Wednesday, December 15, 2010

on the ground (voluntarily)

It's been a nutty week here and for some reason (might it be the "feels like 9 degrees" readings on people haven't been hanging out at the barn and riding much. Since getting dumped on my head I have a new rule not to ride alone and Lucy will have to behave herself for a while for me to feel comfortable lifting that rule. This is good for my longevity but not good for our training flow and L's energy level.

On nights that I don't ride, I at the very least do some ground work with her. Lately we've been working on voice commands, and tuning Lucy into me even when she's free-lunging. Also, "free-lunging" no longer means "run madly around and buck and squeal and act like a loon". It means that she may not be on a lunge line, but that doesn't mean she can do whatever she pleases. She must go in the direction I choose at the speed I choose. When it's time to change direction, I put the lunge whip into the other hand and with my body direct her to turn around.

She has challenged me from time to time. She likes going to the left a LOT more than going to the right, so if she's cantering to the right she sometimes does a roll back that most reining horses would be jealous of and in a flash is going to the left. If I see it coming, I simply go "ah ah!" in a "I'm not pleased" tone and she will usually not follow through with the change. If I don't see it coming and she switches direction, I'll use the whip and my body to tell her to change direction back to the right. If she still keeps coming at me going to the left, as she did tonight, I have no choice but to get up in her face a little bit. Tonight she didn't think I would really follow through and tried to run right past me like "ha ha you can't catch me!". She got a rude awakening when I whacked her right in the chest with the whip. She did a sliding stop, spun to the inside, and got going back in the correct direction, and didn't try it again for the rest of the session.

I think doing these type of exercises has really helped our communication. Here is a video of her listening (and obeying!) voice commands while free-lunging tonight.

As I was finishing up with her in the ring, someone showed up to the barn, so I tacked up and had a nice little hack around the indoor for 20 minutes. She was really good and we even trotted and cantered over some poles.


  1. You're making me itch to do round pen stuff with Ozzy. I used to do all sorts of free lunging with a lot of direction changes. When we were doing it really regularly, he would do this almost dance as he swapped back and forth, left, right, left, right in front of me. It was really cool.

  2. Aw Lucy is so pretty and what a great listener! :)
    I need to work on free lunging more. Laz gets so amped up sometimes that the "whoa" gets lost on him. On line, he's great, so we need to start changing it up a bit.

  3. A lot can be done from the ground, that's for sure! I feel like now that we're communicating well with each other on the ground, the level of communication in the saddle is much higher (and stronger). I like that she's so responsive to my voice, too.


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment!