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One Back & Two Forward


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4/2/13, Blair, NE - Royal and Ruben had their 8th lesson today, which lasted a little more than 2 hours. This was a day in which the lads started off by taking a step backwards in their progress, but before the day was over, they managed a couple of steps forward.

Right off the bat, I wanted to try a couple of new things. First, I added a pad to Royal’s collar, then I hung a metal neck yoke from the boys’ chest strap snaps.  Ruben was okay with all this, but Royal started acting up. He was reluctant to go and needed a lot of urging to ground drive. I thought the problem was with the neck yoke, so I unsnapped it first.  That wasn’t it - he continued to act up.

So, I started the day off by just ground driving them in the field across the street.

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You can see that Ruben (on the left) is driving well, but Royal has issues.  I think he was turning his head to tell me, “Get me out of this mess, Teamster. I’m uncomfortable and don’t want to do this”.  A collar pad may seem like a small thing to you and I, but to Royal it just happened to be a big deal.

After 45 minutes of ground driving, Royal worked through his issue and I drove them back across the street to pick up the sled.

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Both horse were now pretty relaxed as I drove them to the front of the stone boat. Hitching up was easy and we started off well, while driving through some tight turns.

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Once we were out on the lawn, Ruben stepped through his heel chains. This picture shows how I backed them up half a step to get some slack.  Then, I grabbed hold of Ruben’s halter and pulled him to the left to get both of his feet inside the heel chains.

30 seconds later, we were off again. It didn’t take long for the boys to get back into the swing of things. Within 5 minutes, they were pulling the boat as well as they were when we quit the previous lesson.

10 minutes later, both horses had exceeded their previously achieved level of training and were pulling me around on the sled like they had been doing it their whole life.

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A very “business-like team”, working together to pull me around the field. They are nowhere near the stage of training that I would expect from a well-broke team; but they’re getting there.

Horses respond well in learning to cope with something new in small increments.  I didn’t think that a collar pad would be a big deal, but Royal thought otherwise. But, by staying the course, encouraging him, and providing him with a few taps on the butt with the driving whip, he finally got the message and started behaving as he should. Who’s fault was the initial problem with the collar pad - mine or Royal’s? A good question.  If you ask Royal, he would say that it was my problem for not understanding his issues.  I, on the other hand, would say, “Suck it up Royal, and get through it”.  Guess what? - he did!  Royal did suck it up and work through it, but he’ll probably give me a head-butt for it at a later time; for not being in-tune with his innermost feelings - ha ha - I’ve been head-butted before!

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Workhorses - working!