Tuesday Tip – It’s Never Too Late

I visit with lots of people every week and find that many are surprised at all the ground driving I do with Zorro. After all, he has been pulling the cart for almost a year and I’m STILL ground driving him?

Don’t ever be afraid to go back and do the beginning steps again, with the idea that you are refining things. There is always something that could be better, your hand to bit communication, your transitions from whoa to walk, to trot to whoa to canter, your horse’s ability to lift itself into a beautiful round posture. Some horses find it hard to do that with the cart attached at first but can practice and build those muscles on the long lines.

I use the time Zorro and I ground drive to do lots of different things:

  • We go hiking in the mountains and I ground drive him on the trail. We work on water crossings, crossing bridges and going over downed trees and branches
  • We go for walks on the roads and encounter lots of vehicles, other horses, plastic bags blowing down the road, people stopping to visit, dogs, deer.
  • We work here at home and play around with the cones and barrels, do some jumping and lots of figure of eights, practicing transitions.

I work on quieting my hands, keeping my fingers slow to close and quick to open. I practice picking up a slow steady rein for contact and connection and using my body to direct him more than my hands.

We practice TONS of single line driving. I love doing this with Zorro (and Sky!) as they have to tune into my voice and my body language more than my hand since I only have one line. This is a great reinforcement of the voice commands I use.

I have been known to go back to the travois for certain reasons as well. Sometimes to show someone how to do something, sometimes because I have an idea that I want to try but don’t want him to have to drag the cart with me in it while we practice.

So don’t be afraid to go back and do some of the beginning work again, with refinement. There is always something to learn even back at the beginning!

4 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip – It’s Never Too Late

  1. donkey_mom says:

    I weekly ground drive all my show horses. I train dressage (lots of lateral movement, collection etc in the lines and condition in the cart.

      • Melinda Simmers says:

        My mini mare spins around to face me when I attempt to line drive. She is broken to drive, I drove her the day I bought her.

        I am a beginner tho, so she is smarter than i at driving lol. Suggestions on how to stop this behavior. She will eventually line drive, but it is exhausting honestly, trying to run around and stay behind her. And i don’t feel like I’m correcting the behavior.

        • Mindy Schroder says:

          Hi Melinda! Even if your mare is trained to drive she may not have had much ground driving done with her before she was hitched. So this may still be a new-ish concept for her. I would treat her like a horse that doesn’t know how to drive. However, sometimes they seem to be testing us no matter how much ground driving they have had. My mare does this. She will turn and face me every chance she gets! LOL!

          When I start a new horse I don’t stand behind them for the ground driving, but stand beside them. This helps them understand what I want to do as well aids in communication until they start to understand what the game is all about. So start by walking by her shoulder. As she gains confidence in what you are doing you can slowly give her more line and allow her to move forward further and further until you are behind her.

          Another trick is to NOT run the lines through the rein turrets on the saddle but instead run them through the shaft loops. This will keep the lines beside her body and make it easier for you to stop the spin.

          And last but definitely NOT least, do not over drive her. Point her in the direction you want to go and then allow her to go there. If you feel like you have to tell her where to go with each step then you are probably confusing her. She is smart and if you point her nose where you want to go, then look there with your eyes and point your body there she will go that way. They follow a feel much better than we do.

          If you feel like you are working harder than she is you probably are! So try to not move your feet too much when she is spinning to face you. Just sort your driving lines and ask her to go forward again. Don’t dance around and spend a lot of time trying to get her untangled. Just make sure you have the correct lines in your hands, left hand to left hand side of her bit and right hand on the right hand side, and then allow her to sort the direction out. If she is still tangled in the lines a bit once she straightens out you can ask for a whoa and straighten things out. But if you have her whoa every time she spins around then she is learning that the spin and face is the correct answer as that is when you stop asking anything of her.

          I hope this all makes sense! I will also send this reply to the email you provided in the hopes that you get to read it 🙂

          Thanks so much for your question!

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