Recently, there was a little blow up over trainers on a driving group. Sort of. It’s the typical post, as with any FB group or horse forum – some beginner training their own horse comes on and says “look at me!” And people eat that person alive and spit them out and grind their foot into the remains.
Now, the particular person in question was doing a great job with teaching her horse to drive, at least based on a brief video. She had done it slowly – too slowly, I will admit, but hey, better slow than fast, and the horse was fine.
For my response that we all do what we can the way we can, and taking your time is the best way to do anything, I received an extremely NASTY message from a “trainer” who in the process called me an idiot.
Now, when I first was getting Chewbacca going, I sought out trainers. In fact, if you followed my blog during that time period, you have read all about the trainer who laughed at me, the one Chewbacca freaked out on (the one and only time he ever did anything like that at all) who told me the horse was dangerous and unsafe and unwilling to work, the one who strapped him up in a twisted wire bit that was too small and told me the horse would never drive, the ones who never called me back, or acted like I shouldn’t be touching horses at all without their all-great presence…….. Yea, there were interesting experiences along the way.
So I ask – how exactly does a beginner get started into driving when trainers are not readily available and experienced drivers prefer to condescend and rip people apart for trying?
Pick any horsey town, and you’re going to find a dozen hunter barns, half a dozen western and maybe half a dozen dressage barns. You’ll probably find a few pleasure/trail riding barns, or barns that mix all worlds and cater to low level show people and trail people. How many driving barns are there? Probably none, right? Sure, you might find a breed-specific show barn that has driving horses – after all, Miniatures, Saddlebreds, Arabs, and NSH’s, plus QH’s, Apps and paints all have driving as part of their breed competition, but did you know that breed-circuit driving is a VERY different thing than dressage-based carriage driving?
So how does a beginner learn exactly? Do they wing it and hope for the best? I discussed “the best” in my post on How Do I Teach My Horse To Drive. “The best” rarely happens. In fact, that usually leads to disaster. Should it be on the shoulders of experienced drivers to help and promote new drivers? To mentor them? To offer advice? Or is it better for experienced drivers to be rude, insulting, and belittle a beginner’s efforts in an attempt to prevent them from getting hurt or ruining a horse?
Of course, the best piece of advice anyone can give anyone inexperienced is to see k live, in-person experienced help. Only a person physically there looking at the beginner and their horse can really and truly assess what’s going on and where the future is headed (or can they?? Like all those trainers that said Chewbacca would never drive). What is there are no trainers (or any quality trainers) in your area? What then?
In this day and age, it is easy to reach out online for help – but what if that help isn’t good? What if instead of help you only get rude responses from condescending people? How is that good for the sport of carriage driving if new drivers aren’t encouraged by graciousness and willingness to help?
I will go out on a limb and guess that there are far far more recreational drivers who just prefer to take their horse and strike out on a trail than there are ones who ever enter the show ring. So, should all driving advice come from show-level trainers and be geared towards showing? Showing is EXPENSIVE! Shows are few and far between and if you can find a local level show that offers driving classes, usually they are not held to any standards of showing. So if you want a tast of ADS level showing, you probably have to travel for hours, and spend hundreds to do so – which isn’t always feasible for the most of us. So, if recreational drivers who can’t find/afford a trainer are frowned upon, then where and how do you truly start into driving?
What can be done about this to encourage future drivers – in a SAFE, but SUPPORTIVE way?