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Young FreisianX in training.... concerns

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  • Young FreisianX in training.... concerns

    I was talking to my twin bro. on the phone this evening and somethings he said about their 3 y.o. they went to visit at the "trainer's" today kinda' bothered me. Merlin is in training for driving with an Amish family and so, when they showed up to visit him, there wasn't anyone on the farm (I forget the technical term but basically it's "visiting day"). They waited a little while and then they saw a big black horse running up to the farm with the boys (I'm assuming these would be the Amish farmer's sons) driving and he was covered in sweat from head to toe... there was even sweat dripping down the horse's hooves. My brother also mentioned that the farmer's sons have been riding the horse all over the place. I don't have a driving background but have some major concerns over this.

    Is there any excusable reason, other than a 90+ degree, super-humid day(I don't know what the high near Ft. Leavenworth, KS was today), for a 3 y.o. to come back from a drive (the horse is out for 30-60 days) dripping in sweat?

    Was it inappropriate for them to take the horse off the farm on a social day vs. a work day?

    If the farmer was contracted to train the horse, WTF were his kids (I'm assuming teenagers, I know they probably have been doing this for years...) doing driving the horse?

    The horse is there for driving training, do the boys have any business climbing aboard and riding the horse? I know my brother has walked him around the ring for a few minutes on occasion under saddle just to begin getting him used to being ridden.

    To me, it sounds like the farmer's family is taking advantage of the free use of a willing horse who picks things up very quickly. I guess there was the advantage that my sis-in-law had been long lining him and doing tons of ground work and he had had a bridle and saddle on, so there really wasn't that much to get him used to in terms of new equipment going on his body. Still! I think I would have been burning rubber home to get the trailer and remove my horse post haste when I saw him comming "home" covered in sweat like that unless there was a d***ed good reason he arrived back at the farm in that condition. We won't go into what I think of them for telling my sis-in-law to go ahead and drive across the water (turned out to be a flash flood; sis not familiar with area to know what water level to use as a comparison for safe crossing and no signs/ water markers) a week and a half ago (Trail Blazer was totalled after being swept off the bridge with no guard rail or sides of any kind, 5 month pregnant sis-in-law got knocked off the top of the vehicle where she planned on being handed niece by a branch and had to swim to safety, adult passenger had to swim to safety after retrieving my 16 month old niece from her carseat... no humans were harmed in this incident, TG), "we do it all the time".

    I'll save figuring out how to tactfully bring up my concerns to my sibling/ sibling-in-law for after I have gotten a few responses and cooled off a little bit. I was a bit speechless when my brother was telling me about this (and his cell phone was cutting in and out some too).
    Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

    COTHers & Friends on Howrse

  • #2
    The Amish don't baby horses. Based on what I know, this doesn't sound at all unusual in terms of the way they train horses or mules. I bet that horse will be able to plow a field when he comes home, too. He'll probably be a lot more broke and better behaved than other 3 yr old harness horses, too.
    I ride a mule. I paint dogs.


    • Original Poster

      Maybe I'm a bit paranoid because of the diagnostic, treatment, and management H-E-double-hockey sticks I went through with my TB gelding who developed pedal osteoitis. His was a result of poor farrier work prior to my purchasing him but I know it's a condition that's more common of an injury in carriage horses that are pounding the pavement too hard/ much. The same horse also has a history of tying-up, though his seems to be more weather related than work related.
      Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

      COTHers & Friends on Howrse


      • #4
        Yes, it would concern me Alot! A 3yo should not be ridden/driven that hard. Friesians mature late and I would worry about excess stress on their joints. Follow your instinct. If you have a bad feeling go with it and go pick him up.
        Friesians Rule !!


        • #5
          I would also be taking young horse home. At three, he is too young, mentally and physically, to be working himself into a sweat. On such large horses, his bones are not done being built, no matter how willingly he is doing jobs requested.

          Fresians have some other breed concerns that we have seen over the years. First is color. Black really absorbs the sunshine, helps overheat the horse doing active work in driving. With slender body build, not hugely deep chested, Fresians have smaller lungs that do not function as well to cool large horse body in work. A couple articles from past driving magazines mentioned this as a concern for CDE and distance driving competitions.

          Fresians are known to overheat easily in warm weather with high humidity. They can need prompt attention to be cooled properly, down to the body core, so they don't overheat AGAIN when put away. We did see that happen at a CDE, horses were back up to 102F+ an hour after being hosed, temps checked by vet, put back in stalls. Outside temp was 85F with humidity almost 90.
          The people driving them were watching them in stalls, so caught the problem quickly, but it is a BREED PROBLEM in the WRONG weather or work setup. They can invert temp and respiration really fast. Not self-cooling like other breeds. These were hugely expensive horses, had been in a good conditioning program, driven conservatively. Owners gave up CDE, went to Pleasure driving activities.

          Not seeing the horse and training stystem in action, this might be a one time thing. HOWEVER, this is not what I would want my young, willing horse to be doing AT ALL!

          There are good and poor Amish horse trainers. Just like anyone, the lifestyle they live does not insure the people are GOOD horse trainers. They use what they have learned, good or poor. My friend sent her Paint gelding to an Amish man for driving training. She had NO problem with Paint being driven 20+ miles a day as a 3yr old. Her family has had horses for years, Grampa used his horses the same way. Horse has to do what user requires. She thought the Amish man did a good job with her horse, much easier on him than other local Amish trainers.

          Terrific write-up in Driving Digest a couple issues back about an extended Amish family who breed, train, sell driving horses. Train all breeds, have devoted, repeat customers, make sure horse you buy suits you. Sound like the horse dealers we all wish we had!! Their trainees compete in all kinds of driving, Pleasure, Shows, CDE, very willing, nice driving horses.

          I would say the Amish man and family who have young horse are not doing training, as I would want it done. Possibly overusing the young horse. This would be where Amish get a poor name in horse training practices. Doesn't sound like your brother or SIL really know what horse should be doing, expectations of correct steps to driving training. Amish get used often because they are inexpensive. However you can't line up horse trainers, fees charged, then expect the resulting horses to all come out exactly the same, though training steps all have the same names!! Not like buying a physical product, bread or shoes.

          I would be bringing this horse home, giving him some time off, hope he forgot bad parts of what he learned. Then I would be educating myself about driving light horses, a carriage horse prospect, with some clinics, local driving clubs, take lessons from Carriage driver, on what a young driving horse should be doing. I doubt this was an inexpensive horse, don't cheap out on training and longer time needed to produce a GOOD, riding and driving horse.
          We don't even think of hitching young horses until late 4yr old. Too much stress on the big bones and soft joints of our horses. I would be riding him a little at early 4 if possible, getting responsive to bit signals and legs of rider at this time. Showing horse things along the road at a walk, slow trot. Extra time now won't be any big deal in the long use ahead of him.


          • #6
            I would consider it free extra training if they're teaching the driving horse to ride or to drive in traffic (free bombproofing).... no harm in that. No harm either in letting the amish teens work with the horse. It's been my experience most amish teens are *nothing* like the average American teen; they're not spoiled brats who have no clue how to handle a horse. They know very well how to drive... heck, they were probably out plowing the family's fields with horses when they were just big kids.

            However, at 3 I wouldn't put a horse (especially a bigger horse) into hard training.... but that was a mistake the owner did, not the amish trainer. The trainer is just doing what he was hired to do -- train.
            Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


            • #7
              Admittedly I'm new to driving but NOT new to horse training. This just sounds like too much for a 3 year old - especially a late-maturing breed like a Freisian. This young guy might be very willing right now but too much heavy work could sour him very quickly! I'd definitely get him out of the situation fast.

              OTOH I would not be upset if the horse had some under-saddle training in addition to the driving. As long as it was done correctly and the horse wasn't hurt it's only an added benefit. But before I became too critical of the trainer I'd want to know just exactly what the training agreement was. Perhaps you brother told them to go ahead and use the horse? Could simply be a miscommunication in what was expected.

              Let us know what happens.
              Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

              PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages


              • #8
                Can someone point me in the right direction for the articles that discuss the Friesian's smaller lung capacity and heat intolerance, etc.?



                • Original Poster

                  Originally posted by Ashemont
                  Admittedly I'm new to driving but NOT new to horse training. This just sounds like too much for a 3 year old - especially a late-maturing breed like a Freisian. This young guy might be very willing right now but too much heavy work could sour him very quickly! I'd definitely get him out of the situation fast.

                  OTOH I would not be upset if the horse had some under-saddle training in addition to the driving. As long as it was done correctly and the horse wasn't hurt it's only an added benefit. But before I became too critical of the trainer I'd want to know just exactly what the training agreement was. Perhaps you brother told them to go ahead and use the horse? Could simply be a miscommunication in what was expected.

                  Let us know what happens.
                  My understanding of the situation is sis-in-law is pregnant with off-spring # 4, twin bro. is going to be travelling quite a bit for his job (active-duty Army) over the next few months, off-spring #s 1,2,and 3 are aged 9 years, 6 years, and 16 months. Already a scheduling nightmare without any of the 4-leggeds added into the mix. They figured since sis-in-law's belly would be growing adding more challenge to the scheduling and stamina issues, a logical step would be to go ahead and send him to driving trainer for a few months to continue young horse's early ground training and get the basics for driving. Horse is supposed to be sis-in-law's dressage horse, eventually, and the driving is sort of a dabbling thing that would be a nice additional skill set for him to have. (I'm not sure how clearly this was communicated to the trainer; sisters gabbing on the phone for an hour seem to be better at pulling more information out) I am 99.9% certain that sis-in-law would not want anyone riding the horse. Even bro has been "lucky" to get on him and that's mainly because of his financial support of the horse habbit while she is doing so much hands-on mommy time. My understanding was that the other family was not to be riding the horse at all. I've already put in my DQ concerns about riding a slower-maturing breed youngster AT ALL at his age (my twin bro. isn't a small boy at 6'+ and 215 lbs.). I have expressed multiple times that I would have even been nervous getting on the horse at all when I was in peak riding shape at 5'2" and 108 lbs. As if family relationship issues weren't complicated enough, horse issues had to be added to the mix. I'm just the stupid sister despite having done this horse stuff for several years longer and my 'professional' opinion doesn't count as much on training issues because I wasn't paid for it... even when they were the ones to approach me and ask for my advice.

                  I think perhaps it's time for a phone call tomorrow while the older kids are at school and the toddler is napping when I can talk to sis-in-law directly. I tend to be able to get more details out of her than my brother. I'm not sure how much influence I'll have over the situation. I've been holding back over this one because there have been other things that have played out in the past that I said x, y, and z are going to happen and they did their own thing. Funny thing is that x, y, and z did happen exactly the way I said they would, they just had to learn it for themselves the hard way. I've been trying to butt out of horse-related stuff but this one really concerns me in all aspects of this young horse's bright future. I don't want to see them end up with a horse in his teens with the kinds of issues like the one they've been pushing me to get rid of "because you can't do what you want to do with him and he's basically useless to you". Then again, they may better understand my position of being committed to providing a good retirement for a horse that I learned many lessons from, even if they weren't the original path I planned on taking with the horse (but how many really do end up exactly where you planned on going with just a few minor speed bumps along the way?). That's not a lesson I would like to see be learned by another horse being ruined because of ignorant/ abusive training practices used in their youth.
                  Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

                  COTHers & Friends on Howrse


                  • #10
                    Gee... if someone had bought me a nice Freisian that I hoped to do dressage on and I was in SIL position I would've just done some longeline basics with him and then turned him out until I was no longer pregnant and could work him myself. As I understand it driving is not the best way to start a dressage horse. Ground driving, yes; working the horse the way this one seems to be doing, no. Not the same type of development. I might be new to driving but I've taken two stallions up the levels and have started innumerable young horses so I do know a little bit about the dressage side of things

                    I sure hope no damage has been done and that your SIL will realize her dream of having a lovely dressage mount.
                    Pat Belskie - ASHEMONT Farm

                    PnP Distributors - KUTZMANN Carriages


                    • Original Poster

                      Yeah, after a 5 year riding hiatus because of an injury sustained starting a youngster, I'd be happy to just plain be healthy enough to putz around on my green(-ish) 16 y.o. mare at Training Level more than a few times a year. Having a horse that I could realistically develop and start chipping away at my USDF Bronze Medal and a husband who is willing to help financially support that track would totally blow my mind. I'd guard the horse and the dream with my life.

                      I don't think the driving training thing was really thought through past it might be a fun, different kind of thing to do and doubt that it would ever really be used past the occasional hacking around (or possible selling point if they ever did decide to sell). The purchase of a weanling 4 summers ago for "fun to watch growing up" proved to be quite a reality check.... she didn't believe me that they go through some really obnoxious phases and don't become really "civilized", like her teenaged gelding, until they're at least 7. She's heard, "Yup, that's pretty normal for a colt that age" many times when she has thought she had an unusually difficult baby on her hands. I've tried to be the voice of reason to look beyond the short-term in the past but it hasn't been terribly successful and they are adults spending their own $$ and time so, I can't really "force" them to do anything. Sometimes a 1/2 to a full country of geographical separation is a good thing.
                      Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

                      COTHers & Friends on Howrse


                      • #12
                        Young Freisian cross in training....concerns

                        Have you considered just dropping the issue? I only mention this because 1) you are family, 2) you have not been listened to before, 3) you will probably not be listened to again, and 4) you are a great distance away. The biggest issue is family.....do you want to create more negative feelings? I feel you are making yourself sick over something you probably have no control over. JMOT


                        • #13
                          good idea 49er


                          • #14
                            Well, I think your twin brother & his wife made some not-very-effective choices for the horse - driving before dressage, hard training at 3, etc. However, I agree with those that said the Amish family is doing what they were asked to do. We live in a heavily Amish area. If you read the ads in the local paper, you will see horses are classed as "boy's horse" or "family horse". Horses are trained & given road miles almost exclusively by the teenage boys, not by an adult man driving his family around. The Amish work hard themselves & they expect their animals to work hard as well. An Amish horse being sweated up in that manner is pretty much par for the course. I have heard local driving people say, "never buy a horse from the Amish", "never have the Amish train your horse", etc. & then these same driving people send their horses off to an Amish trainer to get those road miles, that bombproofing.

                            This may not look good to you but I honestly believe the family is doing exactly what they think your brother & his wife want done - training & miles. Those ads I mentioned in the previous paragraph often say "ready for road miles".


                            • Original Poster

                              I'm just going to pretend it's the pregnancy hormones giving her a major case of the stupids. My twin bro. really doesn't have the experience or reading background to know any better. I still woulda' been pissed at arriving at the farm and realizing the boys had been out joy riding with my young horse (and sis-in-law said that they looked like they knew they shouldn't have been out with the horse and dad didn't know about it). She also won't get a sympathetic ear when the horse breaks down before she can get her USDF Bronze Medal on him.
                              Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

                              COTHers & Friends on Howrse


                              • #16
                                I can't recall ever seeing an Amishman riding a horse in a dressage competition, so I can't imagine why you'd send your dressage prospect off to the Amish for training. It's not exactly their niche. You send a horse off to a working farm to get trained, it's probably going to come back trained like a working farm horse.


                                • Original Poster

                                  The horse wasn't sent for dressage training, he was sent to learn to drive.
                                  Member: "Collector of Quirky Equines", "Incredible Invisibles", "Proud to be a Mushroom Head", and "Addicted to Howrse" cliques.

                                  COTHers & Friends on Howrse


                                  • #18
                                    Ah, well it sounds like he's being taught to be a farm horse, with driving as a byproduct.


                                    • #19
                                      I personally wouldn't be leaping to massive conclusions on the basis of what has been posted here.

                                      I'm taking that its a 3 year old fresian being put to harness. Nothing wrong with that at all

                                      It being ridden by kids. I presume if they are kids they aren't exactly going to be heavyweights and that isn't going to do it any harm. The OP said the brother had been on the horse - so kids riding him won't be an issue at all

                                      Ridden at all. Well you can teach a driving horse a heck of a lot under saddle and I wouldn't be concerned about a driving horse being ridden. Even if its intended to be some top level dressage horse in the future - which incidentally a fresian would in all likely hood not be.

                                      Driving is not the best way to start a dressage horse
                                      - mmm well I've had blooming loads started as drivers and done blooming well at dressage!

                                      Taking the horse and driving/riding all over the place. I've got a horse here now that has come to me for remedial training because all the first person did was drive it round a schooling area and enclosed field and its owner can't manage it as its not done enough. And I get on average a dozen or so like that a year.

                                      Coming in covered in sweat - I've got 3 profuse sweaters - they're fit and sweat no matter what the weather is like and no matter how far they go out. You guys in the USA might not have heard of Benny the Dip - alias "Benny the Drip" because of his profuse sweating - that won the Epsom Derby and whose offspring average selling price in 1999/2000 was £98,000 and 56 of those offspring won over $33,000,000 and all were profuse sweaters.


                                      • #20
                                        The Amish Trainer

                                        Thomas, you may not understand what we are talking about when we discuss Amish trainers. Amish folks are a religious group, which has many subsections, and usually don't believe in using gas powered machinery. Hence the mixed knowledge Amish have in horse usages. They don't believe in cars, use of tractors or electricity from the power company. Each group has general rules and local rules about how segregated they are from the modern world.

                                        Maybe picturing farm families from old western movies would give you a better picture of how they use horses. Horses work hard for these folks. A twenty mile daily drive is nothing uncommon, in all weathers. Horse goes, age or training level is not really a consideration. 3yr old WILL do the same job as the 12-15yr old, fit Standardbreds.

                                        Kids riding are not schooling horse as you seem to commonly expect from your remarks. These kids learn by actually riding, not alway in a correct manner, certainly Amish kids don't get riding lessons!
                                        They are much more likely to have hopped on, bareback or saddled, and taken off cross-country thru the farm fields. Usually at a canter, to get to the fun part of excursion faster. Might be a short jaunt, maybe canter a couple miles, both ways. The kids often race their horses, part of the fun. Weight is not the factor we were concerned about. Bridles are bitted with whatever was used on the last horse. Nothing special for a young horse. More likely a ring snaffle, or twisted or double twisted, wire snaffle. Very popular bits since Amish have to be able to stop what you ride or drive. Stopping and steering are much bigger concern than lightness or response to the reins. Pull harder if horse ignores you.

                                        As stated, none of this will probably kill or maim the horse. Just a really poor start for a willing, large young animal. Lots of unlearning he will have to go thru that should never been taught. Mileage on young bones he should not have.

                                        Maybe we can all check back here in about 3 years, see how horse has developed in his work from this start. There are good and poor Amish trainers. They just don't use horses like we do, their end result wanted is seldom the same result I would want.