Icelandic Horse Connection

Ground Driving Your Icelandic Horse

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Learn the Ropes of Ground Driving
By Robyn Hood IceFarm

You can safely teach your horse the building blocks of training before you ever place your toe in the stirrup.

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  • STEP SEVEN: Now add the second line to the right halter ring. Cross it over the back to mirror the other line and quietly let the lines rub across the horse's loins and hips. Have the handler reassure the horse, and make certain the horse stands quietly for this lesson. With the person in front still controlling the horse, take the horse through the obstacles including the star and labyrinth.

    You can practice your turning skills
    by using a single driving line around
    a post or with a chair as shown.
    Practice moving from the neutral position
    in each hand to turn in the opposite direction.

  • STEP EIGHT: Uncross the driving lines. You should be about eight feet behind the horse. Stand just off to one side when you drive, so you can see the horse's eye, and he can see you. At this point, the "driver" can start to give the signals. Be sure to tell your helper at the horse's head when you are going to stop and turn. As the horse begins to listen to the driver, the helper can start to move away from the horse, giving him a longer line and turning the wand around to the Grace of the Cheetah (the soft end of the wand is toward the horse and the wand is held near the button by the handler). To turn the horse, slide up the line in the direction you are turning and step slightly in that direction. When asking the horse to stop, take the slack out of the line, close your fingers as you ask for a halt and then give back a bit of slack. The horse stops in balance on the release-not on the take. Remember to stay balanced over your feet- avoid planting your feet and bracing back for a halt, as this will only make the horse pull forward or raise his head. As you ask for a "whoa," be sure to give your horse time to process the information: The command will take a couple of seconds to make its way from your brain to your body, to the horse's body, to his brain and back to his body Once the horse is responding to the driver the lead can be removed and the "leader" moves back out of the way perhaps using just the wand if necessary.

    Practice using the lines and giving signals
    by "driving" a person. The weight
    of the driving lines is significant
    when they are attached to the halter.
    It is important to have "supported
    slack" in the lines as shown.

If you have a great deal of experience ground driving, these, steps may seem drawn out. However, we've found this to be a safe way of starting a horse ground driving which can be done by almost anyone. The handler at the horse's head allows the driver to learn how to steer and helps the horse accept signals from behind him within a few lessons. There's little risk of injury or having a bad experience, which can be difficult to undo.

Tip: "Bridging" your driving lines keeps you more balanced and more aware of where your hands are and what they are doing. It makes a frame around the horse and maintains the connection between horse and driver. To prevent tripping over the end of the driving lines, pick up the two ends between the little and ring fingers in one hand. You can leave the end of the lines there as you bridge back and forth from one side to the other. This photo shows the ends of the lines held in the left hand while there is still abridge taken between the right and left hand.

by Robyn Hood, IceFarm, from TTEAM Up With Your Horse (now TTEAM Connections), copyright 2001 (printed here with permission).

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