Student Stories

Nancy and Rosie
September 2007

“Rosie, my 6 year old haflinger, and I finished our first driving competition at the Plum Creek Swap Drive. This was quite an accomplishment for us since just a few months ago Rosie had a habit of bolting whenever she encountered “monsters” and whenever she felt that she didn’t really want to listen to me. Needless to say, my confidence fell to the floor.

When I began working with Rachel this summer, I was uncertain if I should even keep Rosie – our first 6 months together hadn’t seemed like much of a honeymoon. Rachel suggested that we work through the problems and then decide if Rosie was going to be a good match for me.

Our first few lessons were spent on groundwork; we worked on keeping Rosie’s attention at all times and getting her to release her anxiety. Rachel determined that Rosie was a very willing and sensitive mare, but there were some large holes in her training that made Rosie uncertain of her role, and resistant to human direction.

After months of work on the ground and in the carriage, I am so very pleased to say that Rosie is listening and becoming more responsive everyday. Rosie is turning into a great driving horse!

I am also learning how to be calm when I am driving Rosie. I am working on keeping my contact soft and steady so Rosie knows where to go, but so I don’t get in her way. I think my training is taking a little longer than Rosie’s.

But Rachel is teaching me the skills to continue Rosie’s learning when I am on my own and my confidence is building in my handling of Rosie both at home and at an event. Rosie and I are definitely looking forward to our next driving event!” -Nancy

Nell and Bailey

“It took five weeks after having my son Jake, to physically be able to ride Bailey again. While I was pregnant I spent my time with Bailey doing in-hand work, teaching him to soften in the bridle at the halt, and strengthen his back doing shoulder-fore (I also found these same exercises useful in training my young horses).

When I finally rode Bailey, we were both in a better place MENTALLY- really understanding the principles we had been working on.” -Nell

Marjorie and Corey

May 2005

“I was riding Corey at Silver Hill Stables in a clinic with Loma Fowler from Colorado. Loma was working with the two of us on really moving forward and keeping a rhythm that I had never been able to accomplish before. She concentrated on me keeping my head up, my chest raised and VERY strong stomach and back muscles engaged. And Corey got engaged too! In this picture we are leg yielding across the diagonal line. It was an awesome experience…Loma is so energizing and positive, she really makes me want to get out there and ride well and have fun too!” – Maj

Steven and Moonie

“As a carriage driver, but not a rider, I have had difficulty understanding how a horse must come from behind and stretch into the bit to become properly balanced. For the past month, I have put the carriage away and instead I have been practicing my connection through ground-driving. This has enabled me to clearly see the horse’s movement and adjust my aides with each step. Here, Moonraker’s face is perfectly on the vertical and he is stretched forward allowing his back to come up thus making a beautiful top line. The picture is pretty, but I must say that the feeling of engagement with the horse is even more satisfying.

Working on the ground to get “shoulder-fore” action and “leg yields” is not only fun in itself, but will be extremely helpful when we get back into combined driving event (CDE) competition.”
– Steven

An Exploration of Harmony & Horses