Yesterday I did a ground driving session with Presto for the first time in a few months. All in all I’ve ground driven him less than 10 times ever, and only maybe 4-5 times with a bit… I’m not trying to do anything too specific, I mostly just want to give him some idea of how to understand and be comfortable with the bit well before I swing a leg over and actually try to ride.
I really haven’t done much of anything with him, aside from grooming, for almost a month. We’re at that point where honestly he’s quite ready to throw a leg over and start riding, but also he’s not three yet. If I can get a ground person to come help me, I do want to do a few very quick and basic “rides” on him this winter, but otherwise he’s just kind of chilling, and I’m in waiting mode. Every once in a while I get him out for a short lunge or ground driving session mostly just to check in and make sure he remembers everything. He always does.
I took him away from all the other horses, groomed him, tacked him up, led him out to the arena, and he still looked bored with it all. The blown-over dressage letters that Henry spooks at every time are mere curiosities to Presto. He wants to go put his nose on them, but he’s never once even looked at them in a semi-anxious way, not even when footing gets kicked onto them and they make a scary (according to Henry anyway) noise. At the beginning of every session I always lunge Presto for a couple minutes first, going over his voice commands. He knows whoa, walk, and trot 100% now. They’re good enough to where you can even transition between gaits pretty rapidly. The word canter is only about 50/50, mostly because I rarely canter him on the lunge line. He’s a big rangy horse with a big step, I don’t think his balance or his body is really ready for cantering on a 20m circle yet.
Once I’d practiced his voice commands both ways, I hooked up the long lines. One little squeeze on the left rein to move his nose left, one little squeeze on the right rein to move his nose right, and I was satisfied that he remembered what the bit means, so off we went around the arena. We turned, we went straight, we circled, and we made a somewhat drunken attempt at a serpentine. It’s a little hard to ground drive him because he’s almost TOO sensitive and turns a little TOO well. It would be a lot easier from the saddle where I could use my leg and body. But, he definitely remembered it all, and he did everything I asked, as if he does this every day. I halted him and took the long lines off then led him over to the stepstool, jumping up and down and leaning my body over the saddle from both sides. Again, never moved a muscle. At this point we were all of 15 minutes in and I had accomplished everything I had set out to do. I slid down and declared him to be the most boring baby ever.
And when I say boring, I mean that in the best possible way. He’s smart, he retains things easily, he’s confident, he’s obedient, and he’s not emotional. He can go for a long time between training sessions and pick it right back up as if it’s a daily occurrence. He’s very calm about “working”, and is far more of a thinker than a reactor. There is no “well let’s see what kind of mood he’s in today”… so far he’s always the same.
Don’t get me wrong, he can definitely be a goofy baby in his free time. He loves to run and buck and snort and turn into an arabian anytime the neighbor cows make an appearance. But so far, when it comes to his job (if you can even call it that yet), he’s very steady, predictable, and easy.
Things might change when I swing a leg over and actually start doing things… we’ll see. I’ve had some that were exactly the same for groundwork as they were under saddle, and others that were totally different. He IS only 2 years, 8 months, and 9 days old, after all (but who’s counting?).
ME. IT’S ME. I’M COUNTING.