Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lunging Finally Pays Off


I'll be the first to admit that I rarely lunge horses. It's really just laziness on my part, by the time I've got them kitted up to lunge I could have saddled and bridled them and, honestly, a good lunge session is just as much work for me as riding. So, I usually ride. But, I'll also be the first to admit that it has it's practical applications. A good foundation of groundwork translates not only to work under saddle, but also to everyday handling. As they say "Respect begins on the ground."

Spider and I spent most of last week working on lunging. He's still a little ....how to say it nicely.......confused with the the voice commands, so I'm trying to get those down before we go back to the long lines. He also doesn't really "whoa" very well on the lunge line, so we've been practicing that a lot, too. Being a Thoroughbred, "Whoa" has never really been one of Spider's strong points. Not that he's dangerous, just exuberant. He's like the Energizer Bunny. My usual "Whoa" routine goes: I stop walking (I walk around while I lunge), apply a bit of pressure on the line and say "Whoa". Spider usually just keeps walking. So I repeat the command until he stops and turns in to face me. It can sometimes take several laps before he "gets it". If he still doesn't get it, I reel him in on the line until he stops. One time, I even stuck the lunge whip out in front of him to get him to stop walking. He walked into it. *Facepalm* Well, at least he isn't scared of the lunge whip anymore. It is getting better, though. Slowly, but surely. Today it actually worked quite well, and he wasn't even on the lunge!

Spider eats slower than the other horses, and the others figured out that he won't stop them from stealing his food. So, he gets separated for meals now. I put him in a different paddock, a paddock that was recently seeded. Since it was recently seeded, I've been keeping them off of it. I rotate my pastures so that none of them get grazed down too far. And as we all know, the grass is always greener in the "forbidden zone". This morning, when it was time for Spider to go back in the pasture they're supposed to be in, he decided to play a little game. He walked away from me instead of going through the gate like he was supposed to. Naughty boy. I went to go retrieve him. He kept walking away, purposely avoiding me. Very naughty boy. So I made him run. Well, trot anyway. If he's going to play keep away, it's going to be on my terms.

To my surprise, he immediately started trotting in a circle around me, as though I were lunging him. After a few times around, I called out "Whoa". I was even more surprised when he stopped and turned in to face me. What do you know, he has been paying attention during our lunging sessions! I walked up to him and led him through the gate with no problems.

One of the things that I find so endearing about Spider is that he always surprises me. Just when I think he's never going to get something, he pulls it out as though he's been doing it his whole life. It keeps me on my toes.

This rest of this week promises nice weather. We'll continue our work on voice commands and hopefully get in a long lining session.

4 comments:

  1. That's awesome! GOOOO Spider!

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  2. Fun stuff! I rarely lunge - only when I need to. Teaching the voice commands can have good uses under saddle too.

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  3. Whoa is a fun one to teach. Izzy loves her upward transitions, but the trot/walk one always throws her. Someday, we'll have it. By then, you'll probably be long-lining pros.

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  4. Thoroughbred "learning curves" can be strange things. One day no clue, the next...Gee, I've been doing this all my life." Then, of course, there is the ever present, "I'll do it when I'm darned good and ready. It's not like I don't understand you, it's just that I choose not to obey--today."

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