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  1. #1
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    Jul. 10, 2008
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    Default Your Draft and Draft Cross In Dressage

    I thought it might be a nice break for us "Draftys" to talk about the training of our horses. The setbacks, surprises, and progress you have made with them. I am really excited to hear about the methods that people are using for their training at all levels.



  2. #2
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    Nov. 10, 2003
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    Default

    I'll contribute:

    I have been retraining my 9 year-old percheron in dressage for the past 8 months. She was a hunter previously. (I am no longer able to jump regularly anymore due to injury.) We are schooling the 2nd level tests with some 3rd level work thrown in.

    Easy for us:
    Forward
    Lateral work
    Trot-reinback-trot

    What was hard but we have fixed:
    Canter, she used to tune me out and RUN. (We had this problem a bit as a hunter, but the fences would back her off.) I just reinforced my half-halts when she ran through them by immediately walking, walk two strides, and resuming the canter. Lots of canter transitions every session. Tons.

    Canter to walk transitions. New spiffy bank breaking saddle fixed these.

    Walk-pirouettes. She had a bit of trouble with stepping out to the right until I realised that I was blocking her outside leg with too much outside rein.

    What still needs fixing:

    Flying changes. I am terrible at riding them and since she had auto-changes as a hunter I have very little control over them. I am going to have the trainer work on these.

    Overexcitement in the medium/extended gaits. She can do them, but control at the end is still iffy. We are only schooling them along shorter distances and only occasionally going the full length. I would rather have to push her on in a test.


    All the way through transitions have been my friend. Trying to slow her down/ create collection through volte's has never worked as she tends to try to speed up on circles. We had to get the simple changes before we could do 10m circles at the canter.



  3. #3
    ginger708 is offline Working Hunter Premium Member
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    Default

    I found that switching my saddle to a deeper seat saddle helped me with my riding as well. Rocco is wide so being closer to him in a deeper seat has really helped with our progress. What size is your horse. I just wondered if there is such a variance in Percherons as in Belgians.



  4. #4
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    Nov. 10, 2003
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    Default

    She is smaller, 16.3 but built like a hitch horse. I had to go custom on a saddle for her as she has really chunky withers, but actually needs a medium tree saddle. A narrower twist on the saddle helped me compensate for her width as well.

    There is a good bit of variance in Percherons. I think part of that is the breed has changed from riding horse to agricultural horse to light trotting diligence horses and back again so many times. Her bloodlines are full of taller horses. I think she is a throwback to Highview Dragano who was reportedly a smaller horse.

    I have seen a lot of variance in the belgians at shows. And if you compare them to the european drafts they hardly look like the same breed.



  5. #5
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    Default

    Lewin's horse is about Smokey's height, but much narrower through the back. I find it funny

    I won't post to the OP, since I'm not training my horse (right now my horse needs to be posting on a board... "training crooked out of shape green riders... what challenges are you facing?"). I do love Lewin's horse, though. She's gorgeous.

    Ginger, we have another Percheron at the barn- he is about 4" taller than either my or Lewin's horse, and built like a plow horse. You would honestly not even know they were the same breed if it wasn't for the heads.



  6. #6
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    Aug. 30, 2007
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    Default 15.2 x 15.2 x 15.2

    This is a great thread.
    SO....I have a Suffolk Punch/ TB cross...and yes the draft crosses do have their confomational issues....you know, bred to pull ( a beer truck )..
    All said and done, I wouldn't trade her for the world.



  7. #7
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    Jan. 17, 2008
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    TN
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    Default

    I have a 17 hand 8 yr old shire cross.
    Easy--Collection, half steps, pirouettes and most of her lateral work
    Tougher--forward and lengthens

    We had some issues with connection and putting her right hind under herself but EPM was diagnosed and treated and things are much much better.

    The changes are a problem, but they are my problem. My coach has her changing dependably and ready to start tempi's. I'm not getting her forward enough and she bogs down.

    So right now we've stepped back to basics to gain her strength and her forward back.

    I do find that with these crosses it does take me longer to get them fit, and I need to keep their fitness level up. In the past I wasn't able to hack out with my mare because she was a space cadet. The neurologist 's comment, "she appears to be watching martians". I'm looking forward to getting her out to the local trails/hills now that she is reasonably dependable.



  8. #8
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    May. 10, 2003
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    central CA
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    Default

    I have a 5 yo clyde X mare that is schooling 2nd, showing 1st. She is not too tall, 16.1, and about 1400#. She has a very refined head, but it's big, although she doesn't wear WB tack. She isn't as heavy as alot of crosses I've seen, but with the mane (OMG) if she gets overweight she tends to take on the Thellwell look.
    She is: very forward when on the bit-pokes around like a lesson pony on the buckle
    really easy to change/hh within gaits
    tends to fall on her face in downward transitions-getting better
    scares herself in lengthenings-getting better
    could easily be over collected at this stage-don't think upper level collection
    will be an issue
    lateral work is tough for her
    has great walk pirouettes-always has, don't know where they came from!
    The biggest thing I have found with her is that she goes farther faster the less she is in the ring. If I school 2 or 3 days in a row she's good, but nothing really changes. If I get her out for 2 or 3 days, then the next day in the ring is just a series of AHA moments!!
    Last edited by kahjul; Jul. 17, 2008 at 04:15 PM.
    Don't toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!



  9. #9
    ginger708 is offline Working Hunter Premium Member
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    Default

    http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k2...n/DSCN0507.jpg

    I added this link I hope it works. This is my guy at his first show this season. He is 15.3 1800# like butter to the left stiff as a board to the right. He is the first horse that I have trained or ridden with no professional work. I work with my trainer once a week she is my eyes on the ground. That is why its been two years and we are showing intro. I could show training but I want the canter in a much better place.



  10. #10
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    Aug. 28, 2006
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    Default

    Ginger I like your training philosophy. Oooo, I love the braid job on your horse. I saw a picture of one like that for the first time in a book at the tack store about a month ago -- would love it try it on my Arab pony!



  11. #11
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    Aug. 25, 2006
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    Maryland
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    Default

    I have two full drafts and they're VERY different.

    Shine Hill Peanut (Peanut) is a 17.2h Percheron stallion who weighs #1465, yes this was on a scale at the vet clinic. On a weight tape he's about #1400. He was originally a logging horse and then an event horse.

    Due to my schedule and lack of any riding surface at home (I have to trailer out unless I want to ride on the streets in the neighborhood) he only gets ridden once or twice a week. I ride with an event trainer once a week and with an FEI dressage instructor every two weeks. We ride at hunter shows once a month and hit a couple dressage shows every year too.

    Forward as never been a problem and we've worked to slow him down. When I'd school in a ring with jumps and we'd be sort of pointed towards one he'd try to veer off course and head for the jump. When he realized that he didn't ALWAYS get to jump he settled down. However, lengthenings are difficult. I'm not even sure it's an ability thing so much as an evasion. He's probably the smartest dang horse I've ever met. Collection is easier. He also has a huge stride and it's not work to have him track up and I'm used to riding Andalusians so sitting that big trot isn't always easy.

    Lateral work at the walk and trot is good. Peanut has a weak left hind that we believe is from his days as a logging horse, he's not lame or off on it, but it makes some lateral work, more work for him and he prefers not to move laterally off my leg at the canter. Shoulder-in, haunches-in, leg yield, and half pass are fine. In half pass I tend to want to bring the haunches too much and I get yelled at. Oops.

    Flying changes are simple and we're working on our counter canter instead and he makes me work for it. I must keep position. I switch? He switches.

    I ride in a medium width stubben scandica (dressage) and a medium width courbette stylist (jumping). He has a custom bridle from the amish and a size 92" blanket.

    We have a YouTube and I post videos that include "oops" moments as a kind of audit-the-clinic type thing for other riders (draft and non-draft). I like including the mistakes to help other people learn too.

    My other draft is Octavia a 6 year old American Cream Draft. I don't know her history as well as I do Peanut's. She was bred in Texas and moved up to Canada. I purchased her from the lady in Canada at the end of last July. It took me until September to figure out what saddle would work for her...a treeless Barefoot London. She too has a custom bridle. She wears a weatherbeeta 87". Octavia is 17h and weighs approx. #1600.

    She's built much different than Peanut and her level of training is quite low. I'd say she currently has about 20 rides on her, two have been shows, and two were trail rides. So, she's quite green! Why did she go to shows then? Well, we belong to a GMO of USDF and they host a team competition every year and we needed an extra rider for an intro team. So, I took her to a "practice" schooling show and then the team comp. Intro A is placed individually and she was less than a point off 5th place! Intro B scores are averaged for placing and our team got 4th! However, I don't know that she'll have the talent that Peanut has. She had a foal in May, but hasn't been ridden since January.

    When I first got her I put her in a french link and she hated it so we moved to an eggbutt snaffle and she's MUCH happier. We're obviously going to be focusing on straight and forward when I start her back undersaddle and definately more trail rides! Some of her first rides are on the youtube, considerably less exiting than Peanut's! You can also see her learn about flyspray. I need to put up a "part II" because she now can be fly sprayed standing loose.

    Here are a couple shots of her on her first trail ride...
    http://phyxius.smugmug.com/photos/193460254_HDQDz-M.jpg
    http://phyxius.smugmug.com/photos/193310105_WCRXG-M.jpg
    http://phyxius.smugmug.com/photos/193459974_fHpN9-M.jpg



  12. #12
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    Default

    Well, since everyone else is, I'll post some pics and such. I want to be part of a positive draft thread

    Smokey is a 7 year old Percheron x QH. He is about 16.3hh and about 1500 lbs on the weight tape (prob 1400 ideal). He uses a custom saddle- he was in a 39 cm Duett before. He uses an oversized bridle and a 5.5" bit.

    I bought Smokey last August to start learning lower level dressage. However, we got off to a rough start and I had a bad fall in November that put me out of commission for an extended period of time. Smokey started dressage training with my current trainer 3-4 days a week in January. He has been doing really well, and I am trying to get back into riding shape but still struggling (my injury consisted of a broken clavicle, broken scapula, 3 broken ribs, and 2 compression fractures. The only thing that still bothers me is my back, but the rest of me is very week and I am not quite symmetrical).

    Strengths: Lateral movements, sensitivity and responsiveness, a great mind and sharp as a tack.

    Weaknesses: Neck like a brick chimney, can sometimes lock his jaw and get resistant, sometimes forward is an issue for me (not usually for my trainer).

    He is super sensitive laterally, so if you don't ride him straight he won't go straight. As a teacher I think it's a huge plus, as a dressage horse it might cause problems

    When Smokey gets it right, it looks fluid and effortless on his part. It's lovely to watch He is also a dream to ride after his training, and I really have to give kudos to my trainer for bring him so far in such a short time.

    None of these pictures are great, but here you go.

    "Mom, what the HECK are you doing? You're not even on straight! Get a clue!"
    http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x...ey07-08005.jpg

    "Ooh, her hands got squishy, I think I'll take a little more rein now..."
    http://s185.photobucket.com/albums/x...ey07-08008.jpg



  13. #13
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    Jun. 17, 2008
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    Default

    Fun thread and informative, too.

    I've got a 4 y/o Belgian x TB gelding named Avishay - hence my username.

    Shay is 16.2, a little shy of 1400lbs, and sporty - he can stop and turn on a dime.

    I didn't break him until a couple months shy of his 4th birthday, and he now has 43 rides on him - we're taking it slow and it's really paying off. So far he's proven himself to be sensible, willing, and workmanlike. He gives his best effort and likes to be given a bit of a challenge. He rides well in a loose ring snaffle, and is going nicely in walk and trot - his trot is to die for! Not huge, but he uses his hind end well and it's very smooth - I can comfortably and easily sit his working trot bareback. He's nice and forward off my leg and is generally light in my hand. He's already got a good half-halt response, offers a straight rein-back every time (thanks to lots of groundwork), and is getting more consistent with his leg yields. He's also started work in-hand to teach him shoulder-in and haunches-in.

    I'm really enjoying training him and I look forward to each ride.



  14. #14
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    Aug. 30, 2006
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    Williamston, NC
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    Default

    Don't have anything positive to report at this time, but hoping I will a few months down the line. Enjoyed reading everyone's post. I'm leasing a 10 y/o, 16.2 Percheron/TB cross, probably 1500 lb. Decent conformation. Biggest issue is that he's super spooky. Seems to really lack confidence in his surroundings. Starting to look to me for reassurance on the ground. Under saddle we aren't there yet. When he spooks sometimes it's just a sideways jump but other times he tries to bolt or worse backpedal. I know that he was an Amish driving horse at one time and ended up scared of traffic -- both 2 wheeled vehicles and other driving carriages. Pretty green under saddle. Quite heavy in the hands. Obviously been ridden with a great deal of hand in an assumed dressage frame. I think previous rider mistook forward for rushing so right now I am working on rhythm, tempo, and forward. He also tends to get very lateral at the canter and runs. Do you think that this part of his lack of training / strength or is the lateral tendency going to stay? Does appear to have a weaker right hind.

    Tack -- oversize bridle. Still got to find the right bit and size. He seems to be a 5-3/4" Saddle -- he's not as wide as my Iberian but currently he's been ridden in a Kentaur Dressage Saddle extra wide (36 cm) tree with half pad. Going to see what the saddle fitter can do so we have a little more stability.




  15. #15
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    Jan. 17, 2008
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    TN
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCSue View Post
    Biggest issue is that he's super spooky. Seems to really lack confidence in his surroundings. Starting to look to me for reassurance on the ground. Under saddle we aren't there yet. When he spooks sometimes it's just a sideways jump but other times he tries to bolt or worse backpedal.
    NCSue, these are the exact same symptoms that my horse presented, along with a couple of others, before being diagnosed with EPM. Three courses of Marquis gave me a new horse. Because of my experience another women in the area decided to treat her gelding.He had the added symptom of being like a freight train in your hands, and she now also has a new horse. Since almost all horses in TN and NC have positive blood titters, it may be something you might want to address with your vet. I know that these are not the "typical symptoms" of EPM.



  16. #16
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    Nov. 23, 2006
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    Port Perry Ontario - formerly Prodomus
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    Since I have been a very frequent poster on draft crosses in dressage many of you may have already seen my big guy - if not here is a link to some of our horses

    www.hotelfun4kids.com/horses.htm

    Anyway we placed at our second gold (canadian) national show and I was so thrilled - second time showing level one and we got a 5th out of 20. He was so good - we got 9th in our second class - both tests were improvements from the spring show - spring show - 60, summer show 63, spring show 58, summer show 59.

    We have a wonderful dressage coach and have also just started working with a german coach when he comes over every 6 weeks. Our coach also is working under him and watches our sessions to help us.

    My fella is really enjoying our work and we are having such fun. Thinking about doing the CNE dressage show.

    On another note, my 18 yr old son rode his draft cross at a recent event and scored the top jr score - 74% - converted to 39 penalties for eventing.


    My guy is a clyde/hackney cross. I also own his sister and she had a foal last year by a swedish warmblood - this colt is awesome - he was playing in the field the other day and experimenting on his own with canter piroettes.

    I can't wait to start working him.



  17. #17
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    Apr. 30, 2003
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    VA
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    Thumbs up Yay! Happy draft thread.

    I have Ginger (registered name is Mighty Sunny), a 3/4 Belgian Draft/Paint Cross (N.American Spotted Draft) mare, 4 yrs. old, 16 hands around 1250 lbs.

    We're still deciding exactly what our "career" will be, but have had 2 dressage lessons, participated in 2 hunter shows (last show was in May where she jumped her first course of jumps in the 2' low hunters and to my surprise placed 6th in a class of 13 after only jumping for 2 weeks. )

    I'm still grinning right now, because she gave me her first flying change today! It was a bit, umm... rough.. but she did it. We cantered across the field went to turn, to change direction, and I was about to break to the trot when she turned her butt in and with 3 slow motion round mini bucks, she gave me a full change. It almost felt as if the first buck resulted in a hind only change, then she bucked back into the outside lead and then the third buck resulted in the correct lead. She was definitely pleased when she got it right, ears forward, etc.
    Next time around was easier, just one slow buck/hop into correct lead. Almost not even a buck but rather a slow motion hop into the air with a hump in her back.
    Other side, was trickier and required a circle but she did get it. I think with some more experience this will be easy for her. The first change was definitely her idea, but after that I started giving her the cue and she knew just what I was requesting. So smart!

    Our challenges are - forward (she tends to be a little up and down, and I have to push her sometimes), can be spooky but it mostly results in a quick speed up for a few steps or a side step/looky moment. I've found the best thing is to just stop and let her watch whatever is distracting her. After that she sighs and lowers her head and we're ready to go. Bending is new and challenging especially when she's being spooky, of course.

    Easy for us - walk to canter transitions, downward transitions (just have to remember to really keep my leg on so we don't collapse into the transition), likes to stretch down.

    Here are some videos (pics are in my signature):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfJfMRE87bU flatwork at home

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l71PZ...eature=related jumping at home

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQq_glSpcq8 showing over fences

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i08ZsCjE_B0 showing in undersaddle class



  18. #18
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    Look at this guy! He is Percheron x TB (notice they don't actually mention that...).

    http://www.paintedponysporthorses.com/rex.php



  19. #19
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    Mar. 10, 2006
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    midwest
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    Default Big, beautiful horses!

    My full Perch is a 17.1, 11 year old gelding. He was bred in Canada, sold as a weanling. Was originally trained to be a hitch horse, ended up too hot for the job, and was sold at an auction to my trainer, with a note "Not a ladies horse"
    Strengths: athletic, 'fancy pants' trot: smooth, lots of suspension, elastic, naturally rhythmic; flying changes; nice big walk, collection
    Challenges: attitude-horse has more opinions about things than I do, easily distracted, a recreational spooker
    From a sheer physical standpoint, think he is capable of doing all the upper level movements. From a mental standpoint, getting him to focus and not argue about things can be difficult some days.
    We have 3 modes:
    1. " You and what army, lady" mode
    2. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'll do it" mode
    3. "Yes, ma'am!" mode.
    My trainer would like to see a lot more Mode 3, and less of the other two. Would say that is my biggest challenge-he is big, gorgeous and knows it. I have learned to be much tougher and a better rider because of him. I do have a young rider who rides him 2 days a week-she has more consistently good work with him than I do, but he also has some naughty times with her. The nature of the beast.
    Love him dearly.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewin View Post
    What was hard but we have fixed:
    Canter, she used to tune me out and RUN. (We had this problem a bit as a hunter, but the fences would back her off.) I just reinforced my half-halts when she ran through them by immediately walking, walk two strides, and resuming the canter. Lots of canter transitions every session. Tons.
    I had to chuckle a bit at this. I started working with a lady that I still work with and bought my mare from because of a Percheron canter issue. He could canter - but he couldn't canter AND turn.

    Well, she owns 10 acres in a small neighborhood (only a certain amount of houses could be within 100 years from the bay, so they couldn't split up the 10 acres anymore...lucky her!). Imagine the look on the neighbor's faces when she came cantering past them because her ring area did was not originally fenced in and she would ask for the canter - ok....turn - not so ok....

    The only horse she ever regretted selling - once the canter+turn issue was fixed, he was a great horse - real great mind - almost no spook (hey, a deer suddenly jumping out of the bushes would scare me also..and he only jumped a bit, not bolting or anything), great gaits and ability to bend and everything, once he figured it out....miss him.



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