Saturday, February 7, 2009

How Day One Went (which was yesterday)

Even the dogs, Katie and Ziggy, thought today was the perfect day to start training Kasper to harness, but first they had to clear the area of coyotes.

The horses, Kasper, CJ and Peter, are snoozing. They're recovering from a particularly blustery day yesterday.

Kasper's not sure he wants to wake up.

Here he comes...

Now, it would be better if I had a camera person along. Since I'm doing the horse work and taking the pictures, you don't get to see any action. I'll see what I can do about a cameraman. At this point, I take Kasper out to my training area (a strip of snow along the barn that is only knee deep, not thigh deep) where I can tie him by the tack room door:I start with some desensitization, flapping a flag around him. I've been doing the flag thing for months and he's quite happy with it. I can flap it wildly above his head and under his belly. Between flappings, I sweep it across his body so he's continually reminded that it's a friendly object that isn't going to hurt him. It actually seems to relax him so I usually begin a session with that.

From the flag, we move to the tarp, which I've also been flapping over him for months. I lead him around and lift the tarp up and down, fling it on and off him, and let him stomp on it. He likes to get his nose under a fold of it and flip it up.

Here he is in harness! An anticlimax after the tarp, it seems. This harness is a Pfiff from Germany. It's a breast collar style single driving harness suitable for light buggies or sleighs. The breast collar attaches to the traces, which I'll leave off for ground driving until I put the traces on and have Kasper start to pull something. I have the brake straps tied into the shaft loops just to keep them out of the way, and to put some tension on the back strap so he gets used to the feel on his butt.

Check out that mane! I spent an hour getting the winter knots out of it!

The last photo of the day is a close-up of the backstrap and crupper assembly. I don't have the crupper on him here. The next day, I'll oil it up and (gently) position it. I've spent the last year lifting his tail and putting my arm across his butt under his tail to get him used to that, so he should be fine with it. But we'll see...
At this point, I lead him around, stop, start, back, circle (in knee deep snow). And it all goes fine.

Plan for next training day: add crupper, add open bridle (without blinders), add reins, and ground drive. Maybe I'll have a cameraman, too!

Part of the reason I'm blogging this training process is to get feedback. My horse trailer is pretty much snowed in which means I'm stuck out here in the boonies with no chance for feedback. So if anyone sees something I could be doing in a better way, feel free to comment!


  1. I love your blog, Kasper is very pretty! I can't wait to see pictures of him finally driving!