The Heathen goes to Camp Meeting

The Heathen, aka Neuf, had to go to Camp Meeting, where Young Horses are Saved. He has not yet found god, but he is studying the Good Book and is on the path to righteousness. Ashley got to play the part of the evangelical minister, calling Neuf to salvation.

I had planned on riding Neuf today, and really, I could have…but, with young all horses, it is somewhat foolish to make too many plans.

The plan was to lunge him, with Ashley watching and coaching me. This is where I get my reminder that I am not skilled at lunging. I know this, I’m better at riding and while I’ve gotten a few lessons while bringing Neuf along, so I no longer teach horses that “Whoa” means “turn and bolt”, but it is a hole in my skills.

A few months ago, in another lesson, it was noted that Neuf was really starting to curl up and go behind the bit, when lunging in side reins. So, at that point, James thought I should swap to long lining, as that was getting Neuf more up and open. I swapped, and hung up the side reins, long lined until he was civil enough to ride and started riding. I also found a bit he liked better, I think the bit might have been part of the problem, more than the side reins.

Today, I had no side reins, and The Heathen, resembled a giraffe on crack. He kept invading my space, my ZTF (Zero Tolerance Farm) needed some refresher work, more physical corrections work better, he doesn’t respond to verbal well at this point, we addressed that before we even started to lunge. Then, after a few turns, Ashley suggested side reins might be good, and since I am here to listen to these suggestions, I agreed we should do that.

Side reins went on. We had them shorter on the left (the inside) to encourage the bend. We set them super long, to make sure he was ok, and after a few circles, it was already time to shorten them.

Next, Ashley helped me with the falling in on the circle. All horses do it, I was not very good at preventing it. Ah, a new tool…As we come to the side he is going to straighten and fall in, I gather the line and move towards the girth, pushing him out into the outside rein and forward.

The Heathen Neuf was going nicely, we changed direction, I went to adjust the side reins again, and The Heathen was back so Ashley came to help and asked if she could lunge him. Of course! So, she took control of The Heathen, and he got better and better.

He got to a lovely point, and she asked if I wanted to get on, but he is three, and knowing when to quit is often the most important thing in training, so we both agreed that it was enough.

Neuf is a horse who really enjoys a job, and he relaxes so much when he knows he can follow his leader. He likes the person to give him guidance.

I will add lunging in side reins to Neuf’s work a couple of times a week. I might do it for a few minutes pre-ride, or I might do it instead of a ride. That will depend on how he looks and does in them. I definitely need to continue lunging, I need to practice it so I can be better at it, but honestly, riding is usually more fun, although it is a different kind of fun to watch the horse’s development from the ground.


About Mel

Random musings in a riding journal
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