Monday, March 31, 2014

It's All The Rage

Seems like suddenly everybody is talking about going back to ground work, ground driving and long lining. I'm back to doing a fair bit of it myself.

This may seem like an incredibly horrid thing to say...But I'm getting kind of bored with riding in the desert and I need to make some adjustments to my conditioning program...So I'm working on some other stuff.

I've started doing some rope work with Jet. The horse is highly suspicious of ropes and none too keen on them flopping around his body. After Cindy D.'s runaway, I decided I might as well start dealing with Jet's insecurities over ropes touching him in uncomfortable ways or dragging near his feet. I've worked on this stuff with this horse before but didn't make much progress with him. But that was before he grew a brain, so it's time to get back to it and get him over it. My full intention is to be able to long line him, so I can work on his strength and balance and not have to work him in circles to do it.

As a rule, the western circles think of long lining...aka...ground driving as little more than a colt-starting technique...

And I have primarily used it in that capacity in the past. Now that I have taken a longer look at it and realize how useful it can be for a variety of strengthening/conditioning and training exercises...I am really interested in doing more of it. I mean, for once in my life...My horses are in shape and I have actually cut back on riding time because I had to remind myself...I'm not conditioning endurance horses here...I'm conditioning barrel horses. Moon and Frosty need shorter, more intense workouts to build quick twitch muscles. And as luck (not very good luck I might add) would have it...Even my 3 green horses are not up to a lot of riding. Jet needs to build correct musculature before he can withstand mileage, Shooter needs mileage, but his leg still flares up if he's worked too hard and LJ, who also needs mileage. is showing some hesitation in the knee that I had the bubble drained off of. He's not lame, but I can see he is not 100% on it, so LJ is getting a reprieve from 'wet saddle blanket' time for a little bit.

I swear...I did NOT break my new horse!!...He came with that bubble on his knee and the vet warned me when we drained it that we might have a few bouts of inflammation in it here and there for awhile. I'm sure riding him in deep sand is what strained it...so I'm just taking it easy on him again, icing the knee, linimenting it and using mud poultices to get/keep inflammation out and tighten it up. I look at it this way...I got this horse for a fraction of what he was worth, dinged knee and all...I have plans for him that I hope entail many, many years worth of use, he's 4 this year and better trained than my 6y/o and my 9y/o...If I have to spend the rest of this year 'babying' that knee so he's 100% when he matures...I'm okay with that, cause when this guy gets a little older and is ready to crack out...He's gonna be pure awesomeness!!

But anyway, back to the business at hand...

Really, once a horse is in good condition, it doesn't take much riding to keep them there and over-riding your competition horse is more detrimental than most people realize. Muscles, tendons and ligaments need rest or they fatigue and fatigue injuries are very common. Moon and Frosty are in good condition. Now it's time to see if I can't fine tune them even more. They both need shorter, more intense workouts to improve their quick twitch muscles, but working on quick twitch muscles is not exactly something you do every day. On the off days, they really just need a good stretch, but plopping along in the desert is getting boring. What I want to do is continue to build better musculature and frame in those off days, so I started looking at long lining and all of the cool things you can do with a horse that primarily helps build top line, hindquarter and strengthens stifles....

All of the things a performance horse could always use help with, without having to go round and round. I swear...people really do not realize the damage that endless circling does to a horse's joints. There is obviously benefits to round pen work and longing work, I mean, you have to start somewhere, but I'd like to be able to do other things...

And really get some finesse involved...

So this is the kind of work I started the horses on this week. Jet is still in rope training, so we can get to the point where I CAN long line him. Shooter and Frosty could care less about ropes around them. Frosty was not really trying very hard and when encouraged, he struggled to break over and stretch through, so this will be excellent work for him. Shooter has never been long lined before and he kept trying to turn around and face me. LOL. I finally had to grab the buggy whip just to keep him moving..And left plenty of room between me and his hind feet. LOL. He's such a belligerent turd...God I love that horse. LJ watched with interest and even joined in at liberty for a bit when I worked horses out in the open, which was kind of fun (oh yea,...Ideas are swirling there) and the one who is hating it the most...

Moon!!

I am completely UNsurprised. Moon has no problems being long lined...What he hates is the fact that I can MAKE him drive from the hip and make him use his entire hindquarter. He is so lazy back there and he was furious that I could use the lines to encourage him to drive forward. He fought and fought his head until I finally said enough and put him in the round pen, ran the reins between his front legs, over the saddle, tied them and made him move f.o.r.w.a.r.d. There is more than one way to skin a cat...and Moon finally decided that it wasn't worth it to strain on the bit anymore. Then we went back to the long lines and he decided to try to play nice. This is going to be really good for him though. At his age and condition level, he doesn't need rode a bunch, but he can always use extra conditioning when it comes to engaging his hindquarter, using the full length of his back and stretching through his shoulders and neck.

Note to self...Wear tennis shoes from now on!!! Wanna get your exercise?...Long line a few horses every day. Well, at least I won't have to do those dumb leg exercises anymore. Just some belly crunches and I'll be in as good a shape as my ponies. LOL

9 comments:

Cindy D. said...

mmmm. pic # 4?? Pure sexy!

Laura said...

Neat! I had to chuckle at Moon giving you a hard time - of course he would...what a turkey.

I like long lining and have plans to try doing that this spring if the dang snow melts enough to get out there. I just learned how to long line a bit last fall and need to keep practicing. I always get tangled in my lines... ;-) Spencer is great with the ropes/lines, so I'm lucky.

Shirley said...

I have a set of biothane long lines that are great for this kind of work, they don't tangle and you can just wipe them clean.... not that you get mud there like we do!

Joyce Reynolds-Ward said...

You know what can really work well with a belligerent horse and ground driving? A sidepull with a good stiff leather noseband. Mocha thought she could take off on me with no bit, and then she hit the noseband, backed up into the rein, and...well, it only took a few hard bumps on the nose and she decided that the sidepull needed respect, too.

I use ground driving a lot with her, was doing it as part of our white line resection recovery until my thumbs went whack (from carrying the lunge whip). Love it for lateral work and for developing a bit more effective carriage. Also really love it for introducing a non-jumping horse to cavaletti and ground poles. It's always been a tool I like to go back to.

Kestrel said...

I'm a cheapskate and bought a long braided cotton lunge rope, cut it in two and put light snaps on the ends. they're a nice length, and I like the slight amount of stretch they have.
They are one dandy tool for solving the types of arguments you get from horses like Moon, hahaha!

BrownEyed Cowgirl said...

I appreciate the suggestions. I will keep them in mind for some of the lesser trained horses. Moon is just 'special' like that sometimes. He knows better, but his tendency to get stubborn about it is both a little conformationally inclined and just part of his disposition. He's quite lazy. He's well trained enough to know exactly what I want him to do and when he gets really hard-headed about it, it's just best to let him duke it out with himself. Today he was good as gold. I even started to get some lateral movement out of him...nice deep reach throughs behind and a little cross over in the front. He hated every minute of it of course...but that's just Moon. LOL.

Now Frosty...He did good. He is still a bit stiff transitioning to the right, but I've had problems with that under saddle too and at least through the long lines, I can keep him moving through the hip and he was much better by the end of the session.

This is cool stuff. Outside of the fact that I hate running. Hahahaha. But I did remember my tennis shoes today and my feet aren't killing me tonight. ;-)

Cut-N-Jump said...

You can fix a plethora of problems from the ground with the long lines. Been there, done that and still find myself going back time and again for more. It let's the horse learn and sort their way thru it without the added weight or inhibitions of a rider. My horses can learn without suffering thru my mistakes up there. Lol. Love that last pic.

fernvalley01 said...

I will be joining the movement as soon as the footing is good here, long lining Cat and Andee, and maybe taking a page from CnJ's book and starting Miss Annie driving! girl needs a job and i can only ride so many

Cut-N-Jump said...

And I just seen the irony of your post and my avatar pic of Kat in the lines. Yeah, I'm slow like that sometimes... hahahaha

FV- driving them still gives them the exercise without our bodies taking such a beating. Much easier on the body