Sheza Learns to Lunge

And it isn’t pretty! I could have told you that well before the fact, but it had to happen sooner or later. Of late Sheza has declared herself High Queen of Goat & Turkeydom and has been getting QUITE an attitude on her little red self. When I threw hay for evening feedings she would spin and kick the hay, and was getting a little too vicious herding the goats around, not to mention a rather serious go she had at one of the turkeys the other day. She stomped him and he hid in the bushes for the rest of the day, luckily he came out alright but what a blazunhaat biznatch she is!

I had a confidence boosting talk with A on the drive home from our Cuyama XP trip re: handling Sheza’s Wild Red Self. I do have quite a bit of horse “training” if you want to call it that under my belt, but tend to doubt and question myself to the point of hopelessness lately. I want to do right so badly that I get a little cuckoo in the head about methods. And I find watching/reading things and then trying to translate it to a working scenario not always the easiest. My hang up with Sheza was worrying about lunging her too hard as a youngster, but with her becoming wild with energy it seemed like one of the next steps in getting her to focus and move forward instead of existing in Spazzdom as she naturally does. She IS intelligent, and sensitive, and I suspect slightly bi-polar…I mean. Anyhoo A and I agreed that at yearling age (Sheza will be 1 in about two weeks, day of Whiskeytown Chaser!!) she could surely stand up to 20 or 30 minutes of lunging in conjunction with focusing and learning new things.

My kingdom, my kingdom for a round pen! I know, I know, I should be able to voodoo-whisper my filly into submission without the security blanket of a round pen, but BOY does it make it easier to teach lunging and join up with a young horse in a pen than on a line. The first 10 minutes of our lunging expedition was a comedy of errors. I had sorta-kinda taught her the basics on her lead rope as a youngster, just getting one or two circles out of her, so she started out with a glimmer of an idea of what I wanted, but definitely was getting stuck in reactive mode. I started with her on a lead rope so I didn’t have to juggle my (way too bulky) lunge line while she re-grasped the basics. I used my dressage whip as an extension of my arm and rubbed her all over with it and then used it as pressure behind her to move her around. There was some literal lunging and generally spazzy behavior but she got her right circle down pretty darn quickly. I moved her to the lunge line as the short lead rope was starting to impede her forward momentum, and she trotted some nice circles around me. I worked on stopping and facing me some, sending her around again if she didn’t turn in and pay attention to me. She has the rope jiggle back-up pretty much down, I had to turn my cues way up the first time and then half again that much in further attempts.

I found her to be much stickier going to the left. When we were doing too much fighting I sent her back around to the right and she went right into it and it seemed to refocus her on what was at hand instead of just going BLARGH at the dressage whip aid. We got the left hand circle going pretty well after that and after a few successful circles I asked for and got a satisfactory stop, back up, and THEN she went off my point  and just a suggestion with the whip back to the right! I mean NICELY. It was sooo thrilling.

All told we were in the arena for probably 30 minutes. She was in a much better frame of mind at the end though we did do a couple of slow walks back and forth through the arena gate as she still likes to squirt through gates like a spazz if she thinks she can get away with it. Unfortunately she did when I brought her out to work since you have to squeak through the gate and get it closed again before the goats escape! But after our little session I turned her out with Desire and mini Bandito who had their gate open and were out grazing all around the barn in the fine grass. Now the other goats can go out in a goat and turkey herd and no one’s lives should be in danger!

I’m hoping Bandito and Desire will teach Sheza some herd manners and take her ego down a peg or two. I did see Sheza trying to nurse from  Desire this evening and mare was even cocking a hind leg back like she used to but every time Sheza made contact she got a squeal and pinned ears. Hopefully that won’t last long!! What a DORK.

In addition to our lunge session I battled it out with mowing two ft tall grass through a couple of our lawns and cleaned the hay barn and stacked the bales of beautiful grassy alfalfa we got today at the feed store. Oh yeah and spin class this morning! I have my ankle brace on and my dogs are barking!

Hoping for another decent weather day tomorrow so I can work Joey 🙂

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