Random – what we used to do

A random post (there will be a few like this from now on while I am stuck) – Flossie brought me an old pile of photos to look at and this pony’s folder of pictures jumped out at me.

This is what we used to do.  We used to take untrained Shetland ponies and train them to harness.  Let me introduce Chappie – probably one of the nicest dearest little chaps we ever worked with.

The day he arrived

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We got him used to wearing the harness…..


A spot of long-reining with learning and listening to voice commands…..


…. then pulling the plank.


It was not all plain sailing.  There was the odd tantrum – I can’t remember what this one was about.


Anyway, back on track, we introduced the cart.  My little Floss in shafts and Alexandra (working student) rattling the swingletree so Chappie was used to the noise.


They walked behind him so he could get used to the sound of the cart behind him.


Then Jo put the cart to, ie up behind Chappie.  He became used to the feeling of the shafts coming and going by his sides.  At this stage a headcollar was put on over his driving bridle so he could be led.


Once he was relaxed with this, the shafts were put through the tugs but the traces and breeching were not attached yet.  This gave Jo and Alexandra a quick release if Chappie objected and nothing is tied on or done up.

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Jo then did the last straps up, ie the breeching straps and the traces and off they cautiously went for their first drive.

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Lots of rewards, no speed, much encouragement and everything is kept very calm.  The slightest hint of trouble and it was nipped in the bud.


This is their first solo drive together.


And more positive reinforcement and ending on a good note.


First trip out and of course they met the scariest tractor/trailer combo but Chappie was unphased.


So now it was just a case of getting the miles under his belt and to see as much as Shetland can offer.


Chappie was a darling boy.  A real treasure.  I hope whoever has him loves him as much as we did.  I wish all ponies were this easy to train to harness.


(Ahem, Hammy I hope you are reading this Blog!)

4 thoughts on “Random – what we used to do

  1. John Davies

    Training them to harness looks like quite a undertaking! I’ve seen pony carts in the American Royal and our local Old Fashioned Christmas parades; without thinking of the amount of effort it must take. I have a new appreciation; thanks!

  2. Cate

    Seconding the previous comment about a newfound appreciation for the amount of work that goes into harness training–thank you. And what a sweetie this little chappie is! 🙂

  3. Shirley Pearson

    I have spent the summer [since April] helping Blue my shetland learn to pull a cart, the nice new cart was delivered by Hartland carriages about 2 months ago, we struggled to get a good safe fit but didn’t manage it.
    We now have shorter shafts and cant wait to try again, its been a very frustrating summer but never mind – hopefully we are on the right track
    It was very heartening to see and read your account, it gave me the boost and motivation to try again.
    If we fail it wont be for the lack of effort and in spite of Hartland carriages.
    If we do fail there will be some lovely brand new equipment and carriage for sale…..


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