When Arizona trainer Lance Valdespino first began ground-driving horses more than 30 years ago, there were few options available for surcingles. He tried using one from a traditional set of driving harness, and found that the screw-in metal rings were set too high for many horses. Running the lines through the stirrups on a saddle, as often is recommended, also didn’t allow the flexibility he wanted and often placed the reins too low.

Training your mule for the trail takes time, patience and practice says Montana mule trainer Brad Cameron (see WH story, “The Mule Mindset,” May 2007). And, one of the most important lessons you can teach your mule is to stand still for mounting. Getting on an animal that won’t stand still is dangerous.

Neck-reining is just one step toward getting in sync with a saddle horse. For a rider, achieving a greater degree of control is about measured progress and communication with his mount.

As demonstrated in my videos, Teaching Horses to Drive – A 10 Step Method, hitching and driving horses in false shafts is, for me, an important intermediate training step between having a horse drag objects on the ground and hitching to a vehicle.

When Stacy Westfall performed her championship run at the National Reining Horse Association Futurity in 2003, the crowd was impressed by her control without the use of a bridle or neck rope. But after the competition, the question Westfall heard most: “How did you do a rollback without reins?” Husband Jesse Westfall says he hasn’t seen another rider perform a rollback without a bridle in a winning program. So how did she do it?

You turned your colt out to pasture for a winter break. Now it’s time to bring him in and pick up where you left off on his training last fall. Before you saddle up, however, “the key is to first get your colt ready to work again,” says Rick Gaudreault, an American Quarter Horse Association Professional Horseman, cow-horse trainer and clinician. “He’s rested and matured all winter. I can almost guarantee that if you saddle up on a frosty spring morning, he’ll feel really good and buck, and could injure you or himself.”