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stumped on lunging.

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        09-25-2009, 04:41 PM
    Hi all,
    It's been a great morning. I took a couple of young horses out to the desert to ride at dawn. Watched a golden eagle for a few minutes while riding. When you are close to them (and focused on them) that 6 foot wingspan seems to fill half the sky.

    I appreciate your comments. They have generated lots of thought. One of the reasons I decided to participate in this forum was to learn. The more I learn about horses, the more I honestly realize there is so much more to learn. One way to I hope to learn is by examining and refining my training techniques. Maybe I can do this by teaching/explaining the methods and philosophy I use to others. However, I have not described this concept to my satisfaction and obviously not to others either.

    I've called this thing confidence, but it is more than that. It is believing in yourself and in the horse. It's an attitude, a mindset. It is being gentle. It is willingness to use pressure judiciously. It is understanding the horse. It is mental toughness. It is knowing you can do it and and going out there and doing it. I have resisted calling this 'IT'. But I don't know what else to call it. I am really searching for a word or phrase that describes this. If anyone knows of one- please let me know.

    Green and green equals black and blue. Cute. I'll have to remember it. But- you and others have given Lucara good solid technical advice to use. She is working with a trainer/instructor that teaches her. The thing I want to add is- Now is the time to do it. Go do it with confidence. Use 'IT'. I never said it was easy. In fact, I am probably focusing on this because I've struggled with it in the past.

    For ten years I was pretty rough on a horse. I persisted for that long because I actually made some pretty nice horses during that time. Horses are such adaptable and forgiving creatures. But they were pretty rough on me too. One concussion (only one- really), had my head stitched up two times, broken left middle finger, broken thumb, broken right wrist, two broken ribs, three ribs torn from the sternum, shattered scapula (between 10 and 20 pieces) and a broken collarbone. The defining moment came when I was laying in the Emergency Room watching my wife and daughter cry as I was being readied for surgery for a facial reconstruction after being kicked by a horse. If I was going to survive, if the horses were going to thrive, if I was going to teach my kid to be a decent human being- Something was going to have to change. And that something had to be me.

    I went to a couple of natural horsemanship clinics. Bought some videos and read some books. I was so determined to not be abusive that I was reluctant to use any pressure at all. The horses I trained at that time progressed to the 'well-started' stage and stopped progressing.

    Then along came Smarty. She was a filly I raised. Hot blooded, resistant, and had a ton of natural ability. I started her using the passive techniques I'd been using for the past couple of years. She became spoiled rotten and was very frustrating to work with. But she was so talented. She gave me glimpses of brilliance. I had heard it a million times. 'Horses learn by the release of pressure.' Smarty taught me that you must put enough pressure on a horse that the horse will learn from the release of it. She started progressing as a horse and I as a trainer when I put enough pressure on her for her to do things to try and relieve the pressure. I was able to show her in the reined cow horse snaffle bit futurities. Won a little money on her. Showed her until she was 6 years old and 'in the bridle'. Won quite a bit on her the last two years. The next horse I showed was her sister. I was even more successful on her. Now Smarty is a broodmare. Giving me a colt every year to challenge and thrill me.

    Lucara's horse reminded me of Smarty at the start of her training. I couldn't get her to lunge (or do anything). It wasn't until I confidently put enough pressure on Smarty for her to seek a release that she made progress.

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