This week for the first time I took her out of the confines of the round pen to longe in the large arena. We have a very large outdoor arena that usually has several jumps set up in it. I didn't expect them to, but the jumps ended up working to my advantage. I had taken Halo out in the large arena once before, several months ago. The session was pretty unproductive, because she was still in the early stages of learning how to longe at all. Since then, I've mostly used the large arena as a place to turn her out to run off some of the steam before getting down to work. For that reason, I had no expectations that she would behave.
Fortunately for me, I have a smart little filly. I wanted to get her out in the larger space so that we could work on cantering. Although she can canter comfortably in the round pen, she tends to cut into the circle, and I worry that it is hard on her legs. With the larger open space, I would have more room to push her away from me on the circle.
I took her to the far back corner of the arena to avoid the distraction of the gate. Two jumps were set up that gave a false sense of containment from the long side of the arena, and they helped keep Halo on a circle. The worst she did was throw a couple of small fits while traveling counter-clockwise, pulling me out of the circle. I corrected her by continuing to push her forward, and once she traveled forward, I stayed quiet and out of her way. She improved over both the longe sessions this weekend, though she is definitely not perfect yet.
Her understanding of voice commands is remarkable. Even with the new scenery, and even when she's having a mini-fit, she will stop instantly with the command "whoa." I am grateful for this, and hope it translates once I'm in the saddle. She's also become very responsive to "trot" and is beginning to learn "canter." All of the commands are accompanied by body language from me, which she seems to work well off of. I wish I could describe better how I use body language during longeing, but it's been a long time since I've had to dissect it. Perhaps that is something to start working on for myself so that I can figure out what is working best in my communications with Halo.
Here are some pictures from Sunday longeing.
In the arena, blowing off the tiny bit of steam she had in her. She was much friskier on Saturday when she hadn't been exercised in several days.
I like the trot...if only she didn't have her goofy head straight up in the air! I can't wait until she sheds out and her head regains some refinement from beneath all the fuzz. Oh, little Halo. You'd think whoa was her favorite word.
Sometimes when trotting, she stretches her head down to the ground. I love that she seems to enjoy stretching through the back, and I do my best not to interfere when she's moving forward and stretching nicely this way.
Overall, I am pleased right now with how she is coming along. She definitely has her moments of being terrible two, but they are outweighed by the good times. Next I should probably turn my priorities to getting myself back in shape. Riding one of the barn owner's horses a couple of weeks ago was a reminder that I am very, very out of shape. Ugh.