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Wallaby 11-12-2009 07:21 PM

Ground driving?
Maybe this is more an english thing... I wasn't sure so I'm posting it here.

So today I went out and I decided to mix things up and try ground driving Lacey. Well, either she's never done that before or I was totally messing up.

I had her in a surcingle (I think that's what it's called...the thing that you can lunge in side reins with?) and her normal bridle (the one with a bit, a french-link snaffle, I figured that ground driving probably wasn't a bitless maneuver) with the lunge lines basically exactly like they are in this picture:
I was not using a whip becuase Lacey gets pretty antsy with one around and even though she's finally ok with using one for lunging, I figured it might be safest to not use one ground driving just yet.

But anyway, I could not for the life of me get her going straight. She seemed to have to be able to see me because whenever I ended up behind her she'd start turning more dramatically so she could see me out of one of her eyes. She was perfectly happy going in a large circle and switching directions, stopping and backing up but she would not go straight. I would get her to go one step straight, then she'd start turning again. She also was having issues making slight turns, she'd automatically interpret any shift on the lines as a request to switch directions.

Any ideas? She seemed to just be confused, not unwilling to try to figure out whats going on.
She was also responding GREAT to my voice commands for walk, stop and back. I usually only use those, except for stop, when I'm lunging her to it was great to see her connecting those.

Carleen 11-12-2009 07:28 PM

It sounds to me like she is just confused. She probably has never been ground driven, and is wondering why you are behind her instead of in the center of a circle. Keep up with ground driving her, and hopefully she'll get used to it!

NorthernMama 11-12-2009 10:13 PM

She needs to learn what is expected of her, so give it time. Also, depending on your methods, sometimes a turn in driving is indicated by the release of pressure on the outside rein, rather than the increase of pressure on the inside rein. It took me a while to teach my OT cart horses to respond to the pressure rather than the lack of pressure when first training them for riding because they learned the "proper" way for driving.

Many horses are taught by voice command for driving as well. MDH's childhood was surrounded by horses that responded to Gee and Haw. They never had any reins at all because they worked in the bush and the less tack, the better so a horse couldn't get caught on something.

So, use what she is familiar with now from riding and remember to be consistent with that on the ground. Once she understands what you want, you can move on.

MacabreMikolaj 11-12-2009 10:41 PM

*nods* It's very difficult teaching them how to go straight because it requires an absolute finesse to be able to balance the pressure. Let's be honest, how many of us have driven a horse before? When we ride, we rely on so much more then our hands - our seat, our legs, our emotions. When you ground drive, you effectively take all communication away from your horse except through your hands and voice. And we also effectively take our own communication by feel away - when we're on the ground, it's 10x harder to determine if your horse is going to speed up, or spook, or slow down, or stop, etc. So it's increasingly difficult to be able to keep the reins exactly perfect at all times to indicate straight forward movement.

Just keep working on it - it's likely just as much a learning experience for you as it is for her. My 2 year old filly ground drives like a dream, we can turn, whoa, walk, trot, etc. Going straight down the driveway? The first day I think we made more turns and pivots in fifty feet then we did the entire half hour of ground driving! Last time I ground drove her, I effectively maneouvered her around cars, through a tight space and then straight as an arrow up the driveway. Did she get smarter? Maybe. Have I learned how to hold her properly? Definately. I would blame every bit of her original ineffectiveness at going straight on myself.

Just keep at it - we all start somewhere, and as it's both your first time, there's definately going to be mixed signals. You guys sound exactly like I did with my first session with Jynxy, and within about half a dozen lessons, we've both gone pro! :lol:

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