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Driving Lessons - Printable Version

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Driving Lessons - Nanno - 12-11-2013

Nancy was asking questions about harness goats in another thread, so I thought I'd put on my driving instructor hat and post some photos to look at for criticism, instruction, and inspiration.

First, I will post one of the most "correct" driving pictures we have. This is Cuzco cantering in harness with my husband Phil in the driver's seat.
[attachment=27]
If this were a horse and cart photo and I were judging it for dressage, I'd give it excellent marks. It shows balance, softness, collection, impulsion, and control. What the photo can't tell you is that Cuzco is happily headed home.

One thing to notice about the harness is that everything is in a straight line. Breastcollar, traces, britchen, and shafts are all at about the same height and horizontal to the ground. All the straps going over the back and hips and under the belly are at perfect right angles to these. However, I have two criticisms.

The first you can't see because the goat is in draft, but the britchen is too loose. Here is a photo taken the same day of Cuzco at a halt and you can see there is far too much slack in the traces.
[attachment=28]
This means the britchen is not tight enough, which is fixed by wrapping the holdback straps once more around the shafts.

The second criticism is more serious. Cuzco was not quite two years old when this photo was taken and was far from full-grown. As this was our first experience with goats, we thought Cuzco was quite big and surely done growing. Boy were we wrong! Knowing now what I do, I would not have a goat this young pulling full-grown adults. I don't mind making young animals do their fair share of work because I think it builds bones and muscles, but overworking them can be dangerous. The one saving grace is that it was so cold we didn't go out often, and when we did we didn't stay out long. Cuzco also was not well-trained enough to leave home with someone in the cart, so we usually led him up the road and then drove him home, which was a slight downhill pull.


RE: Driving Lessons - Nanno - 12-11-2013

Compare the previous photos to this:
[attachment=29]
As you can see, we've had to do quite a bit of adjustment in our harness and even our cart to accommodate Cuzco's growth! In the first photos, most of the buckles were on the tightest holes and we had a lot of flapping strap ends. In this photo most of them are adjusted way down near the ends. Our traces, which were on their tightest holes in the first photo, are now on their last holes, and the shafts no longer stick out past Cuzco's chest. We also had to adjust the height of our shafts to keep the cart balanced. It's ok if a cart tips slightly back as this keeps weight off the goat's back, but you don't want to feel as though you're going to get dumped over backwards! Happily, our cart features shafts that can be adjusted for height. The shaft loops can also be lowered as your goat grows.

You'll also notice in this photo that there is a little bit of slight slack in both the tracess and the holdback straps, but no droops. You want just enough slack to allow freedom of movement, but not enough to allow bumping when the cart starts and stops. When you're hitching up, try to adjust your britchen so there is just enough room for you to slide your hand edgewise between the strap and your goat's buttock when the slack is out of the traces. The britchen should be suspended about half-way between the top of the goat's tail and the hock. Any lower and it will chafe. Much higher and it will tickle and bother his tail, and it could even slide upwards when going downhill.

If you use a breastcollar it should be adjusted at about the same height as the britchen. It should be low enough to clear the windpipe, but high enough that it doesn't restrict shoulder movement.


RE: Driving Lessons - Dave-Trinity-Farms - 12-11-2013

*sings "Cozco, with your horn so bright, wont you guide my sleigh tonight" Smile


RE: Driving Lessons - deschutes dawn - 12-11-2013

Nanno, is the cart designed for goats or a modified pony cart? I eventually want to have a harness goat but watching and learning while waiting for one to grow up.


RE: Driving Lessons - Nanno - 12-11-2013

This is the goat cart sold by Hoegger's Goat Supply. Both sides of the family chipped in together to buy this for my husband for Christmas ten years ago. It's still going strong!


RE: Driving Lessons - Sanhestar - 12-17-2013

I found these on my computer today - years ago someone sent me these of his boer goats.

There are several things to critique/discuss

[Image: e3sw.jpg]

no breeching on a cart that apparently has no breaks. There's also no strap whatsoever from the breast collar to the middle shaft at least and from the looks the loop holding the shaft can slide right along the whole length of the shaft = no breaking at all.

[Image: 4q56.jpg]

the picture isn't very clear here so I can't tell if the saddle is padded or not. If it was me I wouldn't use an unpadded saddle for driving a two-wheeled cart. There's always the possibility that the cart unbalances and pressure is put on the goats back/spine.

What's nicely done is the double shafts but it's always more difficult for two animals to balance a two-wheeled cart than for one animal alone.

The traces are attached directly to the cart. If you use a breast collar and drive longer distances and/or faster than a walk this can cause soreness around the chest/shoulder area.

And I won't go into the number of kids sitting on the cart, etc......


RE: Driving Lessons - ledel - 01-06-2014

How old is the best time to train then how to cart


RE: Driving Lessons - Nanno - 01-06-2014

I would wait until they are two to start training them to pull a light cart or wagon. Chances are, until they are two years old the harness will be too big anyway (Cuzco's was). You can start adding weight as they grow through their second year, but I would not ask them to pull an adult until they are three and good-sized. Even when they are three, be careful not to overdo it... they will not stop growing until they are four.


RE: Driving Lessons - deschutes dawn - 01-06-2014

Nanno, would it work to use a light training harness to train to move forward and whoa, right and left before they are two? I have tentatively trained a young horse that way and used makeshift shafts made of pvc to teach them how to turn without freaking out. Worked well for that young mare but all it took was one spook on her first hook up to the cart and she destroyed the cart and nearly herself! So ended my harness training experience!


RE: Driving Lessons - Sanhestar - 01-06-2014

you can teach all that without harness, just with a halter and a lead rope. Remember - goats aren't horses. They don't spook the same.