Single Driving Practice
Ah yes, the burden of leadership. Finn knows that well, and I'm sure you remember the difficulty we had with him when he came into "rut" (or whatever it is you call it for wethers). That's a hard thing to work through. Finn didn't like to leave the herd last fall either. How could he leave all those defenseless ladies at the mercy of two lecherous bucks?? We did have some breakthroughs, but it was baby steps. I also had to be firm with him a few times and let him know he wasn't going to ignore me. If he turned his back on me when I was trying to work with him on his tricks, I smacked him on the butt with the whip and let him know he must get both eyes on me when I talk to him.

Don't be afraid to whack Koby with that whip if he is ignoring you. If you're using it so lightly he can ignore you, you're going to end up desensitizing him to it (or just irritating him), and then you have a much bigger problem. You mustn't get into a position where you're constantly nagging him with the whip. It's like the frog in the boiling water. If you try to put a frog in boiling water he jumps out. But if you slowly turn the heat up he'll tolerate it to death. Same principle with the whip. If you nag with it and only slightly increase the intensity, you end up using it a lot more and a lot harder than if you'd cut right to the chase and demanded respect in the beginning. If you touch your goat with the whip he should move away. Period. If he feels the whip and intentionally ignores it, give a firm vocal command and smack him hard enough he can't ignore it. I'll give up to three hard smacks before I go to his head and lead. When a goat is ignoring me, I lead him on firmly at a brisk trot, and I use the whip on his hind legs every time he stops or slows to reinforce that he must move from the whip. We stop when I'm ready and then I reward. I may start and stop several times while leading, using the whip firmly each time we start again so he can't ignore that signal, and then I reward.

I highly recommend using your cart if you can. You can use a cart on your own. Tie Koby to a fence, harness him, and then bring the cart up and hitch. Koby shouldn't be nervous of it, but if he is just go slowly and reward. Take it in small steps if necessary. Just put the shafts in the loops and take them out the first day or two and reward. Once you get him hitched for the first time, just lead him around for a couple of sessions before you try to drive. Ground driving is hard without shafts to help keep the goat pointed in the right direction. Every time Koby turns to face you, you both end up frustrated and he probably gets a little confused. It's also self-rewarding because he gets a break every time you have to reorganize, sometimes he gets a cookie, and he succeeds at staying close to home. Never give Koby a cookie when he turns to face you. Only give a treat if he stands perfectly still when you say "whoa". I wish you could bring Koby with you to the Rendezvous!
That's great advice, thanks Nanno. Oh, I so wish I could bring Koby too ... but it's more important for me to actually see in person for myself how all this is done properly. There is only a certain amount I can do on my own using pictures and videos as a guide (although they have been very helpful). And without Koby there to distract me - as much as I love the young fella - I can totally immerse myself in what I'm learning and soak up all the information like a sponge.

I've really only had the whip with me a couple of times - I stopped using it when it was obvious I didn't know what I was doing Smile So I don't think I've done too much damage there. I do need to use it properly. And you are spot on about the re-organizing/cookie factor!
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
Phil and I had another awesome drive last Saturday, but I've been too busy to post about it until now (I'm actually too busy now too, but since I'm going to be even busier for the next week I'd better type this up before I forget entirely).

We went to the golf course as usual, and this time Phil suggested we drive our goats in opposite directions around the loop. I had forgotten our whips, so we had to make do with voice commands combined with clumsy rein slaps, but we managed. Sputnik got balky after a few dozen yards when he realized Finn wasn't going our way, so I got out and led him a short ways to get started. He stopped on a semi-frequent basis at first, but he usually got going with a little encouragement and I didn't have to lead him again. Phil tells me he had a similar experience with Finn. We wouldn't have had issues if I'd remembered our whips, but the problem with rein-slapping is that you lose your steering every time you slap and the goat tends to take that opportunity to turn back toward his buddy. At that point he realizes he might be able to pull a fast one on you and he starts getting uncooperative and balky. But we all got past the difficult part at the beginning, and once we were on the move we did alright.

Sputnik and Finn took opposite approaches to solo driving. Once we got underway, I had to constantly slow Sputnik down. He wanted to trot and canter almost the entire loop. Finn, on the other hand, preferred to mosey along at his leisure. Phil figured that as long as Finn was moving forward he'd take it as obedience even if it was no more than a snail's pace. For that reason, Sputnik and I were back at the truck long before Finn and Phil returned, so we did a couple of jaunts down different side roads to pass the time. Sputnik was being quite good by that time, and I only once had to get out and lead him for a bit when we passed a lawn mower going right next to the road. I also got out and led him past a yard with a very aggressive dog barking from amongst a lot of bushy undergrowth. That was scary even for me! So I got out and held Sputnik's hand while we passed. I successfully drove him past the dog and the mower on the way back (it helped that we were turned toward the truck).

One funny incident was that I asked Sputnik to walk across a puddle in the intersection. Since the puddle lay across our return route, Sputnik didn't hesitate to turn right into it. He was trotting and this time I allowed him to carry on instead of asking him to take the water at a walk as I've always done in the past. Sputnik acted as though he would trot right across, but just as he got to the water's edge he put an extra spring in his step and leaped across! It was about a four-foot span and he cleared it without a splash. I was pretty impressed! The cart jolted forward and landed smack in the middle of the water but the goat stayed dry. I got a good laugh out of that one.

Phil especially had a great time on this drive, which really makes me happy. He and Finn weren't in sync there for a while and this drive really helped Phil realize that training is a journey with ups and downs, but consistency eventually produces good results. Phil's favorite part of the drive is taking Finn up and over the narrow golf cart bridge, which he did a couple of times that day.

The hard part now is convincing our boys to be caught when they see us open the truck tailgate and walk toward them with halters in our hands! They don't like being dragged out and made to work, so today Phil and I loaded them up and just took them walking around the lake. We don't want every excursion to be a grueling workout. Driving solo is stressful for both of them right now, but I think if we keep at it they'll eventually figure out that it's not scary and the rewards are worth it.
When my in-laws were here we had a great time taking the boys out for a drive around the golf course! Finn and Sputnik were on their best behavior. Jim drove Finn without any help at all! Lois, on the other hand, preferred to let me do the driving while she enjoyed the view.  
There was a palpable Ben-Hur spirit in the air. There were several times along the route where our drivers got competitive and encouraged their charges to pass. 

Contestant #1 - "Jumpin' Jim" and "Fiery Finn": 

Contestant #2 - "Lopin' Lois" and "Speedaway Sputnik"


"Speedaway Sputnik blasts out of the gate to take a three-length lead over Fiery Finn!"

"They're around the clubhouse turn and Fiery Finn has closed Speedaway Sputnik's lead! It looks like Sputnik's leader is starting to flag! That early burst of speed has taken its toll!"   

"Into the homestretch and Finn flies around Sputnik on the outside to take the rail! 

"And Fiery Finn crosses the finish line to win by a length and a half! What a race, ladies and gentlemen!" 
That's awesome! Your in-laws look like they had a lot of fun!
Goatberries Happen!
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap

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