Thursday, January 24, 2008

Battle Lines, Riding Discussion and Perfection

That About Sums It Up

Despite the cold, the footing was pretty good, so I saddled Tucker up first, hoping to build on yesterday's successes.

We did. Once again, instead of just letting him walk off on a long rein, I put him in a frame and asked him to work right from the start. (Mind you, he is outside all day, so there isn't much need to warm up his muscles and just let him move.) He challenged me immediately. So I just sat there, tapping with my leg and the whip. In very short order he walked off as I asked. Then he stopped again, perhaps twice more, but then the walk was fine. So I squeezed for a trot and again he balked, half-heartedly. A little more tap, tap, and we were off, and that was the end of it. I did a good session of trot on both reins, with a good number of half halts which he never even questioned, added in some elementary half pass on both reins, and upon crossing one of the diagonals, I asked for canter. Not an earflick of protest, Tuck lifted right into a nice little canter.

So, I did five or six canter/trot/canter transitions on each rein without any real issues. Except, I did discover that if he drops too low in front in the trot, then the canter depart might earn some unhappy ears and a hint of a stallion squeal. (So much like my PJ) Yet, there was never a refusal to take the gait, so that was just fine.

Then I let him walk out on a long rein for several circuits and picked up the contact again. Ears and an "I don't wanna go...." for a stride or two and then off we went in a nice trot. I did a circle or two and then went straight up the center line to a nice halt, held it for 10 seconds and dropped the rein to a very pleased horse. Needless to say, I praised him mightily.

While I am sure a very strong rider could bully Tucker into cooperation, I am the one who has to ride him and if I can use persuasion and convince him it's just not worth it to question me, all will be well. So far, so good.

Then I decided to long line Chance, Mr. Opinionated Warmblood himself. He took to the right first by choice, so early on we began to have the issue of his bending to the inside and falling to the outside. I finally decided to try the outside line low and behind his haunches to gain some lateral control.

Mistake. Chance got to the part of the circle where he usually throws his tantrums and threw one. He spun off to the left and there was no way for me to run enough to get the leverage to hold him, so off he went, right out of the arena into the pasture, lines dragging behind.

Fortunately, he did not pull a "Throughbred" as Tuck would have, and within about five seconds he trotted back into the arena and kind of waited for me to collect the lines instead of galloping wildly for five minutes.

So, I rigged the lines back up on the upper rings again and started him off to the right. Twice more he tried the spin, but this time I was quick enough with the lines to spin him back. Once foiled, he finally decided that just maybe he was going to have to do things my way. We managed three canter departs with at least one circle on the right lead and that was enough. I swapped him over to the left give him a very short session of trot and canter, and then quit while we were both ahead.

That left Toby who made it clear he didn't want any part of work by running away from me. But, when I told him I was pretty fed up and quite ready to chase him all night if need be, he stopped and let me bridle him for some long lining.

By then it was nearly dark and the footing had hardened up again, so I kept his session short. But, when the horse on the lines is practically perfect, who has to work for long?

I told Toby that he needed to stay fit because he is a treasure--a real schoolmaster who has tons to teach people.

I don't know if he cared, but at least I told him.


  1. now there's a thought. maybe i should put the lines in a higher position for molly?

    do you use a lunge whip as well when longlining?

  2. Yes. Long whip and lines. It takes a bit of practice to get them all working together.

    There are advantages and disadvantages to the lines up high, but since I cannot run with the horse, if we get in trouble, when they are up high I am better able to control things.

  3. um. not tried it with whip as well - self taught, and when max showed me, he don't use whip either. can see it would get better result though.

    when I've recovered from current dizziness (and the wind lets up, currently it's blowing trees over and closing roads) will try one weekend in daylight...