Saturday, January 16, 2010

Starring Toby!

Off to the Woods Again

After about an hour of poo picking and old hay cleanup in the arena, I went back into the barn to get a lead rope thinking I'd take a short ride on Tucker.

Much to my surprise, Toby practically put his head into my hands for the lead rope, so I certainly could not ignore that invitation. I put the rope around his neck and took him in to saddle up. He seemed quite pleased to have been the chosen one for the day.

As yesterday, I elected the Tucker Trail, and let Toby stop at the salad bar--the pile of dirt with grass growing on it--for a snack and then moved on. According to the thermometer in my car, it was 51F today, but it felt a little cooler than that when I was out and about with the Boys. Still, I won't complain. It felt wonderful after all the cold.

Apparently, while Toby and I were out, Tucker was rolicking around the arena because when we got back, he was sweated and lathered under his lightweight blanket. I took it off--fortunately I had another dry one--and took him out for a lunge, hoping that moving about in the air would dry him off. He was good on the line, with just a little drifting in when he thought about being silly.

For MaryLou, I use two basic techniques for keeping my horses out on the circle. The first is simple body language. If I step forward towards the horse's shoulder as he starts to fall in, that will usually drive him back out. It's as if I am making an aggressive mover towards him, so he moves away. I also add the word, "Out!" as I do this, which helps that become an additional aid. I also can point the lunge whip at the horse's shoulder/neck area, and that too tends to drive him out.

If someone like Tucker is being silly and continues to fall in despite my moves, I will usually bring him in on a very small circle close to me where I can control his pace and physcially touch him with the whip on the shoulder, getting him to move away from the contact. Again, I use the command, "Out," along with the aid. Since I start all my horses's lungeing training close up like that establishing the basic understanding, this then becomes a remedial exercise and usually refocuses them on my directions.

There's really not much point in trying to drive a horse out if he is running around you like a hooligan or just stubbornly falling in, so I find it best to bring him in, regroup, apply a direct aid to drive him back out, and then let out the line again. Sometimes it might take repeated corrections, but usually he gets the idea and settles back down to a nice circle around me.

Lungeing and longlining are both a bit "remote control" ways of working your horse. Both can work well, but the close in work you do beforehand to establish the ground rules is really important.

Rain is predicted for tomorrow, so I may not be able to do much outdoors. It's OK, because to be honest, my muscles are a bit sore. I have to keep reminding myself that even though I have laid off working the horses for long stretches before, I was still usually doing all the barn chores, so I stayed moderately fit. This time, no chores to keep my muscles in action, so it's a little different.

And, oh, yes, did I tell you about my seatbones? Thank heavens for the Ansur treeless saddle. It is decidedly softer than any treed saddle I've ever been in. However, it is now quite apparent that normal sitting in chairs and such does not quite affect the "lower anatomy" the way sitting in a saddle does. I have more than a few stomach muscles to toughen up. *G*


  1. Good to hear you got another ride in today and a longeing lesson too. I'll bet you're a little sore after so much time off. Even though you're chomping at the bit to do more, I hope you don't overdo it with too much hard work.

  2. Anonymous7:55 PM

    Nice that you're back in work! I use ground driving with a horse that tends to fall in - the outside line acts as a stabilizer - I need to do this with Maisie who tends to want to cut in, but Dawn is a master of the perfect circle and lunges well so she doesn't need this.

  3. I'm glad you're back in the saddle. I saw your post of the ansur list, and it sounds like you had an exciting ride yesterday. Glad everything's alright.

  4. I had to smile about your bum cushion being not taut enough yet HAHAHA.

    Jean have you thought about writing a book about your tecnhique?
    I woudl love to read it. If you write in a format on what, why, how to do, then with the rider mistakes and the horse problem. It is teh format used by Andrea Fappani and Clinton Anderson, it is a wonderful step-by step detailed way of learning.