What to look for in a driving instructor?
I have already set my filly up to be trained with a local driving instructor. He's is the 3rd generation in his family that has driven and trained driving horses, and he drives a 6-hitch with Clydesdales at exhibitions for a big trailer company (don't really want to say which one, since it's a public forum!). He's in his early 40's, I believe.
His attitude seems pretty laidback and he doesn't seem to get too excited about anything; definitely not a "rough and ready cowboy" type. My filly was mishandled a bit before (she used to get pretty aggressive at just the sight of a whip; she's better now), so I know how hard it is to get a horse back into "calm & willing mode" after they've been mistreated.
I talked to the local equine vet, and she said that she had quite a few clients that have gone to him, and all of them liked the result. But she didn't know him herself.
Call me paranoid, but I'm just wondering what advice people can give me on selecting a driving trainer. I feel insecure because I know nothing about driving. It's not too late to back out now, and I will do so if I think they aren't a good match.
My other option is another local trainer who's been training for about 7 years, and keeps the horses for a minimum of two months. She does have a website with a log for each horse in training (which is nice, especially if you live out of state), but I'm seeing that most of the horses that are with her stay for 4-6 months. Does it really take that long to teach a horse how to drive? At her fee of $800 a month, I don't know if I could afford that. The other guy is charging $500/month, but it's not about the money. (But it would be if she was there for an extended period of time, like 6 months.) I just don't want someone yanking my chain for 6 months, trying to get more money out of me, when they could've had my horse ready in a month or two. I asked the guy that I'm considering how long he usually keeps his "horse trainees" and he says that a month is usually good enough. He did state that he had one horse that took 2 months, but it was pretty much wild when it came to them, and couldn't even be haltered. :shock: I think he may take only one horse at a time, too, so that would definitely lead to individualized attention.
But if I do end up going to this guy, what kind of stuff should I look for in his training methods that is ordinary/not ordinary? He said that he works on ground work, then pairs the horse up with his "training horse"- an older, more experienced Clydesdale- then after they get comfortable driving as a pair, he drives them single.
Obviously, if he's knocking the crap out of my horse, I'm going to tell him to bugger off, and get out of there. But what are some "rights and wrongs" in driving? I know nothing about it; he was going to give me lessons as well, so hopefully I will know more soon (if I go with him, that is)!
Well, first off, I would ask each how much time per day and how many days per week they will spend on your horse. If one trainer is taking 6 months, it is likely that they are not training often or for long. Now you don't want you're horse over worked, so 5 hours a day is really too much just to get them in and out quickly (yes, I've seen driving trainers do this). As with a riding instructor for yourself, this is liable to give and take a little as you always want to end on a good note. Some trainers may to a morning and evening session as well, get more work in in fewer days, but not test your horse's patience and attention span.
You do want to go by and watch this person work with a horse that is near the same level as yours, see how he/she handles issues. I, personally, believe there is a fine line between firmness and aggression. I don't want a horse walking all over me, but I don't want them scared of me either. It would also be a good idea to just drop in on some training sessions. It can be nerve wracking for the trainer to have the owner out there watching, and they are always on their best behavior then, but the horse doesn't know how to lie to you. If the trainer has been too rough with them, the horse will show it even when the trainer is trying to show off to you. You definitely want him to instruct you as well. It is best for you to learn on a horse that will give the correct response when you give the correct cue, and learning from the guy that is teaching your filly, will mean you and her are on the same page. Towards the end of your training time with him, you should be working with your own horse under his instruction, to make sure things won't blow up when you get home.
His training method I've seen often, as strapping a young horse to a calm, larger horse, will often help to calm the younger one and keep them relaxed with newer things. Horses are herd animals and they tend to look up to older horses to see how they should respond. If the old guy just plods along, that tarp must not really eat horses!
Thank you both! :D
Corporal- I did consider sending her to the local Amish near my home (she's currently there, and only about 25 miles away from them), as opposed to having her here by me, but I wanted to make sure that she was treated correctly. I've heard of some of the Amish around our parts getting pretty nasty with their horses, and for her sake and mine, I just thought I'd avoid the issue altogether and go to someone that I can supervise. You're lucky that you found a good one! It's hard to get a straight answer (regarding the best trainers/carpenters/etc.) from them sometimes, especially since their community is so tight-knit.
This guy is only 20 minutes away, and I do plan on making visits about every night (especially unexpected ones, no matter how rude that may seem!). I'm very "in tune" with my mare's behavior, so hopefully I will be able to tell if she's being abused in any way.
Call me stupid, but I didn't ask how long he works with them each day, I just asked IF he works with them each day. God I'm a dork! :? He said something about taking Sundays off, and I'm pretty sure he works his horses at least once a day, or every other day, since they can't just go out and "wing it" in a show ring. That's definitely something I'm going to inquire about! Thank you!
I think the 1 month is too short and the 5 to 6 months is too long . a lot of that is going to depend on what you have done with the horse also . with a lot of work being done ahead of time I took mine for a training session and be hooked to a drag the first time . they wanted me to use the Drag for a couple weeks and I thought she was ready to hitch.once they saw her they agreed she was ready to hitch but normally that would not have been the case. I would want to definitely go watch both of them drive I do not like it when people use the reins for the whip and getting the horse to go. my guess is the 1 month guy hitches them quickly and the other horse controls them I think that is not the proper way to do it if you want to build trust
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TV, I know how my farrier treats my horses, and you don't know how the Amish trainer(s) you might be considering would handle your horse. There is a big difference.
Don't feel bad that you didn't think about all of the questions--this is your first time hiring, and that's the benefit of forums like this one.
I've been told that 3 months training is sufficient.
Once I've saved up for it, I intend to do something different--I'd be trailering my horse to my farrier/trainer on a Thursday, then picking him up again the next Monday, and do as many weekends as it takes during warm weather. I like to keep my herd together. Too many days apart and they'd be fighting for position. Don't need any unneccessary Vet bills. Plus, don't think you can trailer a young horse too often.
So just to update this thread with what I know now...
My filly is being worked multiple times (short sessions) daily.
I got her there on March 8th, and I know that he started feeling her out (ground manners, etc.) that weekend, but didn't do anything other than that.
On March 13th, he was ground driving her (or long lining, whatever you like to call it), and was impressed that she automatically knew her directions. In his words, "I usually don't even try to turn them at first, since it just confuses them. But I did it just to see how she'd respond, and she performed it correctly." She's done it correctly ever since, too. :D He even thought I was lying when I said that I hadn't worked with her on responding to bit pressure yet! Must be all that groundwork and leading we've done. :wink:
Sometime around March 16th he hooked her up to a tire, and said she didn't seem to care whatsoever. He had her drag it around the barn first (as he doesn't have an indoor arena, and that's his only enclosed area). Then they went outside.
Fast forward to March 20th (this last Wednesday), and I headed out to his place to see her drag the tire. Imagine my surprise when, upon arriving, I see her and a tall Percheron gelding outside dragging a training sled for the first time! Mind you, the gelding was doing most of the pulling, but she was definitely relaxed, and taking everything in stride. The gelding wanted to go, go, GO! But her attitude was more like, "Nah. I think I like walking better." Lol! I asked the trainer if she reacted when hooked up to the sled, and he said, "No, not really. Took everything in stride."
I think that the trainer is pretty impressed with her manners and willingness. I told him to go slow, as I didn't want to rush this and have her blow up, and he confirmed that he is, but she is pretty comfortable with anything. He said he might even have her (and the gelding) drive a cart this weekend.
Needless to say, I'm excited! :D
I'm so surprised at how well she's taking all of this! She's developed good manners by being worked with daily, but I never knew that she'd progress this fast! I'm going to make sure that she's comfortable with everything, before taking her home. I want a bomb-proof driving horse. That way, I can go out on my own, and not have a problem with her.
Also, I was wrong about him saying that he usually only takes a month to train them. He said that it usually takes him about 2 months to train one to drive.
I have seen him work with her, and he's very gentle with them. His approach seems to be, "Work them until they consistently get it right." He actually doesn't talk much when he's working her (or any horse, for that matter), and I've never seen him lift a finger towards my horse or towards any of his own. He's pretty quiet, really, which is something I really like about his attitude.
Glad all is going well.
They will come shortly! I have to get my camera back from my mother! :lol:
Where are you from in Iowa, churumbeque? I ask because I am from Iowa too. :)
Good to here all is going well. That is exciting.
If you need a cart I have a meadowbrook for sale:lol:
Looking forward to photos.
Glad you are cautious about going too fast, really important in driving.
What kind of horse is your girl, how tall? Forgive me, I can't remember.
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