Training the Draft Horse
I purchased my first draft-- a 17hh Clydesdale-- back in September. I have been waiting for him to gain weight before I ride him so we have not done much besides just putzing around behind the barn and the occasional short ride down the road and back (pre hunting season.) He is very basic... No neck reining, no leg pressures/seat cues.. And my question is, did you guys find it harder to teach these things to your draft horse as opposed to a lighter breed?
The reason I ask is I noticed that he is a lot slower than my other horses.. Not stupid, just slower to react and overall reminds me that he is constantly in slow motion! It could be that I am just used to my limber little 'ponies' that could do a 180 in one second flat. :-)
Does your draft neck rein well? Side pass?
they are just as capable of learning to side pass, neck rein, etc. I trained a Suffolk punch x Belgian mare that was VERY laid back, and she eventually neck reined and moved off leg.
I think you just have to keep in mind, they were bred to be steady and unflappable. You don't want your carriage/plow horses trying to race off all the time, or for that matter to be too quick and agile, spooking at things. Thus the "slow motion" thing. I have seen videos of Clyde's and other drafts doing basic dressage, they are capable, but you have to factor in what they are.
Drafts are the big trucks of the equine world, powerful and strong, but not overly fast, agile or responsive, where some other breeds, like a quarter horse(the original, cow horse/running type) or arab are more like a Ferrari, quick, agile, and very fast. You would never try to drive a truck like a Ferrari(if you had a brain), nor would you hitch your Ferrari to a heavy load.
Fiona is finer boned than a Clydesdale and can be quite agile, but she will yawn fest you with her walk. Her walk to me is like she's sleep-walking, it's such a depressingly slow walk :P
Squeezing your legs simultaneously with the horses front leg going forward at a walk will encourage him to walk out more. (I can't figure how to describe that better, I am terrible with words, I do better showing lol)
Fi responds incredibly well to leg aids as well as seat, she can be a bull and occasionally realizes she's big... but I rarely see that. They're incredibly smart, no doubt he'd catch on quickly!
There's no intentions here on trying to turn him into a speed demon, I really enjoy his natural pace as it is. He doesn't sleep walk (Haha, I like how you described that!) but he also doesn't move right out. He's only walk/trot right now and Im ecstatic at the idea of riding his lope... The closest thing to a draft horse I have ridden(before Jagger) is a 15.2hh Friesian/Peruvian Paso and her lope feels so powerful... I can only imagine how neat is will be to lope on him.
My main question, did it take your draft a little longer to understand the concept of neck reining and sidepassing/moving off of leg?
I've trained both my two drafts to be ridden.
My mare is a smaller (in height not width :P) draft who knew nothing when I got her. She learned everything very quickly and easily. Fear was her biggest issue, but as for training and responding to cues she was right on.
My Belgian I got fully trained as a carriage horse, never ridden. He was a harder case. While he willingly accepted me climbing all over him, he's known all his life to ignore the shafts hitting his sides - so my legs meant nothing to him. But he too learned fairly quickly what I wanted. He's a little slower with the neck reining too.
So I guess it depends what the horse was used for before, but if done right they're just like any horse :)
Some horses learn faster than others, I think that is what you're running into more than it being type or breed specific. My draft cross often ignores my leg and seat aids, but it's part of her personality and previous training, I don't attribute it to being a draft. I have known other draft crosses who picked these things up quickly and were very responsive.
As with any horse, you just have to find out in what way he learns best and go with that.
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