Thursday, May 09, 2019
I took the horses over the hill for training, to return us to a summer work routine and to tune up my handling skills. We worked hard during a couple hours of long-lining and driving practice, and now for sure, again are in action.
My friend, Elaine, an excellent horsewoman, visiting Bend for several days, accompanied me on the trip. She observed as Megan, our trainer, took the horses and me through steps associated to driving a horse.
We began with me handling Rosie through long-line ropes. Almost daily, I’ve trotted Rosie in circles, using thirty-foot ropes to guide and control her movements. The goal is to strengthen her muscles after recent adjustments intended to improve her gaits. She had a full chiropractic work-over by our sport-horse veterinarian and corrective shoeing by our capable farrier.
I’m new to the process of long-lining a horse, and realized only yesterday, as Megan instructed me to handle Rosie differently, that there’s more to long-lining than I dreamed. She coached me to reduce vocal commands and instead communicate with Rosie using the ropes. To my surprise, each step Megan introduced resulted in the exact response she wanted from Rosie. I practiced controlling the horse’s gaits, speeds, directions, and learned that long-lining skills can initiate and reinforce many training goals.
In Sunni’s training session, she pulled a carriage with the three of us in it. Megan guided me to drive Sunni in turns and circles, and directed me to handle the reins correctly, to keep the horse moving at appropriate gaits while keeping her body balanced. Intellectually, I recalled these techniques, but over winter not having practiced, needed coaching to refresh my handling of a pulling horse.
I’ve decided to enter Sunni in a couple of competitions–one in Washington State in June, another in Oregon in July. This motivates me to keep raising our learning goals bar and to make sure Sunni stays in top physical condition. I want to drive Sunni in the dressage and obstacle courses, and want us capable of addressing those challenges with few or no errors.
I was hoping for Elaine’s approval of the horses’ progress and training regimes. She and her mom had raised and trained Sunni from filly-hood, and Elaine had a significant role in Rosie’s evolvement to maturity. Yesterday, Elaine expressed pleasure with the horses’ progress and our work with Megan.
Dear Friends, this will be a busy summer, thanks for riding along. Diana