Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Working on the whoa

My new long lines feel like butter in my hands. They are soft and sensitive and slide so smoothly through the surcingle rings. And Gabe, he's getting it. He's really, really getting it. We started out lunging on the long lines with the outside line through the surcingle ring and over his back to me and the inside line through the surcingle ring out to me. I clipped the lines to the outer rings of his brand-spanking new lunging cavesson and away we went. The cavesson is a bit heavier than the halter so he tossed his head a few times to figure it out then he got over it. Unfortunately, with a cavesson, the lunge line or long reins are A LOT easier for him to reach with those curious lips of his! He sucked the lunge line into his mouth a few times before we really got started. He is such an oral animal, he loves to suck ropes up into his maw and gnaw on 'em. I don't get it.

Anyway, we worked on long lining for about 45 minutes, the first 5 to 10 minutes with the outside line over his back. I flipped the outside line across his butt, then slowly down off his back to hang across his side and around his hocks to me. No adverse reaction. It took me two weeks of regular work with Star to just get her to quietly accept the long line over her butt...we never got to the across the hind legs part, she did NOT want anything touching her back there! As soon as I'd try, she'd squish her butt forward and crow hop, trying to get away from the offending line.

The lines in the correct position make changing directions a LOT easier! We walked back and forth across the paddock, working on collecting and extending the walk. We did circles, figure 8s, serpentines and turns on the haunches on the fence. I even tried a couple of "leg" yields and he GOT IT! He took it all in stride and only crow hopped once when I accidentally let one of the lines work it's way up under his tail a bit. Ooops! Bad long liner!

Our big sticking point right now is stopping. We still don't have that one down pat. I thought it would be a bit easier to get a good whoa out of him on the lines, but, it wasn't happening. So, I'm trying a different method, and it seemed to work. Instead of asking him to whoa out in the middle of the paddock or along the fence, I aim him towards a fence and when he gets about four steps away, I ask for a whoa with both my voice and my lines. The fence gives him a visual WHOA! aid. He was a bit confused at first and tried to turn on his haunches or yield sideways in response to the whoa and the upcoming barrier, but after about the 6th or 7th attempt, he stopped while still facing the fence.

He stops beautifully on the lead rope. I say whoa or I stop, and he stops without an issue, his head lined up with my shoulder where he belongs. He ground ties and stands statue still while I'm grooming him or whatever. But as soon as I get him AWAY from me on a longer length of rope, he forgets all about the whoa. Or, when I do get him to respond to the whoa out on the line, he tries to walk in to me and stand next to me...right where he would be if I was leading him. It's almost like he thinks whoa means "Stand still next to her shoulder." *sigh*

I'm going to keep using the fence as a barrier to get the whoa on the longer lines. We'll see how he progresses. Once we get the whoa down perfectly, I'll get on. Everything else is as good, if not better, than where I wanted him before I got on.

Now, if I could only get my hubby to get his butt in gear to build me a mounting block. Five-foot-two me, no matter how flexible, is going to have a bit of a challenge getting up onto 16.2hh Gabe without some vertical assistance! Especially on a horse who has been previously trained to walk while the rider is mounting! Ha! That would be a spectacle!


  1. Hello to you there!
    I am facinated by the long lines. I know it is really a skill to learn and an asset, for the horse as well.
    Take some photo's/Video, if you to see you in action!

  2. Forget the mounting block. You're going to need a ladder. ;) Jeez. I can't even get on my 14.2 mare without a step, and I'm 5'5".

  3. Hi Jenn. I have something for you over at my site. I hope all is well with you.