Miniature Horse Driving Clinic!

Have you ever driven a miniature horse? Or driven another type of horse/mule/donkey?

My own experience with driving is limited but varied. I have taken driving lessons periodically over the years. Probably fewer than 30 lessons total. To date, I’ve driven a couple of minis, a hackney pony, an Amish-trained horse, a Saddlebred, a draft-type pony and a Percheron. Despite my limited experience, getting a driving horse has long been of interest to me.

Since Bear’s death, I spend time thinking about what direction I might like to go regarding future horse ownership. Would I eventually like to switch from riding big horses to driving little ones?

Before I explored that idea further, I wanted to see if I still enjoyed driving and being around minis. It had been a good ten years since my last drive and miniature horse experience. Would driving still hold the same appeal? When I got wind of a miniature-horse-driving clinic, I decided to find out.

Since I don’t have a mini of my own, the clinic instructor allowed me to work with her mini gelding named Romeo. I must say that the clinic was a ton of fun. We went over harnessing and ground driving. I got to drive in two different carts, an easy-entry cart (the metal cart in the first photo) and a Meadowbrook cart (the wood cart in the photo directly above). We walked, trotted and weaved poles in both of them. I am pleased to say we didn’t mow down any obstacles! I was the only one who actually made it to the clinic that day so I essentially got an extra-long private lesson with the instructor.

The parallels between riding and driving are interesting to me. You are connected to the horse’s sensitive mouth through the reins and bit. Finding the right amount of rein contact to use for your particular horse is an experiment. You still need to bend your elbows. Wiggling around is not helpful (how you sit in the cart affects the weight distribution of the cart and harness over the horse’s sensitive back). Leaning is a no-no. Encouraging your horse to move forward and straight is important.

Turns out that attending the clinic made me excited about the prospect of getting a mini to drive. Maybe more than one. If I got a driving mini, I might be able to drive trails, do clinics, participate in parades and attend shows. A mini could also provide Piper with company at home while I take Shiloh off the property to ride.

But do I have any immediate mini-horse shopping or adopting plans? Well, no. Concerns about inflation weigh heavy on my mind. Minis may be more economical to feed, but veterinary and farrier care costs are comparable to larger horses. I would also need to spend money on miniature-sized shelter, fencing, carts, harnesses and other equipment. I need a minute to give some thought to setting up mini-housing on my property and to put aside some cash.

I’m also still really vacillating between the idea of getting another riding horse versus a mini. I wonder how much I would miss having a horse of my own to ride?

On the other hand, I am thinking that driving minis might be a better fit for me as I age. I’m in my fifties. I’m not exactly ready for the nursing home yet. But I already contend with plenty of physical issues. And I’ve unfortunately never been a truly competent or confident rider, despite my love of horses and my efforts to improve. I see minis as more manageable for me on almost every level as compared to full-sized horses.

I wonder too if I could be more independent and active with a mini than I have been with my riding horses. Looking back, I was the most active with my gaited ponies, Bear and Spice. I had so much fun going different places and doing different activities with them. But, for a variety of reasons, I have not been able to consistently replicate that same dynamic with other horses. I wonder if I would be more successful in doing more and going more places with a driving mini?

My timeline with my remaining two horses plays into all my thinking too. Shiloh will turn 20 next year and Piper 22. With a horse’s average lifespan of 25 to 30 years, I likely have (at most) another five to ten years with them. This assumes I outlive both of them, of course!

Readers may remember that I’ve already decided to stop riding Piper, but I continue to ride Shiloh. It would be wonderful for me if I could keep riding Shiloh into his mid-twenties or beyond. There are still trails that I would like to blaze with him. But that depends upon Shiloh’s continuing health (mine too) as well as my finding a companion for Piper.

Getting a driving mini while I am still riding would provide a gradual transition for me from one type of horse lifestyle to another. If Shiloh’s soundness didn’t continue, I would have a mini that I could still do activities with (assuming the mini stayed sound, of course!). Then once Piper and Shiloh pass on, I could keep minis only until I am ready for that aforementioned nursing home. Of course, in some ways, I wouldn’t mind having a go with just one more gaited riding pony. It’s hard to let certain dreams die, you know?

Many thanks to Romeo and the instructor at Hitchin’ A Dream for providing me with a fun learning experience and taking the photos you see here. The instructor recently purchased the property where she now runs her Hitchin’ A Dream business as well as The Shepard and The Hound Boutique.

The Boutique’s website is https://theshepherd.info/ where you can check out her crocheted items for people, pets and horses. And if you can make it over to Hitchin’ A Dream in Southern Michigan for lessons or a clinic, I am sure she would appreciate the business.

The instructor apparently did some video-to-music editing and posted clips of Romeo and me to TikTok with her handle @hitchinadream. You can also see the clips by visiting the Hitchin’ A Dream Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hitchinadream/. I’m not actually a member of either platform, but I was able to view at least some of the footage. Cracked me up. I’m guessing that is the first time in my life that clips of me have been set to a variety of contemporary music. Have I mentioned I am continually late to the party on technology?

Long story short, the clinic was a ton of fun. I’m definitely glad I attended. And if you’ve managed to suffer through reading this entire post, you can see the clinic certainly gave me lots to think about!

13 thoughts on “Miniature Horse Driving Clinic!

  1. Such a wonderful experience! I’m glad it gave you lots to think about. Unfortunately it is definitely hard to let some dreams die! It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to transition to driving – I’ve always wanted to learn just for funsies, and who knows? Maybe this is an avenue I can pursue if I can no longer really ride like I’d like 🙂 Thank you for the post!

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    1. That is a fun idea, having a rideable and drivable pony! I am thinking though that I might not feel comfortable driving a pony that was also big enough for me to ride, especially since I am mostly working with my horses alone. There is something really appealing to me about the perceived manageable size of the minis that I just don’t feel about even a 13 hand pony. Folks that have a ride and drive pony/horse sure have the best of both worlds though!

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  2. Love love what fun. Old mate over the paddock has 2 Minnie’s & a buggy(uses 1 minnie for the buggy) I used to ride out with him often, he is a bit too frail to ride his horse & loves his Minnie’s he has taken them to kids parties & friends with disabilities, it’s a safe fun way for people to interact with horses. He tethers his around the street, mowing. Fencing is the biggest issue we had with ours no amount of electric fencing kept our squirt in his paddock. If they bond with the right horse its perfect.

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    1. Ha! You had some escape artists! That is one reason I want to really give some more thought to a viable set up before I actually pursue bringing one home. I don’t currently have good mini fencing. I could see how they could easily slip under or through certain kinds, although I must say I am surprised yours weren’t deterred by the electric. Good for me to know and consider!

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  3. Our Squirt would walk up test the fence with his whiskers, turn walk away a little distance then run as fast as his little hooves would go & straight through we would see his butt drop like he got zapped but it never stopped him. They are tricky. but such fun. Have a wonderful weekend.

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  4. I’ve never driven a horse, pony or mini before but it looks like fun. It certainly is something to think about and thank you for sharing your accidental private clinic FUN!! Great photos! 🥰

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  5. A mini driving clinic how fun!! I am currently training my pony Tatum to be a driving mini. I have been giving carriage rides for weddings with my Clydesdale and have enjoyed driving so much! I think it’s really exciting that you are looking into getting a mini, wishing you the best!

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    1. Thank you! I imagine that I would have fun soaking up your driving knowledge if I just lived closer to you, Reese! I enjoy reading about your different driving adventures on your blog. The driving clinic I attended was a really good time, for sure.

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