Over the past few months while I’ve been working with Little Horse, I have utilized a different approach to our training. Mostly, this has applied to when I lunge him. I have had a lot of lessons from my instructors on lunging, and actually do use it as a means to work my horses, not just let them get their excess energy out as they run around in circles. However, there was an element of using this form of exercise as a way to let the horse express anything that I wouldn’t want to ride. Mainly taking off and bucking. Working with Little Horse since he was 2 1/2, we had a lot of those experiences.
After reading Daniel Goleman’s book on Social Intelligence, I learned that the more time we spend in an emotional state, the easier it is to get back to that state. This got me thinking about the expressions my Little Horse was exhibiting at times on the lunge line. What if we just didn’t include the running and bucking on the lunge line? If he was generally in a calm and agreeable mood as we worked, it seemed that state would be a norm, and where we could both find ourselves.
I found that I actually have a pretty good idea of when he’s going to be silly, or just plain naughty, on the lunge line. Of course, he is a horse, and there are always going to be unplanned events stemming from unexpected situations. I don’t mean at all to say that I can always keep him from running or bucking. But, I can tell when he’s likely to buck or take off if I were to give a certain cue. So, I stopped doing the things that would make him anything but calm and agreeable. I’d like him to always be on his best behavior when he’s dressed (tacked up). If I keep only asking for his best behavior, I’m more likely to get it.
Since I’ve started working him regularly again, I’ve taken this approach with Little Horse. I’m very pleased with the results, and haven’t had to go after an explosive horse dragging a lunge line. I so prefer calm and agreeable, and I think my horse does, too. I love it when some of the ideas I come across in my research regarding personal growth and development works great with my horse activities and riding.