Friday, February 18, 2011

My One Month Challenge to Myself:

In exactly four weeks, we will be driving to Black Prong, Florida. A much anticipated "camping" (ok, we are renting a cabin) and driving trip with many other driving friends. We will be taking two horses: GTs Joanna and Cielo Azure's Eleanor. Joanna is a coming six year old, and has been driving and riding for two years. Her full sister, Eleanor is a coming three year old and has been ground driven but never hitched.

My goal is to have them driving together and hitched to a vehicle by Black Prong. That means we will be working them everyday possible. EVERY DAY!!!

Yesterday was day one of my goal. I made a brief video of Robert training the two mares together for the first time. As this pair has been almost four years in the making, we are both extremely pleased to see them moving together and seeing those small flashes of brilliance in their movements that teach us one that one day, these two will be an awesome driving pair!

As the week's progress, I will adding blog notes about our progress and our setbacks.

Stay tuned...

2/28/2011 Well...
We hitched them last week and used the marathon cart. It went very smoothly -Robert and I worked them in the ring, and took them for a drive around the farm.
On Saturday, we hitched again and took them out on our small public road. Again no issues! Whew -the scary bit (for me, anyway) is over!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Verbal Commands

I find that when drivers use specific words and know those words, it makes driving and training much easier to perform. These are the words that I use routinely when driving and are words that are often used by drivers. Having a "universal" language helps horses to understand what is being asked of them.

My List of Verbal Commands for the Driving Horse

"Walk" - Start walking or Come down into a walk

"Walk on" - Don't even THINK about it! Walk only!

"Gee" - Turn right

"Haw" - Turn left

"Whoa ... Gee" - Fan to the right

"Whoa ... Haw" - Fan to the left

“Gee (or) Haw Over" - To continue fanning

"Steady on" or "easy"- Ignore that distraction and keep doing what you're doing

(used to reassure)

"Trot" -Start trotting

"Trot on" - I see you thinking about slowing down... keep trotting!

"Back" - Go backward

"Step up" - Take one step forward

"Step up" - Step up in the traces (for the horse in a pair, that is being a slacker)

"Step back" - Take one step back

"Whoa" - Stop right there and don't move

"Stand" (often combined with whoa) - Stand still - but we'll be here a while, so relax

“Canter” – Start cantering (I always use a high voice with this word and pair this word with a specific flick of the whip to the shoulder -I want them to be very sure I mean to canter when I ask for it). I give them no excuses for breaking from a trot to a canter.

"Cluck, cluck" - Move a little faster without breaking gait. I will often combine this with the word of the gait they are in. For instance "cluck, cluck trot"

"Quit!" - "Stop messing around!"

Other thoughts about verbal commands:

Most of my horses know their names and their partner's names.

That means...if I am driving a pair -I use the command when I want both horses to do something. When I just want one horse to do a command, I pair it with their name (name first). I might say "Soleil step-up," and generally her partner will ignore the command.

Be consistent with your words and your commands. If you do this, they will learn very rapidly.

I use the same words for all my horses, if I get a trained horse -they have to learn my words (which they do very rapidly) because I am too stupid to learn different commands for the same driving commands for multiple horses. It confuses me too much.