We have just completed a second week of work at the lunge. Overall he has made very good progress in a short time, indicating a good trainability. It is important to remember that he has spent most of his life in pasture and was only “broken in” to saddle. He willingly accepted this “event” in his life but overall has had no real working connection with human beings. Therefore, he has needed to learn to relate to and trust us, and then accept to learn and work calmly.
As a result of our efforts for the past couple of weeks, we have been rewarded with an increase of his awareness of his handler, and he is less focused on his surroundings. He stands more quietly for grooming and tacking up, and finally “looks us in the eye”. For me, that is very important and is the foundation for developing a good working relationship.
Before I describe the events of the past week’s work, I would like to explain how we are now attaching our support reins, and why. As you can see from the pictures, we are using a modified version of a “de gogue”. Normally this is a device with a line running through a ring on a strap attached to the girth, which runs then through rings attached to a strap over the pole, then goes through the bit rings and back to the ring attached to the girth. However, this arrangement does not provide support to the horse, helping him balance according to his “laterality”. Therefore, rather than taking the reins back towards the girth attachment (between the legs) we go from the bit back to the rings on the surcingle. Since this horse is right handed, we attach the left line low, and the right line high. (Clearly demonstrated in photos.) If I were riding, I would also support him with my right hand a little higher than my left. It is very important to note, we do not want to restrict him or place his nose behind the vertical. To the contrary, we want him to use the support to feel confident to stretch out and down, freeing his shoulders and back, and allowing the hind legs to push through. He has responded beautifully to this work both in free lunging and on line. He is trotting more calmly with a very good working rhythm and canters with increased balance and regularity.
Finally, as he has progressed so well in the flat lunging, we added a small cavaletti at the trot. After his first inclination to tackle it as a jump, he began to trot to it calmly. After a couple of days he was trotting and cantering over it with confidence.
This work has also made
changes in his conformation, most notably his neck looks longer and not so thick, and his back is rounder and stronger. We are very happy with his progress in all aspects, and look forward to the developments of this next week.