I was lunging Shadowfax earlier today, and I made an interesting discovery. Normally, when I lunge, I face towards Shadowfax with the lunge line in my leading hand and the lunge whip in my following hand. I generally hold the whip at about waist height pointed at his rear unless he starts circling in too close, when I point it as his shoulder and say, "out".
But today, Shadowfax was just meandering along at the walk, and I was trying to get a bit more energy out of him when somehow I ended up with my body perpendicular to Shadowfax facing the way we were turning and my whip hand pointed sideways with the whip at about chest height pointed as his rear. He suddenly started walking more energetically. I "corrected" my position. He slowed back to meander. And I had an AHA! moment.
I deliberately turn my body perpendicular and hold the whip out to the side at chest height. Shadowfax walks more energetically. I maintain the same position, but slow down my rotation. Shadowfax slows down. I speed up my rotation. Shadowfax Speeds up. I speed up more. Shadowfax goes into a trot. I slow down. Shadowfax drops back to a walk. THIS IS SO COOL!!! I'm not saying anything, not giving any cues other than my body position and rotation and he is doing what I want him to do. I slow down, turn to face him, stop rotating and lower my whip hand to my side letting the end of the whip drop down almost to the ground. He slows down and almost stops, but doesn't quite. So I softly say, "Ho". And he stops.
I have learned a new and better way to communicate with Shadowfax while I'm lunging him. I am so excited. I go up and pet him, switch the lunge line to the other side of his halter and start him walking the other direction. I assume my new position. Sadly, it doesn't work quite as well going clockwise. Probably because I am right handed and have a little trouble holding the whip in my left hand. It still works better than my old position. He has a more energetic walk and responds more promptly to my cues. Interesting.
Apparently, training is a two way street. I am training Shadowfax to walk, trot and canter on cue, but he has just successfully trained me to stand and move the way that he wants me to. Obviously, I still need to work on my clockwise position and movement. I'm sure he will let me know when I get it right. :-)
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