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!