Which do you use?
So I'm just a tad bit confused, and I'm not sure if there is a 'right' or 'wrong' answer to this, so I don't mind conflicting answers.
As you all know, Sour started driving about a month ago, and we have since driven out 5 times. She's doing wonderful and we began trotting for the first time a week ago. No problems at all, and my trainer is very pleased with how she's doing. She's finally figuring out that she can stretch into the harness which is making things much nicer for her, and she's very light in the mouth most of the time.
What I'm confused about though, is this. My trainer has taught me that to cue her, I should use verbal commands ('gee' 'haw' 'walk on' 'trot' 'ease up' and 'trot') paired with a light wiggle or tap of the reins to go and light pressure when I want her to woah or turn- which I have done. Is this correct though? In a lot of youtube videos (yes, I realize they arent always right) and with a few friends, I've noticed that they do not signal 'go' or transitions to a trot or canter with their reins, but rather they use a driving whip. My trainer has never had me use a driving whip whatsoever.
Is the way we're doing it incorrect? I'm starting to notice that I have to cue her a bit harder when turning and starting than when we first started out, and I'm wondering if that's because I'm doing it wrong. After all, using the reins to tap her on the butt is also sending a 'wave' to her mouth, which might be bothering her or hardening her mouth. Our other horses are trained to move out with a tap from the reins, and one is hard mouthed and the other is soft- so maybe its something else, but I just thought I'd check to clear things up a bit. If I am contributing to her mouth hardening, I want to stop- and I would think that I should switch to a whip before she's completely trained.
Also, if I am right about this and I should be using a driving whip, would a lunge whip be an alright substitute for the time being? it's about the same length (but heavier for me than a driving whip probably) and I could just loop the string around it so that it only dangles down a tiny bit. Would it work the same?
Thanks in advance everyone!
When driving, my Dad never would "wiggle" the reins on their butt and he never carried a whip either. What he would do is give them the verbal cue to go forward, if they didn't respond to that, he would smooch to them, and if they still didn't respond, he would flick the tail end of a line at their butt. Like you said, the wiggling reins can make them immune to the smaller movements of the reins so that your cues have to get bigger/harder.
As for the turning/stopping/etc, Dad would always do about the same as you, a vocal and rein cue. Over time, though, he was usually able to stop using the reins to stop turn and have them working solely off of verbal cues. The only difference there is that he never used "gee" or "haw", he would always use the name of the horse/mule on that side to turn (Tiny was on the right side so Dad would say "Tiny" to turn right...same with "Buster" on the left).
Ah, ok. So atleast I know that I'm not the only one who uses that technique!
Sour definitely doesn't 'gee' or 'haw' just on verbal command yet, as she tends to mix the two up or starts weaving she forgets both of them (silly girl...) but she goes off of verbal commands for everything else. I would like her to be very reliable and light with the reins as well though, which is why I'm a bit worried. Once she starts working this October, she'll be expected to move out and keep her pace/maneuver people and obstacles with me and a passenger or two in the cart, and she has to be able to work off of just my reins at times when I'm talking to the customer as we're going along.
Also, should I be using her name when I give her commands? I haven't been doing that, but she seems to know her name atleast a little, as she comes when I call her in the pasture and will turn towards me if she's tied and I call her. I could be wrong though.
I think I may have written that a bit confusingly. What dad would do is to take both lines in one hand and then use the end of one of the lines (that was hanging behind him) as a bit of a whip...the way you would with the end of a lead rope. He would never use the lines between his hands and the bit for anything other than turning/stopping.
I wouldn't use her name if she is being driven single. We've only ever used the names on teams of 2. I'm sure she'll get solid on her commands eventually, she's still very young and very green. Just from the sound of how fast she's picking it all up though, it may not be very long before she's working on only verbal.
Ah, I see. So I'm still doing it differently than your dad did, as my trainer is having me wiggle the rein that is between my hands and her mouth which is why Imentioned it being much like a 'wave' of energy going towards her mouth. My reins are together, but they buckle so I suppose I could unbuckle them and use just the ends if nothing else!
Yes, I'm actually very suprised by how tolerant and smart she is with all of this. She seems to be very level headed and can get herself out of sticky situations the moment she gets herself into them...most of the time xD
The only problem I'm really having with her is backing, which I know is a hard thing for young ones to get because at one moment they're being asked to move away from pressure, and the next, they're being asked to create pressure by pushing back! Its another reason I wanted to clear all of this up though, because I wanted her to be as light when backing as she is when turning or moving forwards. I can't stand it when people yank back on the horse's mouth to back them up. I'll be doing more ground work for backing though, I think- to help. I think thats part of the problem.
bump. Can anyone else give me their opinions? ^^ I don't want to be doing the wrong thing!
We have been taught to NEVER use the reins as a cue to start, NO SLAPPING them on the rump, as seen on TV!
Horse is more likely to "take offense" to butt slapping and kick. This also why you never use a short whip that can only reach the rump. Whip and lash end, should reach the horse/pony shoulder, so you use it on their sides. Whip is used in a touching manner, no slashing or whacking allowed. Whip is "your driving legs" because you can't touch him physically like a rider does.
For us, you ALWAYS have a whip in your hand, to signal the horse as needed. Same as giving a leg cue, to help a turn. If you have to reach and pull whip out of the whip socket, you will have "missed your opportunity", for timely signals or effective reinforcement to a command.
With the whip in hand, you do not give a command several times. You give the command, touch the horse, and get the desired result. Repeating commands with no follow-up, just teaches horse to EXPECT several commands before going. Sometimes it is REALLY important that he does as asked NOW!
Light on the reins is trained, not a "natural" thing. A RESPONSIVE mouth comes with work, driver giving a release when horse does as asked. Horse who throws their head if you take up reins, try to get them a bit collected for more impulsion, is NOT LIGHT, they have an untrained mouth. It is VERY EASY to be heavy handed driving, because of the leverage provided with rein length, less feel in that distance.
Not sure what kind of horse Sour is, but she should respond calmly, to both voice and soft whip touch without being afraid, for starting. Might be a draft horse thing, wiggling reins, but not what I am experienced with for starting off. We also would NEVER DREAM of hitting the horse with the end of the line!! Whip is much more effective, touches where you aim it and again, not hitting horse in the rump to incite a kick response
so i think use one set of comands only to get your horse going.
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