Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting Back Into The Swing Of Things

The weather has been beautiful and I'm starting to think about getting back to work. Spider and I have both had a lot of time off, so we need to progress slowly. I don't like to push horses after they've been out of work, it's not fair to them physically or mentally. So we're easing back into training. I've started lunging Spider for 30 minutes every other day. It's not too physically strenuous, but it's getting him used to the idea of working again.

A horse's mind is like a child's, they don't cope well with drastic changes to their routine. For the last several weeks Spider has been living the life of a retiree: turnout 24-7 and no work. Even though he enjoys work, to try to just throw him back into our previous training schedule would sour him quickly. So, we are going very, very slowly. Which is fine by me. With a toddler and a new baby, I'm doing everything slowly these days.

For now, we're mostly working on obedience. When I first put Spider back on the lunge after his time off, he wanted to be a little defiant. Although, in his defense, it was feeding time and his pasture mates were throwing a fit that I was paying attention to him and not bringing them their dinner. I guess Spider decided to jump on the bandwagon: every time he passed the barn he tried to stop, as if to remind me that it was chow time. In this type of scenario, when a horse is trying to think for himself, the solution is nearly always transitions. Asking for transitions forces the horse to focus on me and (hopefully) forget about whatever it was that he wanted to do. I find this works particularly well with Spider, he's not much of a multi-tasker.

As Spider gets back into the mindset of training and my fitness improves we'll begin incorporating more things: cavaletti, long lines, riding. Boredom can sour a horse just as quickly as too much work can. It's a fine line to walk. The work has to be interesting and engaging, consistent, but not too strenuous. For both of us.....


  1. Little jumps on the longe line can add some fun too.

    Trouble is, now with this new heat wave, it's not going to be easy to keep up a schedule. Just take it extra slow for the both of you until the weather breaks....again....*sigh*

  2. Boredom - tell me about it! I find that a hard thing with Sam and I agree with transitions gets him listening and then we can move onto more exciting things!


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