|Most unflattering, blurry pic. Unfortunately David Bailey wasn't available.|
On Saturday I took my saddle to Zed so they could be introduced. As with every other piece of kit I've shown him and tried on him, he just didn't give a stuffed sock. The crapola pic I've used to illustrate our marvellous progress makes him look worried and neurotic but this is actually the look he gives me when he wants the rustling in my pocket to be a carrot and not a poo bag. Worse luck, it's always just a poo bag. I am mean human.
He's now met all the important members of his wardrobe - bridle, lunge line and whip, roller, saddle, mounting block, tail bandage round the hocks etc so we're at the point where he could really start a bit of long lining, since lunging has already been deemed fine by Zed, King of the land of I'm Not Really Arsed.
I haven't done much long lining (maybe a total of 40 minutes in the last 33 years) and I really don't want to break him or upset him. But the last few days I've been giving it a bit of thought and trying to think of ways around the main obstacles.
Which are - jabbing him in the mouth with a heavy hand and making him think that hanging out with me is no fun any more. And, me dropping the lines and Zed tearing off (ha ha!) around the field and ever after having a phobia of lunge lines/snakes.
Problem 1 I'm working around by being hyper aware of not pulling him and by clipping the line to his bit ring and a well fitted head collar to minimise dragging.
Problem 2 I'm working around by getting him used to ropes trailing along on the floor so if it does happen it doesn't frighten him too much.
This morning was our maiden voyage and I picked the dry corner of the field to work in and we re-established nice leading from both sides and voice commands. Then I had him on one long line with me at his stifle to give a rough imitation of the position I'll be in when we're long lining. Then we practised walking around with me having a spare line in my outside hand just trailing along the ground where he could see it. Lastly, I did some leading with a rope around his bot.
We only played about for ten minutes but he took it all really well. If I feel like I'm getting out of my depth I'll just stop, give him a pat and get professional intervention but for now I'm quite happy just messing about (in a thoughtful way) and trying to figure out ways to build the skills without freaking out the fluff ball.