Thursday, April 23, 2009

No crupper allowed

I use to longe Boo in side reins. I wanted to work him 5 days a week and quite frankly my body was begging for a break after 4 days. Once I had my accident I couldn't do much with him at all. No riding, no longeing, not even any grooming for quite some time. I had someone to ride him and show him, but I figured I'd have the trainer at the barn longe him in side reins once a week just to keep up his routine. She was the one who taught me how to do it, so I knew she knew what she was doing.

Almost from the start things did not go well. To this day I do not know why. He would not listen to her voice commands or aids and would start out racing around her like a bat out of hell. He would go on this way until he had worked himself into a terrible sweat and tired himself out. Only then would he settle down to work and listen to what she was asking for.

When the trainer first told me this was happening I was flabbergasted. It happened the next week and again the week after that. Other people at the barn who witnessed it started telling me about it. Once I was well enough to go to the barn, I decided to be there during his next longeing session and see for myself what was going on. Sure enough it happened just as the trainer had described. The only thing that I could see that was different was she was longeing him in a surcingle with a crupper and I had always had a saddle on him with the stirrups run up or removed. I thought maybe the crupper was scaring him but the trainer insisted that was not the case. On that day he was particularly disobedient and I could see he was either angry and rebellious or frightened.

During the course of the longe session Boo began to refuse to go forward. He started backing up. He did this a couple of times and the last time he began backing quite quickly. The trainer was pregnant at the time and getting quite large. She could not get behind him in time to drive him forward. He came up off his front end and went over backwards hitting his head against the arena wall on his way down. That my friends was the end of the longeing sessions.

Fast forward about 2 years. Here we are...I am completely recovered and Boo has not been longed in side reins since the day he reared over backwards. When I first got back to longeing him at all I did it in a halter with a longe line attached. It took me 4 or 5 sessions to get him to the point where he didn't squeal and take off at a gallop at the end of the line. We worked on starting out calmly at the walk and waiting for me to ask for the trot and finally the canter. We worked on changing gaits and spiraling in and out of the circle and for the most part we have done very well. Rarely is he so full of himself that he doesn't want to listen and I quite frankly don't put up with that.

Today I went to the barn and enlisted the help of Trainer Tracey to get Boo back to longeing in side reins. We decided to get him all geared up but start the longeing without attaching the side reins. No problem here and I didn't really expect any. After awhile we attached the side reins but we have decided to tighten them gradually, almost as if we are just beginning to teach him about them for the first time. We have no idea if he has a memory stored inside himself about the rearing over incident, and we didn't want to trigger anything negative. He did very well with both Trainer Tracey and myself at the end of the longe line. I'm encouraged. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be gradually shortening the side reins until I can finally work him where I want him to be. I will be paying attention to his feed back and not going where he is clearly not comfortable going. This is going to be good for both of us...and oh, by the way, we are NOT using a crupper.


  1. sounds like you have Boo figured out, keep us posted on your progress!

  2. Thanks! I'll do that. I think I should try to get some before and after pictures.