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Riding Drafts
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christie
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 Posted: Tue Jul 8th, 2008 03:10 pm
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I have an article on hand and contained within the article is shown a picture of people on Friesan's in a Dressage contest. Whoever is writing the article is making fun of the fact that these horses are being ridden at all, the idea being that Draft type horses are not made to be ridden. It talks more about how Drafts are made for pulling, not riding.

I am riding a young, very sizeable QH/Percheron cross for a friend a few days a week and the article got me thinking about how too much trotting/cantering might be damaging to the legs or cause the horse to injure itself due to its massive size.  I'm wondering if trotting her too much would be bad for her.

 

 

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:29 pm by christie

Ben Tyndall
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 Posted: Wed Jul 9th, 2008 04:25 pm
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Christie,

The article making fun of people riding Friesans in Dressage contests is just another example of the silly breedism we see in this industry. Its true that draft horses were once bred to pull, and as far as I know you won't see Friesens in Olympic-level dressage classes. That doesn't mean you can't have a barrel-o-fun doing all sorts of things under saddle with Friesen horses! My horse, a thoroughbred, was bred to race, but we have great fun together trying to learn to jump fences and to do some of the fancy dressage-type moves, although neither of us are likely to win many ribbons in the competition rings.

As for your "massive" QH/Percheron cross, Dr Deb has explained here that larger horses (over 16 HH?), compared to smaller horses, will tend to be more prone to hoof problems due essentially to their extra weight per square inch of hoof. This in itself is not a reason to avoid trotting or cantering your large mare as long as she is sound. Have fun.

...Ben


christie
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 Posted: Wed Jul 9th, 2008 05:21 pm
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When she was off being started she came up lame a couple times, they think from tripping in unknown holes in the pasture. When I saw this article it got me thinking that it makes sense, since these horses can be so big(heavy) in their bodies, that they are made more for pulling.

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:30 pm by christie

Blaze
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 Posted: Wed Jul 9th, 2008 07:22 pm
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Hi Christie,

You mention the mare is young - perhaps she is not physically mature enough for ridng? Read Dr. Deb's "Ranger" article. It's a great resource for understanding how the horses' skeltal system develops and gives great idea's for things to do before you actually climb on the horse's back.

After reading the article I won't ride a horse until it's 4. I don't waste their 3-year-old year though. My gelding learned to bump up to the fence so I could mount, release at the poll to a mere quiver of the lead, back up one step at a time, I could send him through an obstacle, etc.

The first time I got on him he was softer then the majority of "broke" horses I have ever ridden.

Good luck with the filly you are riding and please don't think you can't do lots of fun and useful training from the ground or even just riding at a walk.

Erin

cyndy
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 Posted: Wed Jul 9th, 2008 08:16 pm
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I'm going to have to say Jane Savoie rides a fantastic Friesian horse. If you are "into" dressage, you will know Jane is a "big name" judge and clinician. She says the Friesian's are not known for a good canter (of course a draft breed would not) but the flowing trot is breath taking!And Jane gets a pretty breath taking rolling canter out of him too. It is a beautiful sight to see.

leca
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 Posted: Thu Jul 10th, 2008 12:03 am
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considering that modern Friesians have Andalusian heritage, for someone to say that they are unsuitable for riding and dressage is vaguely.....ridiculous

christie
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 Posted: Thu Jul 10th, 2008 12:23 am
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Baby just turned 5.

Last edited on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 05:31 pm by christie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Jul 10th, 2008 06:59 am
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Christie, several points made recently in this Forum apply to your query. First, you should obtain the fairly recent back issue of Equus Magazine with the article entitled "Size Matters". In this article, several veterinarians and I were interviewed as to reasons why large size is detrimental to performance and soundness in horses.

Second -- as to skeletal maturity -- yes, the Ranger article should be your reference. A 5 year old horse is not skeletally mature. The larger and heavier the horse is, the more important this consideration becomes.

Third -- as to cantering and doing a lot of trotting. There are two aspects to this. One is the idea common among dressage aficionados that you train the gaits in order -- walk, trot, and finally canter. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What you really do is do all three gaits from Day One. They all play on each other, they all help to develop each other. You must have noticed, too, that the horse when at liberty sees no rule or reason why he should not canter. So no objection can be made to cantering per se, or to trotting per se.

However, the second aspect is this: again, among dressage people it is very common to fall into a mental rut wherein the training regimen becomes a grind. I mean by this that they grind on their horse, they grind the life out of their horse, by mindlessly and thoughtlessly going around and around and around on the same 20M circle, at the same gait, at the same step length, at the same speed, and in the same direction. I have seen a "dressage trainer and competitor" take her horse onto that circle to the left and go 'round (I timed it) for 20 minutes straight without one single transition. And yet transitions -- which means any change at all in gait, step length, figure, or direction -- lie at the very heart of successful schooling.

So should you canter like you were grinding on the horse? Should you do "a lot" of trotting? The answer is not really centered on the quantity, Christie, as you see -- but on the quality. You must design your hour on horseback to contain as many change-ups as you can pack in there without yet getting the horse bothered. This takes brains, pre-planning, and constant focus and attention on your own part.

Now there is a fourth point to be made here as well, and that relates to "type". There are (I joke) five types of horses that we can recognize in first-world countries today:

1. Riding horse type

2. Race horse type

3. Carriage/harness horse type

4. Draft horse type

5. "Projects"

The punch line is that last one -- the rest are serious! And even the punch line, though you may chuckle at it, is meant to bring home an important consideration. A "project" is any horse that is obviously of one type but yet is being used for a different class of activity. For example, a very common project would be to take a TB off the track (a racehorse that has been bred to be a racehorse, and whose body type is suitable for racing) and convert it into a hunter or hack (which is a riding, not a racing, activity). That this is not commonly recognized to be what it is -- a project -- is a major factor that holds many people back from really succeeding at it. A racehorse is not a riding horse. You can ride a racehorse, but when you do that, you have signed up for a project, which requires specialized knowledge, insight, and the use of certain techniques and equipment.

The project you are describing, Christie, is to take a horse of draft type (that has been bred to be a draft horse, and whose body type is suitable for drafting) and try to ride it. Exactly as with training a racehorse type to function as a riding horse, your project will require specialized knowledge, insight, and the use of certain techniques and equipment.

So, the question now becomes -- Christie, can you make an intelligent training plan? What are going to be the main dangers to the draft-type horse in being used for riding? You'll have to know what those are, because obviously you're going to want to try to minimize them.

Finally -- as to Friesians. Yes, they do as Leca notes, have a good dollop of Spanish blood. They are also actually Warmbloods, based on the oldest and most primitive type of continental European horse, as all Warmbloods are. They have gone through a mixed history of being shifted back and forth by breeding selection for carriage/harness use and for riding use, so they are what is referred to as a "ride-drive breed". In such a mixed population, you will find some individuals that are more ponderous and heavy, or that have long backs, or that have excessively high knee and hock action, which make them more useful in harness than under saddle. Other individuals that are smaller, more compact in build, and more fluid in way of going, make attractive rides: see "True Collection" in our Knowledge Base for an example. -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Fri Jul 11th, 2008 08:01 pm
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Last edited on Sun Jul 13th, 2008 05:10 pm by Pam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 12th, 2008 04:24 am
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Pam, it sounds like your sister-in-law is a real horsewoman, which is to say, someone who can perceive and then appropriately respond to whatever any horse is saying, and whose main object is to discover the horse's needs and weak spots and then help him to fulfill them.

As to who would be qualified to work with an OTTB on your behalf, Pam, shall I say this again? There will never be anyone truly qualified to work with your horse but yourself. You sell the horse to me, and then the only one truly qualified to work with him will be me. You see what I mean? You can go ride with Harry Whitney, and I want you to do that; and Harry will ride your horse and communicate with him at least as well as your sister-in-law. But he himself will still tell you what I have just told you. What this saying means is: you do not need a trainer. Nobody ever needs a trainer, and nobody should be looking to find a trainer. A friend to ride with, yes; a friend who knows more and has greater experience than you do, yes -- by all means. But not a trainer. To look for a trainer is to say, between the lines, that you're not ready, willing, and able to take full responsibility for every single thing that happens to your horse. So you need a friend, because a friend shows you what to do, and then you watch and imitate and pretty soon you can do it too. A trainer does it for you.

Does the age of the horse matter? Of course it does. The question is in what manner does it matter? Can you answer that question now? Just as with Christie above, I left that open for her to figure out -- what are the ways that riding a massive horse could be hard on him. So also to you: what are the ways that a program of riding and training would have to be modified to take care of the likely needs of an older horse?

Now I am also going to ask you to write back and explain to me what YOU think would be the steps to take in a program of training for the horse you have in mind. What, exactly, would you install in the horse first? What would be your governing priorities? You're going to have to think this through, Pam, or else you will indeed always be dependent upon trainers, because the MOST crucial thing that a horse needs from the human is for the human to use their brain. Instead of whine.

And as to what has been done with the horse in the past: during the hour that we are working with the horse, no horse has any history. Understand this. It means you say 'a' to him, he responds to 'a' with 'b', and you then respond to 'b' with 'c'. The first time you go in the roundpen with a horse you've never seen before, you close the gate and you turn to face him. That is your statement 'a'. In response to that, the horse might run around the perimiter, charge at you, ignore you, rear, lie down, come up and lick you, try to kick you, or bolt right over the wall. Any of these would be his reply 'b' to your 'a'. Are you prepared, every time you're with your horse, so that you have a ready response to any of these and more? The second most crucial thing that a horse needs from the human is for the human to be able to focus well enough that they can remain totally in the present moment -- which is where the 'a', 'b', 'c' conversation occurs. When students start to tell me the whole long sad yarn about how their horse has been 'abused' and they have rescued them, or he's been to this trainer or that trainer, or he was 'started' in dressage and then they gave up on him, I start making like Jack Benny with the violin. Thousands of tiny violins. Then maybe they can laugh and forget that part and let's get on with the important work that does need to be done TODAY.

As to what sorts of things the animal has been 'trained' for: I don't believe that the horse you're describing, Pam, has really ever been trained for anything. I have two reasons for believing this: one, that he evidently hasn't carried you to a championship in anything. And two, I don't believe in the existence of any of the things you list -- in other words, I don't believe that there is such a thing as 'dressage', or 'western pleasure', or 'jumping' or any such thing. What is missing in your horse, as it is in almost all horses, is the underlayment. Once that is installed, adding the small details necessary for success in some type of competition or other is not a big deal. Check some photos of Buck Brannaman with his horse in high collection. Then tell me how you can think -- except on the level of costume -- that there is any such thing as either "English" or "Western." There is no such thing in reality; there is only horsemanship -- or the lack of it.

So Pam -- what does the 'underlayment' consist of? You let us know. -- Dr. Deb

 

 

minimitts
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 Posted: Sat Jul 12th, 2008 07:24 am
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Dr. Deb,

Just wanted to say thanks for reiterating over and over that our horses don't need a trainer, they need US.  I've read this forum for quite some time, and it was statements like these that helped give me the confidence to start my own horse 2 years ago, something I'd never done before. 

I was actually quite intimidated by the thought of starting him; I was very afraid that I'd ruin him, or couldn't do nearly as well as by him as a "professional".  Luckily, though I didn't think so at the time, I didn't feel comfortable enough with any of the trainers in my area to hand Leo over to them.  So began the journey. 

Two years later, I can't count the number of comments I've received on how sweet, well-behaved, confident, and brave he is.  How he really pays attention to me. Vets and equine bodyworkers have told me how solid and sound he is, and that his topline has improved with riding.  (I was really afraind of ruining his back... ) I am not writing this to pat myself on the back; I KNOW how many mistakes I've made (which are considerable), and I'm very well aware of how much I have to learn in so many arenas. It's actually quite humbling to think of how far we've come together. I still feel somewhat lost at times as to what to do next.  But I read this forum, and get more knowledge and motivation, and he and I continue forward.

If I can do this, I know anyone attentive to this forum and this way of thinking can do this.  My horse does need me, to be present in every moment, to hear his feedback, and to apply the knowledge that I gain every day.  I find that if I do that, the rest, though somewhat imperfectly at times, falls into place sweetly. 

I can't imagine at this point ever sending a horse of mine to someone else for schooling, and when I meet owners who do, I feel a sense of loss for their horse.  I know most of us do the best we can with the knowledge we have at the moment, and I just hope for the horses that those owners can gain the knowledge and confidence to take over their horse's schooling.  It is rewarding beyond words.

So thanks again Dr. Deb, both from me and Leo ~ whose birthday is today ~ that you've had the patience to keep repeating the mantra... your horse needs YOU.  ~christina

Attachment: Leotrot.jpg (Downloaded 518 times)

Pam
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 Posted: Sat Jul 12th, 2008 06:18 pm
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Last edited on Sun Jul 13th, 2008 05:09 pm by Pam

DrDeb
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 Posted: Sat Jul 12th, 2008 06:49 pm
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Pam -- sometimes I wonder if you do not hear yourself. Is not (and I quote) "her presence....that is what I am looking for" -- is not this exactly what I said you should NOT be looking for? Unless I totally misunderstand what you have written, it sounds to me like you're looking for somebody to hold your hand, somebody you can lean on, somebody who -- if you mess up -- will step right in and make everything right for you. But Pam, how can that possibly be something you would rely upon? So no, Pam, I have nowhere called you a nincompoop. But I have called you a whiner.

Yes, it is good and right to look for a friend who knows more and who rides and handles horses better than you do. Everybody, including me, looks for that all the time -- these are the people who are inspiring, who you want to be around to learn from. But the learning has to be happening within yourself -- or it is not happening at all! It is the learning you bring home to your horse, the new and better skills -- did you think that such important gifts to your horse could only come from other people?

So you're afraid to mess up. Let me mention to you that you need to totally get over that. Horses are enormously resilient. They will forgive almost any mistake, and even if you actually wind up injuring a horse, most times he will recover just fine.

No -- I think in most cases, especially with women, what's really driving the "I'm afraid to mess up" statement is something else. In other words, when the woman says "I'm afraid to carry out this step in the training" what she really means is, "I see that this is going to take a certain amount of firmness and also some courage on my part. And what I'm really afraid of is that if I am as firm as is probably going to be necessary, that Muffy won't love me anymore."

Pam, you are not in there with the animal as part of a popularity contest. It matters not one iota whether your animal loves you or not. Animals love, but not as you conceive of it, and no animal can fulfill any need for human love that you might be harboring. Using the animal as a substitute source for the affection or approval that you need, and ought to get, from other humans -- and more importantly from yourself -- is nothing short of perversion.

And as to having the courage to do things: there is no reason, at any time, to push yourself or to permit anyone else to push you to do anything with a horse that you do not feel ready to do. Nevertheless you need to persist in your personal attempt. For example, for the student who is afraid to canter -- how understandable is this! It is a motion they've never experienced before, and on top of that, to do it they have to lean back and more or less let go of the reins! So what does their friend who is their riding instructor do? Set it up so that they get a little taste of it, and again a little later, another little taste of it, and pretty soon there is a 'breakthrough' moment when the student says 'yah! let's canter again!' This might happen out on a trailride where the friend is riding a trained and calm horse, when they come on a stretch of road with a little upslope to it. Then the friend says, 'you just follow along and keep his nose tacked onto my horse's butt', and she then picks up a slow canter, which the other horse will almost certainly imitate, whether the student has the ability to coordinate the aids or not. All the student has to do at first is be willing to let the horse take her for a ride. Sit well, and here we go!

So when you are by yourself, you do the same kind of thing: you are alert for times and situations when you are offered the opportunity to peck at whatever you're afraid to do. And you THINK all the time about how you might actually even set things up for yourself, to make whatever it is happen easier. It is this INTENTIONALITY that turns somebody who can't ride into somebody who can. Because Pam -- where do you think your sister-in-law got her abilities and experience? I'll tell you where: by giving herself opportunities and thereby gaining experience. There's no other way. So stop whining please, and START TODAY with having the full, committed intention of learning to train your horse.

PS -- and as to the underlayment, no, I'm not talking about feed supplements. I mean the actual steps in the training itself -- what your actions should be and what the priorities are that govern your actions. Go back through this Forum and read and THINK Pam, and then you will be able to construct a basic list. -- Dr. Deb

Pam
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 Posted: Tue Jul 15th, 2008 04:36 pm
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DrDeb wrote: Yes, it is good and right to look for a friend who knows more and who rides and handles horses better than you do. Everybody, including me, looks for that all the time -- these are the people who are inspiring, who you want to be around to learn from. But the learning has to be happening within yourself -- or it is not happening at all! It is the learning you bring home to your horse, the new and better skills -- did you think that such important gifts to your horse could only come from other people?

So you're afraid to mess up. Let me mention to you that you need to totally get over that. Horses are enormously resilient. They will forgive almost any mistake, and even if you actually wind up injuring a horse, most times he will recover just fine.

No -- I think in most cases, especially with women, what's really driving the "I'm afraid to mess up" statement is something else. In other words, when the woman says "I'm afraid to carry out this step in the training" what she really means is, "I see that this is going to take a certain amount of firmness and also some courage on my part. And what I'm really afraid of is that if I am as firm as is probably going to be necessary, that Muffy won't love me anymore."

Pam, you are not in there with the animal as part of a popularity contest. It matters not one iota whether your animal loves you or not. Animals love, but not as you conceive of it, and no animal can fulfill any need for human love that you might be harboring. Using the animal as a substitute source for the affection or approval that you need, and ought to get, from other humans -- and more importantly from yourself -- is nothing short of perversion.

Excuse me. DD, but I believe that is what I was saying about my sister-in-law.  She was the person with more skills than I and after watching her I was able to do some things better.  Don't know how you got the interpretation you did that I didn't learn anything there.  You were just mad because you thought I did something against your instruction.

As far as your statement about perversion goes:  That is nothing more than a personal attack and not to mention completely unprofessional on your part.  I would like that withdrawn from your post.

The only reason that I would ever not do what you have told me to do at some point would not be because I am afraid to be as firm as required with my horse, it would be because I question what you are teaching me.  Never would I hand that much authority over to anybody, and nor should I.

And further more there is no way on earth you could have come to that conclusion about me seeking perverted love from my horse based on anything I have said here.   You have no idea how I really feel about things because I haven't told you and never would.

Everything I have learned as far as horsemanship goes I have learned from my horse.  All anybody really has to do is to pay attention to what their horse is saying to them and the rest is easy.  They don't need to have you beat them up to become a good horseman.

As far as your statement or command  that I "choose" because I cannot learn good horsemanship by making a patchwork quilt goes (which you have said several times to me):   I will take instruction from whomever I feel like taking instruction from  (including the martingale man) and I will create a patchwork quilt of my own.  So if someone needs to choose, you do so, because I won't. 

DrDeb
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 Posted: Tue Jul 15th, 2008 07:24 pm
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Pam, you have misunderstood: I don't care at all, really, whether anyone obeys what I say. But if you want to learn from me, or choose to learn from me, then you will have to do as instructed. In other words, it's not a personal thing to me, it's a practical thing.

The teaching from the martingale man, and teaching from me, are as I have previously pointed out, totally incompatible. You will have to choose either one or the other.

I have not accused you personally on some of these other points, including perversion, though you are managing to take it personally. Maybe you don't understand that anytime I am answering in any thread, I am aware that the person to whom the letter is addressed is almost certainly not the only person who will read it. There are very many people who are looking to their animals to give them things they ought to be looking to other humans for, including love. There is no question that this is perverted. Are you perverted yourself, Pam? I don't know, but the suggestion was put up there for you to THINK about -- along with anyone else reading this thread.

So Pam -- as to how you learn about horses -- you just go right ahead and quilt away, if that's what makes you happy. But unless you come back here with a declaration that you are going to quit with the martingale man, and that you are going to sincerely follow THIS school of horsemanship, one of whose rules is that martingales shall not be used -- then don't expect me to reply to anything you may post, because under those circumstances, you turn out to be a waste of my time. I'll also add, as I've said before, that if you stand on your supposed "right" to do anything you like (which really means you insist on showing the instructor what you know, which is very little), you will ALSO turn out to be a waste of any other instructor's time.

But Pam, mark my words here: there will be PLENTY of riding instructors who will be glad to have your money. Especially glad, in fact, because the way you are going about things, it's a guarantee that you will perpetually be dependent upon those same instructors. You're a cash cow!

I understand too, that you may be one of the thousands of people in the world who would prefer that arrangement, and so in the end I say, here's the door, Pam, you go right on out of it, and best of luck to you. -- Dr. Deb


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