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Training Your Horse

If your horse has never worn bells, give him a chance to become comfortable and relaxed while wearing his bells at home before you go for that first careful drive. Take it slow and easy! Bells are supposed to be fun for everyone, including your horse.

Horse wearing bells with sleigh

A calm, well trained horse. Vintage photograph

To get started, wear the bells yourself when grooming and feeding for a few days. If your horse acts like you are the original "Boogey Monster", don't get mad. You're just asking too much of him too soon. Make the task simpler -- carry a single bell as you work.

When your horse gets used to you jingling that one bell around him, work toward being able to rub and jingle the bell all over his body without him moving away. Gradually work up to rubbing him with the entire strap of bells.

When being "sacked out" with the bells is no longer scary to your horse, put the bells on him when he's in a safe, small area, such as a round pen. Let him move around freely wearing the bells until he relaxes. Ground drive him with the bells in the round pen, then in a more open, yet safe area.

Only when your horse is completely relaxed, even bored, wearing his bells should you consider hitching him up for a drive in the pasture or on a quiet road. Take it easy on that first drive -- make sure your horse is accepting, comfortable, and relaxed.

Remember that other horses may be frightened by the bells your horse is wearing. It may be wise to leave your bells at home if you will be driving with strange horses close by, such as at a show, trail ride, or parade.