We've had our little GypsyxClyde mare in under saddle work for four months. It has become very painfully obvious over the last two that she HATES being ridden. Long story short, we had a discussion with her training team, and we all agree that it is just best for her at this point if we end our dressage road. She's miserable, we're miserable, the trainers are miserable... It's just not working for anyone. She does, however, excel at groundwork and really enjoys working (especially long lining). Just not being ridden. After some serious discussion about what tasks make her happy and what it's obvious she hates, we've decided to give her driving training over the next two months and see if she's happier there. It's what she's bred and built to do. We gave riding a good try, but it's just not for this mare. At least, not at this point in time. If in a few months we're all still not working out, we'll have to discuss some other options.
She is completely unflappable, does NOT spook/bolt/etc. Nothing at all phases her, and she's absolutely as sweet as can be on the ground. We really want to see her happy and doing something she enjoys. The formerly non-horsey hubby is more interested in driving than riding, and since he is the mare's favorite, if this works out it will be good for all.
What on earth am I getting myself into? I have driven a couple times, but I've never had to actually look into buying harness or a cart. Where do I start? Buying stuff to ride, I feel perfectly comfortable. Right now, I know I'm in way over my head, lol. From internet reading, am I right in understanding that what she would show with would be something more like a meadowbrook if we show? Where should I start with harness if this works out?
Please pardon me for being so ignorant, I really just want this mare happy, and if that means I learn how to drive it means I learn how to drive (and everything that goes with it).
can you provide us location, so we can get an idea of who you can connect with for lessons, helping hand, etc.
We're in Utah, closer to SLC.
I personally do not know anyone out in Utah. The closest driving people I know are Diane K and Fritz G., both are in Cali.
I would just keep long lining her, get her solid on voice and rein aids as well as whip. You can do lateral work, bending, all kinds of fun stuff.
Hopefully someone from your side of the states will chime in and give you a hand with connections on harness, carriages/cart, and gear.
Driving is great and its something the whole family can get into.
Welcome to the club!!
I would go to the american driving society website and look up a local club to you. There may not be one, but if you find the closest club and email them, they may know of people in your area.
Being a gypsy/clyde cross i'm not sure what you would be showing her in, since you wouldnt be heading to breed shows, i'm assuming you would be hitting the pleasure driving shows. I would think that a meadowbrook would be fine, but they can feel very confining and be difficult to get in and out of. Most prefer a front entry road cart type like this:
If you want something more for Combined Driving work, i wouldnt go with a wood cart, you can start with a cart in training level but then have to move up to four wheels. There are nice metal carts out there that can dress up nice for the pleasure show ring and be durable for trails and combined driving. Take a look at Sprint Carts by Frey carriage company. I have one of these, it's a great cart. There are many others out there similar.
You can likely pick up a nice wood road cart for $1500 used to $2500 new. A cart like the Sprint is going to run you closer to $3000 new for a bare bones model, they rarely come up used.
You are better off starting with a 2 wheel cart, 4 wheels is much easier to jacknife and not recommended for beginners. There are things i like about 4 wheels, mostly that you dont get the bounce of the cart, but at the same time, i really enjoy my cart too, it's easier to load up in the trailer/truck by myself and lighter for my pony, and easier to get into than the marathon carriage i had.
Harness for pleasure shows "should" be leather and brass is pretty and traditional, but there is a big move towards stainless hardware as you get to avoid all that polishing...
HOWEVER, biothane harnesses are really gaining in popularity. I've owned several of them and they are so easy as i can just hose them off and before a show give a good wash with some dish soap, even let really grimy places soak. Which you cant do with leather. Will you win a turn-out class in biothane (turn-out classes are based on equipement and look first) maybe not... Though i've won with a biothane harness! If you decide to go on to combined driving, then i highly recommend the biothane.
A good harness will cost you $800+ and this isnt an area i would skimp on. You get what you pay for and it's your horse's safety and comfort on the line. Of course, if you really want to look fancy go for a Freedman or Hunts, but i wouldnt consider either of those an every day harness, you are looking at $3000+ for them. You can pick up some nice harnesses used for good deals. Google "CD-L email list" and join that email digest, i dont recommend individual emails, get the daily digest... Some days there are many many emails. But people offer a lot of items for sale on there and there are always interesting discussions going on, you'll learn a lot. For that matter, ask if there are any people in Utah!
I started driving 3yrs ago, i never thought i would like it, i just did it as my son was young and i never got to ride anymore, if i drove i could toss my kid on the cart next to me. I LOVE IT! More than riding. It's really neat to enjoy my horse AND have company sitting next to me as we drive around the trails. It is absolutely a great family sport.
Have fun! It's a wild ride learning everything, but worth it!
Thank you for all the advice! We're kind of excited to try this out. Would you use the biothane as an every day harness? Which brands tend to be best there?
Country Carriages USA, Carriage House, Yonnies (which correct me if i'm wrong but these are all technically Yonnies harnesses), comfy fit from chimucam tack or Camptown harness are the good bios. And yes, it's a fantastic every day harness as it's so low maintenance, but as i and others have done often, it cleans up well for the show ring too.
Zilcos are ok, i just havent been a fan of their bridles as they seem thin and sharper edged to me than the american made bios mentioned above. I think the above are nicer quality than the Zilcos, but the Zilcos have some nice features to offer as well such as velcro color piping for fun, and i like the way their traces buckle in.
Ideal harness has an excellent reputation and they sell a good looking bio as well as a hard wearing leather harness. Several top competitors use their harnesses for every day and competition. However, i really like the Super V breast collar/Freedom Collar the american bio makers offer for the necks that tie in lower in the chest.
Thanks! I think it will be a few years until she's competing, so a bio harness just makes sense for now.
My impression: four months of training is not enough to say a horse HATES doing something. Find a trainer that is qualified and experienced in teaching a horse to ride and drive, even if it is some distance away. Such a trainer should have all of their own equipment for breaking a horse to drive. Let that trainer work the horse for a decent period of time (6-12 months) with no goals or agenda and see what you get.
If your husband is interested in driving and has no experience you need to find a qualified instructor that has driving school horses and learn to drive behind broke horses. You probably didn't learn to ride on a green horse, don't try to learn to drive behind a green horse.
Originally Posted by Renae
We were definitely planning on having him learn on school horses! We had the green/green discussion some time ago, lol.
I agree with this!!! I would also add that my first thought upon reading that she "hates" being ridden is that perhaps there was a real issue with saddle fit for this mare and that's why she wasn't having it. Did you have her saddle professionally fitted? If so, did you have her back checked for soreness or have a chiro out? Some horses just tend to be less stoic about discomfort than others, yours may be one of those.
Originally Posted by Renae
Hi there, know I am late weighing in but.....I have some Drums and much experience with this cross - I agree with PRS totally about saddle fit. On top of being wide, these guys have very thick muscles over their shoulders which gets larger with age and muscling. This is the hardest area to fit as most saddles over lap it some or butt up against it and that causes some horses great discomfort.
We use several varieties of flex tree saddles, but the best saddle is a dressage saddle with a straight skirt, something that fits behind the shoulder bulge. Interchangeable gullets don't work as they only widen the front. I use a Courbette dressage saddle with an e-motion tree that flexes all along the back. It fits all of my wide, x-wide and xx-wide horses. Not the most expensive saddle, but it works for our horses. Good luck with your girl!
I'll have to try the saddle you recommended! Admittedly, fitting has been a challenge. This is my first draftie, so I'm feeling more than a bit in over my head with her, lol. We've checked for back pain, and nothing. The muscling wasn't an issue previously, but has really, really developed over the last couple months. That's about when she started having under saddle issues, now that I really think about it! Thanks!