Friday, April 9, 2010

Draft horses, Achenbach and driving with all three gaits

I did some reading last night and found a bit of trivia/history that came my way that I just think is way cool. As many of you know, draft horses are my passion but I also love the finer side of driving. Driven dressage, pleasure driving and reinsmanship. Combining these loves has been an ongoing goal of mine for a while.

The back story. Last spring (a year and a half ago) I learned how to drive Achenbach (which is one handed driving -kind of, you actually use your right hand too but it gives you the option of driving one handed) at a clinic with Johnny Ruhl. It took a while for me to learn, as it is complex and it has its drawbacks but for coaching and long drives, I just love it. For a little overview on different reining styles while driving, you can go to:

About a year ago, i also started seriously cantering our horses in harness. The two combined have become part of my training and it is a blast. Completely non traditional in the hitch world kind of way but WAY fun. The horses love it, I feel more secure knowing that I have at least three good gaits and I feel like I have more control.

So, last evening Corbeau, a lovely four year old gelding and I got ourselves out and driving. He is still young and a little green but it just turning out to be such a solid horse.
I took him out on the road because the farm is soaked from all the rain. We went up to the gravel section a ways away. There I let him out and he just cantered along, totally in the moment and was so good! We both enjoyed the brisk air. I drove Achenbach or Coachmens style, and it is a lot of fun to drive one handed with a cantering horse! I remember watching some Jane Austen movie, where the young rake was driving his fast horse one handed, totally casual -like he had the wheel of a power car. Well, that was kind of how I felt. I was completely in control of this great big power horse, going full speed ahead -with just the slightest touch of a single hand. What a cool feeling! There is nothing more fun than driving a cantering draft horse.

When I got back to the house, I hunted around for information on driving history (a little passion of mine) and found this:
This little article gives the history of Achenbach reining and its development by Benno von Achenbachin the 1800s. The author goes on to write that Benno von Achenbachin "... was horrified at the brutal maltreatment of horses and made it his life goal to improve the living and working conditions of horses, especially draft horses." Remember, this is in the late 1800s! The Achenbach style is still the dominant style used in driven dressage and was the official style of driving for the military of many European countries.

So, the Achenbach style -that people think is all about as being the style of driven dressage, pleasure driving and military driving actually had it roots in DRAFT HORSES. Sometimes, everything seems to come around into one big circle.

For more about Achenbach (or driving from the left) and to learn how:

1 comment:

  1. cantering is good for driving horses ! At this farm, its part of learning to drive- 2 walk speeds, 3 trots - and of course a controlled canter. Good for you for teaching your guyz that too !