Sprinkler Bandit had a good post today about lunging and how seeing Courage move on the line is helping her see why lunging is helpful. As I've said before, I don't enjoy lunging. I just wanna get on and go. But I can see that it's helping Lex a lot, too.
The pattern this week has been: the lunging starts out a little hairy as I have to convince Lex not to cut off half the circle or fall in. I try to help her regulate her rhythm by talking to her or occasionally giving her little half halts on the line. First she stops cutting in, then she regulates her stride, then she starts licking, and then she stretches way down, as she likes to do. Then we do some walk-trot transitions. She's getting a lot better at this - she used to think that any request to slow down meant stop, but now she'll go from trot to walk on the lunge and not try to halt. We're still working on keeping the same circle at the walk that we had at the trot, but Rome wasn't built in a day. Then, direction change, and it's about starting over, although it doesn't always take as long for her to settle down.
Here's the weird thing: she's forgotten the halt signal. I used to be able to just stop walking and kind of look at her hind quarters and she'd halt, but now it doesn't matter what I do, she just keeps walking. I have to reel her in to get her to halt. Not ideal, but it's an honest mistake on her part. She's trying to figure this out.
I don't like lunging as a way to get the bucks out. I don't like tired horses. But it's really helping her improve her balance. She used to be a different horse to the right -- stiffer, not nearly as comfortable. Now, the difference is hardly noticeable. She's learning and getting stronger.
After the lunging sesh, I hop on and walk for awhile. She's already warmed up, but I do a lot of work on changing the bend, circles of various sizes, moving off my leg. Then, finally, trotting. I try to remember to give her breaks, but her trot is getting so fun that I could keep going forever. She's finally starting to get a little better about contact. It isn't perfect yet, but several times this week she's been in a genuine frame. We've been working on spiral circles, which I love for getting a horse supple laterally. She didn't have the balance for this exercise two months ago, so I'm very excited that she's made some progress despite this being The Worst Winter Ever.
Today I introduced a series of walk-trot transitions. She falls apart in downward transitions, so to get the longitudinal strength and suppleness, I like to do a transition every five strides. She did well with this exercise, but I didn't do it for long. She'd been in work for about an hour at that point, including lunging, and she really was good. Even when she starts out being a little silly on the lunge line, the rides this week have really been excellent. I'm so proud of her.
Tomorrow she's being used as a model in a braiding clinic and Sunday we're having a lesson, so hopefully cute pictures and good updates to follow!