Monday, March 16, 2009

Our First Time on the Trail

Yesterday, I took Red for a short walk along the riding trail so he could see the sights. He has been stuck in his pasture for a week now (which isn't small, he's needed time to adjust) but it was time he get to see some new scenery and for me to see how he would react. Nothing phased him, tarps, tractor parts, etc.... except the 5 dogs that came out of nowhere and jumped up against the fence all barking. He hopped to the side over that one and about into my lap, but after seeing what it was, he didn't care anymore. Heck they scared me too! Sneaky buggers.

So when we got back home after walking a little over a half mile, I decided to lunge him again. I decided to do it away from the fence, in the exact middle of the pasture, because I wanted him to learn by listening to me rather than other influences (a fence line, etc). The walk is great, he has no problem with that. He will walk around and around forever if I let him. It takes a little more to ask for the trot. Yesterday (and the time before when I used the fence as a guide) I was joking saying I got just as much exercise has him trying to stay behind him and keep him going forward. I stay behind his shoulder and drag the whip behind him until he starts to break then I give the whip a little crack, and he goes again. We haven't really cantered on the lunge yet. When I first start sometimes he will canter a few strides, but he comes right back down. He doesn't do anything crazy either, no bucking, no acting up.

The first day we tried to lunge he did stop a lot and face me, so I would move further behind him and he would go forward right away. Then came praise praise praise. He'd do another lap or two and stop and look at me. Again, get behind him, he goes forward, praise praise praise! So yesterday, away from the fence, I got him to do about 5-6 laps before he'd stop and look at me. Again, position myself behind him, he'd go forward, praise praise praise.

I feel part of the reason he was stopping and looking at me was because he doesn't know his "circle", he doesn't understand keeping light contact, so he'd get too far away and the lunge line would pull on his halter and he'd take that as "stop" or "face me". Yesterday he did a much better job of keeping light contact the entire time so he didn't stop as much.

This is all being done counter-clockwise. Clockwise is another story. He doesn't even know his body can go that way. I try to get him to do it at a walk and it takes him forever to get away from my body, to actually be a few feet away from me. Then he pulls a figure-8 and goes the other way hahahaha. You can see his has no balance, no feel for his body in the other direction. No confidence. He doesn't know how to bend that way.

I think he's understanding the lunge line better now, and hopefully tonight I will be able to feel like yes, he really gets it (counter-clockwise that is). Once I feel like he has a good understanding of the concept, then we will apply that clockwise. One step at a time. He really pays attention to what you tell him, he listens and tries to please.

Wish me luck!

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