Hi, I have a stout 15h QH gelding that I would like to do some form of carriage driving with. I'm interested in dressage and possible marathon.... do QH folks to that? If so can anyone point me in the directions to start my education with this? Thanks in advance.
There are QH classes for those who have QH and drive. Go to the AQHA web site and they can help you out on that further, all a bunch of really nice folks and I have seen some beautiful horses in those classes. All elegant movers, calm, level headed, true to the QH breed.
I also think that a QH would do very well doing dressage and marathon, you have speed, a good mind, a quick thinker and an animal that was bred to be athletic...what more can you ask for? :-) Have fun!!
You can also leave a msg on the QH site so ask them if they know of any QH folks in your area who can help you on this journey too.
Starting with a nice quiet horse for your beginning driving, is the best way to start. QH or not, quiet is great to have on a horse.
I would agree that the AQHA folks would not have any knowledge in the areas you want to learn. They have breed driving, very different "wants" from a Dressage and Marathon driving animal.
Sites that DriveNJ gave you will be your best place to start with learning what the horse needs to do, to be successful, then on to competing in those areas.
Starting at low levels of competition, building YOUR skills as a driver, building the muscles and responses in your horse, is going to take a while. Lessons are strongly recommended from a trainer who know how to do driven dressage. Marathon and Cones comes later, when horse is fully under control with a carriage. Yes, I know, Marathon IS the most fun, but without power steering that Dressage puts on the horse, you will have problems in hazards.
A QH can compete successfully, but they have drawbacks in their build. Understand that ALL breeds have both plus and minus features when the horse is used hard in preparing, then competing in Combined Driving. QH usually has a good stride length, if not "westernized" for pleasure riding. However many lack substance in legs and hooves to take the milage needed for conditioning for long distances of Marathon. QH may also have problems with the "low head, often downhill withers body", in being able to "lift and drive from behind" as expected with Dressage as you move up the levels. Training and Prelim have much less collection, but you are building the horse towards REAL collection of the entire body, not just a vertical face. Horse MUST lift head, to lift the shoulders and front end, so he can reach under from behind. Again, hard to do with a horse who is built naturally low headed.
So you can certainly get your QH horse trained to drive, take driving lessons, put your feet on the ladder towards competition. If horse works out then you use him, learning as you go along. Volunteer at some Events, see what goes on in other parts of competing.
If you continue to like the CDE stuff, keep on with the lessons, see how far your horse will take you. Just doing low level Events, will train you in what is needed to control anxiety, plan hazard routes, timing on course, facing the Judges when you go to do your memorized Dressage tests. That can make you put lots of pressure on yourself!! Don't expect to be perfect, they call it TRAINING so you and horse LEARN as you go along, improve.
Driving in CDEs is rather demanding, certainly not a cheap or inexpensive way to compete. Vehicles and harness, ,fuel to haul to show, entry fees and hotel costs add up. Moving up the levels will make you need to upgrade to a more expensive vehicle to allow you better driving methods. You may need a new horse, more capable of better Dressage frame, gaits, in the higher levels asking for harder requests from you.
In the end, YOU have to decide how hard you want to play at this game. Keeping a horse properly conditioned means constant work to keep him fit, hours out of your daily routine. He has to be "fresh, happy-looking" not drilled and dull when you show. Driving distances to compete, can really add up with time, fuel, vehicles to haul horse and the "accessories" of driving. NOT going to work with a small truck and trailer. Then you need a groom person to attend with you, who can help and navigate at the CDE.
Whew! I am getting tired of thinking of all the stuff you do to play Driving!!
Rewards are many, Driving folks are among the nicest of any horse folks competing. We have found them always ready with a helping hand or harness part if needed. You get to spend plenty of time outside with your horse, friends or family you can convince to come driving with you! You NEVER get a sore rear from the saddle!