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How Do I Pick a Driving Prospect???

Often we buy our minis from other states, so I ask the breeder for video. I want the videos taken when the horse is not all revved up. I want to see the horse on some straight aways and not in a round pen. I want to see the horse on packed ground, not in long grass or in snow or in mud or anything else that would cause the trotting to be higher than normal. I also don't want to see their "tail flagging" trot....many, many horses look beautiful when that tail is flagging. I want to see their everyday trot.  When you talk to a breeder about video, keep asking for the video the way that you want to see it.  I have talked to many a buyer who thinks they are getting a horse that moves and what shows up is not as impressive.

I have a lot of people email me and ask if I think that a horse they are considering buying is a good driving prospect.  I ask for video and then I honestly give them my opinion.  So often I see a video of a horse that has some front action, but the hind end is hanging out behind them.  Hind ends are almost more important to me than the front end.

If you want a horse to look collected in the cart, they have to have hocks that get under them. Watch your videos in slow motion....do the hocks stay under the horse or are they out beyond the tail? Do the back hooves cross over the point where the front hoof took off? You want super long reach on that back end.  This back end impulsion is what gives your horse its power and it has to be there. Otherwise, you will get piddly looking movement in the cart. Jack has gorgeous extension and is a good example. Lass has great impulsion too.

When looking at still pictures of the horse, are the hocks under the horse? And, if your driving horse is slightly cowhocked, he will be more able to get that hind end working under him.  Believe it or not, I prefer a slightly cowhocked miniature when picking a driving prospect.

Sprinkle  will be able to bridle and keep her neck up.

Next, I look at the neck and poll. It is not enough to have a clean throatlatch and long enough neck. They prospect also has to have a long enough poll to allow them to bridle.  If the poll is short. the horse will have to drop its head carriage to pull its nose in. Then when this happens,  the horse will dump on the front end and its weight will be on the forehand. I want to see a horse who can still pull its nose in when it's poll is at the highest point in carriage. I bought one mare who has great front action, great hocks, but when I finally got her in cart, I had to drop her head carriage to allow for her to bridle. When a miniature lowers its head, the front action decreases. She looked great at liberty, but not in cart.


Sprinkles is coming 2 and she is in long lines for the second time in this video. Amazing how naturally she bridles.

When you watch the horse at liberty, where does it put its weight. Is it on the forehand or the back end? There is one exception to this...when a miniature is growing, they often will be "butt high" meaning that their hind end is taller than their withers during a stage of growth. This makes temporary changes to how the horse moves that will correct as the horse matures. You want the horse to not look like its dumping on its front end when driven.  Instead, I want to see it sloping from the head down to the tail weight-wise. Beamer stamps his babies with great weight distribution. Watch Ruger or  Rockette and Roll for an example.

Design has great neck and poll. As many of the stallions age, their necks get too thick to bridle nicely. Their throat latch does not allow them to tuck their nose  in.

This weight distribution is very important to me. I want to see a driving horse with its hind end under it, and they can't do that if they are front end heavy.  Many of the halter minis have higher tail sets which then gives the illusion that their hind ends are sticking out behind them when they are driven. I am different than many other breeders in that I don't want a high tail set. I want a tail that gives the picture of being tucked under them. DeeDee and Sam both have great tails that tuck in below them.

That front shoulder is critical. It needs to allow for extension, and lift. So many minis take short little steps, but this is unappealing in the cart.  And, is the shoulder set at a relaxed angle and not a steep one? I am somewhat stumped by some of the necks and shoulders on the gorgeous halter minis. They are stunning and I assume that they can trot, but when I watch them move. they can't extend.  How free is that shoulder?  Our Sam and Justine have incredible extension.

I also want to see lightness of steps, Thunder is a good example of this. If the other factors are in the horse, this is going to be a natural outcome.

I do have a page that lists some of my favorite driving bloodlines in the A division.  This list is not complete; it is forever growing!

Click here to read about the different driving divisions in the miniature horse showing world.


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