D O N K E Y   T R A I N I N G   e - C L I N I C
        groundwork (1a)

      introduction to donkeys and people ----  communication

        part 1a --   groundwork (1a)                                 part 1b --  groundwork (1b)

        part 2a --   first touch (2a)                                     part 2b --   first touch (2b)

        part 3 --     hand leading

        part 4 --   training attitude                                     part 5 --   leading

        part 6 --   step by step training checklist          part 7 --   lunging


        Part 1a  Why ground training?

               From: Vicki/ladywife  <ladywife@b...>
               Date: Sat May 27, 2000 12:25pm
               Subject: Why ground training? Part 1a

               I know ground training seems like it takes a long time and it bores you to
               tears but the alternative is a big splat and a loud oomph (and hopefully not
               a crunch).

               Ground training isn't about establishing dominance over the animal. It
               isn't about repeating the same things over and over and over until the
               trainer and the animal are both zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

               Ground training is about establishing the cooperation needed to build a
               strong and lasting partnership based on trust and reasonable expectations.
               Ground training is the bonding experience that CAN save your life someday
               when a tent awning breaks loose in the wind and you sitting on top of your
               horse/donkey/mule are right in the path. That happened to me at the Circle
               G Saddle Club horse show in the mid-80's. We had just completed the second
               360 degree spin of the reining pattern when the Elephant Ears concessionaire
               tent ripped loose from the pegs and became airborne. It happened so quickly
               and behind me I didn't even see it coming. Out of a clear blue sky (a tad
               windy that day) the Jet Deck super-charged 3 year old colt and I were
               enveloped in this whipping, clammy, stinking blackness (smelled like rancid
               grease from the deep fryer). If I had not taken the time to development
               that colt's confidence in himself and in me by ground training I have no
               doubt my family would be putting flowers on my grave this Memorial Day. It
               was only a 12x12 canvas tent topper but the ropes and pegs were still
               attached to it and the wind wrapped it around us like saran wrap. I had a
               momentary flash of panic I was going to suffocate before help could get to
               us to get us out of it. There wasn't room to dismount since the ends of the
               tent wrapped around Tears legs. I had to sit there and wait. That colt
               stood like a rock and this was his first show experience. He nickered
               softly as if asking "What the Hell is this?" But he didn't move. Add to it
               the confusion of loud paniced voices and the pounding footsteps of a hundred
               people jumping the arena fence and rushing toward us. I might add that
               everyone was in their show finery and no one had a SHARP pocket knife in
               their pocket except me and I was plastered to the colt's neck and couldn't
               reach my nose let alone my pocket. A quick-thinking show farrier grabbed up
               a handful of hoof knifes and passed them out but still it was a slow,
               methodical rescue cutting the tent into pieces to get us out from under it.
               I tried to scan the photo from the newspaper of the accident but it is too
               grainy and looks more like a picture of an elephant surrounded by ants.

               That is what ground training is all about. Saving your hide when the
               unexpected (and sometimes bizarre) happens. When you are trail riding
               through the woods have you ever seen a squirrel knock loose a walnut and it
               lands 2 inches in front of your mount? Have you encountered a bear on the
               trail? Or a moose? A yo-yo riding a Yamaha with the baffles taken out of
               his muffler? A family with 3 youngsters riding bikes with training wheels?

               Ground training isn't just for your own safety. It is for the safety of
               everyone who may encounter your horse/donkey/mule.

               As a trainer I would rather someone bring me a wild 7 year old who has never
               been touched by human hands than to bring me a 5 year old they have been
               riding for 2 years. 99.9% of the time the problem isn't a problem horse it
               is problem people. No matter how calm and sweet natured the animal is, if
               it hasn't had basic training of ground work someday something will happen
               and it will blow up and there will be a disasterous wreck.

               Just because SweetFace will let you climb on her back, it doesn't mean you
               should. She may let you sit on her but she doesn't know what it is all
               about. You can pull her head this way or that way and whop her ribs with
               your heels until she takes a step, but is that pleasure? It definitely
               isn't for her and I would think it would be frustrating and aggravating for
               the rider too.

               It really doesn't take that long to do the groundwork. Beginning this
               spring due to a broken ankle that was slow to heal, (tripped over a cat on
               the porch steps in February) I have changed my way of doing things. I no
               longer allow the owner to drop the horse/donkey/mule off and leave it for me
               to train. Now I hobble around on my cane and train the owner to train the
               horse/donkey/mule. It was tough going at first until I could find a way to
               explain the "why you do this because this is how you want the animal to
               respond". It was a learning experience for me as well. Because I already
               knew the whys, hows, and wherefors, I had a tendency to be impatient when an
               owner just didn't get it. There are a couple I suspect will never get it
               but at least they are learning calm, gentle ways of handling their horses
               and how to ask respectfully for the horse to perform.

               The most frustrating part for me is the number of owners who are so
               ding-dang impatient. They expect instant results. In my opinion instant
               anything is never as good as the slow and steady kind. Instant pudding?
               Yuck. No thanks. I'll take cooked pudding slowly simmered and stirred to
               bring out the rich texture and flavor. Instant pie crust? That frozen
               stick stuff that looks like a cake of lard. Sure it is fast. It is easy.
               But it just doesn't hold a candle to flaky scratch-made pie crust that melts
               in your mouth. A rushed horse/donkey/mule will never be as much pure fun
               and sheer pleasure as a developed riding partner.

               Oops this is getting long. I'll continue in another post. 



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