Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lungeing

The rain that was forecasted for today is still holding off, although tomorrow promises to be sloppy. The cloud cover kept the ground from re-freezing last night, so my arena was quite workable today. I guess some clouds do have a silver lining!

I have been thinking about a comment Jean made about the Spanish Riding School on a previous post of mine. I have seen the long-lining routines practiced by the SRS, and they are quite breath-taking. I don't think Spider and I could ever get that good, but it's worth a try anyway. So how does one get there?

I decided to consult Alois Podhajsky's "The Complete Training of Horse and Rider" to see if I could glean an answer there. I hadn't pulled the book out in years, although it is one of my favorites. Podhajsky has this to say on the subject:
On the long rein- The rider walking behind his horse shows all the exercises performed by the stallions under their riders. The stallion must be thoroughly trained and respond to the most discreet aids in order to allow himself to be controlled by rein aids alone.

Hmmmm, this could take awhile to accomplish. We aren't exactly to "the most discreet aids" yet. Which, actually, was quite illuminating. You see, I've been having trouble really getting Spider into the contact on the long-lines. He tends to go in a training level frame and only take a light contact. Under saddle, I have no problem getting him into a very nice, steady contact and nicely collected frame. Under saddle, I use my seat to drive him forward with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. I am quite lacking in the "discreet aids" department. We'll have to work on that.

For now, I decided to start at the beginning. At the SRS, horses are first worked on the lunge line in side reins until they are deemed ready to move on. So, today I broke out the side-reins and lunge line. I hadn't worked Spider properly on the lunge in quite some time, not since I first bought him. I have occasionally whirled him around a few times to loosen him up before riding, but that's not a proper lunge session. A proper lunge session is work, just as much work as riding, which is why I hardly ever do it.

So we had a proper session today. Starting with a warm-up at walk, trot and canter with the side-reins loose, then I tightened them up and had him walk, trot and canter again. Mostly what we worked on was staying out on the circle. He likes to try to sneak in to me. Then when I point the whip at him to tell him "move out!" he spazzes. He has no problems with the short dressage whip, but the long lunge whip is a scary thing to him. Since he was upset by it, I worked a little on desensitizing him to the lunge whip. I took up the line and touched him all over with the whip, then used it to push him away without swinging or snapping it. Hopefully, with repeated desensitization, he'll learn that it's just another tool like the shorter dressage whip and not scary at all.

It was a short, light workout, but at the end we were both breathing harder and a little sweaty. I always count that as a good workout.

1 comment:

  1. Getting that contact on the long lines is really tricky. There has to be the feeling that the horse is pulling you along a little bit. It is especially hard at the walk.

    You can help establish the feel by long lining on a circle around you to teach him to take the contact--at least that works a bit better for me.

    I haven't lunged in side reins in a while either, mostly because I long line instead. Sounds like you had a good session. The "coming in" is another one of those escape techniques to get off the "outside" rein which really isn't there.

    You can work Spider in close for a little, using your hand to push his shoulder out saying, "out" at the same time. But your whip work was excellent, in particular desenitizing him to it. That is SO important. He'll figure it out soon.

    Footing was nice today, but if that rain comes...*sigh*

    ReplyDelete

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