Tesla and I go Driving!

After chatting with Trainer S. about techniques that would help Tesla feel more comfortable in the busy arena, one suggestion was ground driving: so I signed us up for a lesson!

Let's do this!

First I longed Tess and Trainer S. gave me some pointers/advice:

  • Keep the elbow on my longe line arm tucked in (like a would when riding), it allows for a steadier connection.
  • Don't follow her around in a circle: stay in the middle as if a hula hoop was around your feet. This will help her bend a bit more. (I honestly thought I was helping by moving/increasing the circle size - whomp whomp).
  • Tess is stiffer to the right than to the left (yup - I've been doing carrot stretches to help her get more flexible)
  • Tesla tends to tense up in her lower back: I need to be doing exercises to help her loosen up and relax that area (Masterson Method has totally helped, but MORE!)
  • My goal is to use the whip like my leg, and the line like my hand - I need to make sure my timing of aids is correct to get her round and forward at the same time ;)

Whew! and as if that wasn't enough info to process, we then did a driving lesson!

First, Trainer S and I "desensitized" her to the lines by flip-flopping them around against her body. This is also a good "chill-out-now" exercise, and a natural horsemanship technique I can use to calm her down if she gets scared or anxious.

Then we did some "training wheels" practice, where I was at Tesla's head and Trainer S. was driving from behind. I gotta say, all the groundwork I've done with her really paid off, cause Tesla happily walked alongside me (I didn't even have to touch her :) and when we switched places, she was just as good for Trainer S. (awwwwhhhh....proud horse mom moment).

She picked it up super quickly, and really seemed to enjoy the work. We had a few drunken sailor moments when the training wheels came off and Trainer S. was no longer at her head lol - but she took correction and we even did some trotting!!

 I am fully prepared to do what the horse likes - but wasn't quite expecting this....

or this:

Does that mean I need a matched pair? ;)

An unexpected bonus - Tesla actually thinks she cannot really stop - so even if we are headed by something "scary" where her instinct would be to stop and back up - she chugs right on by :D She was very relaxed (it is natural for horses to drive each other from behind) and this high quality work is really  going to build her topline and help release the tension in her back.

I'm thrilled to add this tool into my toolkit!