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What to look for in a trainer - driving

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fourhorses

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I'm a bit nervous about some equipment that I am being requested to buy for my "totally green to harness" mini. My expectations aren't for anything but my horse to be happy at his job (although secretly I think he'd be a star!
) . He's 4 in a few weeks. very enthusiastic and always ready to try something new. He's so much fun and I've been owned by him since he was 3 months old.
He's naturally high headed and has such a snappy little trot.


When a horse is in training is it OK to ask for turn-out or when they are in training do they automatically get stalled no exceptions?

How often do you feel it is appropriate to visit your horse in training?

For a naturally high-headed horse what is your preferred driving discipline?

Do you find headset a must for just your pets/putz around the farm only? Is this something that can come later with months of fun driving or must they be tied down from the start? Obviously they have to keep their mind on the job at hand so is there a compromise?!

Is it an oxymoron to say that tying down teaches flexion? I am really freaking out on tying him "to each side & back to teach flexibility and placing a proper headset." Would most green horses accept this or is this something to work toward when there is no time constraint?

When looking for a trainer do you find "the one" when you immediately walk on the training property and feel comfortable and know your horse is going to be safe or do you have to go home and think it over - alot?

I'm probably being silly but I've got the vision of Black Beauty & Ginger's heads being lifted and Ginger freaking out and picture that happening to my horse.


Is it OK to ask a lot of questions and be honest about what I will not tolerate?

How many months would you want my horse to make sure we both had the hang of it? I'm a newbie also!

On the flip side what do trainers want from the owners?
 
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disneyhorse

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I'm a bit nervous about some equipment that I am being requested to buy for my "totally green to harness" mini. My expectations aren't for anything but my horse to be happy at his job (although secretly I think he'd be a star!
) . He's 4 in a few weeks. very enthusiastic and always ready to try something new. He's so much fun and I've been owned by him since he was 3 months old.
He's naturally high headed and has such a snappy little trot.


When a horse is in training is it OK to ask for turn-out or when they are in training do they automatically get stalled no exceptions?

YES YOU CAN ASK FOR TURN OUT. THIS IS NOT A MODERN SHETLAND WITH WEIGHTED SHOES OR SOMETHING THAT WOULD PREVENT ABILITY TO TURN OUT.

How often do you feel it is appropriate to visit your horse in training?

AS OFTEN AS TRAINER WANTS TO GIVE YOU LESSONS. IF FACILITY IS PRIVATE, MIGHT BE "OBNOXIOUS" TO TRAINER TO JUST SHOW UP AND HANG AROUND ALL THE TIME.

For a naturally high-headed horse what is your preferred driving discipline?

DEPENDS ON THE ACTION IN THE LEGS ALONG WITH THE HEADSET

Do you find headset a must for just your pets/putz around the farm only? Is this something that can come later with months of fun driving or must they be tied down from the start? Obviously they have to keep their mind on the job at hand so is there a compromise?!

NO, ONLY IMPORTANT FOR THE SHOW RING. OF COURSE, YOU WANT PROPER HEADSET (not behind the bit, stargazing, etc.)

Is it an oxymoron to say that tying down teaches flexion? I am really freaking out on tying him "to each side & back to teach flexibility and placing a proper headset." Would most green horses accept this or is this something to work toward when there is no time constraint?

THIS IS JUST A TRAINING TECHNIQUE. ALL HORSES RESPOND TO IT DIFFERENTLY. NOT NECESSARY FOR "FUN" DRIVING.

When looking for a trainer do you find "the one" when you immediately walk on the training property and feel comfortable and know your horse is going to be safe or do you have to go home and think it over - alot?

THIS DEPENDS ON YOUR BACKGROUND AND EXPERIENCE. if you have a lot of experience, have seen a lot of trainers and their techniques, then you will know what will mesh with your style and what you want. If you are new to horses/training/etc. it might help to have an experienced person evaluate for you and get recommendations. And then think it over.

I'm probably being silly but I've got the vision of Black Beauty & Ginger's heads being lifted and Ginger freaking out and picture that happening to my horse.


CHECKS ARE NOT BAD!


Is it OK to ask a lot of questions and be honest about what I will not tolerate?

ABSOLUTELY.

How many months would you want my horse to make sure we both had the hang of it? I'm a newbie also!

GIVE YOUR HORSE 90 DAYS. GIVE YOURSELF AN ADDITIONAL 30 DAYS TO LEARN TO DRIVE HIM.

On the flip side what do trainers want from the owners?


PAYMENT ON TIME, EQUIPMENT ASKED FOR, UNDERSTANDING IF HORSE DOES NOT TAKE TO THE TRAINING (not every horse is cut out to be a driving horse unfortunately)
 

JourneysEnd

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I'm a bit nervous about some equipment that I am being requested to buy for my "totally green to harness" mini. My expectations aren't for anything but my horse to be happy at his job (although secretly I think he'd be a star!
) . He's 4 in a few weeks. very enthusiastic and always ready to try something new. He's so much fun and I've been owned by him since he was 3 months old.
He's naturally high headed and has such a snappy little trot.


When a horse is in training is it OK to ask for turn-out or when they are in training do they automatically get stalled no exceptions?

How often do you feel it is appropriate to visit your horse in training?

For a naturally high-headed horse what is your preferred driving discipline?

Do you find headset a must for just your pets/putz around the farm only? Is this something that can come later with months of fun driving or must they be tied down from the start? Obviously they have to keep their mind on the job at hand so is there a compromise?!

Is it an oxymoron to say that tying down teaches flexion? I am really freaking out on tying him "to each side & back to teach flexibility and placing a proper headset." Would most green horses accept this or is this something to work toward when there is no time constraint?

When looking for a trainer do you find "the one" when you immediately walk on the training property and feel comfortable and know your horse is going to be safe or do you have to go home and think it over - alot?

I'm probably being silly but I've got the vision of Black Beauty & Ginger's heads being lifted and Ginger freaking out and picture that happening to my horse.


Is it OK to ask a lot of questions and be honest about what I will not tolerate?

How many months would you want my horse to make sure we both had the hang of it? I'm a newbie also!

On the flip side what do trainers want from the owners?
How secure are you with this trainer ?

IMO you have every reason to "freak out" over tying him to teach flexibility. If I tie your head down, will you learn flexibility ?

We teach a horse to yield to pressure. The reward for the yield is the release. If there is no release the horse learns nothing.

I don't care what anybody says.

Yes, be honest with what you will not tolerate.

You know I can answer your concerns.

Read "Carriage Driving" A logical approach through dressage training by Heike Bean and Sarah Blanchard.

You won't understand everything in the begining, but you'll know what to accept and what you don't want done to your horse. I reread this book twice a year.

PLEASE don't let someone ruin your horse for you.

If you go with a trainer, let them know you will be showing up to watch. Your horse, you're paying.

It takes about 90 days with a calm horse to be my opinion of green broke.

What part of the country are you in ?

Have you asked for referrals ?
 
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fourhorses

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I'm a dressage rider so the beauty between horse & rider is very, very important to me. Having fun is way more important than a perfect 20m circle.

I've also seen dressage training done with the crank & spank method and I personally know a western pleasure gal who ties her horses nose to the side, in the stall or arena, and leaves them there for hours to "break them" of any bad habit with WP headset. I preferred to take a bit longer and did everything in KK snaffle.

Yeah, I'm scared for my horse with anyone until they convince me otherwise. I do rescue also so keeping him sane and healthy is important to me. If they do right by my horse I will forever be grateful and a devoted, life-long client who pays her bill on time and do as trainer says as long as trainer is on same wave length. And I alsol promise to try showing if trainer promises to laugh when horse acts silly because he's gosh darn cute, realizes confusion over naughty and not punish him in a dramatic way.

Don't want weights, don't want severe bits. Want him to stay the same IF driving is his choice and that is come running when called to see what exciting thing we're going to do and be glad to do it!

I'm in SW Ohio and will be going to Equine Affaire so will hunt down the book and get some reading in Friday night!

I'm way out of my element with driving and I don't want to make any mistakes with his training. God willing he'll be here another 30 years and that's a long time for him to carry a grudge if I do him wrong.
 

Fred

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If you aren't totally secure with the trainer DON'T send the horse. It is [or should be] a working partnership to get your horse the way YOU want. Get references. If you want the horse to have turn out specify that. As for equipment question the trainer to the why do you need it and what it is used for. Most trainers are happy to help new owners to learn about their horse if they aren't then red flags should go up,and it is fine to disagree with a trainer. Ask questions, ask a lot of questions there are no stupid ones. 90 days is just enough to be green broke on a calm horse like Vickie said. Watch the trainer and watch how the horses are treated at home and at a show and when they think no one is looking. Do the horses work like they really enjoy it? and most of all the trainer should be totally honest and forthcoming if he or she doesn't think the horse can cut it in a reasonable length of time. On the trainers side the bills should be paid in a timely fashion, equipment that is needed for your particular horse should be provided. there are some really good talented trainers out there but there are some bad ones too. Taking the time and looking can really make the difference.
 

AceyHorse

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You are definately doing the right thing by doing research before you send your horse off.

I think you should be able to visit your horse as much as you like provided you ring ahead and make a time suitable for everyone. That way you can check on your horses mental and physical welfare, alarm bells will go off if something is amiss

If you are unsure of any of the trainers methods, ask for the theory behind them, and see if the answer sits right with you. Some methods can look a bit 'uncomfortable' but once your hear the theory it helps you understand. Although all methods can be abused so just be carefull.

Have a look at some of the other horses going through training, how do you think they look, happy and healthy and well or stressed, depressed and generally flat.

Don't be afraid to ask a million and one questions and as others have said here, if any alarm bells go off or it doesn't feel right DON"T SEND YOUR HORSE THERE. Trust your instincts.

Anna
 

fourhorses

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Thanks so much for the replies. Much appreciated.

My husband is buying me a round pen
so I think I'll start out lunging both directions, voice commands, bitting him, etc. and wait for formal training until later this summer when he's got an idea of what's expected of him. I think I can get him as far as long-lining and if I get him comfortable with that he will just ease into the next step thinking he's all that.
The trainer I've been talking to is a Champion in her own right and a younger trainer. She's a super nice gal and I do think I'll be able to work with her and actually look forward to it. I've been to her farm but the weather hasn't permitted any driving or much of anything else. Don't think we're in a drought anymore!

I know there is a place and time for all training techniques and I hope I didn't ruffle any feathers including the trainer if she lurks on this board.
I've mellowed over the years and just want to do things "casual"!

He's also a bit spoiled and I need to tweek a few things so he won't be in such shock at a trainer's farm. He's used to a 16 x 16ish stall that he shares with my other mini and a large attached run and then usually t/o in a pasture just for my minis. I need to split that stall in half so he gets used to a mini stall. I shamefully admit that he ground ties for just about anything but that's it for tying and that isn't acceptable in most situations.


I'm really looking forward to watching and learning this summer. We look forward to meeting some of you!

Kristie & Kickapoo's Thunder Moon
 

sfmini

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I am about 99% sure of who the trainer is that you are sending your horse to and you will do fine. She does a good job with horses, she started two of mine and they are great.

As for tying the head down, that is not what she is doing at all, what she is doing, and I do, and Mike McCabe does, is put on the bitting rig and one side rein not tight and let the horse learn to give to the pressure. As the horse progresses, the rein does get shorter, working on flexibility. This work is done in the stall and roundpen both. Nothing cruel, your horse will have a light mouth and be very responsive to the bit.

They do just fine in her smaller stalls, don't worry about that.

The head is ALWAYS taken to the side, NEVER DOWN.

I used to ride and train and teach dressage and one thing that was really pushed on me was you never work a horse on the lunge (or round pen) without a bitting rig and sidereins or you are just chasing it around. Teaching the horse to have a 'headset' is rounding the entire back, bringing the rear forward and under the body and balancing the horse. If you don't work on flexibility, the horse will be either left handed or right handed in the way it travels and in muscle development.

I have been in minis for over 20 years and have known this trainer since she was a tot, she does a good job.
 

whitney

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Here's an idea..... AND you get more bang for your buck. Find a local instructor and take lessons with the horse. The horses learns and SO DO YOU. Makes a better team IMO.
 

fourhorses

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I woke up excited for me & my horse!

I'm very confident my trainer will compromise with me. I've already asked her a ton of questions and she has always been very patient with me, including the bitting rig. I'm still not comfortable with it at this time but she is good gal and my best friend used to be her 4-H advisor.

I'll never feel comfortable with Moonie being restrained until I know how much he can handle mentally. I've never had to go there with him yet.

He's a quick study and lunging him for 5 minutes or so each way for a couple weeks to help get in shape and learn voice commands on something other than a lead rope will do him no harm and he'll have to be under control. I believe he was going to be started that way anyway as he's never truly been worked. He's also going to try obstacles for some variation.


It is my opinion only that getting him used to a smaller stall is a must. He'll be in good hands but it is still going to a huge change for him and colic is a concern. If I get him used to a bit more confinement in a stall he'll be less worried. I just know how he is and this change will cause him stress for the first day or so - there won't be any getting around that. He's not used to travel and he's been with his buddy for all but 3 months of his life. Home is all he knows.

I'll always have my riding training in the back of my mind and that is a horse that is through from front to back, flexing at the poll. I expected to tap on a rein and get an immediate response. I just never looked at it as teaching a headset but training into it. I had a huge pet peeve with tight necks. I realize how much I miss the beauty of dressage!

Thanks so much for all opinions!
 

fourhorses

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Here's an idea..... AND you get more bang for your buck. Find a local instructor and take lessons with the horse. The horses learns and SO DO YOU. Makes a better team IMO.
That's a fabulous idea and so doable!
I'm sure my trainer will agree and we can start with obstacles at her farm, get him used to traveling AND the new barn! And she'll get to meet my horse and size the little begger up! He won't know he's even IN training.

An added bonus is he'll just be 1/2 hour away from home and our seasonal campground site.

I'm just giddy now. Thanks to all for walking me through this.
 
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susanne

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The best trainer in the world is not right for you and your horse if you are uncomfortable with their techniques/approach, or if you cannot talk openly and honestly with them.

There are many trainers out there, and as many different approaches. ADS-style driving is quite different from breed show driving (in many ways more dressage oriented), so a lot depends upon the type of driving you plan to do.

I totally appreciate your concern for your horse. Some trainers respect the individuality of different horses; others do not.

You know your horse and what you want. I would interview a number of trainers and watch them train if at all possible, then choose one that you are comfortable with, can trust with your horse, and whose approach is in line with yours.

And if anyone makes you feel bad about asking lots of questions, run in the other direction.
 

sfmini

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The bitting rig is taking the place of your seat and legs and hands and he will be trained into it, the side rein is set with barely a contact until your horse stands quietly with no resistance. It is training into it, just a switch from what you are used to as a rider.

One suggestion that will help you understand this is to go to Mike McCabe's clinic this month and just watch, listen, and you will learn LOADS.

Your horse is more resilient than you are giving him credit for, he will be fine with the smaller stall as I know in that barn the horses can see each other easily, and in some of the stalls, horses that get along can touch and be buddies.
 

fourhorses

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Thanks so much for the clarification sfminis. I understand that my gal, you & Mike McCabe are experienced in bitting rigs but that hasn't changed my mind in regards to using it on this particular horse! It's no biggie, I'm not claiming it to be cruel, just different than what I am used to in my horse world
. Add that to the fact that I have no human children and I'm just a worried horse mom.


I'm 2.5 miles from MTC and won't miss the Suday clinic on harness/cart parts. I'll send a copy of this thread to my gal so she again knows my concerns and can clarify some things. The words I used earlier were her words so maybe she can explain it in a different way than tying down his head.

I know my horse is a tough guy and will be fine. And I have been inside the training barn and know her set-up and where stalls are located. I see absolutely nothing wrong with being concerned about major changes in his routine and training if it is quite different than what he is used to. Of course he'll get used to a new routine but I like to have as many bases covered as possible. Training is not cheap and as a newbie I'm in for equipment also and if I can make sure he's comfortable in new surroundings that'll save me more than money.
 

hobbyhorse23

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sfmini said:
The head is ALWAYS taken to the side, NEVER DOWN.
Teaching the horse to have a 'headset' is rounding the entire back, bringing the rear forward and under the body and balancing the horse. If you don't work on flexibility, the horse will be either left handed or right handed in the way it travels and in muscle development.
That's true, but there's more to being flexible than the ability to bring the head around to the side. What you're really going for is a horse who can elevate his back and is supple enough on both sides to allow the muscles to swing and move freely so that energy from the hindquarters can be transmitted to the forehand and recycled back again. What bothers me about the bitting rig approach is that as the reins are tightened and a second rein is put in place the horses I've seen have a tendency to shorten their necks and assume a vertical head position instead of moving correctly through their backs. It seems to me this is precisely because they've never been allowed or taught to reach down. That long low reaching frame is how the young or green horse learns to balance himself and makes it easy for him to elevate and to step under. For that reason I much prefer to see a horse moved into sliding sidereins after that initial loose single siderein has taught him to give as they will nuture that rounded frame and allow the horse to balance himself without the fixed hold of a siderein. He will build (correct!) muscle in this way and become strong enough to hold a higher frame, at which point I suppose you could put him back into fixed side reins if you really wanted to.

I don't know, I think the truth of it is that the words "bitting rig" bother me!
:DOH! They imply strapping a horse into an artificial appliance and I associate that with something false, stiff, or inflexible. Especially when a full bitting rig in minis so often includes a check so the horse learns not to move out of the position you put him in. I want my horse to learn to be MORE flexible, MORE supple, and to become strong and soft at the same time so he can do whatever I ask him to rather than just hold an outline. Thus I have a gut level objection to the idea of a bitting "rig" per say rather than a set of sliding sidereins helping to guide the horse to balance. That's a personal thing but it's how I feel. Everybody's different.

The bitting rig is taking the place of your seat and legs and hands and he will be trained into it, the side rein is set with barely a contact until your horse stands quietly with no resistance. It is training into it, just a switch from what you are used to as a rider.
Ah, but a seat and leg and hands are always giving and rewarding the horse! Side reins don't. I have no objection to using one loose to start with or a set of two to lunge a correctly finished horse but I really don't like using them to teach the horse how he should carry himself. That's the human's job, not a piece of tack that can't give.

ANYWAY.... *LOL* You've gotten some great advice here about how to choose a good trainer and I think Susanne said it best. Trust your gut. Too many people talk themselves into something they're not comfortable with because it sounds logical or they can't think of a "good enough" reason not to do it and then feel awful when it turns out to be a bad situation and the horse gets hurt. Why don't people listen to the warnings their higher selves are trying so hard to give them?!
Your gut is there for a reason. Pay attention to it.

Here's another hint: If something looks uncomfortable for the horse, IT IS! Don't let a good explanation talk you into something you know in your heart is wrong for you and your horse. That's a real sickness our society suffers from these days; we eat food because it's on our plate or it's "time to eat" rather than because we're hungry, suffer through 50 years of jobs we hate because it's "what grownups do," and make our kids miserable because we can't imagine any other way to school or raise them. And we wonder why there's a problem with obesity, suicide, and general rudeness? Hello, crazy much?!?!
Find another way.

I think your horse is very lucky in how he lives at home and it's crazy to make him miserable at home to prepare him for being miserable everywhere else. Nope, no way. There's a difference between being spoiled and being lucky- if he's spoiled, then fix that. If not then leave him alone!
(And no, I'm not saying stalling horses is cruel. Only that a bigger stall with a friend is of course better.)

I think the idea of starting your boy at home and taking him out for lessons is an excellent one. Perhaps you'll still want the trainer to do his actual starting in harness but he'll now be used to the environment there, used to leaving home, used to having tack on him and being asked to do something, all those very important things. I think you are exactly right to be concerned about him from how you've described his home situation and don't let anyone convince you you're worrying too much! YOU KNOW YOUR HORSE. There is nothing wrong with taking your time or with asking questions and moving on if the answers don't suit you. While I do respect a trainer's privacy and right to insist you to call in advance before showing up on their property, I would not send my horse anywhere that I was not allowed to drop in and see the horse and I would make sure I did so without warning at least once. I want to see how my horse is being cared for when they think I'm not around.


And I also promise to try showing if trainer promises to laugh when horse acts silly because he's gosh darn cute, realizes confusion over naughty
It sounds like you've already got your head in exactly the right place and know what you should be looking for.
Find a trainer who laughs at her horses but still gives them discipline, whose horses rush up to her in the paddock and beg to be the first one harnessed, and whose horses look happy and eager once they're driving. They should stand relaxed when allowed to and move off smoothly, looking animated but not jumpy. If I see rolling eyes or eyewhites, especially on a green horse, that's a sign to me that something's not right.

Good luck!

Leia
 

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