Went out to work with Moon today, since the weather was gorgeous and I'm still on track with my 3-days a week working with him.
I was orginally planning on going for a trailride, but everything is still wet and I didn't really want to deal with his hyped up springtime jollies. He's just balastic lately.
So I gave him a good grooming, pulled on his new bell boots, and (with a lot of adjustments) got my old leather cavesson on him. We were going to try lunging!
Last summer, I had decided to try and lunge him. Moon, from what I could tell, had never lunged before. He stared at me. He walked towards me. He nuzzled me. He didn't turn corners. He tried to chew on the lunge line. It was FRUSTRATING!
After a few failed attempts last year, I started working him in the round pen. It even took WEEKS of work to get him to figure out how to go around me in the round pen, until eventually at summer's end, he had managed that. Granted, he ran with his head high and it took a LOT of encouragement to keep him moving, he at least didn't stop and come in for a cuddle on every turn. : P
I'd tried him a few times in the round pen over winter, and had marginal success. He'd go round, head high, lots of encouragement, same routine.
Today, the round pen was full of water, ice and snow. Icky. Not at all suitable training conditions.
So I took him out to the driest part of the field. Snapped on the lunge line and sent him out.
...same old, same old.
Ask for forward, encourage with whip, cluck, push on, one circle, stop and reward before he could screw it up.
...another circle, more line out, more whip, little bit of fancy footwork, encourage, encourage, encourage him to keep going for more then one loop. Sometimes he didn't. Sometimes he came in. Sometimes he looked at me like I was an idiot. Keep doing it. Keep asking...
...two circles, no stopping. TREATS!
And on, and on we went, until FINALLY, I had him trotting around me in a nice, maybe 10 m circle, without coming in and without stopping. Granted, his head was high as a kite, and I needed to keep on the whip, but he was staying out and circling.
Then I tried the other side...
It's AMAZING that it's a completely different request when you ask a horse to move in the other direction. We were RIGHT back where we started, but encouraged by the success we had going to the right, I kept at it.
Until he was circling (not as well, but still successfully) to the left. More treats!
I pulled him into the main pasture, and tried the process again, only to the right. This time, we did transition work, I laid off the whip except when he was slowing to change gaits, and I tried my darndest to get his head down.
Well, we successfully transitioned from halt to trot to walk to trot to walk to whoa. Score. And we did that at a length of line that left him JUST out of reach of the lunge whip.
Unfortunately, he was still Mr. Head-sky-high, but we'll work on that. My arm ACHED (lunge line was never slack, which is appropriate, though he was leaning on it a bit), and I knew to be grateful and rewarding for our success.
I really didn't believe last summer he'd EVER figure it out. Apparently, I just needed a little patience!
As an aside, I re-measured him for a blanket...76? 78"? 74"? Who knows. I think I'll aim for a 74/75 in a Rambo, and hope for the best. : P
I also brought home his Baker and Fly sheets to sew some leg straps on them...the fly sheet probably needs some more cross surcingles and another front strap as well...
Lastly, I measured Moon's spine. From point of wither to point of hip, he was 33". Then, following the curve of his spine, he measured at 35". Which means he really doesn't have swayback. He needs topline muscle, but he's not an old swayback. He's just built that way, and that's appropriate. : ) Can't wait to get him into shape!