Edelweiss Training Journal

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Edelweiss

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I thought it would be fun to start a journal for my driving horses here, specifically our journey into CDE and Carriage! I think a few members on here do it, but for those who don't know, CDE is the driving version of 3 day eventing with driven dressage, a cross country marathon and timed cones course as your jumper equivalent. It is very challenging, but extremely fun! This is the horse I will be competing with. He'll mature at 42" which puts us in the small pony division and is 3yrs old, so the perfect age to start. He'll be coming here in a few weeks and I am very excited to start working with him!
Screenshot 2022-06-01 16.16.08.png
At the breed shows, with AMHA and/or AMHR, I will be trying carriage pleasure with my country horse. I am currently working to accustom him to the full carriage harness.
I also have a mare who will be competing in country and roadster. She may even be able to be an ever elusive single horse down the road before she joins my broodmare band.
Screenshot 2022-03-26 11.02.16.png
This was before I really started getting her into shape for halter, but she will also show in halter, hunter, jumper and obstacle.
PSX_20220402_222734.jpg
 

Edelweiss

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@Willow Flats I love your pictures from them! There is so much to learn, but I am looking forward to attempting it.
And thank you! That is what I strive for, except posture is the hardest to remember!! But I studied quite a bit of dressage before I got into minis and I try to incorporate that into my training so they are truly collected with steady, but light contact. This is what my pinto looks like this year. He has been driving for 2yrs now, but since I didn't bring him out until summer of last year, we have made the most progress over this past winter. I am hoping to get him to Nationals this year. I did have someone tell me he really should do carriage as he is truly collected and I only use a check in the ring where it is required. We are going to try, but he does not like the full carriage harness so that will have to be a future project. I mainly want to keep him happy, so he will probably stick to country pleasure.
Screenshot 2022-04-19 16.59.30.png
 

Willow Flats

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He looks great! How tall is he? And you are so right about the dressage. I have introduced several riding friends to driving and the ones who have the dressage background take right to it with their rein handling.

I have been backing my horse and then immediately asking for a trot forward to get him to engage his hind end. I have been told that collection starts from the rear end and not the front. Any tips you have are greatly appreciated!!!!!
 

Edelweiss

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He is beautiful. You look very good together :)
Thank you!!

He looks great! How tall is he? And you are so right about the dressage. I have introduced several riding friends to driving and the ones who have the dressage background take right to it with their rein handling.

I have been backing my horse and then immediately asking for a trot forward to get him to engage his hind end. I have been told that collection starts from the rear end and not the front. Any tips you have are greatly appreciated!!!!!
@Willow Flats He is 34". Yes, knowing dressage helps a lot!

YES!! 100%! You cannot achieve true collection by cranking your horse's head into the proper position. That's why so many driving horses in the breed shows are hollow in the back and not truly working off their hindquarters, which they should especially be doing in the single and country division. (I consider country the closest to classical dressage.)
I'm probably going to write way too much, lol, but here are some things I've learned.
For collection, your horse must initiate the contact, you can ask, but they have to come to you. It's not noticeable, but I communicate to my horse almost exclusively through the reins, I call them my telegraph wires because I am feeling what they are wanting and they are feeling what I am asking. One way to know if they are truly collected is when you have that steady light contact and slowly release it. If your horse is on the bit they will lower their head looking to reestablish that contact. It is one of the most amazing feelings when you see that.
I could drive the pinto in Western or country depending on how I collect him. I always warm him up by letting him stretch "long and low" before I ask him to shift his balance back and really work off his hindquarters. I only back if he bounces or skips in the trot. He's a very eager horse and we work a lot on relaxing, so after the back of a few steps, we will walk. I think it's important to establish your connection at the walk first, then add speed and you'll see them power off with their hips when you ask, which is also amazing to see!
I have an unspoken rule in my training. With any training, you will find that you are automatically avoiding things, for example your horse speeds up in turns so you try not to turn much. I think everyone has some area that they know their horse is weak in or it's simply not their favorite. Usually it comes out before your pattern at a show. You just know your horse isn't good at something in there. I try to find that at home and face everything we are unsure about. As soon as I think, oh I hope he doesn't do ____ In this or I know he isn't the best at this, I am going to go straight to that and work on it. It really fills any holes in your training and gives you so much confidence in your horse.
With that in mind, half halts are your friend in collecting. Ask and give, ask and give, keep them forward but relaxed. A relaxed horse will be more willing to come to your hands and initiate that connection.
It's a long slow process but so worth it! I hope this helps!
 

Willow Flats

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@Edelweiss Thank you so much!!! Good information! I have been doing the half halts, give and take because he was hanging on the bit and we have gotten past that, but there is so much more to work on! It is rewarding when some new thing clicks so I don't mind the practicing. This guy is definitely not a forward horse like my other driving horse.
 

Edelweiss

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You are welcome! @Willow Flats ! The less forward ones do take more patience overall, but they get there too.
There is so much that goes into collection! It is one of my favorite things to work on. Of course I love everything! Hunter, jumper and obstacle are one of our main focuses and a lot goes into them as well. Halter is the one thing I don't enjoy as much as the others.
 

Edelweiss

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First drive for Amigo here tonight. He did very well, was quick to relax so it went well.
I happened on this recently and while I've seen it before, it's been awhile so I was slightly surprised to see that this pyramid exactly describes how I warm up my driving horses because the first things I look for are pure gaits, flat footed 4 beat walk, even trot with no skipping, while I wait for them to relax. Once they have, I start to ask for connection and once we have it, I ask for more energy which progresses to collection and the proper headset, while they are maintaining straightness.
Obviously with a green horse, we work on them one at a time, but it is fun to see the steps work together in warming up a finished horse.
 

Willow Flats

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First drive for Amigo here tonight. He did very well, was quick to relax so it went well.
I happened on this recently and while I've seen it before, it's been awhile so I was slightly surprised to see that this pyramid exactly describes how I warm up my driving horses because the first things I look for are pure gaits, flat footed 4 beat walk, even trot with no skipping, while I wait for them to relax. Once they have, I start to ask for connection and once we have it, I ask for more energy which progresses to collection and the proper headset, while they are maintaining straightness.
Obviously with a green horse, we work on them one at a time, but it is fun to see the steps work together in warming up a finished horse.
This pyramid is a great illustration. Thank you for posting it! We were doing better with impulsion, but now my guy is starting to slack again. The temps are rising here so I need to start working with him earlier.
How do you ask for impulsion? I cluck, but when I don't get a response I tap his side with the whip. Sometimes when I can't get a good forward trot I ask for a canter and then transition back to the trot so then he's nice and forward. That's probably not the best strategy though. Should I stick with the backing and asking for the walk to get him using his hind end?
We are a long way from collection!
 

Edelweiss

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This pyramid is a great illustration. Thank you for posting it! We were doing better with impulsion, but now my guy is starting to slack again. The temps are rising here so I need to start working with him earlier.
How do you ask for impulsion? I cluck, but when I don't get a response I tap his side with the whip. Sometimes when I can't get a good forward trot I ask for a canter and then transition back to the trot so then he's nice and forward. That's probably not the best strategy though. Should I stick with the backing and asking for the walk to get him using his hind end?
We are a long way from collection!
You're welcome.....I'm glad it helped! Depending on the horse, impulsion is usually a fairly easy one, at least with mine, lol. Relaxing is the big thing with them. I guess you could say I teach impulsion outside of ground driving. All of my driving horses start out being free lunged in the round pen and I teach them to keep to a trot until I can push, push, push, with my voice, (clucking,) and they keep extending at the trot instead of breaking into a canter. I save cantering for very advanced horses. I would not allow it until they are collected at a trot so that they can really develop their different speeds of trot. I've found that they try to cheat at a trot more if they are allowed to canter too soon.
Also, when you slow down from a canter to a trot, you are going to lose impulsion if they don't already have their "buttons" for it.
If you are trying to get more effort from him and don't do it already, I would break up his routine a bit with some free lunging and get him to extend at the trot. That should help a lot.
My CDE pony prospect should come next weekend, so I'll get to document his progress in collection here and hopefully that will be a good reference! I am looking forward to starting him!
 

Edelweiss

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Thank you Edelweiss! You are right. He does cheat. Has zero problem with relaxation too. Lol. I have two driving horses which are by nature the exact opposite! Looking so forward to following your thread. Excited for your new guy! (I'll go back to the lunging.)
Lol, yes they are smart that way! I let Amigo canter once and it took weeks before he would get into a true working trot again. Relaxing is the biggest thing with him, but he's been doing rather well with consistent works.
Had a great drive this morning with him! Love his frame in this extended trot!
Screenshot_20220629-131516.png
 

Edelweiss

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It is interesting that there appears to be some slack in the strap from the breast collar over the withers. Is that a result of his nice collection?
No, it's not. Good eye. I noticed and stopped to fix it after the video. The right rein was under the end of the breastcollar buckle strap so that was pulling it up. I am not a fan of nylon, lol. It is always either unbuckling itself or the straps are catching on each other. But he enjoys the wide back saddle as he's still not happy with breeching.
 
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Silver City Heritage Farmstead

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Ahhhh, that explains why it looked as if he was pushing his left shoulder forward and bending to the right.

I couldn't figure out the slack either, and the left trace seemed loose. I'm glad people post pictures like this, then explain the solution. It helps me to catch things with my own horses, as well as what I might be seeing when out with others.

Thank you!
 

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