Now Nessie has been to the farrier and the vet checked his teeth which was quite funny, because while just rinsing his mouth before having a look inside, one babytooth (or what was left of it) fell right into our hands. He got his own brand new PS of Sweden bridle which fits him perfectly, so we were ready to start the training.
When I start lunging youngsters I usually use either a caveson where I can attach a bit or the bridle and caveson in order to connect the side reins to the bit but the lunge to the caveson so the young horse does not get too much unnecessary pressure on the bit. Also I use a lunging girth in the beginning and after a few times change to saddle.
As I said in part 1, it is all about baby steps, about building up trust and getting to know each other.
Depending on the horse and how it reacts to our big indoors (and as I do not have a separate smaller place for lunging) I use in some cases some poles or cavaletti to fence off a part, sometimes it is enough to have just one person standing there, functioning as natural kind of barrier. In some cases I also have to close the curtains which I have to cover the mirrors. (If I have the horses running loose indoors the mirrors are always covered in order to avoid that someone tries to jump through or to play with his ‘friend’ =image.) Also I close the entrance door which I usually love to be open as I extra seek for distractions for the horses, like people (and dogs) walking in and out, etc. but as long as I do not know the horse and its reaction and the horse does not know me and the place I prefer to make it as easy as possible (#babysteps).
Nessie behaved like a pro from minute one -neither the big space nor the mirrors have been worth more than one look. And as he has been broken in spring he also knew all the lunging tack, from side reins to girth.
I try to keep our first lunging sessions in a frame of about 20 minutes because I want to finish every training unit with a happy, in no case exhausted horse -physically and mentally. So that the horses indeed are looking forward to their next training. And believe me, if you yourself are really concentrating very hard for 20 minutes, it is a long period of time.
I love lunging as a first step, because both -horse and rider -can learn so much about eachother. The horse can get used to the rider’s voice as well as to the aids which will make the first rides together so much easier.
In Nessie’s case I seemed to be blessed with a horse that loves to work and tries to please even on the lunge. So quite quickly we could work in all three gaits and do transitions, like walk-trot-walk and vice versa, trot-canter and even walk to halt and walk again. These seem to be very easy exercises, but the truth is, that it needs a lot of concentration and discipline from a young horse.
Speaking of young horse training we also have to talk about being flexible: There is a classical scheme as well as correct equipment which should be executed, but as we are dealing with individuals and personalities, we also have to seek for the best solution in order to achieve a harmonious and trust-building schooling. Sometimes you have to adjust your training scheme or your equipment. In Nessie’s case I had to switch from having the lunge adjusted to the caveson (which would be correct and which is my usual practice) to having him on the bit, because after our first two units I learned that he just would not react to the caveson but pull as if I was not there at all. When I connected the lunge to the bit I suddenly needed not more than two fingers to communicate! BUT and this is a big but: this is just a path leading towards and back to the correct way of lunging. Meaning, that after a few sessions with the ‘bit-solution’, when we know each other and there is no need for pulling anymore we go back to lunging on caveson. I wanted to tell you anyway, as it is just one example showing that the utmost importance is a good and working communication, to build up trust in order to have fun on the way to become a young dressage horse.