Draft Animal Power – Draft animals and sustainable land stewardship › Forums › Draft Animal Power › Training Working Animals › ground driving Princess Single
- January 3, 2017 at 3:24 pm #89882Goranson FarmParticipant
Well, the adventure continues…
I’m trying to break Princess to drive single as she was trained by getting hitched along side of her mother. My hope is it will build her trust in me. So far, its been going ok. I started in the round pen and have moved to ground driving her in a large circle in our front yard. I’ve just been having some issues with her kicking out and trying to bolt and generally throwing a little temper tantrum when we near the trail back to the barn and don’t turn and head home. In response to the kicking out I’ve been applying vocal pressure and backing her up 10-15 ft with the lines. Backing has required little line pressure. After 2 trips around the circle the kicking out stopped. She was still a bit ornery (ears pinned+sideshifting) as we passed the trail to the barn. More line pressure was required to keep her on track. After about 15-20 rotations she calmed down and there was little to no resistance. At this point we transition to hauling a small log around the barnyard.
Am I on the right track or a couple steps ahead of myself.
January 3, 2017 at 8:35 pm #89884JaredWoodcockParticipant
- This topic was modified 3 years, 1 month ago by Goranson Farm.
Sounds pretty good to me, but I have a more of a “get er done” attitude. I know you have worked my current team, Belle and Bright, Very occasionally I work Bright single and she throws a huge fit, you would think she was never broke. I just ignore it and keep on working. She always gets over it and things get done just fine. Keep at it as often as you can and you will be in good shape. I used to have a wicked barn sour pony when I was a kid because I thought it was fun to gallop home at night, once my dad found out he made me switch up my routine and take the pony home on different routes. He also made me get off and walk the pony before I got too close to home.
If she keeps fussing at a certain spot try to switch up the routine.
Sounds like you are on the right track, keep us posted.January 6, 2017 at 9:34 am #89889Donn HewesKeymaster
I think the question is difficult to answer exactly because of the nature of the work we are doing. Folks always want to know if they have the right method or tools, and those things are much less important than they realize. Round pen or no; toward the barn or not, with a log or none; what we need to learn is how to assess what an animal is telling us and how to respond to it. It is a touch and a feel. Learning to see an animals anxiety or concern or excitement in all the different shades, and correctly choose when to ask for a little more, when to stop, and to change it up takes time. It also takes commitment, focus, effort.
Often when an “old timer” or Jared! say they just “do it”; what I find is that they have learned and ingrained these skills. It doesn’t matter if they harness it, hook it or just lead a horse they are using these tools to evaluate it’s energy and using their presence to shape that energy to their purpose.
Working single is a great thing for the relationship between the horse and the teamster. One common misconception is that it will be easier than driving a team. Viewed from the animals perspective I think it is more difficult.
Just one aside – Why backing if the animal tightens up at something? Backing is stressful, and should be done as calmly as possible. If the animal is tightening a little try to keep moving forward unless that becomes unsafe or is makeing things worse.
If you can find purpose to this work it will speed up the process of acceptance a lot.January 7, 2017 at 11:23 am #89894Goranson FarmParticipant
Thanks for the Advice. I’ve hitched Princess twice since that post (about half what I would like to). There was no kicking out either of those times. She definitely thought about it though:) There were moments of anxiety, but by the time we got back to the barn she was calm and we ended on a positive note.
I’ve been thinking about her anxiety a lot lately, primarily its source. Earlier this week I felt that the majority of these “outbursts” were little temper tantrums. Its a nice little dialectic, she wants to head back to the barn and I am asking her to continue walking in our circle. I’m beginning to think of anxiety more generally and have been making an asserted effort to structure out training sessions to avoid this conflict. But I can honestly say that there hasn’t been one time hitching her single that hasn’t been accompanied with one or multiple moments where our objectives don’t align. Even when I ground drive her in the round pen (the place where both of us feel safest) there are still moments. I don’t know what to do about this other then to keep on hitching her and see if repetitions massage it out. Based on my experience I think they have.
Working her single has had a profound impact on our day to day relationship. She doesn’t pin her ears at me ever single time I walk by… I think thats huge!!!! Progression to a more challenging task, though provoking moments of anxiety, has strengthened our foundation and made day to day things like picking up her feet small potatoes. She wouldn’t let me touch her flank last yr.
In response to backing:
I use backing as a tool to move their feet. I have more control with a single horse in reverse than forward. When moving forward she is more apt to swing around on me, side step her way off the track I’m looking for us to follow, flat out stop, or bolt 4-5 feet. I see this as a reflection of my skill level as ideally I would never get myself into these situations. But, the reality is they happen and I have needed to find ways to regain control of her feet. With this clear direction (I focus on the exact placement of each foot) and then release by stopping we work work through it. I think the backing does generate anxiety but it also brings us together. If I time the release correctly the anxiety dissipates and we continue working. Like you said, I only use this tool when things get hairy… My first impulse if I don’t feel a tremendous amount of energy forward is to push her through it or stop and give her a moment to check out the scary thing.
On the Purpose Front:
I’m ready and rearing to go get some stuff done with this horse… I just don’t think we are there yet. I’ve been spending our sessions getting her used to being around the farm as a single horse. This is taking us some time. If we had snow we would be out grooming trails. I’ve got some wood down but I want her to stand calmly while I hitch before we start in on it. So we have been hitching and unhitching in a relatively safe place. If I establish a clear habit in a more controlled environment I think it will pay off down the road. I do think purpose would help Princess and I focus. My guess is in a couple weeks we will be able to blend training and tasks on the farm. The goal is to twitch 7 cord of firewood with this girl for our maple syrup operation and sawlogs for two 10×10 apprentice cabins.
Thanks again and hope all is well!January 7, 2017 at 11:50 am #89897JaredWoodcockParticipant
I second the purpose part. You dont need to put it off until everything is perfect. If you have her harnessed and you are driving with no purpose other than to “cure your problems” that is all you are focused on. Horses can basically read your mind. If you drive around and try to work on stopping and standing just for the sake of it you are putting all of your focus and energy on the horse, that will drive her crazy and that kind of focused pressure will push her from you. Go out and do something together as a team. Just make sure you have very realistic goals.
Walk around and figure out what is a nice stick of firewood to get. Find one with easy access where you wont need to do any fancy driving. Then drive the horse out and stop her like you are going to hook up. Dont put too much pressure on her. If she needs to figgit a little to get comfortable and relax then that is ok as long as neither of you are putting each other in an situations that can escalate. Dont hitch to the log.
Reward her by turning your mind bullets off. Shoot them at the breeze, or the nice cool air, or anything that will relax you. While you are standing and relaxing and just enjoying being in the woods with a great horse she will do the same. Once you have cocked your back leg for long enough, take a slow breathe and start to wake back up, then both of you can drive back to where that stick will be dropped. Do a similar routine at the log landing site. You can do a couple of these trips or if you are both feeling like moving some wood then bring it home.
I dont know much about this horse’s history, but if this isn’t her first rodeo give her some room to teach you a few things.
That is my attempt at not being too “get her done” from an advice perspective. Take it as a grain of salt.January 7, 2017 at 1:58 pm #89898Donn HewesKeymaster
It sounds to me like you are doing well. Keep it up. I complete understand trying anything in a tight spot to maintain control. If backing helps so be it.
I am going to comment again about the backing just to give you a few more things to consider. To give you an idea of what I am hearing you say. Again you are the one putting it all together.
” I have more control with a single horse in reverse than forward. When moving forward she is more apt to swing around on me, side step her way off the track I’m looking for us to follow, flat out stop, or bolt 4-5 feet.” All of the things mentioned above are from a horse that is unsure about moving forward. You have asked it to go forward and it is unsure. How do you get it into reverse? I assume you say whoa first. Not surprising she won’t stand well (she is nervous or excited, confused). So now you have asked her to back as a response to her not being able to stand well. If this horse can go back under these circumstances it can surely go forward.
I would first attempt to correct all of the above by continuing to ask her to go. This can be a great challenge to feel safe and be safe. By peacefully, sincerely, relaxed but timely asking her to continue doing what you have already asked her to do. As you continue to drive her you will be able to anticipate these outbursts, that is a good time to let them know you are home, and you know where you are going. I might kiss if they slow or hesitate. or just a touch on the lines to one side of the mouth or the other will be enough to keep them going forward. When you push (put pressure on, kiss, to make go forward) a horse, the lines steer them and direct them forward, not side ways or turning around. It is when we take the initiative away that they can wander (steping off the trail, stoping, etc.)
You can stop when ever and where ever you want, but ideally the horse will be calm and relaxed when you do. Keep up the good work. A second person can sure be handy when working with logs the first few times. They can also get in the way so be sure to direct them where you want them! Donn
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