Oxen in training..
Ah, I have been trying to spend at least half an hour each day on training girl and in so many ways its showing, the road work is helping harden and work her feet (a very good thing), the steady work each day is making her always willing self even more happy to see me. I am not as happy that most of the gear bought and made for her last year will not fit her this year, I even need a new head peice, thankfully she works just fine on a homemade lucet hand rope, with a instant head halter made as required.
The only two peices that could be made to adjust enough to use in training right now, is her back peice that can have bundles or weights hung on each side, and her bells, so that is what we have been working with at this time, the folks are even getting use to seeing us on the road, but we have hit a training snag..
So right now, I am working on a steady list of commands..
Walk on- Means just what it sounds like
Easy-Slow down but don’t stop
Stand- Don’t move from where I put you.
She is coming along real well and so I have been starting to walk beside her at rump or behind with her taking her commands by voice only, well the snag is that she has started having a bad habit of going right or left without it being commanded and then gets to the side of the road before the ditch and just stops..sigh..
See the issues, first, she should not be turning without command, second, while I don’t want her going into the ditch, she should not be stopping until I tell her to.. if I say.. walk on and that means going down the ditch and up and out the other side, then that is what should happen… I will worry about the second part for another day, I mean she is smart so I can’t really fault her for thinking I would not want her to go down the ditch, I once rode a horse called Blondie for a few summers, and I was warned that she expected you to tell her everything, I thought they were kidding a bit until I was on a road that curved and went right, and she walked right off the road in the straight line I had pointed her at , and down the ditch and stopped in front of the fence, she was honestly a great horse but she expected you to do all the thinking..
So yesterday Girl and I were out for while on the road yesterday and over and over again she would start straight and then slowly go right, I corrected her again, with the New Command “Front”, both of us were getting hot and sweaty, and I had her walk on.. she started going right, and when I said “front” she straightened back out. Now she only did it twice on command in a row, but I stopped right there and let her end on a high note, so we will see today if it stuck or if I am right back to sqaure one.
I think that having a team does make some things easier then working a single draft cow.. So for any of you that drive horses and or oxen.. what is the correct work to walk staight, do you use gee and haw only to correct the behaviour or do you have a “front command” and any tricks to pass on or reason’s you can think of for her to be pulling right or left, she does not do it when I am leading. Will having her hitched to a wagon help increase or decrease this behaviour?
I would like to point out that I have driven teams before but they were in harness, and I am finding it quite different to work with the cow as she does not have driving lines on her at this time, (I did use driving lines last year when I was just starting her) but I want to get her to the point of working off line by voice command. I guess I could put her back on driving lines while teaching the new command or just half on and half off for practise.