Red is a great gelding I bought in Florida in December of 2014. He is a chestnut spotted draft with a great white nose and big big knees! He was never ridden and at twelve years old he was as gentle as a lamb and seemed to really want to learn so he could go on trail rides with Autumn who I bought from the same pasture on the same farm. I had started her first because she had some training as a three year old and was a little further along with her ground training. He seemed to handle our adventures out on the trail and in parks in the surrounding areas well but was always happy to see us coming home, whinnying and running the fence line.
On the ground he had developed a habit when he was young of getting to the end of the rope and then running away when his handler had now chance of holding on. He demonstrated this technique several times on the lunge line, so I put him in a small pen and began lunging him there with his tack, bit and soon after long lining him. He did try to pull away then as well but once I grabbed one rein and pulled it through the stirrup as he pulled away he learned that his technique was not going to work anymore.
Under saddle he never tried it, probably due to the unusual pressure of the bit he believed it would be too difficult to pull away. He learned to walk, bend and leg yield quickly and began trotting before I trailered him and Autumn and Traveller home in early April. In Maine he was subjected to snow and ice and all sorts of foreign weather and footing issues. So I gave him a month or so off and waited for good weather and good footing.
He then went on trail rides at a walk and eventually Stephanie worked him up to steady trotting in the ring, on the leg and without quitting. After he mastered that he began cantering out on the trail. He took to it well and seems to really enjoy the feeling of the wind in his hair.
In the fall as trail rides began to slow we started harnessing Red and ground driving him. Then we ground drove him near the forecart and the wagon as they were being pulled by a team he was familiar with. Then we hooked the yoke on with Autumn and drove them around a paddock until they got used to the pull of the yoke. Then we began to ground drive him in a team along our trails. One day we hooked him to a log with Rose and began to pull. the chain slipped and spooked him. Though I was able to hold him, his reaction was too fearful for us to continue so we backed up and worked on ground driving again, and building patience on the way home. We spent more time driving single away from home and back again until he settled.
He has continued his ground driving in a team and will get hooked again next spring.
This winter he is a star in the snow, plowing along and bringing new riders out to see Mt. Washington and the fields of Leach Hill.