Yesterday was the first snow fall in the area that I live, so it was cold. When I got to the barn, I tried tacking up Desi and she was just being AWFUL! She was pacing in her stall and acting like a total wreck. I linked it to that she wanted to be outside with the other horses. It got to the point where I didn't feel comfortable tacking her by myself. So I went and got my boss for her to assist. Desi was acting very naughty, but my boss told me it was because yesterday was the first cold spell of fall/winter, and she told me that most horses get a little more energetic when the first cold spell comes. We finally got her saddle on, but boss lady (and I agreed) that it wasn't worth the risk trying to ride Desi, so she told me to walk her into the indoor, take off her tack, and then free lunge her.
Needless to say, I got more of a work out then Desi did. She was so confused about what I was trying to ask her to do, and I'm not even going into the ground manners (ground manners? when did I learn those?!). Desi had no idea what she was suppose to do and just wanted to stay at one corner of the arena, by the garage door. My boss said that I should work on walking/halting/trotting on command with her, since we weren't getting anywhere with lunging. So, apparently, Desi wasn't as far along as the other students were saying.
I firmly believe that you if you can't get a horse to do something on the ground, you cannot expect the horse to know what to do under saddle. So we went back to square one.
I finally have someone working with me. S is a AWESOME person! I am teaching her some things and she is learning so fast! So this extra hand gave me some time to work with Desi. In the outdoor arena we first worked with just walking/halting on command. I used a whip to reinforce the halt and backing up, she really didn't need it much to walk-on. Then we went into having her halt and stay halted while I walk around her. This took a while for her to understand but she got it. I realized that she really likes to stay by you when you are walking, almost to the point of being TOO close to you. In a way I guess this is good, but I believe this must be the root problem to the lunging issue. A) she doesn't know she is suppose to move around you. B) She doesn't want to go far enough away from you to do so.
The first step to fix this was to have her halt, I would walk to her butt, walk back up to her head, and then take a step away from her, walk to her butt, walk to her head, etc, until I was at the length of the lead rope away. She caught on faster on her left side then she did her right, but I predicted that would happen. I eventually got to the point where I could be a lead rope's length away from her and she would stay in one spot. I also had S work on this with Desi (A: it's good learning for S, and B: it's good for Desi to know she has to do this with everyone, not just me). Then while I was a good distance away from Desi, I would ask her to walk while I stood still. She was decent at this, but the halting was the issue. Before we called it a day, I was able to get Desi to halt on command about 4 feet away from me.
Great job Desi!!
Thanks for reading :)