Illinois 6 year old TWH ridden in  Argentine snaffle and western saddle in Round pen , arena by experienced rider

Question: My horse has good gaits under saddle. 

I am breaking the horse for pulling a cart.
Will driving her improve or affect her saddle gaits?  I plan to use horse equally between
saddle and cart. I will be using a half cheek snaffle for driving and currently use an
argentine snaffle for riding. Will it confuse her if I use a different bit for riding and

From Panelist Nancy

If anything, driving will probably improve her saddle gaits, and no, it won't confuse her if you use a different bit for riding and driving.  It sounds like you're going to have a lot of fun.

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Bob

I have found that driving my horses make them much more responsive and if  anything it improves their gaits. We heat with wood and I start all of my young horses in harness skidding logs and brush before I start them under saddle. This gets them used to going in a rounded frame and prevents gait problems from ever starting.

If you are going to use a curb bit I would use a short shanked fixed mouth curb bit or a pelham bit. An Argentine snaffle is NOT a snaffle bit, it is a broken mouth curb and is quite severe.

Bob Blackwell

From Panelist Jonathan

What I know about driving is just about enough to get me in trouble . But sense I base most of my horse decisions on just plain old common horse sense and a touch of intuition here are a couple of thoughts that come to mind .

Historically TW's were not only saddle and carriage power but a good measure of plowing was thrown in when needed and gaits were never better . Being young but of good age for mental maturity , all I can see from dealing with this new task is a positive . As to the changing of tack , I believe this will mentally prepare your horse to the task of the day . As for your choice of bits , I am not a large fan of broken bits .

Good luck , sounds like fun , enjoy .


From Panelist Stella

If your horse is already very consistently gaited under saddle, then she should be fine driving. I personally prefer to start under saddle first, as sometimes starting out driving first gets gaited horses somewhat strung out and too heavy on the forehand, pulling weight against the breastplate more so, without being able to  easily encourage collection/drive from the rear as effectively as you can undersaddle.

Try the simple half-cheek and see how she does; you can always add an overcheck bit or change bits later in training to maintain or regain a correct headset if you feel the half-cheek changes it significantly. As with any type training, go gradually one step at a time, without asking for too much too soon, and that above all else will help with easy acceptance and 


From Panelist Carol


Thanks for your question about driving.  I enjoy driving and find that it usually helps condition my horses' rear end muscles.  A few tips:  If your horse has a tendency to be too square or too pacy, you can use the cart to help square or swing.  If she's too square raising her head and sending her on forward may help loosen her up, just don't go too far the wrong direction.  If she's too pacy, load the cart with extra weight or a drag and let her pull like a logging horse would.  Using a different bit for driving is not a problem at all.  Don';t check her head up much as it inhibits headshake and can cause her not to use her
back well.

Carol Camp Tosh

From Panelsit Liz

Hi ,

Driving can be a very good way to work with gait on a horse and actually improve it if done correctly.

Just introduce the bit slowly and don't ask to much of her until she is used to it. Just a hint,I have found  if you are using an over check, Don't keep it to tight on your gaited horse as this is one way to take the gaits out and start some mouth problems too. Have loads of fun driving!!!


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