Monday, November 8, 2010

Lunging Shadowfax for the first time after a long break

With one thing and another and a flood on top of it all, I haven't lunged Shadowfax in a very long time. I've been working with him a little on ground manners, but I haven't done any serious work with him for months. Finally, things have calmed down a bit. And yesterday, Foxfire and I finished the paddock gate so that I can lock everyone but Shadowfax in the paddock, making it easy for me to lunge Shadowfax in the pasture. So... I decided to lunge Shadowfax this evening while waiting for Foxfire to get home from work. It actually went a bit better than I thought it would.

Shadowfax generally did what I told him to, though I usually had to ask him several times. I had to wave the whip at him a fair number of times, and a couple of times, I had to touch him with the whip, but there were no major fireworks and at times, he actually seemed to be enjoying the workout.

I hadn't planned to do more than walk and trot, since when I first starting lunging him, the major problems came when asking him to canter. But while I was trotting him, his ears pricked and he spontaneously went into a happy little canter. Since I usually have trouble getting him to canter, I didn't slow him down, I just started saying, "canter" instead of trot. Since he transitioned upward on his own, and I let him get away with it, I was NOT going to let him transition downward on his own, so when he tried to slow back to a trot, I said, "canter" even more firmly and waved the whip at his rear. He kept in canter, though he did kick out a bit in exasperation. I made him keep cantering for a couple of circles, then told him to trot. He willingly slowed to trot.

After the first series of walk trot canter, I switched directions and made him go the other way. I had some trouble getting him to go out and keep walking. He either wanted to just walk in very small circles around me or go into a trot farther out. We eventually got things straightened out. He did try to stop on his own a few times. He is very out of shape. And I had to chase after him to keep him going. But we managed to do walk trot canter in both directions twice.

After that, he was somewhat sweaty and he was breathing a bit heavy, so I decided that that was enough for today, even though we really hadn't been going that long. (I need to get a stopwatch or something that I can hang around my neck and time our sessions.) I walked him back over to the trailer practicing "Ho" a few times on the way. He has gotten much better about stopping, but it is something that still needs a little work. I switched from the lunge line to a lead and just walked him around the pasture a little till his breathing got back to normal. I've been teaching him to bow for a treat, so I asked him to bow once and he did it very well, so he got his treat. I walked him back to the paddock gate, then I turned him loose and opened the paddock gate to let everyone out.

Ziggy and the donkeys were waiting at the gate and immediately came up to Shadowfax and me to find out what was going on. And as I walked to the backyard gate, they all followed me. I gave them each a treat and a pat before going inside. Shadowfax still gets rather excited about treats, but he is learning to let the others have their treats, and that if he behaves, he will get one too. He still needs work, but he's not nearly as pushy as he used to be.

Anyway, even though he was far from perfect, I think he did a pretty good job of lunging considering how long it's been since he's had any practice. He may have his issues, but he's a good horse, and I'm still very glad that I bought him.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear he was a good boy! Will you be riding him in the clinic this weekend?