Fred Scott, Jr.
(434) 295-4188


LESSON ONE
The RULES ! - and A Few Tips

WELCOME to the BUNDORAN FARM DRIVING SCHOOL. It’s going to be great fun. We look forward to being with you. We will drive, rain or shine, out in the open. It’s 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 day’s 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. It’s 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 Green

Campers are welcome. No hookups available. Call if you have questions.

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 we’d 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 helping/teaching you.

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!" etc.

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! We’d 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 most folks.

"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. You’ll 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 “I’m 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, it’s generally called attempted suicide or a runaway. You will NOT canter our horses.

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?

You can drive a big team, too.
Book a space in our next Driving School.