Saturday, December 3, 2011

Know when to hold'em; know when to fold'em...

The BF and I went out to visit Mr. Moon this evening since I wanted to drag him to a local tack store to show him what long lines and a surcingle is. The saleswoman kept trying to convince me that draw reins were the same as long lines (which aren't even close) and then decided I could just use two lunge lines...NOT what I was going for.

I did manage to find a local store that sells 'ground driving reins' which are essentially the same as what I want. Gees, tack store people can be so clueless sometimes.

Off we went to the barn, and it was wonderful to see my boy again after soo long apart. Inside the barn I was sad to see what Curly horse is the brute I believed her to be. Moon had two nice scabs and patches of missing hair on his neck (clearly bite wounds), plus three beautiful (that's sarcasm) small holes in the arse of his new blanket. *sigh*

The fabric had lots of marrs from what is very clearly another horse trying to bite him. Thankfully the holes are quite small and the runs don't go through. Bless 1200 denier Schneider's blankets. And here I was thinking I needlessly purchased that patch kit from them last week! Looks like I'll be using it.

Irritates me a ton, largely because before Curly horse his blanket didn't have a single mark in it. He's sooo easy on blankets but no blanket can win against a bully. Looks like my cheap sheet idea is gonna turn out badly as she'll rip it off of him in one go. Aurgh. His girlfriend Ebony NEVER touched his blanket. Ger. Other people's horses are expensive.

We took the Mr. out into the ring with his lunging gear on since I wasn't feeling up to riding yet. Too stuffy to breath properly and no stamina yet. He started out lovely and the BF was amazed by how well he responded to my commands. He transitioned great and was moving beautifully...until some foolish person (aka. me) decided they wanted to get him to canter.

Remember how Moon won't canter under saddle in the arena for me? I thought maybe he would do better without me there on his back, plus he was flexing nicely and soft on the lunge...there was no better time...

Apparently there is.

He didn't get it. I was pretty sure he just didn't understand what I wanted. So I snapped the whip at the ground near his hinny.

90% of horses out there would take off. I can promise you that much. They would either move into a lovely canter or bolt in a freaked out gallop. I've never cracked the whip near Moon before (didn't touch him mind you), and certainly this behavior would illicit a faster moving horse...

Not in my Moon.

He stopped dead.

So I snapped it again.

He jumped sideways and then turned in to look at me on the circle. Standing stock still. FROZEN.

And wouldn't move off again. Nothing I did would get him to go. Even irritatingly poking him in the bum. He just shook a hind leg or two at the lunge whip. And stood there glaring at me.

The BF, the awesome guy that he is (keep in mind, he's not a horse-person) walked up to Moon, grabbed the lunge line near his cavesson and started walking him around in front of me. Then he jogged so Moon would trot. Back out on the circle and I pretended I was lunging him (well, both of them....anyone ever lunge their boyfriend before??!) hoping Moon would simply carry on.

He didn't. As soon as the BF stopped, Moon stopped. And even when I tried to keep driving him forward, he would FREEZE and turn in to look at me. Yes, my horse's reaction to pressure is ALWAYS to push back. Bugger.

I tried and tried and tried. I was getting frustrated, I must admit. I wanted at least ONE circle to prove I hadn't ruined my horse. I was the one who taught him to lunge, he's only had maybe 12 sessions over the last 8 months and now I'd ruined it all. Aurgh.

Then I hear the BF: "Maybe this is like Cesar Milan? Maybe you're asking him too much? You're like 'Trot, trot, trot, snap whip, snap whip, trot, snap whip, trot'. Cesar would tell you to only ask once..."

Best boyfriend ever. And god bless Cesar Milan.

The BF offered to hold the end of the line at the center of the circle. I moved out and TOLD Moon to move out at a trot. When he didn't do it, I stopped asking and just increased the pressure. And kept increasing it until he moved out. Then I stopped moving the whip at all. When he slowed, I reapplied the pressure until he listened.

The nice thing was that having the BF at the end of the lead  was that as I needed I could walk forward towards Moon to apply more pressure, without the lunge line going slack. Eventually he was moving well again (although he had too much tension on the line and was braced against it), and I managed to slowly move back into the centre of the circle and take the line from the BF.

We did two more trot circles before the BF reminded me to end on a good note. I walked him, halted him and brought him into the middle of the circle. And we lavished him with praise.

Oye. This lunging thing is going to be a bit of a training thing again thanks to me. But at least he ended today doing the right thing. Tomorrow we'll practice again and then I'll put a little ride on him. Maybe I can drag my Horse-Trainer boyfriend out with me again to assist! : P

And Moon's still good sweet horse, even if his reaction to scary things is to stand stock still...good thing the lunge whip wasn't a wolf : P

My lesson from today? "...know when I should walk away; know when Moon should run." ; )


  1. I would be quite upset about the blanket stuff... those things aren't cheap! Is there someone else he can pasture with that isn't going to rip your blankets to shreds?

    That's too funny about the longe whip! I know Lilly wouldn't stand still if I cracked the whip at her! :)

  2. Wow, draw reins equals long lines???? YIPE. Sounds like those tack store employees need some training.

    As far as Moon, don't worry too much. The canter will come. If you can first teach him to extend his trot on the line, that may help him naturally move into a canter (lots of horses would rather canter than extend their trot). Just a thought. You do have a keeper of a BF though:)