No, this isn’t going to be an article about my fondness for 34″ and under Miniature Horses. 🙂
Last week I drove my four year old miniature mule, Bentley, for the first time out in the field. The part where I actually drove him was probably about 5 minutes long. We made some loops, turned both ways, practiced some walk-halt-walk transitions and did a short unplanned but well executed trot, then called it a day.
Especially in those early hooks, even with one like Bentley who is super solid and confident in his training with absolutely no signs of concern at all, keeping it short means less opportunity for something to go wrong, less chance for sore muscles, and a much higher chance that he’s going to continue to believe that driving is the best thing ever.
The more times you can drive them without them getting tired or scared or anything going wrong, the more their confidence is going to grow. Every good drive is an investment in their future, but it only takes one thing to go wrong to cause a serious setback in their training, or even something so traumatic that it might end their driving career before it even starts.
Keep it short, set them up for success, and there’ll be lots of time to build up to those long drives in the future.
There is no harm in quitting too soon, but a lot of potential harm in trying “just one more time”.