Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Creating a baseline

In the last post about actually working the horse in the lines, we really just got started and were trying to focus on getting the horse moving forward in the walk, turning both directions, stopping and being able to relax and listen. So what if your horse is having issues already? Shit happens, right? We All have 'That Horse' at some point, right? It's ok. I get it. Been there!

Another part of the post about working the horse in lines is to also focus on you. Why? As the person working the horse, you need to also be comfortable in handling the lines and also confident in yourself as you learn this new skill and teach your horse things. You need to be confident that you can do this.

Putting the lines thru the lowest rings and starting at the walk, allows you and your horse both a chance to settle into something new and different without a lot of room to fail. Ground driving and being behind the horse, makes it easier for you to steer or guide the horse and keep them moving forward where you want them to go. It gets them moving and familiar with hearing your voice behind them and it gets you moving and talking. Talking to the horse means you're breathing. When you breathe, they breathe. When you tense up, they tense up expecting something to happen. Breathe. Break that cycle.

If you're working your horse in a round pen, you can lengthen your lines and move to the center, letting the horse have the rail. You can also push them into a trot or canter. Watch the way they carry themselves in all of the gaits.This will give you a good idea of what your starying point is. If you have a way of taking pictures, even better. What you'd like to see is the horse moving in a balanced and relaxed manner. Their head may be lowered into amore submissive position, they may chew, they might take and let out a few deep breaths as they move along, or they may focus on something outside the rails, their head might be up, back hollow and not paying much attention to you at all. They might be freaked out over the idea of the lines being along their sides or whatever. Now is the time to watch your horse move and start to develop an 'eye' for things that you need to tweak here and there or fix in a major re-do.

So what are you seeing in your horse so far?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Moving forward

Ok so you have started your horse in long lines and have ground driven them a few times. Big deal, right? Well Yes!!!! It really, Really IS! Because once you get them going in the lines, you can let the horse/ pony/ mule/ donkey/ four legged beastie sort their own bad self out with a little guidance in the right direction from you. Should we call that a WIN? YOU BET! Why Wouldn't we?

Just yesterday I drove my little man. It all seems good fron the pic's, right?

What you Don't see from this is the battle of wills that happened on both the way out and the way back in.... On the way out a mule came up from our left, behind us a bit and Little Man couldn't see it, but could hear and smell the mule. Then on the way back in, he got a little wigged out over the reflectors marking the sides of a small culvert going under the driveway. Lately he has been throwing out things like this. As. If! Whatev's babe... I don't have time for that crap so he needs to get over it.

Tonight I put him to work. This is where your hard work in ground driving pays off in S.P.A.D.E.S! I put his work harness on and we went to the round pen. Once little man was warmed up and had blown off steam I took him to the heart of His issue. Using my lines to keep him moving straight ahead we went thru the reflectors and a little ways down the driveway. There was times Kat would pause and just stop altogether, but using my voice I pushed him on and kept him moving. I aimed him a bit to one side and turned him around to go back.

As we approached the culvert and reflectors again, I kept Kat moving forward and expected him to walk right past everything with no problem. That's exactly what he did this time. We went a little ways past the "scary spot" turned around and went back thru. We did this several times in both directions without issue, going thru close to one side both directions, close to the other side and straight up the middle. I didn't let Kat stop and look at things until I felt he was comfortable knowing nothing was going to get him. Then as we approached I would stop him and wait a few seconds, take a few deep breaths and then continue on.

I know its not practical to be able to ground drive your horse and face every scary spot or obstacle, but times like this, it is a useful way to let the horse deal with their problem on their own terms and with your guidance and support, they know they can get thru it without a problem. This is building their confidence in You as their herd leader and the horses trust in you that you're not going to put them in a bad spot and that you can get them out of it if the horse just listens to you.

I also realize that Kat and I are further along in our work in the lines than someone just starting out trying this. If you're not comfortable working your horse in long lines yet and they are having an issue with something, by all means, wait and deal with it another day. Build up your confidence in Your skills first and then you can work on things effectively and make progress. You want to try to always set your horse up to succeed when you can. Ground driving and long line work is like riding and many other things. You don't just pick up the lines Knowing all about how to do this. Some people are gifted and more talented at it than others, but with horses, we all learn new things as we go along.