Thursday, June 23, 2011

Keep on keeping on

I put the saddle back on Gwen Saturday. She was fine about the pad and fine about the saddle

(interesting side note: I had put the saddle down with the pad upside down over it so the white, fluffy side was visible. Guess who spooked at it? White things are probably always going to be a problem for her. No white horse trailer for me.)

but when I reached under her for the girth and pulled it up she started walking away from me. It would seem that the girth is the main issue- whether she got bruised from jumping around or if it was the feeling of the girth that inspired the bucking in the first place, I don't know. She did eventually stop and let me tighten it up, though I left it a little loose, and then I backed off and let her stand around wearing it for a while. She went straight into chill mode so after a few minutes I grabbed my target and went to see if she'd follow the target over the stream.

Not a chance. She was quite cute about it actually. She followed me until she saw where I was headed and then just stopped and said, "it's okay, you go on ahead, I'll wait over here," and stood off to the side looking all dejected. Coriander, in the meantime, thought it was great fun. Unfortunately he wasn't the one that needed it.

I went back to the barn and swapped the target for some baling twine and used that to lead her over the stream- I wanted to give her a chance to buck and get a little silly but I didn't want her to step on a lead rope and jerk on her face while she did it. I needn't have bothered, she was perfect. We walked down to the water very slowly, stopping after each step, until we finally took one step over the water. We did this a few times in each direction, speeding up until I we built up enough steam for her to take a little hop over the water.

No bucking. Hmmm...

I guess it's time to go back to getting her to target over the stream and see if we can build up some more speed. I feel like I'm in a really weird place right now- I WANT my horse to buck so I can tell her that's what I DON'T want. Strange.

We're also learning how to lunge in preparation for ground driving. Lungeing makes me physically ill so I've been avoiding it up to this point but it's time to suck it up and do it anyway. I'm going to try it Hempfling style,  walking a smaller circle inside the horse's circle, and see if that helps a bit with the nausea and dizziness I feel. Either that or get some Dramamine.

In case you aren't familiar with Klaus Hempling here's a short video that shows a bit of his philosophy on lungeing. Take note of his posture- that's something I've been trying to improve on myself.

I also have to learn how to ground drive. Kate G. is coming by this weekend to help us get started, meanwhile I've started doing some research. There's a good intro here that I like and Kate from A Year With Horses has a nice post about it here.

Anyone have any pointers they want to share? I'm open to everything right now.


  1. My instructor taught me to walk in a small square sort of behind Gem when lunging. I, too, used to get dizzy, but walking in a square helped. Hempling is amazing, by the way. I watched a number of his short videos a while back...he really does dance with the horse.

  2. Hmm, I can't quite picture that. Any chance you could describe it slightly differently?

    Isn't he amazing? I took another look at his work after Racheal suggested I learn how to get into a zen state. Seemed to fit right in with what he teaches.

  3. OK, let me try. :-) For example, you are positioned behind her left shoulder with your right arm and shoulder next to her hip and the left side of your body slightly tilted in to the centre of the ring. As she starts walking/trotting, you let the line out and start walking with her but sort of driving her from behind. Instead of following her circle, you walk in a square, stopping for a sec when you get to your "corner" to turn your body slightly while Gwen continues trotting. I think it's the slight hesitation at the "corner" that gives you your balance back. I did find that the longer the line, the less dizzy I got. A bit long-winded....clear as mud?? :-)

  4. To help with dizziness: don't follow the horse around the circle with your eyes. You have to "spot" like in ballet dancing. Let your eyes rest on things - fencepost, tree branch, mounting block - periodically, and then jump to the next "spot". Don't know if that makes sense to you, but it works for me :)

  5. (this is in2paints) I used to get really dizzy too, but I do what Calm, Forward, and Strait does... I will focus on something other than my horse for brief periods to keep from getting really dizzy. I also walk around a lot instead of just spinning around in a small circle.

    I have a really old surcingle and a pair of driving lines I use on my youngsters, but since Lilly is 10 now, I haven't used them in forever. I think ground driving is awesome for the horse, though.

  6. Thanks Wolfie- that does help. I think I've got it now.

    CFS and in2paints- thanks, it helps to know that I'm not the only one who gets dizzy and nauseous while lungeing. I'll give your recommendations a try.

  7. I always get dizzy too, so I basically walk the circle with the horses now and it helps. I'm not a great lunger anyway so I avoid it when possible. Ground driving is a great tool when done correctly. I think you will enjoy it once you get the hang of it. Good luck.

  8. We're doing the same thing, it appears. I also get dizzy, especially in the smaller circles we have to do right now to keep her going forward. Not so much when she moves out further. What you said about wanting her to buck makes perfect sense. Better she do it now than later. Keep up the good work!

    Beautiful Mustang

  9. Hempfling is fabulous. Do you have his book "The horse seeks me"?

    I rarely longe, but if I do I walk a very big circle inside the horse's circle, so I'm only a few yards away from the horse. Hempfling does a lot of loose longeing in a picadero, that taught me a lot. The first time I tried that with a horse I had a couple of years ago, he jumped out of the picadero, because I put on far too much pressure. It really improved my longeing and driving skills.

  10. Thanks GHM- we got a start yesterday and it went well. I have high hopes!

    Linda- that's it exactly. Get the bucking over with now without me up there. I have my doubts that bucking will ever be a regular thing for her. She seems a bit traumatized about it.

    twohorses- yes, I do have his new book. The illustrations in it are wonderful. Interesting about the horse jumping out on you. I had an interesting session where I was round penned and almost felt like I needed to jump out at one point because the person was putting on too much pressure. It was an eye opening experience.