Learning to Walk: The Story of an Ex-Racehorse (2)
March 4, 2013 in Luzia Minera
Luzia Minera. Daughter of Aljabr, winner of over $500k in his racing career. Great Granddaughter to Secretariat. Off the track Thoroughbred. Former freak-out-session-waiting-to-happen. Luzia Minera. Starting to walk.
The first training session between myself, Hope at UrbanAcres.biz, and Luzia was hectic. Luzia pulled against the lunge line, threw her head left and right, went from a walk to a run with no warning, and was a riding accident waiting to happen. Our goals (and my homework) was to get Luzia to respect my space when we walked together (lead line) and to get Luzia to walk calmly when on the lunge line. After a week, Luzia got it. At this point, I could saddle Luzia and just sit on her in her pen. So, Luzia and I did that. We stood around in her pen and watched the donkeys and emus.
After two weeks, I felt it was time to move Luzia up in her training. Hope came to me and Luzia and was very happy to see a different horse. Luzia didn’t run and overeact on the lunge line. She was calm. What did need improving was that Luzia kept trying to come in while lunging. Hope taught me that I need to just use the end of the lunge line to “push” Luzia out into a larger circle. Luzia picked this up VERY quickly and in just 10 minutes, she stopped cutting in so much. While Luzia was learning to not come in towards me, I was learning how to manage the lunge line. It’s amazing how important it is to be able to handle that lunge line.
Shortly after that, we started to push Luzia into a trot using the command “trot” and then a click. Naturally, Luzia wasn’t sure what that meant. By stepping forward and stomping as well as using the end of the lunge line to push Luzia forward more, she began to trot. When Luzia would do a FULL circle at a trot, we would ask for an “easy walk”. If she did not go into a walk easily/quickly, I would spiral her in (bringing her circles in tighter until she walked). Then, I’d ask “whoa”. Again, if she didn’t whoa easily/quickly, I would spiral her in until she stopped (all while saying “whoa”).
Finally, Hope and I saddled Luzia. On the saddle, we worked on her steering and her “whoa”ing. One thing that is VERY important to know about Luzia is that she is very sensitive about her head. If I were to pull straight back and ask her to “whoa”, she would fight against me and push forward more. Instead, we ask her to “whoa” and if she doesn’t, we do circles until she does. After doing this for a bit, she stopped trying to fight against it and got quicker to comply.
A few days after my time with Hope, I decided to do some work with Luzia one-on-one. Day one went great. Lunging went well, althought Luzia still did not go to a trot when asked (stomping was still neccessary). Now came time to saddle up and get on.
Luzia didn’t do too bad. She’s still a fan of randomly throwing her head, but she has come great strides in not throwing her head every moment that I’m on her. She gets a little sticky anytime we’re facing the direction of her pen (and her best friend, the donkey) and requires a little more force to get her to turn away. She tried to canter a couple times, but not with great success.
Another day of training. Another interesting thing about Luzia. Luzia is a drama queen. She likes to overreact. Anytime we get near a particular branch on the ground (a branch that has been there for months), she freaks out a tad. Luzia tends to be a drama queen. On another one-on-one training day with Luzia, we didn’t get very far. Lunging had started off really well. She’s still not quite responding to the “trot” command. I went to step forward and stomp. Luzia decided to freak out this time. She bolted and I failed to hang onto the lunge line. One of the parts about this that I *really* don’t like is that we rent our house and land. The property isn’t 100% fenced and there isn’t a gate. Luzia ran for the gate. Now, I have to admit, I am not a very athletic individual. And it’s a long walk from our training area to the gate. Luzia sprinted for the gate. I ran after Luzia. Thankfully, Luzia stopped just before the gate….eventually, I caught up. We walked back to our training area. I feel like I’ve just died a little inside and I probably sounded like it too (*huff* *huff* Gaaah…I hate running *cough* *huff*). After returning to our little space, I lunged her for another 5 – 10 minutes and then returned her to her pen. I went inside, sat on the couch, and mentally kicked myself for not a) keeping hold of the lunge line and b) not being more physically fit.
Today I’m going to work on lunging again. We have a lot of horse fencing that was previously used for emu pens. I am considering asking my husband to build a training pen (I prefer to call it an arena, haha). We will see how things progress this week! Hopefully I’ll have some amazing news to share with you all next time!