Single Driving Practice
Last week Phil and I practiced Sputnik on the single cart since we knew he would be pulling kids around for the Easter celebration. He was so good! Phil was a bit of a zombie from work and said he didn't really want to drive. But Sputnik was so easy all Phil had to do was sit there. We forgot the whip, so it was all off voice command and the occasional slap with a rein. He did great! 

What a lovely head. And where did he get that Roman nose? It must be a throwback. Neither one of his parents has a convex nose like this, but Sputnik's is very pronounced. The bulge tends to make his halter rub more than I like. I also need to punch some more holes in his bridle. It's beginning to get tight! 

Driving goats makes me very happy! 

On Sunday--the day after the community Easter celebration--I took Sputnik down to the church for their little Easter egg hunt. He pulled kids (and several adults!) around the parking lot for half an hour or so. He was wonderful and very patient. I drove him around the parking lot afterwards and he did great until he suddenly decided to make a shortcut and tried to jump onto the boulders lining the parking lot. Oops! I had to get out, back him up, and lead him around the corner. "Sorry, Sputnik. You can't jump on rocks with a cart in tow!"
Next day was Finn's turn! He wasn't nearly so cooperative as Sputnik (driving just really isn't Finn's favorite), but he wasn't bad either and we managed to have a pleasant time. Nowadays I always try to bring a little can of grain so Finn can feel the work is worth it for the reward. I'm not sure he's totally convinced, but we do the best we can. Finn kept trying to go off the side of the road on right and Phil and I got tired of constantly correcting him. So when we reached an area where the drop wasn't too steep I let him go off into the ditch. He was determined to stay on the side for a while but eventually it got very hard and he finally gave up and climbed back onto the road. Every time he pulled to the side after that I let him go and he never dropped more than one wheel off the road. I'm hoping with a few more lessons he'll forget any ambitions of making his own trails.
More beautiful shots. Think I've mentioned before but I like the terrets on the neck strap of the breast plate. Plus the "unfussy" bridle that doesn't clutter their lovely faces.
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
Phil and I had a GREAT drive today! We took the boys out with their individual carts, which we haven't done for quite some time. I thought they would be rusty and we might have some issues with Finn, but Finn was awesome! Phil got done hitching before I did, and instead of waiting around for me, he and Finn struck off on their own. Finn stepped right out and left us behind without balking. Granted, he did complain vocally, but he didn't misbehave. Phil even drove Finn off-road onto a golf cart trail and across a narrow, humped wooden bridge over a marsh.

Sputnik and I started out a good while later, and Sputnik backed quite nicely away from the truck without me having to go to his head. "Back up" is not our goats' best command, but they are starting to get it. Once Sputnik got around to the other side of the truck he suddenly realized that Finn was gone and it threw him off his groove. He behaved almost perfectly, but he became very noisy. Sputnik went off-road and over the golf cart bridge too. The sudden up-then-down startled him the first time, but he was prepared on the return crossing and did well. Sputnik was happy to practice trotting and cantering so it wasn't too long before we overtook Finn. Suddenly both goats quieted down, and Sputnik marched out to his preferred place in front of Finn. Sputnik doesn't mind leaving Finn behind, but Finn had better not leave Sputnik behind!

We were a little over half-way around the golf course road when I saw someone I wanted to talk to. He was riding an ATV up a dirt road on the other side of the highway. Sputnik and I hung a sharp left, crossed the big ditch on a conveniently located dirt "bridge", then trotted across the highway. Sputnik was caught by surprise. We'd never left the golf course loop before, and certainly never crossed the highway. He got to the other side, saw that Finn wasn't following us, and suddenly screeched to a halt and began to turn around. There was traffic coming toward us pretty fast, so I jumped out and led Sputnik well off the road before climbing back into the cart and asking him to continue down the dirt side road toward the ATV, whose rider was now waiting for us. He drove off well once I got back in, so I was proud of him. I talked for quite a while, so Finn and Phil were long gone by the time I re-crossed the highway and got back on the golf course loop. Sputnik was noisy again for a bit, but he went well and got lots of treats for good behavior.

When Sputnik and I got back to the truck, I saw that Phil had started Finn around the loop again and was once more crossing that little golf cart bridge. I could see even from a distance that Finn was being very, very good. When they got back, Phil told me that Finn was noisy like Sputnik, but he was obedient and he never sulked. He happily took rewards every time they were offered! I'm a firm believer that once good behavior is in place, the good attitude will eventually follow. Both goats were very well-behaved today even if they weren't thrilled about being separated. I think with a few more practices like this they'll soon realize that leaving each other does not have to be traumatic, and that we will all meet up again at the end.
The boys sure are turning into some excellent pack and cart goats! They obviously trust you to be willing to go solo.
Goatberries Happen!
I wish I had more time. I'd love to drive the goats. I'm not sure I have a great matched set though-- Bacchus is kinda bossy. Shelby and Woodstock would work well but shelby has long legs and woodstock is have boer, so its not a great match.
Finn is bossy too. There's nothing like having to pull together to make those obnoxious, bossy goats get into line! I bought Finn an overcheck to prevent him from being able to whack and bite Sputnik, but it turned out I didn't need it. The boys got along better than expected.

You don't have to have a matched set to drive single in any case. Single driving is much easier from the equipment end of things too. The hardest part about single driving is getting your goat to leave the herd and walk out in front of you alone. The feeling of accomplishment when it finally comes together really makes it worth the time though!
Well I am, as usual, impressed and inspired every time I read about Finn and Sputnik's driving adventures. And the photos just make me realise how possible it is for me to get to even half way where you and Phil are with your driving. By now I had hoped to have accomplished more, however I am somewhat stuck in a rut from a training perspective. I know it's me that's the problem and not Koby - I just can't seem to maintain his interest even though I keep the sessions short and offer lots of treats. I'm lacking a bit of direction. I know where I want to get to but breaking the progression down into logical steps that Koby can master is what I think I'm struggling with. I'm looking forward to getting some more tips!
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap
Have you been able to practice consistently? I find that consistency is key. You may also need to be a bit more firm in your commands. Don't give Koby the option to "opt out" when you tell him to do something that you know he understands. Goats are smart, and if Koby thinks he can get out of work by playing dumb or lazy he will. Where in his training are you stuck exactly?
Consistent training sessions have been difficult to achieve lately so that's definitely not helping. Koby has become #1 goat in the herd in the last couple of weeks and he seems very distracted by it - seemingly needing to exert his authority with unreasonable force and frequency towards the other goats. And leaving the herd, which has always been a problem, is even more difficult now, because he sees himself as their chief protector.

Penelope has just come into season again and Koby is acting quite the buck, spending ALL day mounting her, ignoring his food, trying to ignore what I want him to do (even if it's to come outside the paddock to be fed or for training). He is generally most unco-operative just with day to day tasks generally, but that's strengthening my resolve to step up the training sessions to try to counter this behaviour. On the upside he is developing strong hindquarter muscles with all that mounting!

From a ground driving perspective I've got him going forward well enough at the walk and trot, but only when HE wants to do it and he has been conditioned - rightly or wrongly - to turn around and expect a snack throughout the session when he thinks he's done well. I have no doubt he understands what I am asking most of the time. I am on my own with the training so I'd be keen to understand how I can better manage the steps to getting him more obedient and in particular, stopping and turning around when I am behind him, because there is nobody available to be at his head. I think I need to learn how to better use the whip - I find it tricky to handle with the reins and he doesn't seem to pay any attention to it when I use it lightly (I don't want to whack him with it either). I recall your mentioning in a post that ground driving wasn't very successful with your goats. I would love to put him in the easy entry cart but I definitely need someone to help me with that. We've already had a minor wipe out with the little wagon (broken shafts etc) and so I need to build his confidence back up before getting him in the cart.
Happiness is a baby goat snoring in your lap

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