Lesson Recap: On the Longe

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When Kim arrived for our lesson on Tuesday, I briefly explained the situation that Robbye and I were in. The tl;dr of it is that, upon arriving home from vacation, I found myself with a Very Bratty Horse. Because the longe is such a happy place for both of us, I had been longing in order to reestablish my Non-Bratty Horse, and was hoping Kim could give me a riding lesson on the longe!

She thought it was a good idea, and wow was it fun, educational, and a workout.

I started by warming her up on the longe as I normally do. Kim made a few suggestions, including that I should encourage her more to lift her front end and round aaaaaall the way through her back to her nose. It’s nice that we’re past baby roundness, and moving onto the next level of connection.

I got on and we immediately got to work. Forward, forward, forward. We did a ton of transitions, which were amazing – she absolutely shot into the trot. At this point, Kim emphasized that I needed to strengthen my core and my seat so that I can support Robbye as her movements get bigger. If she feels that she can get me off balance by racing into upward transitions or diving into downward ones, that’s absolutely going to become her “trick of the month”.

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Together, we reviewed what our “working” gaits should feel like right now. Our working trot feels…exquisite. Powerful, smooth, and big but in no way fast. I feel like I could be riding in the Olympics with that trot.

Our canter is a little different. Kim insisted on a very big canter for now – I’m sure so that we can get the power, then reduce the tempo later. It’s a bit scary, especially when I feel we’re “careening” around a 17m circle on the longe. But, on the other hand, it’s a canter I would love to jump out of. I just need to learn that that’s the canter I want!

We worked on trot lengthenings too, which was just a blast. As we rounded on the longe and hit the long side of the area, I cluck twice and massage with my legs. Kim ran alongside us, giving us a straight shot to lengthen. Wow, did it feel awesome! This is another situation where I need a stronger core and seat – when she really took off, I was thrown off balance. I have to be ready for her to actually react, instead of riding defensively.

For each direction, we did a bit of work off of the longe, but with Kim’s support – really, a longe without the line. Robbye remained forward and responsive, and we even got some nice lengthenings on “our own”.

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Kim agreed that if we just need to chill on the longe for a couple of weeks, and gradually get back to riding without a longe whip to chase us, that’s okay. We can accomplish a whole lot on the longe, and it’ll only improve our “regular” work.

My main takeaway from this lesson is just how much more potential Rob has than I give her credit for. I was settling for this crappy dinky trot, when really she has a wonderful, ground-covering trot that’s just a longe whip away. I need to make these big gaits my new normal!

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Journal: Vacation Mode

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My last journal was about my successful hunter show (still so excited for that!). The week after the show, I was in full honeymoon/vacation mode – we were leaving a week after the show, and I found it very difficult to maintain an semblance of motivation.

So Sunday Rob got a rest, then Monday we had a wonderful bareback ride in the rain. The ride was an incredible bit of sensory overload – warm Robbye, cool rain, and a nice double rainbow for the eyes.

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Tuesday we had a short dressage ride; my mom and brother came to watch, and I really wanted to show my mom the progress the two of us have made. She did seem impressed! Then, Mom and Connor cooled her out. I just love that I can put non-riders or out-of-shape-riders on Rob and trust that she’ll take care of them.

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Two more days of lazy no-rides, then Friday we had a GREAT longe with lots of transitions, and particular emphasis on the downwards. She was awesome. I was very pleased.

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Saturday I tried to replicate that work under saddle. I shortened my reins a tad and focused on working through my core, and Robbye really stepped up to the plate. Longing really does a lot for Rob – both mentally and physically.

Sunday I flew through my barn chores and then it was time for THE HONEYMOON. Which was amazing. I’m still planning on documenting it here, for my own sake.

The next Monday was my first day back home, and of course I didn’t feel like riding. I was in vacation mode, still! So I spent a day grooming – buzzing her roach down, clipping her face, giving her a good curry. She was in a horrible mood – I should have seen the next few days coming…

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Playing with her head just to show off her nice haircut. How sweet!

Tuesday was our first ride back. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was bad. There was a lot of random stopping, kicking, protesting, and general brattiness. Her upward transitions were absolutely nonexistent. It was like she had regresssed a year in the week she had off. This is the TRUE vacation mode, right here!

We did end with some good work, and the next day I tried riding bareback in an effort to create less of a “work” environment. I thought a more relaxed ensemble would inspire some more compliant work. Unfortunately, Rob was still in vacation mode and, riding bareback, I was left with fewer tools to fight with.

At this point I was mad. I had just spent a week having so much fun, and here I am, not excited to be back, having to fight to enjoy my hobby. Those rides were not fun, and she was being a bitch on the ground, too. Time for a intervention.

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So…back to the longe! The longe is such a safe place for us. It’s a perfect way for me to instill dominance, forward, attentiveness, and roundness all at the same time. Robbye also seems to appreciate the structure – I think it’s an activity she genuinely enjoys.

I completely kicked her ass on the longe. FORWARD TRANSITION FORWARD ROUND FORWARD PROMPT-WHOA FORWARD TRANSITION TRANSITION TRANSITION FORWARD FORWARD FORWARD.

And she was great! Willing to work and trying very hard to please. We got a good workout, and I honestly felt like our relationship immediately improved.

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Mom and Rob!

She and I just really can’t like each other unless I kick her butt every once in a while.

So that was a great workout, and a great exercise for our relationship (and my sanity). Friday we did the same thing but shorter, then she got two days off to think about her life.

Monday, it was time to get back to riding. So I longed her as usual, but with her saddle on instead of her surcingle. Then, I got on her, changing nothing else. Julie longed us, providing a little motivation with the whip when necessary.

It was good. She wasn’t as forward or as prompt as I would have liked, but there was no kicking, no bucking, no brattiness. She was submissive and fairly forward, so I was happy with our progress.

Tuesday, our trainer, Kim longed us. Now that was an experience. It’ll get its own post!