Olof Larsson is the Manager and Trainer at Chester Weber’s Live Oak Farm Driving Division in Ocala Florida. The Swedish born driver and trainer has been an integral part of Live Oak and Team Weber’s outstanding success the last 10 years. Olof and his wife Stacey also own and operate Hidden Acres Dressage in Ocala where they develop and show all levels of dressage show horses.
Read Olof’s three key points on how to best select a horse to fit into a world class competition four in hand team.
Temperament is very important when it comes to selecting a horse for a 4 in hand team. Obviously, the horse has to be willing to work well with other horses. A horse with bad vices such as kicking or biting, would not only be a problem, but more of a detriment to the rest of the team. As a professional in the sport of combined driving, I prefer a very forward horse. This makes it easier on both the horse and the driver, as a driver only has his voice and a whip as an aid, as opposed to a rider that has leg and seat aids to get the horse forward. In my opinion, a good 4 in hand horse should be able to go both in the lead and the wheel of the carriage. Naturally the horse will prove to you which position he shows the most the talent for. When you have 4 horses that have the ability to go right and left sides, lead and wheel you have endless possibilities.
While movement is a matter of personal preference, you must pick a horse with movement that matches the rest of the team. For example, if you have horses with a lot of knee action, you should find a horse that will compliment the others. In the world of combined driving, it is clear that everyone is looking for the movement with a “wow” factor, but it is important to remember that a horse must be able to cover ground. Another important point to remember when searching for movement, the horse must be able to walk a minimum of 7 kilometers per hour or the horse has no future as a competitive 4 in hand driving horse.
Conformation and Size
A good conformation of a typical sport horse is essential because it enables the horse to work correctly and gives him a better chance at staying sound in a very demanding sport. However, there are some incredible athletes with not so impressive conformation that have proven to be very competitive.
To give a uniform look, the size of the horse being selected would have to match the rest of the team. While some variations are acceptable, too much variation in size could lead to problems in equipment fittings, such as your harness.