Driving: Juniper’s Training
by Lynn R. Miller of Singing Horse Ranch
A final sneak peak at the Second Edition of Lynn R. Miller’s “Training Workhorses / Training Teamsters.” Today’s excerpt, “Driving: Juniper’s Training,” is from Chapter 11, “Starting and Training Older Horses.” Click here to order.
A. At the same session as the harnessing, after Juniper is accustomed to her harness, we snap a bit back into her halter and buckle single lines on.
B. As I give the first command to go you can see Juniper trying to figure out the pressure on that bit in her mouth.
C. Then Juniper reverts and seems to say, “Let me out of here.” Which is fine because we just go round and round in the pen with me trying to convince her, once again, that her forward motion is my wish.
D. By staying towards the center of the pen my circles are smaller and I don’t need to travel at nearly the speed Juniper chooses. I work to be matter-of-fact about how it all is going. Nothing bad can happen.
E. & F. Here I can see and feel a change in her manner as she slows and begins to accept the process.
G. Juniper stopped on her own and I said Whoa at that same instant. Then she turned 180 degrees and set off again with me following.
H. As she slowed naturally I applied a very slight pressure on the lines and said a sharp WHOA. She stopped nicely.
I. So I went to her and thanked her for her cooperation. All that roping-out has paid off.
J. We go around a couple more times at a walk and I force her to turn across the pen.
K. Midway across I set her head to make a U-turn, careful to be prepared to quickly stay behind her.
L. She is resisting the bit’s position, a natural early reaction that requires a firm but compassionate perseverance on the teamster’s half.
M. Making a turn that requires that you maintain nearly equal tension on both driving lines, it’s just that the line on the inside of the turn is a bit shorter and creates an angle to the bit in the horse’s mouth.
N. The mare then turns her head to make the bit position in her mouth straight and therefore more comfortable. Next the body follows the head.
O. Juniper stops on my command and seems attentive yet relaxed.
P. I go to her with my full and genuine gratitude.
Q. We make a few more rounds and with each pass she gets more comfortable and casual.
R. We end this forty-five minute session thrilled and a bit tired.