We are moving through the tasks with Raven. I have been ground driving her and it has been interesting. Ground driving is harder than you think. It is one thing to get the horse to go forward while lungeing a horse. It is another to get them to go forward with calmness when they have a line hitting them on hocks or across their butt or getting caught underneath their tail. It really starts to get interesting then. That is why it is necessary to go through all the steps before you actually use two reins while ground driving. One of the tasks is to drive the horse forward then have them turn and change sides. This is huge, not only are you teaching them to follow their nose, but you are asking them to allow you to go through their blindspot which is directly behind them. They see you on one side and then you disappear and reappear on the other side and that can scare them real bad. However, this is why it is important to ground drive a horse. Think about it, a horse is a prey animal, you are a predator to them. You are teaching them that you are not a predator though. Think of it this way, you are in the wild and you make a deal with a lion. He is telling you he won't eat you and you just have to trust him. But a lion is a lion and you can process that information and reject it because you are human. You can think through these things and reason about it. A horse cannot, but that is what you are asking the horse to do. Remember God put in a horse to fear man, Gen. 1:26 and Gen. 9:2. So what you are asking them to do is to go against their God given instinct and trust you. Everytime I ask Raven to change sides while ground driving I am asking her to trust me that I am not going to eat her. It was God asks of us oftentimes when we are forced into a change. Like a job loss, or a move or health issues. He is saying to you and me, 'trust Me. I am not trying to destroy you.' It is a learning process that takes time in our lives. God demonstrates He is not out to get us by sending His Son to die on the cross for us. So everytime we think God is either not there when we need Him or when we think He is out to get us, look at the cross that should dissolve any doubt in your mind, Romans 5:8. So back to the horse. The only way to get Raven to become relaxed with me going in and out of her blindspot is to do that lots of times until you see her relax. Then back off. I want to do everything from ground driving that I do from her back: go forward, lateral flexion, leg yield, stop with softness, backup, change direction and so on. Yesterday I had her doing leg yields almost by accident because I was actually asking her to turn, but my position and her posture was telling her to leg yield. So I caught and kept asking her. She is better on one side with turning than the other so we got some work to do. She is getting softer with a stop and back up. This also teaches both us to pay attention to my body language. I need to get so I can push her forward with my body bubble without verbal or physical cues like slapping her with the line. She is getting real good at it though.
Then I worked on transitions with halter and she did pretty good at downwards ones from trot and canter down to a walk.
I got in the saddle and we went through our routine of lateral flexion, vertical flexion, backup using seat and legs, counterturn and disengagement. Then asked her to move off and did transitions of walk, trot, walk even cantered a bit. I wanted to work on another task of doing a figure 8 at the trot while posting on the correct lead and then changing leads and posting as we were going down the straight part of the figure 8. To pass the task I have to be able to do this correctly, meaning I change my posting in one beat and pick up the correct lead. So we worked on this and many more tasks before we were done.
I also moved up to the horseman's course, the fourth set. I worked on the first three tasks of round pen and had no problem doing those with Raven. I will list the tasks in a later post. But we are almost half way through the 30 day workout and things are progressing pretty good. I have seen areas I need to work more on. Other areas I just have to refine to a higher level. But progress is the key.
God bless you today and get out and enjoy some fresh air.