Monday, September 22, 2008

Oooh! Scary!

What happens when you ask your husband to follow you and your big horse around the field popping open and closed a huge rainbow-colored umbrella and dragging a noisy tarp while you are lunging the horse?

Same thing that happens when you ask him to stand on one side of the circle you are lunging your big horse on and asking him to wave, swing, open and close the same huge rainbow-colored umbrella.

Not a thing. Not a spook, snort or white eye to be found.

Gabe looked, raised his head, eye-balled Robert and the Scary Stuff for a minute, made a couple of small, cautious steps sideways then went on his merry way listening to my commands. He even lunged over the noisy tarp and let both of us stand next to him holding the open umbrella over our heads then over his.

He was more worried about whether or not the umbrella and the tarp were edible, rather than whether they would eat HIM. I tossed the tarp up over his back, dragged it up his neck, led him around with the tarp over his body and rubbed it all over his legs and belly. He didn't care.

When he got tired of the tarp being on him, he reached around and casually pulled it off. I have a feeling this horse is going to be really, really tough on blankets this winter.

We continue our forward progression. I'm waiting for a new set of long lines to arrive before we go forward with the long reining. The ones I do have are old and keep getting snagged up in the surcingle rings, and that just won't do.

However, I have run into a bit of snag that I'm not quite sure how to fix.

Gabe walks, trots, canters and reverses on the lunge all by voice commands and body language. He halts, too, but when he halts he turns to look at me and walks in towards me. I can't figure out how to teach him to stand on the outside of the circle on a halt instead of coming in to see me and trying to stand next to my right shoulder as if he's on the lead rope. If I halt him while in close proximity and try to make him stand still while I move back to the center, he follows me. I've tried pushing him back out with the whip, I've tried re-positioning myself when asking for a halt as I'm moving towards his head and shoulder while asking for a halt instead of standing opposite his girth area. Nothing is working. I don't want to punish him for coming in to me to halt because in his mind, he's doing what I'm asking...he's halting. He's just not halting where I want him to halt while on the lunge. He's halting beautifully...if he were on the lead rope!

Any suggestions are much appreciated!


  1. We work with 'whoa means whoa' until they are asked to move. Try starting smaller, instead of while lunging, on a long lead rope. Say whoa as you stop him. then move to his shoulder, pick up a foot, move to his side, pat him, move to his back leg, pick up a foot, all the time you are holding the lead with a bit of slack. Walk around in front of him to the other side and repeat. As SOON as he takes a step or moves a foot, say whoa -a little snap of the lead- and put his offending foot (or feet) back in the starting position. They learn pretty fast this way. I am sure there are lots of ways to teach to stand still after the whoa and I look forward to reading other methods. I enjoy reading of your progress!

  2. Thank you! You're right, we probably do need to go back to square one and work on the halt in close quarters again. Whoa is one of those essential commands they MUST get and understand entirely, whether on the end of a lunge line, out on a trail ride or being led around.