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I just want to share how my bike is working. I keep hearing that it is not possible to have weight at the horse end of the shaft without using wrap straps. I have achieved that while using the open shaft loops and driving with a loose over girth. I can get in and out of my bike without having it tip up or threaten to tip over backward and can trot and canter uphill or on the flat or over rough ground without any bouncing and with a little weight in the shaft loops OR I can have them float a bit.

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Mostly I can sit back in my seat. BUT I understand that I am driving in a two wheeled vehicle so I do my best to be an active driver that is watching the balance and doing my best to work with my horse and not against him. If I am going up a hill I lean forward (just as you would when riding) when we go down hill I lean back. When cantering I lean forward just a bit. When we go over rough ground depending on what kind of trail we are on I will lean forward or lean back. If there are large boulders and deep ruts then I am constantly moving to keep my bike balanced and floating so the shaft ends aren’t yanking my pony’s shoulders around.

In the video below I am showing how there is weight at the horse end of the shafts while we trot downhill, trot over level ground and then walk up a hill all with me leaning back in the seat and without wrap straps. It can be done with a little work at getting good balance.

The video below shows my friend Molly and her little mare Goldie. They are trotting and cantering along, up a hill, with open shaft loops, perfectly balanced. They drive this way in the mountains and on the road without any issues.

The bike is so lightweight and when things are all working as they should it is very well balanced. It’s amazing how much you can affect the balance at the horse end of the shafts with your body.

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I thought I would write about how this blog got started. I’ve been sharing my thoughts here for 9 years now. It started out as a place for me to share my big horse journey.

I was having such a hard time with my big horse at the time. My horsemanship journey was full of ups and downs and lots of heart ache, mixed in with awesome days that kept me trying. BUT everything I was reading online was about bright shining horsemanship, lots of positive, happy stuff which is great too but I was always wondering… was I the only one that was having so much trouble?

I started my blog as a kind of diary. But I thought maybe, just maybe, there were others out there having a hard time and wondering if they were alone. It turns out there were LOTS of people having a hard time! My blog allowed me to form a lovely little group of people to share my horsemanship journey with. There were bumps along the way but mostly those people were super supportive and kind.

I shared my good days and my bad days. Just putting it all out there.

When I had my last horse accident and decided that riding wasn’t for me, and I brought the minis back into my life, this blog continued on. Still full of the ups and downs, though many less downs as I found the ponies to be so much fun!

When I re-started Sky in the cart I shared about it here.

When Bonnie started having her health issues I shared about them here.

As I have tried and changed feed programs I have shared that here.

Then I started sharing more about my harness journey, what I was buying, why I liked it.

I shared my cart journey and my excitement when I got my Hyperbike.

I shared when things weren’t really working well, not fitting or not appropriate for the job at hand. That triggered another group of people who started following me… People passionate about doing what’s best for their horses and ponies. They are passionate about trying new things and staying flexible.

BUT I also inadvertently drew in some negative people. People who do not like me questioning things. People who don’t agree with me and aren’t shy about calling me out. That’s totally fine with me, I don’t care if people don’t agree, but I don’t like when they try to make me feel like a bad person because I am doing something differently.

I say it all the time here… there is more than one way to get the job done. Just because I do it my way does not make your way wrong, but neither does it make MY way wrong.

I’m just so tired of being people’s punching bag. Since when am I responsible for stroking other people’s ego? And why is the fact that I am doing things my way so threatening the way they are doing things? And since when have I EVER claimed to be an expert at anything? I share what I am doing. I share what is working. I share what is NOT working. I always say this is my opinion and please please please, always do what you think is best for your horse/pony/donkey. If people call and ask me my opinion I will share it. If people call and want to order a part for their harness and don’t ask my opinion then I don’t share it.

If you want to use wrap straps on your Hyperbike then use wraps straps. I really don’t care. If you ask me my opinion I will say:

Please do your best to balance the bike before adding the wrap straps. Don’t use the straps in place of working on the balance. There is a way to get the shaft NOT to bounce. Once that is accomplished if the wrap straps make you feel safer and more stable then by all means use them! But using them to stop the bouncing will only transfer the bounce to the pony’s tummy. This can cause sores aka girth galls. Then I will start hearing about how people’s harnesses are causing girth galls.

I’m going to continue to share here. I am open to kind, constructive comments. I will no longer tolerate aggressive emails, messages or comments on my Facebook page. I have never allowed them here as there is little to learn from those types of things. I’m just going to shut that down from now on. I’m too busy to deal with drama of this type. And I spend too many hours worrying about what a horrible person I am. All the while watching how well my harness and bike are working together. While watching how happy Zorro is when he is working. Why would I waste my time worrying about what people think who live so far away, have never met me in person, and are bent on being mean? I’m so so done.

So if you want to read my blog and try a few of the things I am doing please do!! And feel free to shoot me an email with any questions you may have. I am always happy to help, if I can. If I can’t, I have access to many very knowledgeable people who are also happy to help and I can ask them.

If you read my blog and it makes you feel angry or threatened just know that has NEVER been my intention. But do feel free to simply move on.

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The world is full of opinions. The horse world is over flowing with them. And in many cases if you don’t agree with this opinion or that opinion then you are considered stupid.

I get called stupid on a regular basis. Mostly by people who don’t drive at all, drive very rarely or don’t even own horses. It’s amazing to me how everyone and their brother is a professional on Facebook.

I drive about 5 times a week. Our typical drive is 5 miles. Sometimes we go 4 miles and sometimes we go 8. Basically we drive a lot. I am not a professional, anymore, but I am using my equipment quite a bit. I am out exploring and pushing the boundaries…

I have A LOT of opinions about things. Harness. Carts. Boots. Ponies. Driving trails. But I realize that they are just that. Opinions. There are many ways to get to an end result. Though there are some hard and fast facts, they are few and far between. And people who say their way is the only way are fooling themselves and you. (This blog will be VERY unpopular but I am getting so tired of people making others feel wrong because they do things differently.)

Over time and with more practice I often change my opinion about things. I carefully watch my ponies when I’m driving and then make adjustments to make their job easier. I am always questioning things. Trying new things. Being flexible.

I was told that a saddle with a tree in it would be best for the type of driving I do. It would provide stability for my mini and make her job easier. But my mini is very wide. The tree is narrow. It caused pressure points and did not make her job easier because it blocked her shoulder. I spread it as wide as I could and got a wider and longer back pad to help. Then I turned to the treeless saddle (The MaraFUN harness) for my two geldings. I just recently ordered a treeless Comfy Fit saddle as well and can’t wait to give it a try! I think Sky will be happy with it.

I decided to try the SuperFlex collar, which is the same thing as a Euro Style collar. I have heard so much negative about these collars. Actually until I got my own I already decided I did NOT like them. It was going to be too hot. It covered too much on my pony. It was going to make pulling the cart even harder and wasn’t necessary.

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**This style of breast collar is absolutely NOT appropriate for a low line of draft. It is soft and pliable and not designed for logging, harrowing or any vehicle that has a low line of draft. BUT for my Hyperbike and my easy entry cart it is actually quite wonderful. Zorro loves it.

Does this mean you need to rush right out and buy it because it will change your horse’s life forever? NO! It just means that if something isn’t working and you are wondering about it, it’s worth it to try something different. Don’t disregard it just because someone else said it was a bad collar type. I’m so glad I decided to give it a try.

Same with Soybean meal. I have been 100% against anything with soy in it for so so many years that it was very hard for me to wrap my mind around feeding soybean meal. But now that I am and I’m seeing such positive changes in my ponies I am so glad I changed my mind. **Please don’t confuse soybean meal with anything with soybean hulls. These are not the same at all. You can go HERE to read more about the changes I have been making in my ponies diet.

Some people really frown on the Hyperbike and I get comments about that often as well. I’m so happy I don’t listen to them as I love my bike and so do Sky and Zorro. (Mikey isn’t quite sure about it yet! LOL!)

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I have always been a leather snob but I am so glad I saw the benefits of the Comfy Fit and the MaraFUN harnesses. I have zero plans to go back to leather… though I do use leather driving lines. Mine are padded at the hand end and so soft and comfortable. Plus they are beautiful! (I’ll add them to the website soon.)

So basically what I am saying is it’s fine to have opinions. It’s totally fine to share them! It’s fine to do things your way, if your way is working. If things aren’t working then it’s fine to try something different, new or even frowned upon! You may end up being pleasantly surprised.

I have been lucky enough to have an Arctic Horse Wool riding skirt come into my life this last week. When my good friend ordered it and it was a bit too big for her she thought of me!! I could not believe my luck!! I have wanted one of these for the last few years but never went through with it. So to have my friend order one that I could touch and try on was wonderful.

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I will just say. This skirt is awesome. If you live where it gets cold, where the wind blows and the snow piles up, then this skirt is for you. If you ride or drive this skirt does it’s job beautifully.

It’s wool on the outside and lined with polar fleece. It’s heavy but has plenty of room for your legs so walking around is not an issue at all.

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I thought it would attract all the dirt and hay when doing chores but it doesn’t at all! Things will stick to it but with a flick of your hand they will fall right off. If you get a little mud on it, just allow it to dry and it will brush off! The wool is amazing.

There are elastic pieces sewn in the front of the skirt that you can slip your legs into. This will keep the front of the skirt down when the wind is really blowing, if your riding or driving.

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The zipper is a two way so you can simply zip it up a bit for getting on your horse OR there are snaps so you can snap the front of the skirt up at the waist and this will free your legs entirely for stepping into the stirrup!

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The skirt is so roomy that it makes moving around easy. So I can harness and hitch while wearing it.

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With all the leg room I don’t need to unzip the front to get in the cart. I do think it would be a good idea to at least snap the front up onto the waist if you were stepping up into the saddle though.

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It keeps me toasty warm on my drives. So I give the Arctic Horse Wool Skirt a 5 star review. I highly recommend these skirts for riding, driving, doing chores or going for walks! It will serve me well for many many winters.

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I am very passionate about the use of breeching. I have heard of and witnessed a few accidents that could have been prevented had the horse been wearing it’s brakes aka breeching.

Having a correctly adjusted breeching could mean the difference between your horse being able to easily stop your cart OR being run over by the cart OR having it’s feet swept out from underneath it when going down steep hills. Just having the breeching on the harness and not being certain it’s adjusted properly is just not enough.

First of all, make sure your breeching is the right length, not too short and not too long. When I measure for breeching I start in the middle of the flank swirl on one side, then go around the rump to the middle of the flank swirl on the other side.

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This breeching is adjusted just right. The ring is in the middle of the flank swirl. The hip straps are allowing the breeching to hang level.

I prefer breeching with two hip straps. This helps the breeching hang more level and is easier to adjust. The two hip straps will also help keep things in the proper place even when driving over rough terrain and moving at a fast pace. When you have two hip straps one tip is to run them through their own slots on the turn back strap. Typically the turn backs will have two slots, one for the front hip strap and one for the back one.

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You want the breeching to sit at the fattest part of the hip. If it’s too high it can get up under the tail at the worst times. If it’s too low it can sweep their feet out from under them as you go down an incline, especially if the ground is a bit slick.

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The breeching should be adjusted so you can put 3 or so fingers between the breeching and horse’s rear. If it’s too loose it will engage too late. It will also slap the horse when driving over rough ground as it engages and disengages. If it’s too tight then it will hinder the horse’s movement and can make them irritable.

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Sometimes there can be a lot of pressure on the hips straps at the top of the hip. I see this happen when the hold back straps are angled downward on the shafts. This happens quite a bit with marathon style shafts. You want the hold back straps to come straight from the breeching to the footmans loops. If your footmans loops are too far back on the shafts then you can have someone re-weld loops in the correct spot.

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You can see how the hold back straps go straight from the breeching to the footmans loops. This creates the correct angle to keep some of the pressure off the top of the horse’s hip.

More on your footmans loops. Often they are not in the correct spot on the shafts. Especially if you have an easy entry cart from Kingston Saddlery as I do. The footmans loops are too far back, towards the front of the cart. This makes it hard to adjust the breeching correctly.

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This photo shows how far back the footmans loops were. This made it especially hard when we pulled the sled because Sky moves further forward in the shafts then. That causes the loop to be BEHIND her. Not ideal!
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In this photo you can see how much further forward I moved the sliding footmans loops That is a HUGE difference and made all the difference for adjusting my breeching correctly.

If you have questions about breeching and how to adjust it please send me an email or ask in the comments! I am always happy to help!

Here you go!

This is exactly how I like my ponies to be when they are first hitched to the cart. If you have done your ground work thoroughly and spent enough time in the travois, this is what you will get!

I need to lower the shaft loops one hole and I’ll move the seat forward a little bit to get the balance correct and we will be ready to really lay down the miles. I’m so happy with this little rock star horse!