However, I got some new media this weekend, and I made a big breakthrough with Dopie's driving exploits so I'm going to put it down. And usually once I start typing word vomit happens anyway.
|cart pony says gimme my candy|
Since I have enough media to split this post into two parts--riding and driving Opie--this will be the driving post. Also because there's only so many ways to write about lower level dressage work. "We only almost fell down once working on the counter canter today, so I guess you can say things are going well."
The weekend before this past one, I was feeling awfully fucking dejected about the driving progress. I was only working with him once a week because I needed Hubby's extra set of hands to get him hitched safely, and I still didn't trust him to drive around solo without someone there to grab him should things go south.
|having a pout because my horse didn't magically learn to drive by himself in two sessions|
The biggest issue I was running into was that Opie kept reverting to his habit of employing his short cobra neck as a weapon instead of using his body properly. He didn't want to push the cart over to make turns--instead he would just turn his head and neck all the way around, and then I'd have to stop and either get out or have Hubby reset him on the straight track again since turning your head doesn't move the cart.
I did some work with him in-hand, physically shoving the shafts of the cart over as we turned until he was kind of getting the idea on his own. I whined about it to BM who has some driving experience and she told me to try side reins to keep his head straight. Hmmmmm. Food for thought!
Hubby, meanwhile, was like, "You just need to ground drive him more and he'll get it." To which I pointed out that he knows how to ground drive, and he turns just fine in the lines. He doesn't know how to maneuver a cart, and he's not going to learn unless he's got a cart attached to him. So pipe the fuck down, Hubby.
|spolier alert: i let hubby take him for a spin this weekend at the walk|
Not one to feel sorry for myself for long without coming up with a full scale attack approach to my problems, last week I decided Opie was doing well enough with the cart that I could get him hitched myself and at the very least work with him on the ground. After our ride on Thursday, I got him dressed in the outdoor and lifted the cart up. Just as I got the shafts slotted into the tugs, Opie spotted BM strolling into the ring and was like, "OH HAI NICE LADY YOU HAVE CANDIEZ?" and started to walk the fuck off for a visit. The cart harmlessly slid out and clunked to the ground, and Opie got walloped for moving. When I set him back up, he had the most dejected look on his face, but he stood like a rock--and got lots of candy for it which improved morale.
I attached the side reins on both sides super loosely and led him around the arena once in-hand. He was completely fine about the whole thing, so I clipped the lines on and moved behind the cart to ground drive him from there. Not only was he fine for that, but I let the fence line do the work for me the first couple laps and barely had to give any input on steering. I wanted to see if the side reins and Opie's sense of self preservation--aka don't walk into the fence, dummy--would kick in. The side reins were a huge help and there was no angry cobra neck to be found!
|i can't wait to give this cart a face lift this winter.|
obvi it's going to become purple.
The next day, after our ride, I got him hitched again this time with no moving. In-hand I led him for half a lap at the walk, and then did a full lap at the trot. He did not give two shits, so after a lap of ground driving him at the walk from behind the cart, I got in and sent him off for our first solo trip.
His steering was easy, his brakes were solid, and when I decided to go ahead and ask for a trot, he hopped right into it for a lap and then came back and stood like a statue while I got him undressed and stuffed all the candy in his face. (No, but really. He got an entire plus sized bag of baby carrots.)
When I finally dragged Hubby out on Sunday, I climbed right in as soon as we were hitched and off we went for some loops at the walk to show off our newly installed steering. Hubby was impressed and I had to be like, "Right, bitch. No ground driving. Cart driving. Also side reins. Also extra candy. Also I'm a genie and my horse is a #childgenius." Because I'm a grown up and rubbing things in is how I roll.
Then we pranced off into the sunset:
And everyone died of cuteness overload.