Conformation

The ideal carriage horse should be up in front and have a good length of rein. He should have strong hindquarters, and a powerful second thigh. He should move with his hocks well underneath him.

Temperament

He should be people-orientated, and not be suspicious when led in hand or handled. He should not be nervous of his surroundings or particularly spooky.

Size

Approximately 1.55 metres is a good size, but obviously it depends on what your particular aim is.

Movement

Your horse’s movement should be free, with no brushing or overreaching. He should have fairly showy movement with a good knee action. However, his knees should not lift higher than the length of the stride he takes. He must cover ground.

Breed

There are horses that are bred specifically to pull carriages, so it makes sense to choose a carriage horse that is either Warmblood cross, Hackney, Vlamperd, Friesian or any of the other draught breeds. Many different breeds have been trained to harness – so again it is up to the owner to decide what his specific interest is.

Age

Some horses start their training as early as 18 months old, but at this stage his bones and joints are still developing and fusing, and his muscles are under-developed. Ideally he should be backed much later, only starting his first ridden work at four at the earliest. His driven work would then start when he is at least five years of age, but preferably much later.