Saturday, February 14, 2015

Follow the Leader

 Friday at Laura's, after grooming the mule BB and tacking her for Laura to lunge while she worked with Dyna, I lunged Lucky. This time I was really focusing on being her leader and getting her to respond right away to my cues. Lucky still needs to get more forward when asked. She likes to settle into a western jog pace or perhaps a slow hunter hack pace when I ask for trot. However, we want a big, expressive movement in dressage.

 Previously, and for most of yesterday's lungeing, I had been clucking multiple times in a row before slapping the ground with the whip. However, to get a more immediate response I should cluck once with meaning and then follow with the whip if needed, smacking the ground. Clucking while lungeing is like asking nicely with your calf. Smacking the ground with the whip is like giving the horse a kick under saddle.You don't want to continuously kick, kick, kick. Similarly, you don't want to chase the horse with the whip.

What I learned is that you can't babysit them. By this Laura means that you can't constantly ask them to go forward every stride. You want to give them a chance to make a mistake, let them make it, and then correct them. Otherwise the won't learn how to do things on their own without being asked every stride. Laura demonstrated this with Lucky. She would cluck once to ask Lucky to trot, immediately smacking the ground with the whip if Lucky didn't respond or if Lucky responded with a slow jog. This way, she established herself as the leader.

 Then, I tried. While early, Lucky had been responding a bit half-heartedly because she didn't see me as the boss, once I asked the way Laura did, Lucky's responses were more immediate. If she slowed down her trot even a bit, I again asked. However, it was until Lucky went into my space without me asking, and I actually had to give her a smack with the whip, that she listened. Going into my space, especially when I wanted her to go around me, isa big no-no.

 After that, she intend nicely and it took only the slightest commands to get her moving forward. If she didn't respond to the cluck, I could barely lift the whip and she'd respond. Laura decided that it was best to end with that without me riding because I had gained Lucky's respect and she say me as her leader. It's always good to end when the horses finally get something or do something really well rather than push them too hard. There would be no sense in me riding her and asking more after she had done so well, so Laura decided to save it for another day. Soon, I might be doing a lesson with me riding on the lunge line with no reins to work on my balance and seat.


  1. i'm super guilty of 'nagging' while i'm riding - so this was good to read!! and a lunge lesson would be fun - hope it happens!

    1. Thanks! We all have bad habits. I hope what I shared helps you with your training!


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