Ground Driving Illustrations: Vamos

Here,     Vamos takes a hard look to the right at the action behind him, without     moving his feet. He is not being held, or restrained physically. He has     learned the critical meaning of the “feel” of “stand still”.    



Similarly,     when Vamos frees the root of his neck and poll laterally to the left to see     what is taking place there, all four feet remain where they should. This is     critical to a successful outcome when ground driving and, later on, if     someone hitches him up to a cart.   



As     Vamos does under saddle, so, too can he respect the same request when he     wears a makeshift harness for carrying things around the farm. A little job     like this adds meaning to his experience and sense of purpose.   



It     is very important for the handler to present a good feel on the rope or     rein, when leading the horse through a turn. Here, Vamos’ leading shoulder     is free and the hips are well-engaged for the job.   



Vamos responds well in this sharp turn to the left because the leading shoulder is free, and the leading rein is not drawn tight. Notice the soft appearance in his body from nose to tail; his facial expression reflects his clear understanding of the handler’s intent.    



Niklas,     a young Swedish farmer experiments with his own position as he learns more     about ground driving and horse handling. Vamos is able to continue straight     ahead between two long lines, without Niklas being in view.    



Vamos     hesitates here, to see if Niklas intends to drive him around in a circle to     the right, to walk alongside him, or pass ahead of him and, possibly, cut     him off. This concern, and question about where to go next with his feet,     shows clearly on his face.    



Lessons     should be clear and short. Vamos takes a break in the middle of a ground     driving session. Creating stress in a horse that is trying to learn     something from you is not the best plan.   



Once     the foundation in feel-based response is reliable, the horse can be counted     on to move when and where you ask, through release, with or without long     reins. This takes time. The responses one builds in on the ground will     later be available under saddle . . . if a rider’s feel and balance up top do     not confuse the horse’s clear understanding of your intent. This also takes     time.