Lunging is one of those things that I just expect every horse to know once it crosses my path. It’s not something I’ve ever really thought about training, just something you do. Well, obviously, it’s not something they just know, so it’s something I have to teach Gracie.
Clearly this isn’t something I’ve taught a horse before. While I have started horses and finished horses, I’ve never taken one all the way through. So, there are some holes for me and my training. Luckily, I have the best baby ever that is pretty much always willing to put up with my nonsense.
I have tried a few things in the past, and while I’ve gotten her to kind of walk a circle around me, I’ve not gotten to a point that I can say that Gracie truly understands the concept.
This journey of training Gracie is something I’ve stubbornly said I wanted to do 100% on my own. But, as I find more skills or lessons that I just don’t really know how to train, I’m realizing it’s not the end of the world to at least ask for help.
Enter Vivian Kahl – photographer of Rumoured Moments Photography, owner of Sky Fire Farm, and a great friend (and neighbor) of mine. She’s been training ponies and has had a lot of success, so I knew she would be the one to go to.
She observed at first, as I stood in the arena attempting to teach Gracie the concept of lunging. Here’s what it looked like: a yearling standing still, looking amused, while I tried to convince her to walk a circle around me.
Vivian stepped in and took over. She definitely has a higher energy level and is more assertive than me, and horses just instantly respect her. I have a very easy going, soft energy level, and Gracie was picking up on that.
In a matter of minutes, she had Gracie off in a circle. I looked away for half a second and looked back to see Gracie trying to bolt. Vivian was quick to react, and was able to dig in and get Gracie’s attention back without even moving.
Call me impressed.
I’ve included a short video below of the last few seconds of this lunging session. Gracie was happily walking circles and really seemed to get the concept.
I’m so very grateful to Vivian for her magic horse training skills. She hopped in without hesitation and handled the situation amazingly.
Today, I did not teach Gracie anything. Gracie taught me something, though (as did Vivian). Just because Gracie is easy going, and I’m easy going, doesn’t mean that will always work out so well. Watching Vivian work, and really push Gracie to move (at a walk, but still)… there is a certain energy level that needs to be exerted on my end to convince Gracie to move, sometimes.
By “higher energy”, in this situation, I mean really letting Gracie know that hey, this is my space, and I need you to get out of it.
We will be following up tomorrow on this amazing session, to make sure Gracie continues to understand this concept. We are on the right track!