Sorry kids, but the party is over and so is your retirement. It’s back to work for everyone. This past weekend was time to get started working on a program with Dusty and Blue to get them in shape…me too.
The day began with a thorough grooming session for each horse that took quite a while due to a considerable amount of shedding. They are very hairy still but soon enough they will be sleek and muscled up properly. I decided to start them on a longeing program for as long as they need it. Unfortunately, they have been not moving around much in the catch pen but chowing down on hay nets all day. This past winter was one of the worst I can remember between the huge amounts of snow and frigid temperatures so they couldn’t have gone walking the pastures as usual if they wanted to.
Dusty was the first candidate for a refresher course. We stayed at a walk in each direction for about ten minutes. Twenty minutes total was enough for the first day. Blue got the same treatment.
I realize that there are different schools of thought about longeing, some being for it and some being against it. I’m all for it because if it’s done properly I feel it’s very beneficial. My horses haven’t been ridden in months because of winter woes. By longeing them to get them moving and in better shape I feel it puts less stress on their backs, legs and minds. Once they are built up enough to support a rider I will mount up. Do I want to simply jump on and ride…yes I do. However, I feel it wouldn’t be fair to them until they can comfortably cart me around and we can then move on to more strenuous lessons.
In my opinion longeing also helps the horses and me get on the same page so to speak. They get a refresher course in verbal messages and body language. They can understand what I want from the way I position my body and the tone in my voice lets me communicate my wishes to them. Also, I feel it forms a bond of understanding, guidance and improves our relationship, which is something that is sorely needed after a long winter of missed opportunities for riding and interaction. I don't feel it would be right--it might even be downright rude!--to jump right on without getting reacquainted with my horses, spending some time watching them move, re-acclimating them to the idea of working, and just interacting with them in a relaxed but purposeful way until we're both back up to speed. It just seems like the most sensible re-introduction for us. We keep it light, stress-free (mostly ;-) and trust that the right time to climb back in the saddle will present itself clearly. Fingers crossed it all goes to plan!
Until next time
Quote for Today
Correction does much for the horse, but encouragement does more.