|"Are we done yet?"
When I bought Penn, I was told he had a year of dressage training (I love the lady that sold him to me- she was an agent for Penn's breeder and only knew what the breeder told her, let me be clear here). I sat on him and in my head, I thought, "If this horse has a year of dressage training, his breeder needs to get her money back." He knew how to w/t/c, but he fell on his forehand all the time and curled.
I finally know what the heck they were doing all that time- long lining. If they didn't long line him extensively, then I have an amazing unflappable horse with a million dollar price tag!
A lady I used to board with met me out at the barn because she wanted to see long lining taught and give it a try. I had pestered her about it during the day yesterday because I wanted someone to lead Penn to get him started.
I tacked him up in the crossties, then rubbed the lines all over him and tested to see how he would react to the lines running the length of his body. Mikey had a huge issue with this- twine, tape, anything long and skinny- it would cause him to scoot and he'd try to get away. Penn? Not a care in the world. He mostly looked at me like, "What are you doing?"
I took a picture of him at this point, all ready to go, and my phone apparently didn't save it, boo.
We took him to the indoor, I hooked up the lines, and she led him forward as I cued him to walk on. He settled immediately and wasn't confused in the slightest. The issues we had stemmed from my own rusty skills!
We both agreed that this was not his first time long lining. He could be just that easy, but it really came to him too easily. I worked behind him in walk and trot, steered on circles and diagonals, then stuck him on a circle with me in the middle to see how he handled from the side.
I found I'm able to regulate his tempo very nicely and I can half halt quite effectively and make him carry himself more uphill, however what became abundantly clear is his tendency to travel on the forehand with head between his knees. I don't know if this is from his first education or how he naturally carried himself originally (when he's free in the field, he's uphill so I'm going to guess he was taught this), but it was his go-to position when I wasn't keeping after him.
He's a disaster in the canter to the right on the lines. I'm weaker lunging that direction- I don't carry myself the same way as I do to the left. He was able to canter several circles left, but I really need a whip to help make my point. To the right, he couldn't hold the canter more than a half circle and it was horrible and leaning in badly.
I long lined him through 4 trot poles both directions, which I think was super good for him. It made him think about where his feet need to go.
I let him quit after 15-20 min of play time, he was working hard and we wanted to try it with my friend's elderly morgan mare. The mare was completely unimpressed and responded in a more confused fashion that I expected from Penn. We only worked her for about 5 minutes. I got her started then handed her over to her owner to try driving (her owner thought it was hilarious and very difficult).
I think we'll add long lining to our weekly work- I'll use poles and cavalettis with it too. He really needs more strength in his right hind and all over.
Over all, a non-event for baby horse!