Reluctant Cowgirl

Driven

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I can’t recall if I ever ground drove a horse prior to when my current instructor handed me the reins in her ring a few months ago. The mustang was on the other end, and seemed to know exactly what he was doing. I did not. (It’s part of a theme.)

After that one mostly-successful lesson, I bought a surcingle and cotton long lines that are about 20 feet longer than anyone could ever need. (Honestly, what is up with 30-foot lines? What role could they possibly play in a training regimen? Do you drive a horse from across the arena?) We haven’t trailered all winter, which means the only lessons I get are from Youtube.

Some videos I watched included horses being ground driven in round pens. I don’t have a round pen at present, and if I did it would still have three feet of snow. We made do with the outrageous arena, and tried small circles at a walk and changing direction.

The problem I have experienced with Mustang Henry is an unwillingness to go forward. He balks (sets back) when tied, he balks in hand, he balks under saddle. The internet tells me this is a lack of respect. I get it. I am wary of the line between moving his feet enough to get him to honor my wishes and having him fear me. This thing in natural horsemanship or whatever you want to call enlightened horse handling where you balance on the head of a pin called ‘feel’ takes time to develop. Time and consistency.

I like the feeling of being at the end of a pair of long lines. With running shoes on, we can both burn calories heading up hills on the dirt road, and with more practice I’m sure we can come to terms on the proper signal for going forward at different speeds, and that rein pressure means ‘turn the direction my aid is asking you to go,’ not ‘turn in circles trying to face me as I spin around you and we both look like a couple of raving lunatics.’

img_0696A thing I am realizing in re-starting horsemanship lessons while approaching middle-age is that humor and patience are key. Onward!

Author: reluctant cowgirl

I love my dogs and equines and good food, drink and music. I believe that the world is a better place because of bad Sandra Bullock movies, Hank Williams, and honeybees. I used to think I would never live in the middle of nowhere eight hours from the ocean or own a horse as an adult, but now both are true, so I may be an unreliable narrator.

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