Saturday, January 24, 2009

Quick Lunge and Weight.

I decided just to lunge him today. Since I've been riding in a shank snaffle I have been lunging him just in his halter. His obedience and discipline have been improving steadily for a long time, now, but with the halter I have less control. I decided to lunge him in my regular snaffle, that way I can have more control and give a little "reminder" session.

This is how I set up the bridle: I remove the reins (I have them on snaps) and fit the nose band and throat latch. I always start him to the left so I run the snap end of the line into the left "D" of the bit, up the face, under the throat latch (this helps keep the line from getting in front of the bridle and into his eyes) up over the poll, under the opposite throat latch, and clip the line to the off-side "D". I lead him to the arena this way, and grab one of the barn whips as I enter the arena. With the line in this configuration I can give fairly equal pressure on both sides of the bit when I tug on the line. Instead of pulling his head IN to the circle as with a halter, it acts more like pulling on both reins. The only down-side to this is that in order to change directions, I must bring him in to the center and swap the line to the other side. He's good about the change and stands very nicely or starts sucking on the lunge line and being a brat. One of the two. He actually loped a few laps with the line in is teeth today. His choice. I usually make him let go before I send him off, but I wanted to see how long he'd hold on to it.

His obedience to voice commands has become very good. If he's REALLY hot when we start out I just let him canter around at whatever speed he prefers, as long as he's staying in an even circle and not acting too crazy. I buck in a stride is acceptable. I buck and a directional change or other nonsense is not tolerated and he is made to come down into a small circle until he gets his mind back to work. He will toss a buck every once in a while, but mostly he just canters. Once his initial burst of "yippee! I'm out of my stall!" has subsided he gets ready to work. To transition gaits up, I say "trot" and for canter I either say "canter" or just throw a kiss. If he's coming down transitions a tug on the line is helpful to reinforce the voice command, but is not always needed. I usually gauge how long to lunge by his willingness to come down to a trot and then his willingness to come down to a walk. If it takes several vocals and tugs to get him to trot I ask him back into a canter (once he's finally obeyed the command to trot) until he seems more relaxed. If he attempts to change direction or tries to stop without my command we keep going until he's doing everything I ask of him and his ears look pleasant. He'll also relax his neck when he's fully paying attention. Once he'll "walk on" without trying to stop I know he's warmed up, calmed down, listening, obeying, and ready to ride.

I don't think I'll be lunging him much during the months he has turn-out. I considered turning him out today but there was a good amount of ice between the barn and the turn-outs and I was afraid he'd slip. There were horses out in the next pasture and I know he would've tore back and forth down the fence trying to play with them. Still makes me feel very guilty that he doesn't get out in the winter. I think he's adapting to the routine, though.

About the weight: If I used the weight tape correctly, he weighs about 1075 lbs. Does that sound right for a 16 hand horse? If you look at my YouTube video of Junior's first days you can see his ribs when he lopes by. There are NO ribs showing now! I wish I would've taped him when he first came, just to get an estimate on the weight difference.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I'm a children's author (from Columbus) and new to blogging. Even though my blog is set up for writers, your blog caught my eye.

    I love horses too. I own and show a horse I rescued when he was a year old. He's a standard bred/spotted draft cross.

    I pleasure drive and just recently began showing dressage (training more yet). At any rate, I'd love to hear from you!