I haven't posted here in a while and I have been super busy, BUT.... I have been working my mares and the TB mare is showing some serious promise as a driving horse. YAAAYYYYY!!!! Because you all know how much I enjoy driving... lol
Another reason I wanted to get this mare going with driving, besides being able to show her off in more ways than one, I want another horse to bring along, so I'm not a one horse wonder where driving is considered. I love it and if something should ever happen to Kat, it would suck to be sidelined or out of it altogether. Sure I will have to bite the bullet and buy more stuff, but as always, I can take my time, find what I want and hopefully snatch it up for a fair price.
When I took the two horses to Cindy's to use her arena, this mare was not all that fun to ride. The first time she was looking around at everything and sooo behind the bit or way out in front of it, that I had little to no contact. She wasn't exactly responding very well either. I kept it short and hopped off when I could. No sense in getting hurt or starting any bad habits. The second time I decided to long line her and man did I find holes in her progress. She worked well enough and looked damn good out there trotting, but when it came time to settle down and walk while cooling her out- she was having no part of it. Zip, Nadda, None.
The mare jigged and pranced and scooted around like she was amped and ready to blow. She was lit up and just would not settle down for nothing. So we made plenty of circles, stopped and started, serpentines, change of direction and just about everything I could throw at her to help her figure it out that if she just settled down and walked, a) life was much easier and b) she would get to quit.
I can say that this mare has reminded me of a few things in the short time I have been working her and while I needed to work on developing her walk, she also needed to do a lot of slow, boring work involving plenty of stopping and standing around. Driving horses need to know that "Whoa" means stop everything. Sometimes it means "Stop. NOW!" Speaking to my friend who is also bringing along a new horse, we agreed on one thing- The power of the plow.
When she started her mare, her trainer/mentor gave her a harness, sans the breast collar & traces. When he felt the mare was reasonably ready, he gave her the 'missing parts' of the harness. When she finally got the borrowed cart to start her horse, the first day hooked, they drove a few laps in the arena and then went off down the street, over to the trainers and he was a bit speechless. When he found out that she had been using her horse to pull a sled of sorts and work the footing in her 'arena', he was a bit dumbfounded. She had been enjoying having such lovely footing to work in and training her horse at the same time. Nothing wrong with that.
Since my mare had been making progress, I decided to make another set of 'shaft trainers' and see how it would go. When I started Kat, I had made some fake shafts to get him used to the feel of having something stiff and rigid along his sides, feeling the weight, having something bumping on him and making noise. Better this, than a cart and having the horse destroy it, if it all went south in a hurry like it always does. So for around $25 I bought a spool of rope, two snaps, some plastic pvc pipe and a fun noodle for the pool. I now have fake shafts for training.
The first night I put the shafts on my mare, she had been working and although she slowed down to a walk, she maintained a very forward walk. When I stopped her and brought the shafts in the pen, she wasn't too sure about it. I led her around with one hand, dragging the shafts with the other and let her hear the noise it would make. She was fine so I stopped her, slid the pipes thru the tugs and snapped them to the breast collar. She may have been forward before, but now she wasn't sure if she should even move at all. I gave her a few moments to think about it and asked her to move off. She walked very sedately around the round pen, doing her best not to bump into the shafts or let them bump into her. My horse that was all about GO? Now only had one speed. S.L.O.W!!!
I picked up my lines and stayed off to the side of the shafts and drove her around the pen a few times, making some turns, smaller circles, stopping and she handled it all beautifully. I have since put the shafts on her several times and every time, she just does so well and handles it all in stride with no issues. While she has her physical limitations, I don't use them as an excuse to go easy on her. If she can handle the work, we do the work. If I need to back up a few steps and fix something, we do. If it's all good, we move on to new things. So far so good. If she never moves up past training level, that's ok. Prelim? Fine too, but I'm not going to push her and expect a lot or even any speed from her right now. She may have been a racehorse before, but it's going to be a different type of course this time around. I have no doubt that she will be able to handle it.