Exercising my horse Blue Eagle at liberty
Monday, December 03, 2012
Before I do much riding every season I make sure that my equine athlete has been properly conditioned to carry me and the saddle, similar to a hiker getting in shape before carrying a heavy backpack. Especially a horse's core muscles must be in great shape to carry a rider without damage to the spine, legs or shoulders. Here I do what is called liberty work, which means that the horse is not restrained by a halter and lunge line nor under saddle.
Because we had very little time to ride this year our riding season starts in the winter.
This is only the second time this season that I'm doing liberty work in a round pen with Blue Eagle. A round pen is usually an enclosure that is made from heavy-duty metal or wood panels that keep the horse from leaving while it is made to move around the pen. This pen is different in that there is only a thin plastic strip surrounding the pen which any horse could easily run through or jump over. It is not designed to force the horse to stay with me but is more of a boundary marker. The intention of my training is to use the the least amount of pressure necessary to get my horse to move in the direction and the speed I am asking for without escalating my cues to a level that is causing stress or pain. I use the lunge whip as an extension of my arm, not to hit the horse. The horse is asked to do some through body language and verbal cues (which are hard to hear) and the horse is rewarded through words and touch. I also use what is called negative reinforcement, which means the release of pressure when the horse complies. As you can see, I'm not much of a horse groomer, just not enough time.
Hope you'll enjoy it anyhow.