- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 1
- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 2
- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 3
- Pair Driving 101
- Pair Driving 102
- Pair Driving 103
- Pair Driving 104
- So You Want to Drive a Tandem?
- Driving A Unicorn
- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 1
by Hardy Zantke
The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 1
by Hardy Zantke
This is a series about a dream that perhaps looms in the background of many of us - although for many it might have to stay just a dream - but why not have some dreams? Often those are what inspires us, so let’s go to the land of our dreams and get some tips on putting together and driving a four-in-hand.
We need to look into three different areas: 1. The driver and how to prepare him for the task. 2. The horses or ponies and 3. The equipment.
Let’s start with you - the driver: Before we can run, we must know how to walk. So before thinking of driving four - you must know how to drive a pair. I will not go into that today. I have written four articles on that subject. You can find them on this website under Pair Driving 101 - 104.
Then you need to get yourself familiar with handling four reins. There are good books available which explain the proper rein handling. I like “The Principles of Driving” by the German National Equestrian Federation which covers not only the proper Achenbach rein handling - which is based on the British Coaching style - but also the now widely used two-handed method. My other driving “bible” is “The Art of Driving” by Max Pape. It is more thorough and has a lot of excellent information, but does not have anything yet on the two-handed method. Both books are available through the ADS and / or CAA.
Many beginners find it easier to start with the two handed method, I highly recommend that you should start with Achenbach and all four reins in your left hand with the right hand assisting. It will make you a better driver and your horses a better team. Once you started two-handed, it is human nature to get lazy and comfortable where one is and not wanting to make the efforts to ever learn or switch to the other system, which I think is really needed to driving and training properly. One handed driving is needed with a single and a pair for proper use of the whip - without losing the contact on the right rein when using the whip. It is also needed for driving a team as you will need to take loops on the inside leader reins for turns. Picking the loop can only be done properly with the free right hand, while the left hand holds all four reins.
In the two handed method one also needs to take loops for turns. That means, each time one of the two hands reaches forward to take a loop, the contact is lost on the reins in that hand. Driving without the contact for a quick moment does not hurt a well trained team. Accordingly team drivers can use that method for quicker action in marathon obstacles and cones, but I believe the good training can only be done by normally driving with all four reins in the left hand and keeping the contact. So do yourself a favor and start out the proper way, lay a good foundation for your future Tandem and Four-in-Hand and drive with all four reins in the left hand.
On the road to driving a team many of us find ourselves first with the opportunity to drive two. So if you have two good horses or ponies available to drive, then I suggest you start driving Tandem. That is an excellent way to prepare yourself for driving four, as the rein handling is very similar, yet you only have to deal with two horses instead of four. This is for many less intimidating, and one can learn dealing with all the reins. But also here, do drive with all four reins in the left hand, even though with a tandem the disadvantages of the two handed method are not as pronounced as with a team as one does not need to take the loops as large as with a team, so can get away easier with driving two handed.
Actually, other than having to drive only two horses, tandem driving is really more difficult than driving four as the leader has no horse next to him to steady him. So he can jump around much easier and give you “Tandem moments” when he is facing you. That does not happen very often with a Four-in-Hand. So your rein handling with the Tandem will make you even better than what you will need with four. Once you can drive a tandem well, then driving four becomes really easy. There is a good article on this website on Tandem Driving by Jay Hubert, including some good book suggestions. That should be very helpful in getting you on the right track to tandem driving.
After practicing the handling of four reins with a rein board, some of us have then learned driving tandem by first riding one and longlining the other one in front. Or you can longline both in tandem. Start at the walk in an arena and use calm horses or ponies. You will quickly learn that it is very important to have a good leader, who is ALWAYS going FORWARD. That is one of the most important characteristics of a good leader. As long as he keeps going forward, you can steer him with your reins. When he hangs back, then your reins become useless and then you are out of commission, as it is very difficult to become good enough with your tandem whip to make the leader go forward without getting your wheeler upset. But start practicing to hit targets two horse lengths away from you with your tandem (or longe) whip while sitting on your carriage without any horses hitched, and without getting too close with the whip to where the wheeler would be. You will quickly see how difficult that is, and while we certainly should practice and know how to use the long whip properly, in reality not many team- or tandem drivers do. So let that part not stop you from having a little fun with a tandem and team. You will be ok without reaching your leader properly with your whip, as long as you just remember to only put somebody in the lead on whom you can depend on that he always is willing to go steadily forward. That should then include that he is not timid nor should he be spooky or in any other way unreliable. Your calm and reliable Steady Eddie, however, does not belong in the lead if he is lazy and hanging back. Then I rather have one in the lead who is a little more high strung. The same applies to your four. The leaders must always be willing to go forward, and while a tandem leader can easily jump around when he is spooky, that will be a lesser problem with a team, as usually both leaders will steady each other. But naturally you don’t want a chicken out there either.
The next important criteria for your horses is that they should be trained and willing to stand quietly. As long as they can’t do that, there is no sense of even trying to start driving tandem or four-in-hand. You’ll need a quiet halt of all of them often to sort things out and to make adjustments.
Voice Commands: We use our voice as a forward driving aid as well as a calming aid. This becomes even more important with driving tandem or four, and especially so for our leaders. They should know their names, and go willingly forward when called upon - again, as you’ll have a hard time to reach them with the whip.
Also make sure that your leader is not ever ticklish at his hind end with a tendency to perhaps kick. You want to be sure that no leader will ever kick when the wheeler might come a bit close to him from behind and when the leader traces touch him on his legs or the lead bar or pole head pokes into his hind end. That can become an issue with mares when they get in heat. So try that out before hitching on the ground. Leader and wheeler should get along well with each other for the tandem, and all four should get along well with each other for the team. If you can ride your horses, I suggest riding them behind each other, even with bumping into each other, first with open bridles and when all goes well then also with blinders. Once you have two which are ok in all these aspects, then you can start driving them tandem.
Before you can drive four, obviously you need four, and basically you should have two well trained and reliable pairs - or two tandems - and be well familiar with all four of them. I would ride them also then as two pairs, e.g. have a helper ride one future leader and pony the other one next to him, and you ride one wheeler and pony the other one next to you and then slowly start getting closer and closer to the leaders from behind and see that they all are ok with that. First at the walk, then at the trot. - and if you all are brave and good riders and have two more to join you, then why not also at the canter? But be very careful there and start building up for that slowly as explained in my pair driving article. When horses canter next to each other and are not familiar with that, they can easily kick at each other. So start out far apart with four riders and slowly move closer - like in a good quadrille. It takes a while to build up that level of mutual confidence. But if they can’t do that under saddle, then they probably can’t do it in front of the carriage either. Perhaps you don’t plan to ever canter them while driving, so you may think you’ll never need that. But that sets you up for dangerous situations. Then when you should ever have a spook and the horses start running, and they have never done that, the situation becomes much worse. So it is much better to practice these things in a safe and controlled environment.
So once you have the two reliable pairs and they all get along with each other, you have two brave and forward leaders, and you have become a good pair driver as well as good tandem driver, then you are ready to hitch and drive them as a team.
I’ll explain in the next issue what equipment you will need.
- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 2
by Hardy Zantke
The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 2
by Hardy ZantkeI promised the list of equipment that we need for this part:Besides two pair harnesses and your pair carriage you’ll need the following additional equipment. Only the first two items are absolutely necessary. You can get started even without having any of the other items, as you can jury rig them to get started.A set of lead bars for your carriage and a way to attach them to the front of your pole. Make sure your carriage is build strong enough to support the extra weight of the lead bars as well as the extra groom on the back. There are different types of lead bars in use: The common one is a main bar with two swingle trees. I suggest you start with that, rather than with a single wide lead bar. A good welder can usually build you a set fairly easily, or you can use a wooden set, but make sure that it is strong. You do not ever want a lead-bar to break for lack of strength, as then the pieces will hit the leaders in the hocks, and even if they are not prone to kicking, that certainly can send them running.Four-in-Hand Leader reins. Your pair reins should be sufficient as wheeler reins (unless the coupling rein buckles are very close to your hands). Similar as with the lead bars, make sure that you have strong leader reins. You depend on this equipment, so don’t use old questionable stuff that has been seen it’s better days. Proper equipment is important to prevent accidents. You would not start parachute jumping either with a marginal chute. My advice would be to get leather reins. I love my Zilco harness, but cannot drive properly with synthetic reins. They are too narrow and slip too easily through the hand. We cannot have any rein slippage when driving four as then the team gets out of alignment. Leader and wheeler reins should be of the same material and have the same width as otherwise you will find it hard to drive properly with all four reins in your left hand.Two Roger rings (which you should have already from your tandem driving). Traditional Pleasure Drivers often still use the rein terrets on the wheeler bridle rosette. They have the disadvantage that in turns they pull the inside blinder off the inside wheeler’s head. Therefore competition four-in-hand drivers prefer Roger rings which are buckled into the throat latch buckle (from behind - which first looks backwards to the layman, but makes sense that way as it then does not pull open the throatlatch buckle when under tension). But if you don’t have Roger rings yet, that should not stop you. You can just use two large key rings and tie them with a piece of baling twine to the outside throat -latch-buckle of each wheeler.A leader rein terret on the center of each wheeler’s saddle. If you don’t have these, you can certainly start without them by just running the leader reins also through the outside saddle terrets. But having the center terrets makes it much easier for you, as you can easier distinguish between leader- and wheeler reins coming to your hands from the saddle terrets from slightly different angles with the leader reins from the center of the saddles.Leader traces or trace extenders - as leader traces are usually a little longer than your regular pair (or wheeler) traces. If you have buckle-in traces on the leaders’ pair harness perhaps they will be long enough if you just buckle them into the last hole. Otherwise for starters just use four pieces of rope at the ends to extend the leader traces.A connection strap between the collars (or breastcollars) of the leaders. Note, no connection strap is used there for a proper Pleasure Driving or Coaching Turn-out, but CDE drivers use a connecting strap there and you’ll want one too when you start out to keep your leaders better together. An old stir-up leather or similar strap will do, or you can even use a rope for starters.A whip to reach your leaders - if you think you will be able to even use one to get to them. Otherwise just use your pair whip for the wheelers - and your voice for your leaders. (Some of us also have had our groom carry a hand full of pebbles and throw one at a leader as a whip replacement - but then the groom needs to be good at that.)The last piece of equipment which is frowned upon by traditionalists, and therefore hardly ever mentioned in any of the books, but which I recommend to any beginner is a rein clamp. That is a clamp with which you can clamp all four reins together once you have them in the right position and proper length for your trot work. When you drive with the two-handed system, then you should have two rein clips, one for each hand. But as I explained in the last issue, you should really start with the Achenbach system for all your training as well as dressage. You should only use the two handed method for driving marathons and cones. There that system is faster - and your well trained horses won’t fall apart when you lose the contact for a split second when picking a loop, as long as they were normally trained with the Achenbach system.The disadvantage of the rein clamp is that once you set it on a given position and have clamped all your reins together, you can’t easily adjust them in your hand - other than by taking loops, or moving your hand. For more adjustments you would need to change the setting by opening the clamp, adjusting the reins to a different position and then closing the clamp again. That is much harder to do then adjusting rein length in your hand when you don’t have a clamp. But the big advantage of the clamp to any beginner is that you can concentrate so much better on driving your horses, rather than having to really clamp down your hand all the time to make sure none of your reins slip a little through your fingers. Clamping your hand to prevent slippage will quickly make your hand tired and take all the fun out of driving four. Further, I explained in Part 1 why you want to have leaders which are really forward so they always are on the bit giving you good control. With that usually comes that they will pull a little in your hand. Without the rein clamp that forward contact - together with just the weight of four reins - will get your left hand very quickly very tired, especially when you are not yet used to it and haven’t built up the muscles for it. Then without even noticing it, you will try to relieve that pressure a little by giving with your hand a little. But that really won’t relieve the pressure for long. It, will only make you lose your contact with your wheelers and in addition it usually results in your leaders getting into draft which then will make them pull even harder. This then forces you to clamp your hand even harder to not have any of the leader reins slip through your fingers. It all will become more difficult and unfriendly for your poor hand and take all the fun out of driving your four.All of that is avoided by using a good rein clamp. You clamp the reins together behind your fingers, no rein can slip through anymore, you can hold the four reins easily that way, they can’t get mixed up either and stay in place with left leader on top of your index finger, right leader below the index finger, left wheeler below right leader, and right wheeler below the middle finger. Your hand can hold them easily with the rein clamp, you don’t get cramps, your arm stays soft and you can have fun driving your four, and concentrate on the driving, rather than on cramping your hand. Also for the rein clamp you want good leather reins of close to an inch wide, or 7/8, but not narrower than that. Narrower reins can lose their position in the rein clamp. Also when driving without a rein clamp narrower reins are harder to hold and slip easier through the hand and fingers.Without the rein clamp you’ll soon go to driving two handed where reins don’t slip so easily and you’ll become a sloppy driver with a sloppy team. So get a good rein clamp (or two for the times that you get ready to drive your first marathon or cones and then want to go to two handed driving). There are various different ones on the market. I like the small stainless steel light weight clamps looking like an open square through which the reins go with a little vice like bracket pushed up by a set screw from the bottom. The entire clamp is hardly noticeable from the outside as it sits in the left hand and makes driving four so much easier.That is all the equipment that you need to get started. I mentioned already in Part 1 that you should get the book “The Principles of Driving” by the German National Equestrian Federation for the proper rein handling techniques. It also covers many other aspects of driving, not only four, but also driving in general, so is a good investment. In addition I recommend “A Driving Horse Photo Album” by Robert Mischka which shows all of our top drivers and is very beneficial to look at the pictures in details and see how they hitch, for example, which Roger Rings they use, how long the pole heads are, where the leader bars are so that the wheelers don’t hit their noses on them, etc.I’ll give some tips on actual driving your four in the next part.
- The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 3
by Hardy Zantke
The Road to Driving FOUR - Part 3
by Hardy Zantke
Now that you have prepared yourself and your horses and have gotten all the equipment for driving four, I promised to give you some more tips for the actual driving:
Once you are ready to hitch your four for the first time - after having driven them all in pairs and tandem often, have your equipment together, have hopefully even had the chance to take some four-in-hand driving lessons and feel ready for the big moment, you should not only have at least two, but better even four good helpers around, as well as a knowledgeable four-in-hand driver who can make sure that all is set up properly. Your wheelers can be hitched as you do usually when driving them as a pair, only now you have added the leader bars to the pole head. The horses should stand well, assisted by grooms at their heads, while you bring up the leaders and stand them in position. Again, grooms should be at their heads, while leader coupling reins are attached, then leader reins are run back and then traces are attached and adjusted for proper length. You should pick up the reins - read up in the German books how to adjust them to the proper length already on the ground and put them properly in your hand - but if you missed that chapter, no big problem, you can get up on the box, and as long as your horses stand calmly and you also still have grooms at their heads, you can adjust your reins to the proper length, so that you have light contact with all four horses, then give your command to move off at the walk. Hopefully you have trained all your horses to all walk off together at the same moment ar your command. I use a half-halt as a preparation, and on the release of my half-halt I cluck and all walk off together. Walk just a short distance and see if all four reins are at the proper length in your left hand with you slightly leaning forward and your left arm slightly streteched out. If not, adjust them accordingly. Make sure that you also have contact with the wheelers, and that the leaders are out of draft. When you have that adjustment, then halt again, and then set you rein clamp to be just behind your left hand - and then walk off again. The slight leaning forward and slightly stretched out left arm unfortunately is needed with the rein clamp at the walk (and is unsighly and one of the reasons purists frown on the rein clamp), as the reins need to be shorter at the trot, so that when you start trotting you can sit back and bring your hand closer to your body in front of your chest and still have proper contact with leaders and wheelers, and leaders out of draft.
Once you have your rein clamp set, you can walk off again. But stay at a relaxed walk for a while, and get the feeling of everything. If you have a straight stretch ahead of you, you can also do a little trot, as long as everything stays relaxed and calm. As long as it does, working at the trot often is even easier than at the walk, at least as long as you go straight.
For turns you should go back to the walk. Similarly as with a tandem, for turns your leaders must be out of draft - as otherwise they would pull the polehead into the turn, pulling your wheelers off their feet and cutting off your corner. So to get the leaders out of draft, one would need to shorten the leader reins. Here now comes the magic of driving four (and tandem similarly), in order to get the leaders out of draft, all you need to do, is taking a large loop on the inside leader rein. For example: When making a 90 degree turn to the right, you pick up the right leader rein with your right hand about 8" in front of your left hand and then bring your right hand back to your left hand. As you do that, your leaders will turn to the right while your wheelers still keep going straight, thus your leaders will be at an angle to your wheelers, and your left leader rein will now have a much longer distance to the left leaders mouth, as it is held out to the left by the head of the left wheeler. With that you have shortened automatically your left leader rein (you shortened your right leader rein by taking the large loop), so now not only have your leaders made the turn, but they have also come back as both reins were shortened, the right by you taking the loop, and the left by being held out and thus having the extra distance around the left leaders head, and with that both leaders have come back and are out of draft and can’t pull the wheelers off their feet nor the polehead into the turn. This is important to think through and to understand, as it is the basic of properly driving four.
Most beginners take their loops too small, as they are not used to taking up so much inside rein on a turn from either a single nor a pair. Tandem drivers also do not need to take their loops as big, as they only have one wheeler instead of two, thus their outside leader rein does not take such a long extra distance as with the wider spread between the heads of the two wheelers in a team. That is also the reason that tandem drivers can get away better with driving two handed than team drivers without losing the contact so much, as tandem drivers can often make their turns even without taking loops, but on right angle turns with teams one needs the loop. So rather take a loop too big than too small. One can much easier let out part of the loop than taking more of it.
The next important item is that wheelers should not fall in on the turn, as otherwise you’ll also hit the inside corner. In the turn the head of your inside wheeler should be pointing in “the luge” - that is the gap between the butts of the two leaders. You have three aids to accomplish that: First, keep your left hand - which holds all the reins - back close to your body to keep the wheelers on the bit and not lose the contact on them. If they should start falling in, then move your hand to the inside of the turn, that will shorten the outside wheeler rein and keep them to the outside. If that is not enough, be ready to hit your inside wheeler with the whip on his inside and / or call his name to move him forward. As he pulls forward, he will pull the inside of the carriage forward, which then brings the pole slightly to the outside (see Pair Driving 102) and avoid you hitting that inside corner. Using the whip on the inside of the inside wheeler is one of the most important whip uses in team driving. You will need to do that often to prevent the wheelers from falling in. I’ll get to the third aid in the next paragraph:
Usually, when horses first start driving in a team - which by the way, most of them LOVE, they are herd animals, so the more the merrier - the wheelers will not fall into the turn, as they don’t know yet that they’ll always follow the leaders. So the above two methods of keeping them out are often sufficient. If you use those two methods well, they will probably also learn with that not to fall in. But if you become sloppy then they’ll fall in as they learn that we usually follow the leaders, even if only a short moment later in the turns. So when they “learned” to fall in, then we need to use a more drastic method, then we need to take what is called an “opposition”. The opposition is a small loop that we take on the outside wheelers rein. So contrary to your LARGE loop on the INSIDE LEADER rein, for the opposition we take a SMALL loop on the OUTSIDE WHEELERS rein. We take that loop BEFORE we come to the turn, and BEFORE we take the leader rein loop. We pick the outside wheeler rein with our right hand, take a small loop and put that around our left thumb and keep it there and move our right hand slightly forward, so that the wheelers are not yet sharp on the bit and the loop is not yet effecting them, pulling them to the outside. Then we take the large loop on the inside leader rein, and start our turn, as the leaders turn, should the wheelers now fall in, we do the same as described before, bringing our left hand back and into the turn, only now we have the small loop of the outside wheeler rein around our left thumb and that now comes into effect as the wheelers are getting back on the bit with our hand brought back and that should hold them out. But we should not rely only on the opposition, but in addition use our inside whip, as otherwise we get the wheelers counterbent. (See Pair Driving 102 for proper bending of the pair by driving the inside horse forward - that is the same also here with the wheelers and since our opposition works against that, we must overcome that with the inside whip and driving the inside wheeler forward.)
Once we are through the turn, we can slowly let out the loop of the leader rein as well as any opposition if we took one and get straight again.
Whip use: I mentioned above the importance of the whip use on the inside wheeler in turns. Now to the leaders: In the previous parts I wrote already how difficult it is to use the whip on the leaders. For that reason you often see advanced team drivers having an extra long fishing pole type whip on the carriage during training and warm-up, which has a pole long enough to more easily reach the leaders. Often the groom uses that in warm-up and for training, as the leaders must know, even if they are usually forward enough, that you can still reach them with the whip. Otherwise they learn that they can become lazy and don’t even shape up anymore when you call their names. So it helps in the training to call a leaders name, and if he does not react, then he immediately needs a little touch with the whip. But that touch with the whip is difficult to give without having the wheelers disturbed by the whip flying by. Here are a few training tips: The groom throwing rocks. The groom with a long telescope whip. The groom walking (or running) next to the leader, and you calling the leaders name, and when he does not react, then the groom touching him from the side, and finally your own best chance to touch him with your four-in-hand whip from the box without hitting your wheelers in the face: Drive a large circle to the side of the leader whom you want to show that you can still reach him with the whip. Then unfurl your whip and have it ready pointed out to the side of the leader whom you want to touch, call his name, and when he does not react, swing the whip in a wide circle motion far away from the inside wheeler through the inside of your turn and hit the inside leader on his side. That is your best chance of touching the leader without disturbing any other horse of your team. You will need to do that every now and then to show the leaders, that you are still in charge, and that they still need to obey your voice, and that you can still reach them with the whip if they don’t listen to your voice. Of course this is easier done on the right side to the right leader, than having to reach over and doing the same in a left hand circle to the left leader. But it needs to be done to him too on occasions to remind him too that you can still reach him.
Rein-backs: In order to achieve a fairly straight rein-back, just back your wheelers, e.g. just grab the two wheeler reins and ask the wheelers to back-up, and forget the leaders. As your wheelers back your vehicle, they also back you on the box seat, and with that your hand goes back and with that you then also get the leaders to come back with you a split second later than the wheelers. This way the leader traces will help to keep your pole head straight and you have less chance of a crooked rein-back - even if you don’t have that new modern fifth wheel brake to help with the straight rein-back.
Cones: Knowing how difficult cones can be for a single as well as for a pair, it is often amazing to see how the team drivers manage their cones rounds. Let me share a little well kept secret: Cones with a well trained four-in-hand are actually easier than with a pair. First the team gets 10 cm more clearance anyways, then the team carriage is 10 cm wider, so now the horses have 20 cm more clearance than in a pair. Horses are not dumb, after having done cones often enough, they know what that is about and also try to stay in the middle. So when a team driver points his leaders properly towards the cones, they often manage to stay to the middle, and then everything else usually follows through properly, contrary to a pair, where the horses have 20 cm less room, and then the carriage follows right away. In addition the speed requirement for a team is much less than for a pair or a single. So it is not really due to the superior driving ability of the team drivers that we have so much fewer faults in teams cones than with singles or pairs. The true superiority of top team drivers is shown in the marathon obstacles. That really is the hardest part and truly amazing what team drivers accomplish there.
I hope that with these tips I have given you some of the basics of proper team driving. Yes, it is a dream for many, and it is quite a challenge, but once you have it in place, it is also quite a thrill to drive a well behaved and properly trained team. Perhaps one day you too can make that dream become reality and even if it is not with your own horses - but with a lesson some place. With the above perhaps you then know already some things and are not a complete novice.
Best wishes and happy team driving one day
- Pair Driving 101
by Hardy Zantke
So you want to start driving a pair, huh? And you think you can do it on your own? You know the saying: Green & green makes black and blue? So save your hide, your animals and your equipment and get some pair driving instructions from a qualified teacher, ok?
But I know, there are always some who need to do it on their own, and since we can’t change that, then let me at least offer a few, perhaps helpful hints from between my blinders. Since this is the Pairs List I will only mention pair specific items here, as I assume that you’ll have single driving experience and know how to handle driving horses and how to drive single. If you don’t, then get that experience first.
If you can’t get your hands on a reliable pair, then start out with two reliable single horses (or ponies) which you can drive safely single with trust and confidence. If you don’t have two of those, there is really no point for you considering driving whatever you have in a pair. So get to that point first. (Note: experienced pair drivers don’t need that, they can start a young horse with a schoolmaster in the pair, but this is not written for them!)
Then make sure the two singles get along with each other. They don’t need to be the greatest buddies, but they should tolerate each other without kicking or biting. Get them used to each other including bumping into each other. You can do that by riding them together with a partner, but close together. Or you can ground drive them with a partner, each ground driving one with single reins and ground driving them close to each other. All at the walk is fine. Riding, you can trot as well, or even canter, but make sure, we don’t have any kicking at each other at the canter. So if you canter together, start them further apart before coming closer together. All this is good preparation to make sure they tolerate each other working closely together, which they will need to do next to the pole, in a pair.
Next get a set of pair reins and a good book explaining the function of pair reins. There are good explanations available, so I don’t need to do that here. I recommend "The Art of Driving by Max Pape" or "The Principles of Driving by the German National Equestrian Federation". Both are available through the ADS (www.americandrivingsociety.org). If you study "The Art of Driving" then you are in royal company, because this is what Prince Philip used to learn to drive as stated in his newest book. They didn‘t even have an English version then. He did it from the German version! So if he could do that, you surely can study the English version now.
As a very quick version of the pair rein function: You need to know four basic items:
- Horses too close together and/or heads turned towards each other: You need to lengthen the coupling reins = coupling rein buckles need to go one or more holes forward.
(Note: Heads turned together mostly is not due to too short coupling reins, but due to wrong pair driving - which you will learn in Driving 102 below. But coupling reins also need to be the proper length.)
- Horses too far apart and/or heads turned away from each other: The opposite from above: You need to shorten the coupling reins = coupling rein buckles need to go one or more holes backwards.
- One horse more eager than the other, or having a shorter neck than the other: He needs to be taken back by bringing the coupling rein buckle on his back FORWARD (which shortens his draft rein!) and the coupling rein buckle on the back of his partner BACKWARDS (which shortens his coupling rein).
- Important! On all the above adjustments, you always must adjust BOTH coupling buckles by the SAME number of holes (provided you started out even on both reins). Never change only one, as then the horses can’t move straight.
Do more reading in the driving books.
Next step: You can ground drive the two horses now at the walk using the pair reins. Also use a connecting strap (or rope) between the two collars, but don’t tie them together too closely. You just want this as some help that they don’t get too far apart when starting out uneven. Have a helper on each head to help them start out together and then walk them around the ring.
When all went well then, as the next step, you can hitch them to the pair carriage. If the carriage has an evener, make sure to set that fixed, or tie it so that it will be fixed. We do not want to start horses with an evener as they will start out uneven and the evener will not help, but only add to the problem.
Have helpers again at the heads to start them out even. If they do start uneven - and they will - trust you - do NOT hold them back in trying to correct that, but do drive FORWARD and it will work itself out.
Note: The beginners’ mistake is to hold them back to try again to start out even. That is wrong. Here is why: You ask them to go forward. One was quicker than the other to follow your command. Mrs. Eager did it right away, and Mr. Slowpoke is still thinking about it. The cure is to top Mr. Slowpoke with your whip and get him going. If you were to hold them back now, Mrs. Eager would be punished for going forward and would get totally confused. “Why are you holding me back now? Didn’t you just ask us to go forward? But that’s not enough.” Since Mrs. Eager is following your commands she would now stop again, when you hold back, just at about the very moment that Mr. Slowpoke got the idea to go forward. So you get that bad see-saw effect, which all beginner pair drivers have when they hitch their horses the first time, It only gets worse if you hold back. So the answer is, as always in driving: FORWARD and it will work itself out. Mr. Slowpoke will finally wake up and follow Mrs. Eager, as he is dragged along, or as you hopefully helped him waking up with your whip. Note: Not with your voice, as that would only upset Mrs. Eager more. Second note: Drive with blinders, as with open bridles your whip coming would also upset Mrs. Eager more. The above is also the explanation, why you don’t want an evener at this stage of the game. Mrs. Eager goes forward first, and at moment she does, Mr. Slowpoke, just thinking about starting as well, gets hit in the chest by his collar as his traces are coming tight through the evener, which he might take as a signal to stop instead of going forward. So Mr. Slowpoke could get confused getting different messages. You said to go, but when he wanted to go, the slap on his chest said to stop. Without the evener, or with the evener tied up (or inactivated), this problem won’t occur.
So once you start going FORWARD, great! You got it. Drive at the walk for a while, straight as much as you can and get after the lazier one of the two, as each pair has lazy one. Be careful when you have to make turns and don’t turn too sharp as the inside horse will rub his hind leg against the pole and might think of kicking if that pole hits him too much. So make careful wide turns and watch that inside horse’s hind leg.
When all goes well at the walk and is calm, you can also carefully try it at a calm trot. Bring them back to the walk for the turns, unless the turns are real wide.
Halt, unhitch and put them away and congratulate yourself on the first successful pair drive. Have a beer (wine is acceptable too) and join the ranks of the pair drivers.
Then move on to Pair Driving 102.
Happy pair driving.
- Horses too close together and/or heads turned towards each other: You need to lengthen the coupling reins = coupling rein buckles need to go one or more holes forward.
- Pair Driving 102
by Hardy Zantke
I hope you enjoyed your first pair drive. Horses are herd animals, they like it much better in a pair, as I hope you will too. Now comes the next lesson and this will give you and your horses a distinct advantage over single driving. What follows now is something that a single driver can’t do! But you need to stay with me through the end of the lesson to get full use of it.
Most of us know that one of our goals in proper driving - at least for those of us who drive carriage horses, but it doesn’t hurt for draft horses either - is that the horses are going straight on a straight line and are bending properly in the turns. I will show you how the pair carriage helps us to teach our horses bending. And this lesson is VERY important for the beginning pair driver! Unfortunately most of them do not know this and the result of their lack of this knowledge is that their pairs are not going straight, are hanging off the pole and are going badly counterbent through the turns. Let’s be honest, we all know that: Most lower-level pairs are going as I just described. Lengthening the coupling reins won’t help. Switching the horses won’t help. Nothing will, except proper pair driving! And the longer you wait to learn this lesson, the worse it will get! So do pay attention and do follow this advice!
First you must drive your horses STRAIGHT on a straight line down the road. You must be able to use your whip on the outside of your horses, if they do not go straight, in order to straighten them. You don’t need to beat them, but they must tolerate the whip as an aid. You must have them calm enough to be able to do that at the walk.
If both heads are turned to the inside, as it is with many beginners’ pairs, and your coupling reins are long enough, then you must use the whip on the outside of both horses to get them straight.
If both heads are turned to one side as you drive down the road, that means that the horse on the side, to which side both heads are turned, is the more eager one, e.g. both heads turned to the left, means the left horse is doing more of the pulling, so you must get after the right horse to get them straight! Use the whip on his outside. That will bring him forward AND help him to go straight.
How do I know that the right horse in the example above is the lazy one? Stay with me now, this is important! Take a close look at the pair carriage and try it out yourself with a parked carriage on a flat surface. Stand in front of the carriage on the left side and pull it forward with your hand just on the left edge of the splinterbar. See what happens? The pole will go to the right, e.g. when you pull it forward just on the left edge of the splinterbar it will not travel straight, instead it will travel to the right. The same happens when the left horse is more eager, only most of us don’t even notice it, but adjust automatically for it. How do we adjust? Well, if the pole gets pulled to the right and the carriage travels to the right, we don’t want to go off the road to the right. Since we know how to steer, we automatically pull a little more on the left rein, and so the horses follow our command, and take their heads to the left while pulling the polehead a little to the left to counter the tendency that it had to go to the right, where it was pulled by having the left horse more eager!
So to correct this crooked travel, you must go after the right horse. Of course all the same is true similarly if the right horse is the more eager one and both heads are turned to the right. When the right horse pulls more, then the pole wants to go to the left. Then you automatically take up more on the right rein in order not to go off the road to the left and then you have both heads pulled a little to the right. So then the cure is to go more after the left horse.
Once you fully understood the above and learned to drive the horses STRAIGHT, with their heads straight and calmly at the walk, then comes the time to teach them bending using the same principle we just learned.
Now you go into a large arena, like a 40 x 80 meter dressage arena and you start driving large figure 8’s, calmly and at the walk. Drive the figure 8 with two 40 meter circles getting straight over X in the middle. If you do not have that much room, it is also ok to first drive one circle to one side, then change on the diagonal through the middle and then drive a circle to the other side. The important thing is that you alternate and drive one large circle to one side followed by another large circle to the other side. As you drive your large circle, DRIVE ONLY THE INSIDE HORSE! Make the inside horse pull the carriage! Let the outside horse rest and just go along. Concentrate all your efforts only on the inside horse! Make him go forward, use the whip on his side. That will make him go forward and it will assist him with the bending. But more importantly, driving the inside horse forward will make the pole wanting to go to the outside, just as explained above when driving down the straight road! Now we have the inside horse pulling the carriage, so the pole wants to go to the outside, the carriage wants to make the circle even larger, e.g. run out of the circle! That gives you the chance to take up a little on the inside rein (keep some contact on the outside rein as well, but take slightly more on the inside rein), and voila, with that you get the head of the inside horse pointing a little into the turn, and bingo, there is your bending! Never mind the outside horse. Leave him alone. His head will point by itself to the inside of the turn for him, that means toward the polehead. It is the inside horse that you need to get bent and prevent from going counterbent and over the shoulder! So NEVER EVER allow him to go counterbent, not in the circle, and not on the road NEVER! Use your whip on his side if he tries to counterbend. YOU MUST enforce that! But you get him best trained to that, by LARGE circles. Don’t try to force him into smaller circles. Keep it large, and keep it calm. It will come!
And you only do one circle with him, then you change directions, so now the poor guy, whom you have been after the entire circle, has time off and can relax and even hang back a little if he likes to. No problem, we can work on the hanging back later in a future lesson. For now the bending is MUCH more important. Now, turn all your attention to his partner, who now is the inside horse on your next circle. So each horse only has to give you one circle when he is on the inside, and then has time off for the next circle when he is on the outside, since you change directions after each circle.
This is perfect interval training. Usually one horse is better than the other. So this helps you too. You only have to get the more difficult horse through one circle and then you can all relax again, as you change directions and can enjoy the easier horse.
Once all three of you mastered this lesson at the walk with large circles and the inside horse bending, then you can do the same at the trot, but keep it nice and easy and relaxed and LARGE circles! I think this is probably one of the most important lessons in pair driving! You can do large figure 8’s for hours with your horses or ponies. So as explained above, this is something where the carriage with a pair helps you with the bending something that it does not do for a single, where the horse pulls from the center.
Not only does this teach your horses proper bending, it has many side benefits. Interval training is one which I mentioned already. It is much easier for each horse to have to work and concentrate on just one circle and then have the next circle time off, mentally and physically. That makes happier horses.
The next benefit is that each horse has to lengthen stride a little when he is on the outside to come along and to shorten stride a bit when he is on the inside. You don’t have to do anything to it. They learn that by themselves in the large figure 8. So they learn lengthening and shortening their strides by themselves, and then horses are like people: They like to be in stride. Just as you and I like to be in stride if we take a walk together at the beach or through the woods and carry on a conversation. It works much better of we are in stride - provided we are halfway similar in our strides to start out with - otherwise we won’t make a good pair - at least not for walking in stride together :-).
So then the horses learn by themselves how to adjust their strides to be in stride with each other, and all the spectators oooh and aaah when your pair goes across the diagonal and is in perfect stride with each other! They learned that by the figure 8s that you drove for many hours with them.
When you hitch them next time, switch them, so both are not getting one sided, and work the same program again!
Once it works well on large circles at the walk and at the trot, then, and only then, can you start working on making the circles smaller and the turns smaller. But again, never allow them to go counterbent. Proper training is love and consistency!
If you apply the above lesson, you will be way ahead of most beginners, as your pair will not go counterbent through each turn and each corner in the dressage ring, which is the most common fault of beginning pair drivers. And if that mistake is not corrected early on, it will get worse and worse and after a while will become almost uncorrectable with the pair, as by then they will have learned to go counterbent through each corner. Yours won’t be one of those!
Once you are all good at this and always have your proper bend in the turns, then and only then can you start thinking of making the outside horse also go forward a bit to keep up with the inside horse and not hang back, and then one day, you can even get the outside horse to pull you through a sharp turn very quickly when you want to make a quick, tight turn in a hazard. But for a beginning pair that is not bending properly yet, trying to do that is the sure way to permanent counterbending. So don’t do it! Resist the temptation. I know it’s hard. Instead, drive your large figure 8s and teach them to bend. Your reward will be a well bending, good pair which with proper bending can do good dressage and cones, and hazard even faster one day.
- Pair Driving 103
by Hardy Zantke
In my Article Pairs 101 I wrote briefly about the four basic rein adjustments. Let me explain a bit more the adjustment No 3 that I mentioned there, the necessary adjustments for the pair with one eager and one lazy horse.
We have in almost every pair one horse that is more eager than the other. Almost no pair has both working completely even. It’s called "a willing pair", one is eager to work, and the other is eager to let ‘em :-).
We need to take the eager one back a hole in the reins, which means at the same time that the lazy one is let out one hole in the reins. Here is how that works.
Let's assume our left horse is the lazy one and our right horse is the eager one. Now let's take the eager one back one hole in the reins. That means on our LEFT rein, we move the coupling rein buckle BACK one hole - which shortens the coupling rein which goes from the LEFT draft rein over to the right horse by one hole - and since the end of the reins aren't fixed in our hands, it also means that the draft rein to the left horse now got longer by one hole. So now we adjusted the LEFT rein for BOTH horses with this, left rein of right horse got shorter and left rein of left horse got longer.
Since we don't want to drive crooked, we now must do a similar adjustment on the RIGHT rein, only there we must do it in the OPPOSITE direction, e.g. the right rein buckle must move FORWARD one hole. That has the effect of lengthening the coupling rein which crosses over to the left horse, and by the same token, of shortening the draft rein to the right horse.
So with that we now adjusted the RIGHT rein of BOTH horses accordingly. NOW the left (lazy) horse has one hole longer reins on both sides of his mouth, and with that has more room to step out a little more (which we still need to encourage with our whip that he does, but now we gave him the room for it), and our eager right horse has his reins one hole shorter on both sides of his mouth, so we keep him back in our hand more.
Our beginners in pair drivers: Please take your time to read this again until you clearly understanding it. This is one of the fundamentals in pair driving. It is better explained with drawings, etc. in many good books, like "The Principles of Driving by the German National Equestrian Federation" or "Max Pape: The Art of Driving". It is VERY important to always adjust the coupling reins on BOTH reins, never only one, as otherwise you would get your horses crooked.
As I explained briefly in Pair Driving 101 we have three different kinds of adjustments. The above is one of those three.
- Pair Driving 104
by Hardy Zantke
More on Rein Adjustment
I hope you had time to read and think through Pair Driving 103 on Pair Rein Adjustment. Now let me add one more item as that is often misunderstood, even by VERY experienecd pair drivers.
Some people think that by shortening or lengthening just one of the reins at the bit, they can influence only one horse and not the other. That's wrong. Think about it!
If you shorten a rein on one horse, it ALWAYS has the same effect as lengthening the rein on the other horse, regardless WHERE you do the change. If one is shorter it also means the other is longer, no matter if you shortened it at the coupling rein buckle, or at the bit. Just the same as when a tailor would shorten one of my pants legs by an inch. Then one would look shorter and the other would look longer, and it doesn't matter, if he took out the inch at the bottom, or at the knee, and unless I would wear my pants always at the very same spot around my waist, you couldn't tell if one pants leg would have been shortened or the other would have been lengthened.
The same is the case with our pair reins since the ends which we hold in our hands are flexible, and are not riveted to the dash board. So since shortening one ALWAYS has the same effect as lengthening the other, that means, you can NEVER just influence ONE horse by shortening or lengthening the reins at the bit or at the coupling rein buckle, you ALWAYS influence BOTH horses! And that is the reason we change rein length ONLY at the coupling rein buckle, and not at the bit, as to most of us it is more clear that we influence BOTH when we change at the coupling rein buckle, and we easily forget this principle when we start changing rein length at the bit. And THAT is the reason that you should NOT lengthen or shorten just ONE rein, but always do it on BOTH reins, as when one horse is crooked, and you try to change that by changing just one rein on him, you are now punishing the other horse by also pulling his bit crooked into his mouth.
So if one horses travels crooked, you CANNOT correct that by rein adjustments - provided your reins were not crooked to start out with. You can only correct that by working on getting the crooked horse straight with other means, with whip aids, with switching him, under saddle, driving him single, working him in longlines, etc, plus working the figure eights as described in Pair Driving 102.
I can hope that I could explain this properly this time, as quite often I have failed when I tried to explain it to some very experienced pair drivers, who wouldn't believe me and are still changing rein lengths at the bit and are still thinking that with doing so they can influence only one horse and not the other. The fault when I couldn't convince them, always was not in the above truth, but always only in my failure to explain it properly.
Happy Pair Driving
- So You Want to Drive a Tandem?
by Jay Hubert
So you want to drive a tandem? Have you lost your ever loving mind? In the Duke of Beaufort’s Badminton Library publication Driving (1889), Major General Teesdale quotes a celebrated horse dealer as saying: “I always look upon a man who drives a tandem as a fool; He makes two horses do the work of one and most likely breaks his silly neck.”
So you STILL want to give it a try? OK, I will try to lead you through some of the steps to get into the tandem business.
There is one big issue about driving a tandem. It requires more than one person to do it successfully and safely. I realize there are some folks who try to do it alone, but I am not one who will, nor will I recommend it to anyone who asks. I say that with full realization that both of my ponies are VERY reliable as singles, and seldom miss a step while in tandem. There are just too many things that can happen, none of which are good.
Well, I’ve got the bug. I am definitely hooked on tandem. One of the first things I did was to build a good rein board with provision for four reins so I could practice handling the reins. Somebody recommended the Paul Doliveux book Driving a Tandem. I found it listed at the ADS book store and sent away for it. I also sent for Mary Ruth Marks’ excellent handbook on Tandem Driving. In the meantime, I had reported on my weekend adventures on the CD-L (an Internet E-Mail list) and received some good advice from several folks including Sterling Grayburn. I also got advice on assembling the harness and even got a set of Roger Rings from Bruce Campbell in Florida. Bruce implied that I was crazier than he was, so I might as well have the rings. (I’m still using them, Bruce!)
I found an old roadster harness in the back of the back closet, and after a liberal application of Harness Honey, I made the traces into trace extenders, lengthening an old breast collar with sewn in traces into a suitable length.
One thing to remember while we are going through the process of assembling a tandem harness, is the budget was very tight. Yes, I could go out and buy a full set from a harness maker, but then I would not be able to go to events where I could use it. So everything falls together based on how well I can utilize pieces from here and there. We started trying to figure out what we could do to adapt what I had into a tandem harness. The wheeler harness was not much of an issue. I was using a Smucker’s Pleasure harness, with some Deluxe parts for showing a single, so I had a good start. We added a couple of Dee rings at the trace/breast plate connection, and two big bull snaps for the ends of the leader traces. We made temporary trace carriers out of baling twine, and trace extenders out of the same stuff. Orange baling twine. Yikes, not TOO noticeable! I had a couple of old sets of pony harness, and we adapted a bunch of pieces into a useable, but not very pretty working harness.
This is about enough to get started. If things are working out, and you want to get SERIOUS about tandem driving, we need to acquire some serious specialized equipment.
By now I was starting to acquire some REAL tandem tack. In addition to the Roger Rings that Bruce Campbell sent me, I had picked up some tandem rosettes at Martin’s Auction, as well as some drop loop rings borrowed from Irene Gillis. Jud Wright had some tandem reins, both wheeler and leader for sale, so I bought them. What a concept…. Matching reins! I also picked up a pair of long or “English” leader traces from Jud, and ordered matching breast collars from Smuckers, along with new wheeler traces. Barb Lee had a set of leather traces left over from her pony days, so I bought them as well.
OK, now lets step back a minute and take a look at what we have for equipment now. The wheeler is wearing a basic single harness with the following modifications: tandem terrets on the saddle; tandem keys in the trace buckles, and Roger Rings on the bridle. All of these pieces are commercially available, and the total cost would be under $200. If you are not familiar with these harness fittings, I will explain them.
Tandem terrets are split terrets, with two places for reins on each side. Some are made with two rings, set vertically. Mine are one large ring, split with a roller on a bar. Tandem terrets help to separate the reins, which is critical, as they tend to become a bundle of spaghetti in exciting moments.
Tandem keys are a device that slip around the trace buckle tongue and serve as a connecting point for the leader traces to attach to the wheelers traces.
Roger Rings are devices to carry the leader reins past the wheeler’s head in a manner that discourages tangling and interference with the wheeler. There are several devices available to accomplish this feat, including bridle rosettes with rings (tandem rosettes), rings on drop straps, and rings that buckle in to the wheeler’s bridle. I have tried all three devices, and personally prefer the buckle-in Roger Rings.
The leader wears what is essentially a single harness also. In place of breeching, there are hip drops to trace carriers, and in place of shaft tugs, there are trace carriers, usually slotted. I made mine out of small fine harness shaft tugs. When we showed under the late Jack Lyndon, he recommended going to a simpler crupper, WITHOUT buckles, as the buckles tend to catch the reins when turning. I tried this out with a very old buckle-less crupper, rescued from an ancient roadster harness, and found this to be true. So I cleaned and refinished this piece and use it today. The hip straps for the trace carriers go through a slot in the back strap, and this gives a very smooth surface for the reins. As a note, my rear trace carriers are made from an old running martingale that had buckle-in rings. The bridle is standard and the bridle and breast collar matches the wheeler’s.
We use two types of traces. The primary set, used for pleasure shows, and presentation and dressage at CDE’s are long or English traces. They are about two feet longer than ordinary single traces on my ponies. This dimension would be different for a larger animal. On the bottom of each trace, a brass loop is sewn in, about mid flank on the animal. This loop is for connection of a safety strap, that runs from the trace to the mid point of the girth. It keeps the trace from slipping up over the top of the leader’s back, adding a little control to the actions of the leader. Tandem traces and tandem girths are available commercially, as well as the safety straps. I was able to purchase used traces and made my own safety straps andgirth connections.
I mentioned tandem bars earlier. Tandem bars function like a single tree between the leader and the wheeler. One bar is attached at the ends to the tandem keys on the wheeler’s harness, and supported in the center by a strap that runs through the false martingale ring on the wheeler’s breast collar. In the center is a ring to which is connected via flexible connection a second bar that connects to the leaders traces, which can be of normal (single) length. For safety, I use quick release snap shackles to connect the leader’s traces to the leader bar. This setup slightly shortens the distance between the leader and wheeler, and gives a more flexible connection between them. It also reduces the need for trace supports as mentioned above, as the bars are supported from the wheeler’s breast collar.
It seems that interest in driving tandems is increasing. Nearly every time I pick up a driving magazine, and read the results of events, I see more and more tandem entries. I personally enjoy the challenge of tandem. It is certainly NOT boring, even out on a pleasure drive in the country. If you think you want to go out and try it, gather up a good reliable animal to drive in the wheel, and get a very forward, animated animal for a leader. Then get yourself to a trainer who understands tandems and go for it!
- Driving A Unicorn
by Jane Moody
There is not much written about driving a unicorn. The Art of Driving by Max Pape has one whole paragraph dedicated to the subject. The best way to think of a unicorn is to envision a four-in-hand, with two wheelers, but only one leader. If you have a carriage and harness for a four-in-hand, then the only additional equipment you will need is a set of tandem leader reins, and a set of tandem terrets.
Why would anyone want to drive a unicorn? I’m not sure. It takes most of the equipment required to drive a four-in-hand, and the challenges of a tandem. I suffer from a condition known as Multiple Madness. Driving multiples is an addiction I became afflicted with when I first saw Jay Hubert drive his tandem. Since then I have never passed up an opportunity to drive any multiple when offered in all its many variations. Since Hardy Zantke has written excellent articles on driving a four-in-hand, and the mechanics and rein handling are very similar to the unicorn, I strongly recommend reading Hardy’s articles on four-in-hand before attempting a unicorn. This is especially important if you do not have tandem or four-in-hand experience.
Okay, hitching and equipment:
This is not something you want to attempt with a 2 wheel vehicle. Driving a unicorn requires a four wheel carriage with a pole and a swan, just like a four-in-hand, but instead of leader bars, you leave off the leader’s evener part and just use one of the leader's single trees. You attach it to the pole end the same way you would the leader bars. Put it on the carriage before you put to.
Attach roger rings to the inside of the wheelers bridles, and replace the wheelers inside saddle terret with tandem terrets. You need one set of tandem leader reins and a set of pair reins.
The leader is harnessed just like a tandem leader. There is no need for breeching, but I do use trace carriers. Personally, if I am doing marathon, I use half a pair harness on my leader. The buckled in breast collar keeps everything a bit quieter at speed. Just my preference.
ALWAYS USE GULLET STRA
PS WITH LITTLE EARED GUYS!
To put to:
Put the wheelers to the carriage the s
ame way you would for a pair. If you have a new crew, it is advisable to have some extra hands for this. I like to have a header for each animal. Although with a nice set of minis, you could probably reach both wheelers with one. Once the whip is seated and comfy with the pair put to, have another person bring the leader over. Put the leader to, the same way you would a tandem (reins through the leaders saddle terrets, the wheelers roger rings, then thru the wheelers tandem saddle terrets, to the whip). Always control before power! Then hook the traces to the single tree on the pole. NEVER hook the leader directly to the wheelers.
Here's where it can get a bit interesting. You drive them the same way you would drive a tandem. What I have found is that the leader gets jerked around a good bit more in a unicorn. In a tandem, when the wheeler tosses his/her head, it usually pulls on both sides of the leaders head somewhat evenly. With a unicorn, if one wheeler tosses the head, it jerks the leader to that side. Just be prepared for that. And I like to have the leaders header walk off with the leader the first few steps, just to get the whole group up and going, and to give me a chance to adjust my reins if necessary.
Basic tenets of tandem/unicorn driving:
1. Forward is your friend!
2. A trot is a much easier gait to drive than a walk. It is easier to get them all going the same speed at a trot and they seem to get down to business with less foolishness at the trot.
3. ALWAYS HAVE SOMEONE WITH YOU CAPABLE OF RENDERING ASSISTANCE. There is a reason a problem with a tandem is called a tandem moment instead of an event, it is truly all the time you have to fix things before everything becomes spaghetti!
4. Use quick release shackles to attach the leader traces. You would be amazed at how quickly a leg can get over a trace.
Well, that is just about it. Welcome to the world of Multiple Madness. I would recommend having someone familiar with tandems, fours, and or unicorns around the first few goes.
Enjoy! And keep the dusty side down.