Monday, June 27, 2011

All the time in the world

I asked Gwen to line up with the mounting block on Thursday. She said thanks but no thanks. That was okay, I was kind of expecting it anyway, she was traumatized by the bucking episode too. I brought her out on Friday and she was a little... erm... unfocused, so I started with some Connected Groundwork exercises. I found something interesting when I went to do the heartgirth press (pressing with my whole forearm behind her front leg), on her right side she immediately walked away from me. On the left she stayed and bent around my arm. Curious, I massaged the inside of her front legs and her armpits- the right side felt swollen and tense compared to the left. I asked her to line up with the mounting block again and she was happy to do so on the left but swung her hips out on the right. I don't know if she tweaked something or if I hit her on the way off but she's definitely sore on the right side. I'll wait until she's feeling better before I try to slide on again. She'll let me know.

Kate G. came out on Saturday and showed me how to start her with ground driving. We started with a long leadrope attached to the halter at both ends. Using my dressage whip we asked her to go forward and turn while we were at her shoulder, gradually we added another lead rope and moved our way back until we were at her hip. She did fabulous and finally started to understand that I meant for her to follow her nose. We'd been having a bit of a misunderstanding before where she thought she could just turn her nose but continue moving off in another direction. That had a lot to do with how we got into the bucking situation. I didn't feel comfortable debating this issue from her back so I'm glad to have found another way.

Sunday I got hammered by a frack-a-lackin migraine (grrrr) but fortunately felt good enough to go out and play with her today. She did a great job of remembering the lesson from Saturday and we were able to pick up where we left off. Here's another benefit of ground driving: Even though she wanted to stop every three steps and graze I insisted that she keep moving, walk forward, and turn. That was another thing I was worried about debating from her back- I let her graze while I sat on her for a long time just to get her comfortable carrying me around but eventually I have to get more demanding than that. It's good to know that she won't get upset about it when the time comes.

And... guess what? I even ended up all the way behind her at one point and she was still listening! We might be ground driving for real sooner than I expected. Time to drag out the lunge lines!

I feel like we're starting back at the beginning again, but that's okay. For one thing: Every time we have to go back to the basics, they'll just get that much stronger. For another: I'm not in a hurry. She's seven now; with any luck I'll have at least 20 more years to play with her and get her trained. I've got all the time in the world.


  1. Taking time is so important - and ground driving is great for the horse and good exercise for us!

  2. I think the ground driving is such a great idea for her. Time spent doing the basics with her will only make her a better trained horse in the future. It's also nice to learn how to ground drive adding one more experience into your bag of tricks to draw on.

    Sorry about the migraine, I know how bad they can be.

  3. Time is the greatest thing you can give your horse!

  4. Thanks Kate, your post on ground driving is super helpful too.

    GHM you've got it in a nutshell :) And it was my second migraine for the week- I've been a bit miserable.

    Juliette I absolutely agree!

  5. Sounds like fun!

    I agree that time is an invaluable training tool.

  6. We have all the time in the world. That's the only way to be with horses.

    Great job on the ground driving! :)

  7. That was nice of Kate G to come out and get your started. It never hurts to go back to the basics with a horse, that's for sure! Hope she's feeling better on that sore side soon.

    Beautiful Mustang

  8. Hope Gwen's soreness eases up soon. I have lunged Gem, but I don't know much about this ground driving. Sounds like a great training tool. I will have to do more research on it.

    I like your attitude - back to basics is a regular thing in my stables (not just me!) to solidify how something should be done and build confidence. And, there is no rush because you do have all the time in the world. I remind myself of that regularly. ;-)

  9. Val- I'm having fun with it, I think she's enjoying it too. I can only guess...

    CFS- Thanks!

    Linda- fortunately she's already feeling better. I did the heartgirth press again last night and she didn't walk away.

    Wolfie- if you're seriously thinking about teaching Gem to drive you're going to get to do a lot of ground driving :)

  10. I had to laugh--we posted on similar topics almost on the same day. Just started to get on my TW mare, who will probably need another couple of years to mature into her body and brain, but it means the world to me that she's been relaxed about having me up there.

  11. Hi Fetlock- isn't it funny how many people are doing or saying exactly the same thing at the same time?

    I agree, relaxation is where it's at :)