook”, when it left my yard, if you look at it then on Youtube, and you think “Oh that pony’s wonderful” “I’ll buy that horse, I’ll buy that pony” Barry Hook broke that, its perfect – let me tell you, do this, please. Say to the people you want it to come back to Barry Hook if that is possible, or if I’ve got the time and its not too far, or even if its a long way and I’ve got the time I would go and have a look and drive the horse and make sure its still the same standard as when it left me. Just because Barry Hook broke a horse, or Horse Drawn Promotions broke a horse, it doesn’t mean the horse is still one hundred
percent as it left us. There are so many people out there that think they’re great horse-people think they’re great drivers, think all they’ve got to do is join the British Driving Society, get yourselves a hat with some cherries on it and that makes them a driver. All that makes them is highly bloody dangerous. Highly dangerous. We owe it to these horses, lets make no mistake. We haven’t hardly got the right to do with horses what we do now – put a lump of iron in their mouth, kick them in the ribs, and hit them on the arse with a stick? That takes some justifying doesn’t it? Put them in a cart, get them to pull it, take 80% of their vision away with a set of blinkers then tap them on the arse? Sorry – on the withers, just in front of the pad, between the collar and the pad is where you should hit them. Load of nonsense. He’ll stop on it; you see me do an emergency stop with him – why do I need a lump of iron? “Oh but you have to have a Liverpool bit if its a driving horse!” Why? Whose got the right to say that? What idiot, and that’s what they are, is idiots, have got the right to say that? If the horse doesn’t need it?

25 thoughts on “Driving a single (strong-willed pony).

  1. Horses and dogs – they really do like to feel 'secure'. Agree with the soft bit- Victorian bits were savage, and there was a sensible 19th century man, Flower was the surname, who bought ''vicious'' horses and turned them into good horses-by common sense, firmness and gentleness. He spoke out against the pounds of ironmongery and leverage suffered by the horses of the era. Ponies reflect their handlers like a mirror.

  2. Nice looking fello you have there Barry!! I can see that strong will all over him, that means he is smart and most likely smarter than his previous driver/owners. Maybe they could take some lessons from you on the do's and don't 's of dealing with lil feller.

  3. I have driven horses and ponies and ridden them. Once they get used to all the hardware I believe they love going for  a good cart drive. This boy looks engaged and seems to understand his task.
    I am in the USA and our vehicle drivers are very thoughtless and rude unfortunately.
    The differences are interesting. With a single I have always used a shorter whip and touched a horses hip lightly on the right with a bit of left bit stimulation to signal a turn. I would lay the whip on the hip and hold it down when I wanted a tighter turn. I never found a need to use it as punishment but I did all the original ground work first :))
    You seem to be getting other people's problems.
    There is a collar round the hoses neck behind the bridle and halter. What is that for? And, what are the rings on the front of the marathon harness breast collar for?
    No problem with fouling the reins due to no overcheck?
    Darn, I am impressed with you driving him out of the stable. I have never done that!
    I like your carts as well.

  4. Barry, why do you use blinkers on a driving horse? I would have thought the horse would be happier if its eyesight was not restricted.

  5. Lmao you sound like me when i talk about folks who think they know horses. Mind you their horses dont behave or are running them over and nonesense the like. Like you said. Very dangerous people. Lol

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