I Lunged Three Yesterday
When I went out to feed Sunday evening, I decided that since the footing was good and it was going to rain that I might as well take advantage of the situation.
I put the halter on Tucker first and took him out for a lunge session. Now, a word of explanation here: this lungeing is not exactly training as the horses are not in side reins. It is primarily for some controlled exercise. They still need to be obedient, but they can carry themselves in whatever posture they choose. Interestingly enough, both Toby and Tucker tend to drop their heads almost to the ground for the most part--a bit higher at canter--but they definitely prefer to stretch through the neck and topline. Chance varies, but he is certainly not head high and does relax nicely.
I set up a low jump of only a bit over a foot high just to give us some variety. After some nice work in both directions in all three gaits, I sent Tuck over the jump and he was soft and relaxed, even a little lazy, just the way I would like my hunter to approach a fence. Enough impulsion to make a nice jump, but totally calm and ratable on the approach. I praised him mightily.
All the while, both Toby and Chance were watching from the sidelines, right up at the arena fence. When I took Tuck out, Chance came over to me immediately, making it clear he wanted to do something too. So put the halter on him and in we went for a virtually identical session. Again, I had sideline observers, but I will say Tucker's interest was keener than Toby's. He was watching intently. I'm not sure if he was a little jealous, or just making sure Chance actually earned the praise I gave him.
Toby evaded me when I went to get him, letting me know he really didn't want to do anything, but a treat lured him in and I haltered him for his little session. When I led him into the arena, I told the other two Boys to watch to see how it's supposed to be done, making sure I was clear to explain that Toby is a master on the lines and they would well take some notes.
And indeed, Toby was the master. Although he did give a silly little buck during the first few strides of canter, he was wonderful. He moves beautifully foward, stays out with just a little tension on the line in my hand, and responds almost at once to all the commands. He was a little slow transitioning down from canter to trot, perhaps, but his lovely forward gaits are just fun to watch, so I didn't care. And the jump? Not quite as quiet about it as Tucker, but far better as far as both the energy on the approach and the overall effort in the air. He is an athletic jumper and had we pursued a jumping career, he would have been really good at it once he got over being spooky at new fences. But, he does use his back a lot and when I did jump him at over three feet, he tended to pop me out of the saddle. That's often the sign of athleticism, but it doesn't make for the best hunter/equitation horse. If you want to look nice going over a fence, it's a lot easier if you can pose yourself up there instead of having to work to stay on. *G*
But, I didn't jump Toby that much, so it is possible that with practice he would have leveled off a little. I know PJ did after he learned just how much effort it actually took to get over a fence and he stopped overjumping. But, that career is behind us now, so I can only speculate.
As the blog title indicates, it is a rainy Monday. Even if it does stop by afternoon as predicted, it will be too wet to do much. I've left Tucker in his stall for now and, if the rain stops, I'll turn him out in the arena for a bit of exercise.
Meanwhile, I will just sit here watching the rain and thinking of drier days.