Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dee Starts to Shine

It's time to move Dee forward in her training, so tonight I decided to start her on the long lines.

Dee, unimpressed with the longe lesson, ready to move on to something new.
We first had a very brief longeing session at a walk on the dirt driveway.  I used the driveway because the lawn is so lush with spring grass right now, and I am not good enough to keep the horses' attention on the longe line in that grass when all they have eaten all winter is hay.  Dee was not at all impressed with the surface, though, and since she seemed so mellow, I decided to hooked her right up to the long lines, clipping them to the halter she wore over the bridle.

Since it was the first time she wore the long lines, I took some time to get her used to the feel of them on her body.  I wrapped them around the back of her butt, gently pulling so she could feel the strange pressure of a line back there.  You have to realize that this mare was the filly who would FREAK OUT if anything like that touched her, so I wasn't really sure who I was working with when she just turned in the direction of the rein pull, calmly responding to my pressure until she turned free of the rein along her butt.  She did the same thing in the other direction.

I tapped and pulled the reins gently against her lower legs, too, applying enough pressure so she had the feel of it, just in case the lines got too low while I was working with her.  No problem.

Then came the awkward part, where I carefully get behind the horse with two folded long lines in my hands and a longe whip and say, "Walk."   Since this was Dee we're talking about, I made sure I was well back from her notorious hind legs, and I stood there thinking, "What the heck is she going to do now?  Kick?  Run?  Spaz out and get us both all tangled up?  Or...walk?"

A Miracle! She chose "walk," and we fumbled around the driveway in the walk-halt-look-at-each-other way that this type of training usually starts with, but, within a few minutes, she was walking pretty well, turning in both directions and halting.  She was also accepting my rein correction when she decided to turn a way I didn't request, and was OK about the wiggling of the whip to get back to work, even though she was certain that grass along the drive was more interesting than the bossy human trailing along behind her.

After one last, good walk and halt, we stopped for the evening.  It only took a few minutes, but it was work well done by Dee, and that was enough.  I'm guessing the next time I hook her up, she will walk right out like she has done it all her life.  Horses amaze me with the way they seem to think about their lessons during their down time, and then come to the next session acting as though they have been practicing.

Between Dee's excellent work and a fine ride on Hudson, tonight was a good one on the hill.

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