Winter Driving Tips

It was a bright sun shiny day today with some fresh powder… the perfect time to get out and enjoy ourselves with some sledding! The wind was howling as usual, so sorry about that in the video, but it was still fun!

As I was harnessing up I was thinking about what I do differently in the winter versus the summer and thought I would share a few tips and tricks!

I think the biggest thing is to keep the bit warm. I keep my bridle in the house hanging on my coat rack, so the bit isn’t a hard cold piece of metal in her mouth on these cold days. I harness her up and then come in and get my bridle when I’m ready to hitch her to the vehicle. I keep the bit in my hand or tuck it into my jacket so it doesn’t get cold on my way to her and then immediately offer it to her. This is part of the reason why she is so eager to take the bit into her mouth even on cold wintry days.

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I do take a pair of scissors and trim her mane, just wide enough for the bridle to sit. I don’t want a long bridle path in the winter as I like her to have as much mane as possible, but if I don’t trim this little bit off then her bridle barely fits and could easily come off over her ears while we are working. In the summer time I roach her mane completely so I don’t have to deal with it at all and she can stay cooler.

The other thing that is different about my winter driving versus my summer driving are the cheater straps I use to help make everything fit comfortably. Sky has an amazingly thick winter coat so some of my straps aren’t quite big enough. I use one cheater strap on her girth and the other on the tug straps. When I am using the shafts on the sled I like them to be set a bit wider so the tug straps don’t quite reach without the cheaters. I also have to buckle my traces on a bigger hole so they can reach the single tree correctly. Because they are connected to the buggy collar and hames and need to go down to the front of the sled for a low line of draft they just need to be a bit longer than when I am driving in the cart!

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We were giving our new buggy collar and hames a try and I have to say it fits much better than other one! I would like it to be a bit flatter against her shoulder. I think it has too much padding and that keeps it up off her shoulder a bit. I think the line from her hames to the single tree looks pretty good though. She was really pushing into it and seemed very comfortable when we were going through some of the bigger, harder snow drifts. I’ll check her tomorrow to see if she is sore at all, but she wasn’t today!

She seemed much happier in the Butterfly Arch Mouth bit today. She didn’t put her tongue over it once and wasn’t chomping chomping it like she did the other. She did open her mouth a bit as she was very strong in the bit at first. I would give her a complete release every time she would let me and she got less and less strong in the bridle as we went. I have a plan to work her in the front yard where I do lots of my driving this spring. I’ve purchased a few of the lesson plans from Coachman’s Delight and plan to work with those to get her a bit calmer. I am going to be putting together some obstacles to drive in and around as well which I am hoping will build her confidence (and Zorro’s!). Then we can go out and about our neighborhood and go driving with our local driving group this summer with less drama! Lots and lots of plans – you know what they say about well laid plans….

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Last but not least the video!

 

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