A Horse-Showing How-To: Pleasure Driving

Hang up the saddle and try your hand at a different kind of horse sport.

From The American Quarter Horse Journal

It’s no secret that American Quarter Horses are a versatile breed. Many people think of Quarter Horses as a breed that excels in events like working cow horse and cutting, but they’re also used in dressage, over-fences classes and even pleasure driving. If you’ve considered trying the sport of pleasure driving, brush up on the basic rules and safety tips first so you can succeed in the show ring.

What is the purpose of pleasure driving anyway?

According to SHW610 of the 2014 AQHA Official Handbook, the purpose of this class is to evaluate the horse’s ability and pleasurable attitude while pulling a cart. Additionally, SHW610 offers these three standards:

    • The horse should have an engaged trot with more impulsion and a long, ground-covering stride. Style, conformation and safety are paramount in this class.
    • A pleasure driving horse should carry himself in a natural balanced position with a relaxed head and neck.
    • His poll should be level with, or slightly above, the level of the withers.

Before you head out for a drive with your Quarter Horse, you’re going to need to grab him from the pasture. You know what makes that process more efficient? Knowing how to tie a rope halter correctly! Download AQHA’s FREE How to Tie a Rope Halter report so you spend more time driving and less time struggling with your horse’s halter.

Now that you’ve got the pleasure driving expectations nailed down, be sure that you’re practicing the sport as safely as possibly with safety tips from AQHA Professional Horseman Kevin Dukes, a world champion driver. Kevin, of Weatherford, Texas, provides these top-10 pleasure driving tips:

Top-10 Pleasure Driving Safety Tips

    • Know your horse. Be sure your horse is ready for competition and is totally comfortable and confident pulling a cart.
    • Be sure your equipment is in good working order. Check tires, leather and all attachments.
    • Make sure the horse is harnessed and hooked correctly to the cart. Have your header – someone standing at the horse’s head – double-check before you enter the arena.
    • Always have a header holding the bridle as you enter or leave the cart.
    • Never lead a horse into the barn or stall with blinders on because the horse can’t see on either side and can easily catch a hip on a door.

Now that you know how to safely partake in the sport of pleasure driving, you’re probably ready to hit the road ASAP. Speed up the getting-ready process with AQHA’s FREE How to Tie a Rope Halter report. With this report, you’ll learn how to tie your horse’s halter properly and efficiently so you can have more cart time with your Quarter Horse. Download the report today, and you’ll be on the road quicker tomorrow!

    • Troubleshoot before your class. Be sure your horse has been in the arena and know what might bother him -- and drive accordingly. Know your competition. Note whether those drivers are in control of their horses.
    • Never leave your horse and cart unattended.
    • Never stand in the cart while driving. It's too easy to fall out.
    • When in doubt, don't.