Thursday, February 9, 2012
Autumn 2011: making progress
During September and October I was able to take advantage of some reasonable cool days and good footing to lunge Suki more regularly. The first day after two weeks away from lunging, Suki was a little fresh but but listened well. The walk to the arena required a some of our leading exercises to re-focus because some of the horses were calling to her and (gasp) looking at her! Once in the arena our lunging session began with a few hops and leaps and a couple of squeals. I ask for a lot of transitions to discourage the behavior and focus on the work at hand. Some people allow horses to gallop around on the lunge to get the energy out. That is not my training philosophy. Now, of course there are times when leaping and bucking just happens, but I do my best to encourage the use of that energy in a more positive way. I have always found that asking for many transitions in rapid succession helps to gain the hors'e attention. When I have that I then ask for more forward gaits to help tame some of that excess energy. I am not a professional trainer, of course, but have worked with a lot of different people over the years and have learned something from everyone (in some cases I learned what NOT to do!) With consistent lunging Suki's superior lunging skills were refined once again. Even without the use of a surcingle and side reins I was able to ask her to shorten and lengthen stride within the gaits, and get square halts from the trot. Just going around and around on the lunge has to be boring. Mixing it up a bit and making it a true schooling session which I think has more benefits physically and mentally. I was pleased to be able to give Suki some consistent work. Before long it would be too dark at the end of the day and the arena footing would become unsuitable for work. The graft site also continued to improve, and I was thrilled! Weekly I was sending photos of the area to Dr. Fugaro so that he could watch his masterpiece progress!