STEP FOUR: Walk the horse forward and allow the single line to touch the
hindquarters and move down the leg. To teach the horse to override the
flight instinct when something gets around his lower leg, slide the rope
down the leg and when it touches just below the hock, ask the horse to
stop. Then reward your horse with a stroke from the wand and perhaps a
small bite of grain.
If your horse is unsure about the driving lines, a bit of grain will
also encourage him to relax and breathe. Use a flat feed pan or a
Frisbee with just a handful or two of grain spread around the pan. This
way the horse has to feel around for the grain rather than just diving
into a bucket and thinking only about the food.
After a couple of times of being asked to halt when the line gets below
the hock, your horse should begin to slow down whenever the line goes
below the hock. This is a lesson in safety; should your horse ever
become ensnared in wire or brush, he is much more likely to stop and
think instead of acting instinctively in flight. At this point, if your
horse is afraid of the line, have the person at the head stop the horse.
Then (assuming you are controlling the driving line), come up the line
toward the horse's head with the grain.
If your horse is at all nervous about the lines, you can dispel some
of his anxiety by walking up from behind and giving him a bite of grain. Or
go back a step, taking the line off the halter and tying it around the neck
as you do in neckline driving.
STEP FIVE: Invite the horse to turn his head and reach back to eat the
grain. When a horse is afraid he will often stiffen his neck and become
rigid rather than bend his neck and look back with- out moving his
hindquarters. Walk the horse for- ward and stop several times. Walk up
from both sides to be sure the horse can turn his head back in both
directions. Take him into the labyrinth and star poles to help him relax
and focus as you go through these steps.
Cross the single line over the horse's back so that it rests on the
off side. Then stroke the horse's hindquarters and leg with the rope.
Continue the lesson by walking the horse through the obstacles. Add the
second line and cross it over the horse's back.
STEP SIX: Take your single line and cross it over the back to let it
touch the horse on the opposite side. If your horse is nervous when the
line is on the right, have your handler move over to this side of the
horse (rethreading the chain through the opposite side of the hatter
rings first). It is always safest for both people to be on the same
side. Even if your horse does not seem to be afraid from the left side,
it is worthwhile to take a few minutes to see how he reacts to the right
side. Some horses are perfectly quiet with the line on the left side and
become terrified when it goes over to the right side. Lead the horse
through a few pole exercises before proceeding to the next step.
Now uncross the driving lines. You can now give the signals to turn
and stop from your driving position behind the horse. It is important for
you to communicate clearly with your helper at the horse's head; this also is
the most challenging part of the exercises.