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Horse Driving Safety Tips - Safety in Horse Drawn Vehicles

Safety in Harness - Stay Safe Driving Your Horse

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pony hitched to a cart

Pony hitched to a cart. For extra safety helmets are a good idea.

2005 K. Blocksdorf
The best way to learn to drive a horse drawn vehicle is with an experienced coach or instructor. The feel on the reins and the cues you will need direct to your horse while driving are different from riding. An instructor can teach you to handle reins and whip, how to stop and turn safely and coach you through transitions of pace and going up and down hills.

  • Learn from an experienced instructor how to properly harness your horse and hitch it to a vehicle.

  • Don't assume that because your horse is quiet under saddle it will willingly pull a vehicle. It takes as much time and effort to develop a good driving horse as is does a riding horse.

  • Double check all equipment before setting out. I once had a bad accident because I hurried harnessing up and hooked up the traces too long. If I had done a second check I would have noticed my mistake avoided the broken equipment and trip to the hospital.

  • Be sure that your vehicle is in good condition too. A cart that's been sitting in the back field for years may need too much repair to be safe. Wheels, shafts, springs, frames, seats and boxes need to be strong and sturdy.

  • Wear an ASTM approved helmet, even while driving.

  • Make absolutely certain your horse is road safe before heading down roadways. Avoid busy roads.

  • In many areas horse drawn vehicles require a 'slow moving vehicle' sign when driving along roadsides.

  • Never stand in front of a horse hitched to a vehicle and avoid standing in front of the vehicle's wheels or runners.

  • When working around a horse wearing blinkers or blinders (flaps attached to the bridle to prevent the horse from being scared by the sight of the vehicle behind him) keep talking calmly so you don't startle him by suddenly and silently "appearing" as you come out of his blind spot.

  • Quietly enter and exit a horse drawn vehicle with out speaking abruptly or shuffling feet or packages excessively.

  • Avoid putting your hands on the wheels of a cart or buggy.
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