Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony. ~ Thomas Merton

Friday, March 4, 2011

Driving: Putting Principles to Purpose

It's time to get serious about learning to drive Cricket.  I know this can be dangerous but so can riding.  It's about education and preparation.  Even if I have to figure this out mostly on my own, I think it's achievable.

I see this as a way to take our ground play and communication to a whole new level.  I see this as a way to put to purpose what we've learned thus far.  I also see this as a way to give Cricket a job.

I'm beginning to understand that she needs something to do not just to be doing something.  The few times I've played with her and another horse, she takes on this attitude of responsibility.  I can really see her working through the situation and "doing what needs to be done."

Last night I took her out on long lines to practice some of what I learned from the Jonathan Field DVD.  The goal of his DVD is not to prepare a horse for harness but rather to increase communication through long lines as an aid for under saddle.  Regardless, he teaches some good rope handling skills and you have to start somewhere.

I used the "carpet of motivation" (i.e. the field of green grass across the drive) to help me out.  If it things went pear-shaped I could drop the lines and Cricket would just eat.  It also allowed me to go somewhere and give her a reward at the end.

We played with circles and flipping the ropes around her back and down to her hocks.  She got a little fussy at the bind created by the drag on her head from the rope around her hocks.  She didn't flip out but pulled a lot with her head.  She eventually sorted it out and I got some nicely shaped trot.  We played a little with going from a circle to a straight line.  When that was pretty good, I added changing sides to move from one eye to the other.  Cricket exploited every little rope foible by coming to a dead halt and eating as if she hadn't been fed for weeks.

After visiting with my friend while she was feeding, we headed back to the barn and before I put her away we got some lovely, and I mean lovely, outside change of direction with a little ask on one line and a little release on the other.  I would ask Cricket to walk past me and use a feel on the far line coupled with a release on the near line to get her to turn away from me and change directions.  She did it with relaxation and total flow.

I ordered Steve Bowers' book, Farming with Horses, from Amazon and it arrived yesterday.  Apparently this is the bible when it comes to harnessing and hitching a horse.  To put it mildly, I'm a little overwhelmed.  I've just paged through the book and I see that this undertaking may be more daunting than originally planned.  But I can see some cool things, too.  What if I could teach Cricket to pull the harrow?

But I've done so much with Cricket already.  If we just take our time and find help along the way, I think we'll be fine.

1 comment:

Tina said...

Sounds like you have a great start going!