Wednesday, September 17, 2008

1 1/2 Years Old - It's Longe Line Time!

Longing yearlings is a controversial thing. I don't want to get into a battle with the 1.5 people who read my blog, so let me clarify up front what I'm doing with Halo. Working on the longe is stressful on a horse's legs, even an older horse, and I know that. Right now I work with Halo only 15 minutes per session, once or twice per week. Usually only once. My goals for her are very simple, and we do walk-trot work only. Mostly walking.

My goals for Halo during her longe lessons right now are that she a) moves away from the whip when cued, and b) has a good whoa. Honestly she can walk or trot around me; as long as she's going the right direction and not blasting off at mach 10 while ripping my arm out, I could care less. I don't want to overload her brain.

This filly is VERY responsive! I have done some work with voice commands while leading her on the ground, and she seems to have instantly translated it to the longe line work. For the most part her whoas have been quick and solid, and she immediately turns into the circle to look at me and receive her pat for being a good girl.

She does have her moments of confusion and wanting to switch directions at random. Basically I've approached this by vigorously insisting that she go the other way by cueing her with the whip near her outside shoulder while putting pressure on the line. As soon as she turns around and travels the way I want, I put the tip of the whip back on the ground and relax. One of the best things about Halo is that while she's quite reactive at times, she's also very quick to calm down and give you her attention.

I wish we had a round pen to work in, as I'd probably just do this at liberty instead. However, using the line will have to do! And so far, it is going remarkably well. We've taken two steps forward...hopefully we can avoid going one step back!


Leah Fry said...

So am I the 1 or the 1/2?

smottical said...

Ok, ok, so I might have to concede that 2 1/2 people read this blog!

Stacey Kimmel-Smith said...

At least THREE! I'm doing the same with my 2 1/2 year old. He is so funny, the other day his buds passed us on their way out to the field (evening turnout). Riley did a spontaneous change of direction and his hunter trot became all dressagey and big. I was torn between praising and scolding him, but then he turned into the circle and I had to hit him on the head with the whip. Does your baby do that?

smottical said...

Oh, Riley! He is the cutest, even if he is a punk. Halo doesn't usually cut too far into the circle, but we haven't done enough lessons yet for her to develop any consistent bad habits. So far her biggest issue is being resistant to reversing. Once she does a spontaneous change of direction, she does NOT want to go back the other way for anything. I think it's just that she's still figuring out what I want, and learning to move away from the whip. She has a habit of leaning into me when I ask her to move her shoulder or hips over while grooming, and I think the resistance on the longe line is a manifestation of the same issue.

meg said...

Yeah, totally at least 3 people ;)

BTW, I brought up starting ages with my friends who do futurities for AQHA and NRHA and I asked theoretically if I had a new QH that I wanted to just do general training with, what age to start her at, and they recommended 9 months.

They clarified that they didn't ride until 1 1/2. I changed the topic back to cows. My head felt all explody.

smottical said...

Auggghhhhhh. And you know what? It's true. That reining trainer I rode with a while back also starts them around 17-18 months. One guy was working a 2-year old while I was there, and it made me nervous to watch. He still looked so awkward and baby-ish to me. Halo is about 18 months now and I don't think she looks ready to ride AT ALL. No futurities for us!