I've had some people asking for more shots of the long lining and I decided to use Moochie's workout today as an example. This is not Moochie's first long lining session! I've done him about a dozen times in the arena, but this is his 2nd or 3rd time in "the big outside".
A little back ground on Moochie is in order. He had some training when I acquired him, but (when I rode him) I didn't feel like he really understood how to stop or steer. While he was comfortable carrying a rider, he didn't really understand "cluck means go, whoa means stop" with verbal signals, nor did he respond properly to rein pressure to turn or stop (and I evaluated him with both a hackamore and snaffle). I'll tell you right now, that I have no problem "backing up to the beginning" if I don't like the feel of a horse. I don't care what the other trainers were doing—I've learned to "go with my gut" and go back all the way to the beginning— if that's what it takes. The more experienced I become, the more I've not let what anyone else thinks about it bother me one bit!
The most interesting aspect of my evaluation of Moochie was when uncovered a huge anxiety issue when I asked him to step over the smallest pole. And I mean while leading him in hand, let alone long lining. However, through trial and error, I found out that Moochie had no trouble walking over poles and logs when left to his own devices.
I discovered this because I decided to put him in a small pen with LOTS of poles! He couldn't get from one end to the other without navigating them...and I put the hay at the other side. He ambled over them like a champ. But if a person asked him to lead over them, he was anxious. My answer....this was a "taught" behavior. Someone that was in a hurry, rushed him. And he was most likely just studying things. What they ended up teaching him was "pole on ground=hurry up". Once he realized that I actually preferred him to study and do it slow, he was a rock star!
The video today just shows me reinforcing the idea that no matter how bizarre the object, the answer is "do not run or evade" and "listen to me" and everything will be fine!
Cluck means go (one step at a time is just fine) and Whoa means stop!
So, here's Moochie about 7 minutes of our session "in the lines"!
Above is my favorite picture of Moochie from the day. He thinks this tiny ditch is quite a challenge. If I had video of my first attempts to have him go over this, you'd see him act as if I'm asking him to leap the grand canyon! All evasion and snorting! This is my second day with this spot! And I didn't actually ask him to stop here. He sort of parked himself and is looking back at me for my opinion. And my opinion is that Moochie is one damn easy horse to train! But you have to be super aware of the fact that not only is he paying attention, he's making a plan. I've had many horses like this, but I wasn't really expecting Moochie to be one of them! In this case, he had taken the "atta boys" that I gave him for being slow and brave and posited that he could possibly get an even bigger reward for doing the most daring thing he could think of...which was to span the "grand canyon".
While this wasn't exaclty what I asked for (we were just supposed to be walking over the ditch), I didn't reprimand him for this...nor did I reward him and make too big a deal over it either. That's because the end result I'm going for is a responsive horse, not an inventive horse! But I was secretly thrilled to have him try this. Why? Because it shows that Moochie has figured out that there are certain things that he CAN get "straight A's" on and they are "easy A's". This "easy A" was about relaxing and going slow. Since Moochie wants those gold stars, atta boys and high fives ( wither and butt scratches being the horse equivalent of a high five) and he's going to keep trying to figure out how to get more of that!
I think what I've got here is a horse has always wanted to be super hero...and how he thinks he can be! We'll have to wait and see, but I have a feeling...this is a good one!
If you'd like to see how this work in the lines translates to his under saddle work about a month later, here's a post with a video of Mike and Moochie from Sept 2014!