Monday, March 12, 2012

Role Reversal

This week I have been trying to religiously longe Dusty and Blue to get them in shape.  Dusty has been walking and trotting (a little) and I’m happy to say she looks really good and, even better, she is behaving on the longe.  In the past this usually wasn’t the case with her.  She would normally start out at the walk and then take off into a sort of running canter.  This week I was very proud of her for keeping her enthusiasm in check.  Her walk consisted of long measured strides and her trot was a moderate pace with lots of long and low, which in turn stretched her muscles and lifted her back.  Dusty is working on a very large circle and she’s learned to halt square and wait patiently for me to approach her with her reward for a job well done.  She got lots of rubs, muzzle kisses, "good girls" and of course some treats.  When the session was over I did ask her where Dusty was and what she had done with her.  She didn’t feel the need to answer so we left the arena and she hand grazed for a while.
Blue, on the other hand, used to be a professional on the longe.  Seems he’s forgotten everything he ever learned about what is expected in walk, trot, canter and halt.  For whatever reason he’s turned into a complete wing nut on the longe lately.  He’ll start out with a nice walk then trot for a circle or two and then morph into a canter/gallop with a few bucks thrown in for good measure.  Personally, I didn’t think he had a buck in him, but I’ve been proved wrong.  The only way to stop him, because apparently he’s forgotten what "Ho!" means, is to cut him off in the corners.  By this I mean I have to get in front and ahead of him which in turn makes him slam the breaks on.  We’ve got this stop down now but we’re still working on the listening cues.  Today we ended up with some decent work once or twice in each direction and quit with that.  I know he knows better and I also know nothing is hurting him.  What I think his problem is:  he simply doesn’t like to be told what to do.  He’s a very stubborn horse and likes things his way.  Unfortunately for him that’s not going to fly and we’ll be working on his attitude adjustment in the future.
Not all horses have the same work ethic and it’s up to us to make exercise and work interesting and fun when possible.  Another part of the problem, I think, might be that the entire herd has basically had the winter off and getting back into a routine may not be on their agenda.  They may be feeling like a wild herd at the moment, but I’m sure they can be domesticated again, even if it takes a little time.
Until next time
Quote for Today
In training horses, one trains himself
    - Antoine De Pluvinet


  1. Yay, Dusty! She is a beaut. Blue could have a little spring fever, no? Funny, I asked my instructor to reintroduce me to longing this weekend! After a few moments of coaching and fine-tuning my stance, my boy did wonderfully going one way. However, when I alone tried to longe him the other way, he would have none of it. It was exhausting! Are Dusty and Blue good on both sides when you longe them?

  2. Hi Wolfie,
    At the moment Dusty is good going both directions. Blue used to be equally fine too but since he's decide longeing isn't for him he's being a jackass in each direction too.

    Maybe Gem could get tired by the time you switch or if you're anything like me you could be better going in one direction than the other and sending mixed signals. Sometimes my feet don't seem to cross over one another so gracefully going to the right so I get behind in my position once in a while. Guess I can't expect them to be coordinated when I'm a spaz.

  3. I always think horses get a little wild over the winter if they've had lots of time off, they're like kids after the summer holidays. You're right, it is up to us to make things interesting for them and get their work ethic back on track. It's great that Dusty is doing so well, and I'm sure Blue will be back on track in no time. He looks great in that picture!

  4. I think these are the first full body photos that I have seen of Dusty and Blue. Dusty is a gorgeous golden color. I am glad that she was behaving like a lady. Blue's escapades sound like Harley's recent lungeing session. Hopefully, the excitement will be short-lived!

    Blue is moving so beautifully in the lungeing photo.

  5. Sounds pretty much like mine are in spring--they want to do what they want to do. Of course, it's not officially spring yet. In fact, it's snowing. I do think this weather has something to do with their attitudes, too. Mine are grumpy most days. I think it's good that you're getting them in shape slowly, and good for Dusty with her feet doing better! I haven't done any round pen work, and I really need to get my filly, Cia, in shape before I send her to the trainer. Reading your post has reminded me of that.

  6. Dusty looks lovely - glad she's feeling fine now. And Blue looks great in that picture - must have been good timing by the photographer.

    I haven't tried lunging in a while - the last time Val was a complete jackass - he went to crazy town and didn't come back. I have no need to lunge him, other than wanting to be able to do it. I have to pick my battles...

  7. Oh dear... I hope Blue gets his act together shortly. I agree with your assessment about the behavior being the result of having the winter off and not being to keen on going back to work! Glad Dusty has been well behaved and sound. She is so pretty!

  8. I can imagine that boundaries may be hard to adjust to again after a winter off. Keeping things interesting does require some creativity and commitment on our part.

    They are nice photos!

  9. I think Dusty is trying to prove that shes ready for work again because she's board. Maybe Blue had too much fun on vacation?

    Isn't it funny how they either chose to 'forget' or remember stuff?

  10. Is Blogger adding ads to everyone's blog, or is it just on my computer?

    Anyhow, sounds as if you need to up the ante for Blue, giving him some interesting things to do. My Tucker gets bored and tons of quick transitions help him as does, of course, the challenge of a little jumping now and then. Cavaletti poles, stopping at a certain point, standing still, then backing, and, if you can manage with the line in a neutral position, you can add "reverse" as a command. Make the lungeing a game rather than a chore. "Show me just how smart you are!"

  11. Glad to see Dusty (or her "twin") doing so well on the longe. Maybe she is enjoying the attention now and is looking forward to being your personal mount again. I am sure Blue would be fine with that!

  12. Hi Jean,
    I haven't gotten any ads on my page. I don't know what you'll have to do to get rid of them.

    Thanks for the good ideas with Blue.

  13. I'm sure Blue senses the spring bling in the air .....and feeling great. I just love the photo of Dusty....very cute.

  14. I had to laugh when I realized you now have a new title: wild herd domesticator. :)

    I realized awhile back that mine all lunge perfectly when they are tacked up but not so when I just throw on a halter and hook the lunge line to that. I don't lunge them much, so it's not a huge issue. (though I have the opposite problem - when mine don't want to lunge they don't run around like wild things, they come in to ME and act like angels - how I am supposed to domesticate THAT? :) )

  15. billie,

    This week starts them going under tack on the longe. Normally, I don't longe my horses but Dusty needs it to build muscle before I can ride her and Blue needs more exercise because he's chubby and out of shape.

    Adding "wild horse domesticator" to my resume is not a bad idea. Your herd sounds very sweet and not in need of domestication at all.

  16. Getting back to work is hard for everybody. With the time change I can work with both horses after work- but I've hard a hard time getting the motivation to do it. I guess Blue and I are feeling pretty similar right now ;)

  17. Go Dusty!! That must have been quite a satisfying experience. Unlike Blue ... frustrating for you, I'm sure ... sorry, but his 'escapades' do make me chuckle; it must be the way you write 'em ;o)


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