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Some Driving Questions and Tips

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Stripe13

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I've been driving for about a year now, and I've been absolutely loving it! I have my main show horse Jessica, who really helped me learn how to drive. She was broken for driving before I got her and she took it right in stride once I started driving her again. I love driving Jessica, but I do have a few questions about how to make both Jess and I become better. I know the basics, however I come from a western riding horse background and I'm sure theres more to it than just the basics. I want to start showing in more breed shows this upcoming year, and I really need to get more refined in my driving training XD Sadly I don't have any advanced mini trainers I can get lessons from in my area, so I decided to ask here!

Here are my questions:

How do you get a driving horse to soften into the bit?

How do you get a driving horse into the right bend? Is this even important? (I would hope so?)

How do you get a driving horse to collect with its whole body?

How do you get your mini to drive with their hind end instead of their front?

how can you tell if your mini is nicely collected/driving with their hind end?

What exactly is "bridling up" your mini?

I've noticed that Jessica likes to "hang" on the bit while turning and will sometimes counter-bend. She will do this both in the cart and ground driving. How can I help with this?

I know judges like to look for extension from the front end and engagement of the hocks in the back while in driving classes. I'm planning to show Jessica in the western country pleasure/classic pleasure classes at breed shows, but she doesn't have the super long and graceful strides that most of the horses showing in these classes have. She also really doesn't have the fancy extension that the other breed classes have, however she does have a pretty nice low neck. I know most movement is mainly based off of conformation, but Is there a way to improve her movement and get nicer strides?

how can you work on headset with a mini? Jess normally has a nice low headset however sometimes she likes to bring her neck up and her nose out, especially when she'c clipped. How can I work on this?

are there any more advanced tips I should be aware of that you can think of?

Do you have any tips for breed show driving? (especially trail driving and western country pleasure/classic pleasure)
 

MajorClementine

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I have all the same questions. I can make my minis go where I want and go for a long time when they are in good condition. BUT... I would not do well in a show ring. Teaching a horse to drive vs teaching a horse to use it's body correctly I am clueless. Following and hoping you get some good answers.
 

Dragon Hill

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I'm not a "trainer" so you will get better answers from one, but all that starts on the ground. Round pen work, long lining, and ground driving, even just leading. To get collection, extension, bending properly, even being on the bit and head carriage, it all starts with getting your horse in shape and teaching him/her to use all their muscles. Probably the most important, but most overlooked, are the back muscles. The best exercise that I can think of for the back is walking up hill with the head no higher than the whithers. Serpentines and figure eights are wonderful bending exercises. Do you have someone that can video your horse working, or can you set up a camera on a bucket or tripod? You'll need to see what they are doing to see what they need to work on. If you don't know what needs improving, a good video will help, and some trainers can/will help by video.
 

Cayuse

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True collection coming from the back end is difficult, I'm not even going to try and answer since it is something I struggle with.
Bending is easier, I have had luck by lightly holding the outside line to support them and "squeezing" or "pulsing" the inside line until the horse softens their head/neck and gives to you. Once they "give" reward immediately. Once I can get them to soften and give up front, I cue with the whip at the girth while asking with the lines to have them bend their middle. I do this ground driving, but to be honest, I have had better results asking in harness as the shafts work in my favor to keep them from getting squirrely. I have no idea how correct this is lol, some of it I carried over from riding. Also, when I work on bending when ground driving, I'll work on keeping them very straight along the rail and go DEEP into the corner, almost nose to wall, asking for a bend just as they HAVE to turn. This seems to help set them up for success.
 

Marsha Cassada

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I have all the same questions. I can make my minis go where I want and go for a long time when they are in good condition. BUT... I would not do well in a show ring. Teaching a horse to drive vs teaching a horse to use it's body correctly I am clueless. Following and hoping you get some good answers.
This is pretty much where I am. I have found that hill work will teach a horse to use his hind quarters better. And ground work will teach him to be aware of his body. Most horses I have first brought home have zero clue how to use their bodies. It's gratifying, and interesting, to watch them evolve and figure it out. I have had classes and instructors try to teach me collection, but I cannot seem to wrap my brain around it.
 

Cayuse

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Someone once told me "Collection is sorta like if the back end works properly the front end follows" 😄 She could get a string bean to collect, but something was lost somewhere in the explaination of how!
 

Marsha Cassada

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Someone once told me "Collection is sorta like if the back end works properly the front end follows" 😄 She could get a string bean to collect, but something was lost somewhere in the explaination of how!
I know what you mean. I had a couple of trainers drive Dapper Dan and he looked like a fancy circus horse! But I cannot do it myself. I think there is an authority that transfers from the driver to the horse and he responds to it. It's a quality that I don't have. The same thing happened when I was taking dog obedience classes. My dog did just fine with me, but when the trainer took her, she looked like a Westminster winner.
 

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