This weekend I loaded up Dexter for my long line lesson with Trainer. To my disappointment she suggested we start with lunging, but I know how to lunge (at least I thought I did.) She made some good points so I went along with it. Long lining can be cumbersome and require a lot of walking and some jogging. And until we know Dexter is going to be obedient on the line and not freak out, its safer to work with the one line rather than 2. Picturing how Dexter currently likes to buck and throw a fit when I ask him to canter on the line, I agreed. But I did make her promise to let us start trying the long line if he progresses well on the lunge line.
But I still learned more than I thought I would. I had been lunging him at home, but don't have a whole lot of training tack so it was mostly to keep him in shape, with no particular frame. So the first thing trainer pulled out was a surcingle and side reins, the kind you loop through the bit and attache back to the surcingle so there is some play on how low he can hold his head. She explained this will act as reins so he will always have that constant outside rein to work with.... first light bulb of the lesson.
She started the session out lunging him showing me how to half halt with the line and whip and wouldn't you know it he was in a frame in less that 5 minutes. She kept saying how good he looked. Knowing my history of thinking I got it when I actually don't I decided to speak up - "OK what are you looking at specifically, I agree he looks good, but why?". She explained a little about elevation and muscle movement. I need more - "OK so what muscles are you looking at, how can I tell if he's in a frame" So she pointed out his back and ab muscles... OK I think I got it now. Second light bulb of the lesson.
She showed me how to use the whip to get him to move his rib cage vs how to use it to get him going more forward. (BTW when I say "use the whip I don't mean beating my horse with it, just shaking and pointing it at him to get him to move.) Along with some other tricks to make lunging as close to riding as possible. All things that seem obvious now. I think I was just being lazy when I lunged him before.
So now I have some new tools in my belt. We've had some sessions at home and I think its working, although I'm a little paranoid that I don't actually have it. I've also decided to switch things up a bit with some free lunging and tricks so he doesn't spend the next 3-6 months on a 20 meter circle. I'm thinking of teaching him to bow and smile... what do you think? :)