Driving Training 101

I failed that class.  Really I did.  But fortunately, I have been talking to a trainer and things are in the works.

I am not sure if Chewbacca is going to make a driving horse or not.  If I can’t drive him, I don’t know what I’m going to do, because I want to be able to use and enjoy my horse.  However, I am also deathly terrified that I am going to ruin him and cause problems like I have done to my riding horses over the years.

I really do not want to mess up with driving, and end up souring, hurting, or otherwise ruining Chewbacca.  It seems the more I try to do everything right, the more I screw it up.

Driving training is expensive.  Geeze, I thought Dressage trainers around here were expensive.  It’s about the same with driving.  But I found a trainer that seems very nice and I can reasonably (ish) sort of afford.  Plan is for Chewbacca to go to her in July for 30 days.  Hopefully I can manage to eek out 60 days, but we’ll see.  Right now, I’m just planning on 1 month, and what to do with him through June until he goes.

So the plan is, to step everything back to total basics.  I’ve slacked on making Chewie come into contact on the bit, so I need to revisit that.  And encourage a more active pace from him, too.  Something else I’ve slacked on, and they both go hand in hand.  While riding, I of course knew that he needed to be working forward to get into the contact and frame up.  Same applies to ground driving, but I’ve let both slack over the last few weeks.  At first, when I was ground driving him, I was making sure he stayed framed and on the bit, but somehow I just let that fade, and as such, I wasn’t asking him for active gaits, so he wasn’t having contact or working in a frame, either.

So plan for the next 4 1/2 weeks is that I’ll work on re-visiting active gaits/forward impulsion, and frame & contact on the long lines.  I’m fine with long lining him all day, I am just petrified about putting him to cart again.  I don’t think I mentioned that the last time I had him on the cart, he reared, tilted the whole cart vertical, and ended up with his butt under the shaft.  It was scary as hell and a real red alert that I’ve not done my job right.

The trainer feels I went a little too fast with him, and need to scale back a few notches.  After revisiting and establishing forward active gaits and contact, then he’ll get hitched to a tire and drag that, maintaining his forward active gaits.  I need to invest in a new harness as well, and that’s in the works, but in the mean time, I’ve got my homework for the next 30 days.  Then hopefully after 30 days of training, he’ll at least be pulling the vehicle to the point where I can continue working him on my own.

The trainer basically told me if I’m not confident enough to work with him, I should not even bother with the training, because I need to be capable of dealing with the moments of unpleasantness that will arise.  I understand that.  I am, however, extremely unconfident.  I feel I’ve screwed it all up with training Chewie to drive, and I’m already burdened by the knowledge of being a failure in the worst way at riding, and I just want to be able to drive him and use him for something fun and enjoyable. 

Nothing has panned out the way I hoped, nothing at all, not for the last 20 years I’ve been riding.  I’m not optimistic about Chewie’s driving training, but I still want to try and see where I end up.  If come August, he’s done with 30 days training and we’re still no where, maybe then I’ll finally give this all up like the horse gods seem to be telling me to.

It’s one thing when Luke acts up, because he *knows* his job and knows what he should be doing.  So like the other day when Luke kicked the cart apart from bucking, he got reprimanded and then continued on with normal work.  But Chewie doesn’t know his job, and when he started backing up and then rearing, I was just too afraid to get after him, because he doesn’t know his job, and I didn’t want to stress him out more.  So I made a mistake, and basically reinforced the idea that if he rears, he gets away with not working.  Awesome. There’s good training for ya, right?

Hopefully the trainer can undo the damage I’ve done, and I guess from here on out through June and July, we’ll just play it be ear and see what happens.

Chewie got his butt worked off both Sunday and Tuesday this week, and weather dependent, I’ll be right back at it on Thursday and on the weekend, so we’ll be on track with our 30 days of homework before he goes to the trainer.

I guess we’ll see what happens with driving training version 2.0.

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About kshai1715

I am a lifelong equestrian, photography enthusiast, sci-fi lover, and sci-fi convention & costuming geek that also loves movies and video games. I am a hard working 30 something woman that survived cancer and am looking forward to a long, healthy, self-empowered life. Welcome to my blog and I hope you enjoy reading about my horses (and the rest of my life) as much as I like writing about them.
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2 Responses to Driving Training 101

  1. Dom says:

    I think your fears are normal and it doesn’t sound like you’ve done any long term damage! I hope the training helps and you are able to enjoy your horse.

    And I hear ya about driving being expensive. That’s why I can’t do it 😦

  2. Tracie Noel says:

    Hey, now, girl, you need a different attitude! “I think I’ve come to the realization that as long as I am married and not allowed to make my own decisions, I will never get to see and do the things I want to do.” WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

    You have a job, right? Money of your own? If you don’t have the latter, make it so. You deserve to do the things that make you happy, even if it has to be by yourself! Take it from me; I’ve been married almost 20 years, and I have *always* done things just for me.

    I will never forget meeting my college boyfriend’s mom for the first time. She had just returned from a trip to China, that she took BY HERSELF (with a tour group). It was a revelation: yes, my mom had gone plenty of places without my dad, but never overseas for a couple weeks. I was like, “Wow, you mean you just up and went?” She looked at me funny and said, “Sure, my husband has no interest in traveling and I do, so we just go our separate ways.” I was super-impressed, and filed that away for future reference…. (She was a cool lady in general – a published author and a real character. She’d divorced her husband, then remarried him when he woke up and realized what he’d lost. She marched to the tune of her own drummer, for sure, and was a good role model for me!)

    Let me tell you all the places I’ve been without my husband (not college BF). The Secretariat Festival, in Paris, KY. The WEG in Lexington. On a sailboat for a week in FL (with the kids, but still). The beach, many many times (helps that my family has a house at the Shore in NJ, and the kids go there w/ me, too). If I waited around for my husband to do things with me, I wouldn’t go anywhere. He LIKES to travel, but it’s just a not a priority for him, AND he’s lukewarm about horses, sailing and the ocean in general. I go by myself (for horse things – I have “horsey” friends who would love to go but they haven’t been available), or I go with my kids, but darn it, I go if *I* want to!

    The best example, though, is horses. I have ridden horses alone ever since we got married. It’s “my thing,” and when the kids were little and I didn’t work, he didn’t even mind paying for lessons, as long as he was free to go fishing. Now, I work and have my own money, but feel too guilty to spend it on lessons (always took a lot of grief at the barn for the fact that I rode and the kids didn’t). Luckily now I can ride my friend’s horse for free. Would I like it if it was a joint activity, like you guys have? (I think that’s great, btw) Sure, but just because Hubby’s equestrian activities are relegated to the occasional paid trail ride, I’m not going to stay home.

    As a last point, my husband has taken himself off twice to Mexico to fish, and often goes out by himself here in our hometown. That’s “his thing,” and it’s (mostly) okay with me.

    I actually feel very bad about the fact that we have not traveled anywhere together in a really long time. I guess I need to find a place where I could ride and he could fish (he will ride and I do like to fish, also, so no, it’s not hopeless that we’ll spend time together :-), but we have no money… that’s another story.

    GO TO THE DERBY NEXT YEAR!

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