Friday, September 28, 2012

One pole at a time

Things are getting colder.  And darker.  Fall has definitely settled in and the daylight is leaving sooner and sooner each day, leaving little time for outside tasks.  No worries though, I finally got the gumption to torture the donkey.

The goal of the session was to ground drive her a little, something we have only done a couple of times, and then if all went well, add a pole to drag around.  To her credit, she is being really good about everything I throw at her because I don't actually work her often at all.  Once a month is all I average in my goal to get her to pull my butt around in a cart.  Unfortunately with lack of time and then my knee recovery, I haven't had the ability to work with her at all since late July when I was showing some of her skills off.
A content donkey is content to have her head held for her

I started to get out her harness, admittedly not that big or heavy of a harness but still, and then got lazy and instead hooked up my surcingle to the App's dressage girth (which made it fit PERFECTLY!) and used it for our work.  While I have been typically bringing the halter out and driving with both the halter and bridle/bit to get her more accustomed to the bit pressure, this time I left the halter in the barn.  My long training leashes (repurposed as draw reins long ago) were repurposed again as driving lines and they fit her pretty perfectly.  We worked on walking,whoa and working towards get her a little more accustomed to the bit.  After several circles going both directions that included directional changes, we finally tried going straight.  It was the more tense part as it opens to door to a take-off, something that happens occasionally when on a circle.  Much to my surprise the donkey did great and marched on with no running away. Yay!

A crappy cell phone pic done at night is better than no pic
Lots of practice is still needed with walking and stopping on command however the donkey is halting with fairly minimal pressure on the bit.  This is a pretty big improvement over our last session where she didn't seem to understand bit pressure at all.  Her only bad habits so far is to continually flip her tongue over the bit and continually gape her mouth, grr.  She is in a plain half cheek driving snaffle, I am sure time and experience will help fix these issues.  She is still learning how to hold and handle the bit, we will give it time before getting something to keep her tongue from flipping around.

Just to give an idea of how she is going.
As the final test, I had a friend drive the donkey around while I started dragging a PVC pipe around the arena, progressing until it was behind her.  She gave quite a few "donkey shuffles" as she wasn't super keen on having this noisy thing being drug around with her but after about 5 mins she settled down.  After she settled I placed the pole on her as she walked and eventually tied the pole to her surcingle as she walked around.  Again, several "donkey shuffles" but after another 3-4 minutes she settled down and accepted that she had to drag this noisy pole around.  Success!

On that note we stopped a couple of times until she gave a pretty nice, soft halt and then disrobed her and put her back in her stall.  I got a couple of unhappy donkey looks but treats appeared to make things better and by the time I went to the house I stopped getting dirty looks.  Looking forward to getting a second pole on her and the trying to hook her up!  Someone needs to pull my butt around in a cart :)

1 comment:

  1. This is sooooo awesome and she is sooooo cute!!!!!!! I hope it goes this well with Zep hehehe. :D