I think you have wonderful goals, to enjoy the training process and take your new horse as far as it will go. She sounds like she has a fantastic brain, and that is the critical trait for a green rider. I agree that you won't NEED a year of ground work, but if you want to spend that time, it won't be wasted. Larger horses need to have excellent ground manners, or they will become difficult to handle very quickly.
I have posted previously that I ride a 19h full Percheron, and I make sure everyday that he follows all the ground rules, he is just too big not to! We are also just enjoying the slow methodical training process. My trainer has told me she has no doubts that he can get to Second level, provided I am willing to put the time into getting him strong enough for the work. He is currently solid training level, schooling First, and we are planning to show First next season.
My only comment about showing, be prepared for a LOT of attention. Larger, more unique horses will draw crowds, even at schooling shows, and everyone will want to know about your mare. Every time I take my Perch to a mini event or dressage show and there are gaggles of kids always around petting, hugging and taking pictures of him because of his size.
Have fun with your mare, as it sounds like she is a great find, and don't let DQs spoil your day. Your girl doesn't know she wasn't purpose bred for dressage, so don't set any limitations on her, just enjoy the ride!
We handwalked all around the farm, learned that was can't rear when we want to eat grass, learned that if we are feeling fresh a squeal is okay, but nipping the butt of my whip and my knuckles is not! We learned how to steer, give to pressure, handle ropes flopping all over while being ground driven, lunged, etc.
All these lessons have made him a much more respectful partner and made the riding part a huge nonevent.
A friend of mine has a sensitive and EXTREMELY athletic 4yo Hano mare... she spent lots and lots of time doing all of this since she got the horse at 1.5 years, and boy does it show. She has been in training with a pro and was shown quite a bit by a JR/YR this season, but it has all been possible because the owner put in this early work. Even being such a sensitive and athletic young horse, she is always a pleasure to work around, even on her bad days.
So if you want to spend a lot of time doing groundwork... it may not be completely necessary, but will certainly pay dividends down the road. Otherwise, just ignore the DQ. You've got a great plan that is very pragmatic and realistic. Go enjoy your horse!!!
I bought a 4 year old unbroke Morgan mare this summer. I carefully researched the breeder, spent a lot of time talking to her, and had my vet's approval. My H/J friends AND my Dressage friends think I am bonkers. I actually had someone say to me "Are you really going to ride that THING?"
She is naturally quiet and good-minded. She's had good handling but not consistent-- lots of time hanging out in fields with other babies. I figured it'd take awhile to get things rolling but after about 2 weeks someone (cough, cough meupatdoes) was up on her and now she's had about 5 rides and is trotting on the rail, longing easily with voice commands, and is essentially a joy to be around.
People are already starting to change their opinions of her and I can't wait till we are showing next summer and I can say "neener neener neener" to all the folks who thought I was nuts and she was a gamble not worth taking.
So anyway you are not alone.... and I think you will be fine. But be sure to post pics and keep us updated!!
We couldn't all be cowboys, so some of us are clowns.
I think you are taking exactly the right course of action in planning much more time than you may need for the ground work. Too often people do the opposite and end up pushing young horses beyond where their young minds are ready to go.
Particularly with a breed that is not bred for dressage, you're definitely going to benefit from lots of ground work prior to riding. I have worked with GV's in the past, numerous green ones and started one as well, and the canter is not their strong suit (much like other driving-bred horses). However lots of time on the longe on a large circle can work miracles in that area and will make teaching the canter MUCH easier than trying to do it under saddle.
Since they are not dressage-bred, and are bred to be very non-reactive, you are going to want to have a trainer who is very good with developing horses through longeing and ground work (ie. understands how to use longe cues and body language effectively), which it seems you already know. Stick to your guns on that one and find someone really good- don't let someone come in and tell you that 2 weeks of longeing are going to do it with a GV, because taking shortcuts will really make life much harder than it needs to be. The ground work WILL pay off huge dividends with a GV! Just be prepared- they are very strong and when first learning to longe, you're going to want to do it somewhere fenced, preferably a large round pen.
Feel free to PM my if you have any thoughts or questions once things get rolling. I have done a ton of longe and ground training with babies (and my adult horses as needed) and can probably offer some tips if you get stuck.
I was just at a recognized show last weekend, and happened to be passing the arena when a black cob with white feathers that swooshed like a ballgown trotted down center line. So I stopped to watch.
I don't know his/her breeding, but he was cute as a button, forward, on the bit and steady as a rock. Unlike a number of others (including one of my wb guys, ridden by my trainer at his first show in a long while, who got creamed for resistance. He was a little looky ).
I don't know what the black cob scored, but I would have been proud to ride him.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
I know exactly what you are feeling... I went to look at a horse down the road from where I work two years ago. He was a large paint draft cross and I was on crutches, couldn't fit a boot on my right ankle to save my life and could barely bare weight on it. (not to mention the pain killers)
I pulled myself on this monster horse with one shoe on, got my bra caught on the saddle horn (cause you can't drag yourself on with an AP saddle... not enough handle) and he stood there and looked at me like I was an idiot until I got straightened out. Then we walked and trotted up and down the barn aisle of the saddlebred barn where he was a "school horse" at five years old. I fell as I dismounted because my right leg didn't hold up and was sitting in the barn aisle under this 17 hand baby and he again looked at me like "really lady?" and waited till I got on my feet.
Needless to say I bought him and he has turned out to be perfect. TOTALLY GREEN... apparently not much steering is needed if you are only ridden up and down the barn aisle in W/T lessons. But his temperament is impeccable, he may never make an upper level eventer but lower level stuff and trail riding, dressage etc we do just fine so far in our career. (he did his first baby green event this summer).
Your horse sounds wonderful to me !! The one thing she has is a good mind and that is one thing you can't train a horse to have!! She probably won't be ready for much till into her 4th year anyways ( being a draft, still growing, maturing in mind and body) and groundwork is a wonderful way to build a relationship. I am jealous and hope you enjoy her immensely.
so, it's not the horse you buy, its the training that counts.
i would personally get a professional or very experienced rider involved to help give your girl a solid start so that when you get on she will already have a solid foundation. i would also not really start serious work til 3.5 but having someone ride her (hopfully on the lunge) weekly til then should be okay if she is well developed.
i also would involve a excellent trainer and take as many lessons /week as you can afford.
the beginning is the hardest and the most important: pony needs to learn how to balance under a rider, how to be forward, responsive, bending, accepting the bit and working into it etc etc.
while it can be done by a green rider it usually works better if done by a trained rider.
enjoy your horse, and don't let anyone give you grief
We're in darkest Utah, our dressage scene is pretty low-key and there are all sorts of horses competing and having fun at the lower levels--especially at the schooling shows. I have a friend who has a full Clyde (bred for Bud, but came out slightly the wrong color) that she took to second level a few years ago.
If the DQ was that great, she'd be riding in California...
PM me whereabouts you are and I'll put my thinking cap on for an appropriate trainer. Are you prepared to send the horse out to board or do you want to trailer in somewhere? There are a couple of trainers out in the Kamas/Heber area who have worked with Alfredo Hernandez quite a bit who might be able to help you. There are also a couple of trainers I'd not touch with a 10ft pole, one of them being someone you might think obvious to use for a GV.
Sure, dressage is hard, but you aren't planning to go GP. Training level basics makes for a good riding horse.
Your clyde/gypsy cross is also known as a Drum horse. In England, it is a job description (the Drum horse carries the big kettle drums - they are usually over 17hh, feathered and coloured). You get all that by breeding either shire or clydesdale with a gypsy or another Drum. Here in the States they average about 16hh+ and are used for a variety of disciplines - I've seen them jumping, driving and there are several in TX alone competing in dressage. I will get back to competition with my Drum mare, Tessa as soon as she is over her colic surgery.
And yes (eyes rolling....)gypsy horses can canter. The problem is that too many people in the States who purchased these horses have never ridden in their lives. Ergo...the trot classes. I just got back from the OK State Fair and we had all sorts of WTC and hunter hack classes. Heck the Gypsy World show at the Fort Worth Stock show had a beautiful 3' jumping course...our stallion pinned second - got a bit sticky with lead changes. It was the first time he ever jumped an entire course like that!
As for your lovely Drum...or clyde cross - have fun with her. They do grow into their 5th/6th year. My Tessa grew another inch at 5 1/2 and stands a solid 17hh and we had to back off cantering until everything caught up. Your filly might be big, but she is still a baby.
I think your horse sounds great! I am at the same place with a 3 year old Haflinger mare. I would be willing to pen-pal with someone that is doing a similar thing with a similar kind of horse. PM me if you feel like it! Anyway, good luck! Sounds like fun!
Last edited by DressagePony75; Sep. 21, 2011 at 03:55 PM.
Regarding the original post, but shouldn't conformation be the #1 thing to be looking at when buying a horse?
Depends on who is buying. Temperament and ability are the two most important things to me (an AA); as long as the horse can physically do what I want and can be reasonably expected to remain sound, I don't give a hoot about its conformation. That said, you just aren't going to find many horses with bad conformation that fit that description.
How big of a mistake did I really make? What am I missing that I should be thinking through? Is dressage even worth pursuing? A run-in with a local DQ has me really questioning whether I should bother doing anything but trail rides with her. The "what do you mean she's not broke yet" and "why on earth would you spend so much time on groundwork" have me really questioning whether what I planned on is even the right thing for her. I really love working with this mare, and plan on keeping her even if all we ever do is trail ride. I know that I'm not anywhere near skilled enough to train her on my own, but I'm also really looking forward to watching a trainer work with her and watching her grow.
All throughout your post, I honestly couldn't help thinking "what mistake?" I kept waiting for it, and waiting, and waiting... alas I reached the end of your post and still hadn't found the mistake. I'm still confused. You bought a horse whom you love working with, she's all that you wanted and were looking for by the sounds of it, and you're looking out for both yours and her best interests. Imo you've got everything right You're the exact type of owner I love working with when I am training a horse.
Don't listen to what others say (I mean the DQ, lol) - people open their mouths all the time... doesn't mean they actually know anything or that you should do things their way The reason we start horses young is because at that age (3, 4) they're still looking for guidance, they're still unsure of themselves yet and thus are most receptive to being taught. It's a perfect opportunity to offer them that guidance they are seeking; they do not have established patterns and habits that are difficult to change. The positives of starting a horse young however has to be balanced with that horse's needs, what is best for that horse, and what also works best for you! Personally, I start all mine at 4 (though I highly recommend working with them on the ground prior - even from a foal onward). I refuse to touch client horses under 3. 4 IS NOT TOO OLD!!! Especially considering your goals - take your time! Furthermore, the more groundwork you do, the better!!!!! The more preparation you do with your mare, the easier she will be to start u/s, and the better she will be u/s. More preparation, taking your time, can be NOTHING but good. This is coming from someone who does groundwork with every single horse (whether starting or re-starting) I work with, even if that means (ie, with a re-hab) stepping off the horse for a few months and doing groundwork before swinging my leg back over. Imo you've got everything right in your idea that you can establish much on the ground, including teaching your mare how to carry herself. I love how you look at dressage and your plans in that regard, in addition to your plan to work with professionals and instructors to teach both you and your mare correct from the start.
I say to continue with your plan, sounds like you're on track and really have your horse's best interests at heart
....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.
It was all I could do to politely reply to her that my purpose in dressage wasn't ribbons, it was to learn how to improve myself as a rider and get the best from the horse I was riding.
This is supposed to be the REAL purpose of dressage, regardless of whether one is showing or not It is a discipline meant to develop the horse into a better horse (mentally, emotionally, physically), to develop the partnership between horse and rider to be harmonious, and to develop the rider into a better rider.
....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.