The RULES ! - and A Few Tips
WELCOME to the BUNDORAN FARM DRIVING SCHOOL. Its going
to be great fun. We look forward to being with you. We will
drive, rain or shine, out in the open. Its easy to drive
in an arena, so we will avoid arenas. If you can drive in
the open, you can drive anywhere. Bring your hat and slickers.
Please print out the directions
to our farm. and please see our Frequently
asked Questions about our school.
After the introduction day, each days class will start
at 9:00 AM. You provide your own lunch (there is a nice store
nearby where some students enjoy picking up a custom-made
sub sandwich); classes will end about 4:00-5:00 PM, a little
sooner on the last day. Plan to come early, and stay for an
hour or so later, because lot of the learning takes place
in discussion with our instructors and crew, and your fellow
classmates. Its often better to discuss complex issues
calmly - at the end of the day - over a Coors beer or a Bowman
Spring Water. You may wish to check out some
comments by our most recent students: Ann
Sutherland & Ray Keller, Hilary
Day, Steve Kuhlman, Bertha
and Charles Durbin, Rebecca Terrill,
Susan Snead, the girls
from Warren-Wilson College or Ginger
Campers are welcome. No hookups available. Call if you have
Please do not invite anyone to come
watch and/or audit the course. We do not mean to be
rude but we will, politely and firmly, ask them to leave.
While we are well aware that a big hitch can attract a crowd,
you are paying for private group lessons and visitors
really interfere with learning. There is plenty of time to
do the public stuff, and wed love to have you do it
with us, but later. Thanks.
THE RULES and the way we operate:
RULE: Throughout the class, the instructors
- who will be sharing your driving seat but may not have the
lines in their hands - are always the "Pilot in command"
and students must accept that authority. There is sometimes
not enough time to discuss techniques when driving, so when
an instructor requests action, please do it promptly. Never
fight an instructor's hands on your lines when they are
RULE: Never let go of the lines unless your instructor
clearly says to do so.
RULE: No student may negatively crititcize
the driving technique of another student. The only comments
allowable are "Attaboy!" "Way to go!"
RULE: No spouse may be on the same teaching
vehicle with his/her mate.. until the last day.
All our instructors have different personalities
and styles of communication. However we work hard to teach
you the same basic techniques. Students tell us that we rarely
if ever differ with each other about safety or driving technique.
However if you ever get confused, please ask us to explain.
We have multiple hitches out each day, We do NOT keep track
of who has driven what; so that's the student's responsibility.
If you are only interested in singles and pairs, then just
make sure that you keep getting on the single and pair vehicles,
waiting your turn and then rotating off to another vehicle
and different instructor. Tell us what you are interesed in
and we'll make every effort to hitch the vehicles that work
for everyone's interests.
Twice a day we have "Questions and Observations"
from each student in a group discussion. Please tell us something
you observed and some question that lingers. At the end of
each session, we'll ask "What do you want to drive next?"
The hitch wagons have room to stand just behind the driver
and instructor. That's the very best place to learn, so try
to be there just before and just after your turn to drive.
A recent student suggests: "I found one of the most
useful things I learned was to watch the driver's hands. This
was true whether it was a student driving, or one of the instructors.
Most of us, me included, tended to watch the horses; but watching
the hands is much more informative. You might want to
stress this a bit more. [We agree and we will]. Watching the
traces and the lines is helpful too, but you can sort of see
those around the periphery while watching the hands."
We will set aside a little time (maybe 30 minutes) one nice
day for photography...just a short break... so you can all
take turns sitting behind the 4-up and giving you some bragging
rights for when you get home. We love to teach and drive,
so please don't let us forget!
A FEW TIPS TO GET STARTED
Some students (with desk jobs) are already enrolled in new
health club programs! Wed suggest special work on the
back muscles and on the little, ring, and middle fingers.
In spite of what you might think, your arms will only get
tired if you do it wrong. We teach you to drive draft horses
with the lower back muscles, and not the arm muscles.
There are many ways to hold the lines, and we will show them
to you, but we only drive one way in the class, purely for
standardization and safety reasons. You will be taught and
drive so that the wheel horses (closest to the wagon) lines
come under your little finger, then up and over your thumb,
thence back over the rear of the seat. The swing (middle in
a six-up) team comes under your ring finger and follows the
wheel lines. The leaders come under your middle finger and
follow the swing lines. All lines lay flat together. You will
need to strengthen your grip on these three fingers, particularly.
If you get sore or rub blisters, these will most likely be
between your fingers. Very thin gloves are a good idea for
"We-Play-Sports" sells the
Neumann tackified gloves, which we use ourselves and like a lot. So does "123Tack" at
Neumann tackified gloves
You will also use your voice. In advance of the class, practice
TELLING your horse what to do. Never ask. For example, WHOA
means Stop, do it now, do not move a foot until
I come back next year. WHOA does not
mean Slow Down, it does NOT mean maybe,
either. The team does not get to vote on this matter. This
is important; it could save your life someday. You will be
on the ground in the middle of a four or six, putting a team
together, and they move....so WHOA has to stop
them, and NOW. If you learn nothing else, learn this. Youll
see; for now, believe...
Slow down can be EASY, (Fred says YEAH quietly)
or almost any consistent tone to get their ears back listening
to you. Never use WHOA when you mean Slow. (This
is another good way to get hurt; Fred will hurt you if you
do this. We do not want anyone to teach our horses that Whoa might offer them options!!)
To start, GET UP, WALK UP, WALK
ON, or a Cluck generally works, This is
more of a request, normally, but the request is like one from
your boss - it means now, too. Politeness counts with horses
too. Save the shouted direct order GET UP!!! for
the time you are stopped on the railroad tracks and there
is a big steel dieseley thing rolling your way. In other words,
your voice tone counts, too. With tone you can vary your basic
commands to creep a hitch forward six inches, slowly make
a very tight U-turn, or start out at a quickstep going right
to the trot.
GEE means Im surprised! but
also Step sideways to right, HAW is Step
sideways to left. These commands are not used in forward-moving
turns, only when stepping sideways where the team cannot see
(they wear blinders) and need your emotional support. Seriously.
Same is true when backing. Use "come BAAACK" and
your voice comes into play because they have to learn that
you are there to help them, because they cannot see behind,
either, and need your emotional support. Seriously.
Otherwise, we drive quietly, without nagging the team, but
talking to each other. We encourage you to do the same, as
we believe most folks use their voice much too much at first.
If you don't get it, we keep a roll of duct tape handy!
TROT, means just that. CANTER means
canter, too, but with a draft four or six, its generally
called attempted suicide or a runaway. You will NOT canter
But... you will learn something and most assuredly have fun!
As Ginger Greene says: "...that
was more fun than I have had in years. Every day more fun
than the last. Sitting behind those four beautiful, gentle
giants and having them do what I asked them to is one of the
greatest self-confidence builders I've ever encountered."
We look forward to working with you. Do you
need directions to get here?