Like most people with a new horse, I’m always trying to figure out what makes Chevy tick. Although I have had him for almost 6 months, our time together has been sporadic and I don’t feel like I have him figured out. He can be so lazy and argumentative, and yet when I get him working I feel like he is very capable. I’ve played with being tough on him, and using the whip despite the fact that he really dislikes it. Although he has gotten significantly better about it, if you really swat him with it he protests by sucking back and making mad faces. I’ve found that it is actually very counterproductive to me getting anything done on him. That leaves me trying to find creative ways to get him to respond appropriately. At this point, he does respond to a flick of the whip, but I have also been using my voice. Obviously that’s not an ideal aid when riding a dressage horse but I feel like if I can install some concepts that way and then phase out his vocal cues we will be better off than him throwing a fit over getting spanked. I’m also hoping to find my little nubby spurs soon to give them a try. It might be just the encouragement he needs.
Tuesday night I opted to put him on the lunge line prior to my ride. After having such a good lunge session last week I think I need to utilize this tool more. He was energetic and forward pretty much right from the start on the lunge line, and he even played a little bit. I think lunging should be work time, and I generally don’t use it to just let them blow off steam, but, I did like seeing him be energetic and happy. After about 20 minutes of lunging I hopped on to a warmed up/revved up Chevy. My ride was short and sweet, with him listening and happily moving forward. One of these days I’m going to teach this horse that forward is SO much easier for both of us! For now, I think I will incorporate a lunge warm up with our ride and we’ll see where that takes us. It’s nice to be able to get him going without making it in to a fight between us.
Last night it was super stormy again, and horses had been in for the day. I threw him on the lunge line for a few minutes before hopping and it did seem to help. I didn't get him working as well as I did the previous day, but he was still more forward once I got on. We are making progress!