Monday, February 1, 2010


Tonight I long lined Louie, again working on all 3 gaits (yesterday we just worked on the walk and trot, so we're going for every other or every 3 days to work on the canter rather than every session, to keep from anticipating the canter). I added one new piece of equipment- a pair of loose elastic side reins to prevent Louie from over-bending when I ask him to move towards the rail- this is in attempt to get him to actually MOVE toward the rail when I ask him rather than just bend toward it. This piece of equipment seemed to help a bit with that.

We warmed up just as we always do- walk and trot. We worked on our slow western jog, a medium working trot, and an extended trot. We also worked on transitions and halting. Then after we sufficiently got all the bugs out, I removed the crupper and ran the lines through the tugs rahter than the terretts, dropping the outside line around his haunches. We started off at a walk, tracking to the left.

Instantly Louie knew what was about to happen so he started acting squirley. I just persevered and asked him to continue working on walk, trot, jog, and halt, until he got over the feeling of the line behind his haunches. From an active, forward walk, I asked Louie for a half-halt, a shift of the haunches, then gave a kiss to ask him to canter. He kindof jumped off into the canter, and hopped around a bit, but I pushed him through it and he continued on at a nice canter. Good boy! We stopped and praised. It's hard to praise and really get excited for a horse when you're out of breath.

After a little walking to settle down, I asked him again a second time to canter and this time, much to my suprise, he took his right (incorrect) lead. I brought him back down to a trot and asked him again to canter, this time he took a very nice left lead. I sprinted with him around a whole lap and again down to the far end (I have to run pretty fast to keep up, even though he canters at a pretty reasonable rate). At the far end, I asked him to circle. This was a little tricky, as he wanted to slow down, and kindof crow hopped when I gave him another kiss to continue on. Perhaps next time I'll try a cluck, as he obviously is a little jumpy around the kiss cue.

One last time, I asked him to canter again (I wanted to end on a good note with a clean canter- no wrong leads, no crow hopping, etc). He kindof jumped into the canter, startled by the kiss, and continued on very nicely, until I asked him to walk after about 3/4 lap of very nice, controlled cantering around the arena. We stopped and I showered him with breathless praise and pets one last time.

To end our lesson, we did a little walking, then changed directions and worked on our various trot speeds to get Louie's mind out of "canter" mode. Overall, he did really well today- much less bucking/craziness with the canter, so I think removing the crupper helped. In a few days, we'll try the right lead again and see where that takes us. I am waiting in hopeful anticipation.


  1. I'm glad to hear that Louie was less bucky at the canter.
    I really like your idea of leaving on a good note! I think that is so important in horse training in general.
    My horse is trained to trot at a cluck, and a kiss means canter. On the longe line, I'm pretty amazed at how well he does with these cues!
    Thanks for the advice about the cutback seat sizes...that makes sense (as to why most seat sizes I've seen on used saddles run from 19-21") I was thinking my sister and I could go half and half on an older used one, for fun!

  2. Your blog is great. I love the adventures of Louie!

  3. Thank you both! Well I went ahead and tried the right lead last night as he really wasn't anticipating at all and I needed some exercise and he did much better- still some kicking, but we actually had some really nice cantering too, so I am hoping with more work it'll come around.

    PG- I use those same cues and yes, it is amazing how smart these horses are! :) You can probably get an old used cutback for really cheap. I got mine for $130 on ebay lol. It's not ideal, but if you're not showing regularly on the A circuit, it's fine as long as it fits you and the horse. Good luck in your saddle seat adventures!