Once in a while we are each fortunate to come across a person we can learn good things from. People we can discuss things with, sort out answers and advance in our quest for knowledge. When you have several people like that in your 'arsenal' you are fortunate and blessed.
With driving there is many things which Some of the information carries over, while some of it does not remotely apply. You can use your weight to shift position on the cart, and while the horse can feel it to some degree, it is not quite the same as being on their backs. Your legs- obviously make no cues to the horse, instead you use your whip to make them for you. Reins, bit choices and tack are similar in some areas and completely different in others.
While I am fortunate to have my husband on hand for guidance and coaching me on some things, I am also in the midst of several others who have talked sense to me about different things and helped me get Kat to where he is now.
I have mentioned Gary several times on my blog about driving and he has always been there to consult, even if it is via email, to give me words of encouragement and a kick in the pants. His blunt honesty is always appreciated with words like- "Is this how you hold your reins for riding? Well then don't do it for driving either." I am pretty sure when he first seen how the harness was adjusted, the hold backs wrapped and everything else I had made mistakes doing- he probably had visions of things going horribly wrong and wondered how we lived through it all so far?
MiKael of Rising Rainbow Arabians has talked with me about a lot of things. Bits, collection, long line work, dressage and from each conversation I take away something. Confirmation of doing something right, lightbulb A-HA! moments of things finally making sense and even Duh! moments come up for me too.
LaTonne of Brown Eyed Cowgirls has been another one who has given me ideas and things to go on through the various posts on her blog. Although barrel racing and carriage driving may be two completely different equine sports, one of her latest posts about finishing her turns and carrying a notebook in the trailer to jot down good, bad and otherwise notes to help make your performance a better one- works for me. Finishing your turns is not just something a barrel racer needs to do, but in cones on the driving course it applies just the same. Finish your cone before looking to the next one. Look for the spot you want the horse to go (center of the cone, center of the gate in obstacles) and they will hit it...
Sherry of Fern Valley Appaloosas has also reminded me now and then of "I knew this. Why wasn't I doing it?" in posts on her blog as well. With her post recently on ground driving and long line work, we both had a good laugh at ourselves and each other for having someone to finally have the courage to tell us- "You're doing this wrong!" while reminding ourselves to look ahead and watch where we are going.
One of the yahoo groups I am part of RED, (Recreational Equine Driving) has a lot of knowledgeable people posting on there including a trainer who will be judging the driving show next month. The members there talk about all kinds of things driving. Carriage maintenance, restoration, balance, harness fit, good and bad experiences with harness style, brands, carts, etc. and the list goes on. They do not allow in depth discussions of competition, but if there is a lesson in safety to be learned- it is welcome by all means.
I am also signed up to receive newsletters from another group- Jackpot Equine. Their latest newletter in the Judges Series was written by Mark Sheridan. He speaks of riding your circles round and exactly. Looking ahead as if using a clock and looking through your turns. This helped me in the dressage arena over the weekend as I reminded myself stop looking at your horse and look where you want him to go. Drive through your turns and look ahead.
Looking at your test scores in dressage, recounting how your felt the test went, comparing your ideas to what the judge seen... It gives you an idea of what you need to work on in the future and how to make things better. I have also started writing down a play by play of each movement. How I felt it went, what I was doing and how it was going. Photo's and video can also give you a good idea of what was I doing (right or wrong) at that moment. It all leads to better riding or driving with our horse. What could possibly be wrong with that?
So as you develop your eye for what looks correct and start to break down the steps of how to get it, think about where the information came from. Who said it to you and how you like the way their horses move. Start keeping notes when things go well, and notes of when they don't. If you can surround yourself with people who have a better than usual grasp on how to train a horse, you will do better and better as you go on. You will likely learn something from them in each conversation, be it spoken or email.
Always keep in mind, not all horses learn at the same rate. Some pick things up easily and spoil us that way. Others it may take a while to get through to them, but once they get it, it is there for good. Learning to cue or signal in ways that are exagerated and clear to begin with for a young horse, helps them get things right from the start. Later on you can refine your cues, scale it back and be more subtle. And even still there will be days it all goes wrong, the horse has other ideas and nothing goes well. It's part of working with horses. You have to learn to roll with it.