Stepping It Up, literally.

So one of the reasons that I bred Paige vs. buying a horse to take her place once she retires is because I wanted to do the “baby” stuff at shows. Yeah, I could’ve bought a baby, but a baby with the bloodlines and color that I wanted would’ve been much more expensive than what it cost me to breed Paige, and Joey turned out to be what I dreamed about buying, but would never be able to afford, so it worked out well.

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Things I never would’ve been able to afford to buy. ^

Back in the day, I wanted to do yearling lunge line with Copper, but since he was the slowest growing creature in the history of ever, that never really happened. The one show I made it to with him was late in his yearling year (September), we were supposed to do lunge line, but he came up lame randomly at the show. He ended up being sound enough to show in a couple of halter classes, but that was the extent of my time showing a baby. Womp womp.

So now I have the opportunity with Joey! Anybody got any spare bubble wrap for him, because I’m getting ready to jinx myself.

Joey will (fingers crossed and all other cliches that implicate good luck) be showing in yearling lunge line and yearling in hand trail next year. I don’t know of any bloggers who show in these things, so let me break down my observations about the two classes. Luckily the APHA World Show is live streaming this week, so I’ve had the opportunity to watch these classes at a very high level. This has done two things to my state of mind:

  • wth do I think I’m doing
  • I want to do that there next year (yes, I’m crazy and it won’t happen, but we can dream)

Yearling longeline  (for proof that I can spell it correctly, I just habitually spell it “lunge” line…)

I had a rough understanding of lunge line from my sketchy prep with Copper for the class prior to watching the APHA World Show live this week . Basically you bring your horse in, walk to the judges, set up for inspection, proceed to the cone and around while jogging in hand, then you wait your turn to lunge your horse. You are then called into the center, have a brief warm up period, then they announce when to begin showing your horse. You have 90 seconds to demonstrate all three of your horse’s gaits going both ways with a 45 second midway reminder of sorts from the announcer. Tada, yearling lunge line. It seems simple enough, but having watched it, the most poised handlers and yearlings can have their time go awry quickly due to a wrong lead or, in one case, a colt kicked out at his handler. Naughty baby horses are naughty. Oddly enough, there were also a startling number of them that refused to jog in hand past the folding metal chairs.

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His first session with the big boy lungeline, I’ve been using a long lead until now. This is obviously how one does lunge line, right?

How we are prepping for lunge line: 

  • Long lunge line vs. lead rope
  • Introducing cantering/loping to our workouts, though moreso working towards prompt transitions at this point than cantering in endless circles
  • Polishing current walk/trot/whoa transitions

Luckily Joey is the least hot baby ever and never comes to work with any excess energy to work off, so we go straight to business and only work on the lunge line for a few minutes before doing something else.

Yearling in hand trail

The rules on this are much longer and more detailed than I care to read much less explain, though I will soon (read that is, probably shouldn’t freestyle it like my tobiano halter experience). Basically they detail what kind of obstacles are allowed, how they are to be spaced, yada yada. I feel like it is more for the show staff to know how to set up the course than for the exhibitor to get an idea of what they’ll be attempting to do. After watching it live I’ve determined that I need to practicing jogging over poles, like me personally without Joey. Holy poles. I’m a) glad I’ve been working out more and b) terrified I’ll trip and fall. While I may be less apt to get out of breath jogging, I’m still 100% clumsier than most people and those poles scare me. Here, feel free to click through my terror:

There are a variety of obstacles approved for yearling in hand trail, but I mainly have seen ALL the jog poles, walk poles, sidepassing (over nothing despite what is on the pattern?) and walking over a bridge. One of these patterns includes a gate, but my dumb self forgot about that being Tuesday morning, not Tuesday afternoon and tuned in after it had ended and saw western pleasure. Whoops.

How we are prepping for in hand trail:

  • Building obstacles
  • Practicing over said obstacles
  • Pivoting in a box
  • Sidepassing
  • Turns on fore/hindquarters
  • May try to get a lesson from a showmanship coach of some kind because there seems to be a lot of that going on and I suck at it

So far we’ve worked with a bridge because we already had one on the farm. Jason came out on Sunday and helped me get the heavy beast into the field. It does appear to have one board trying to rot that I may need to replace soon (or before a grown horse crosses it, it bears my and Joey’s weight fine).

I’ll be honest, the first night a variety of factors came into play that shouldn’t have when working with a young horse. I was frustrated by things that weren’t Joey’s fault and my frustration was compounded because I couldn’t fathom why my intelligent baby horse can’t fathom lifting his feet. He isn’t remotely afraid of touching the bridge, but just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of lifting his feet. Finally between lots of pulling/pushing and helping him lift his feet, he got on it.

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Literally his first time on it. No fear. Just whatevers.

So Monday night, I went out and we worked with the lunge line, then I lead him down to the bridge. He approached it willingly and literally walked up with me like it was no big deal. Nothing much else to say here other than Joey is a sponge:

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As you can probably tell, it may end up being hard to keep from boring him. I’m hoping to start working on sidepassing (he already knows to move away from pressure), turns on the fore/hindquarters soon until I get more obstacles up and going. I need to rearrange poles tonight into an L so we can start working on backing through it. Luckily we have plenty of time between now and April to polish more of this stuff. 🙂

So yeah, that’s what going on in Joey’s life right now. We do take frequent breaks for scratches, which he appreciates greatly.

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9 thoughts on “Stepping It Up, literally.

  1. Yearling in hand trail is a really cool sounding class! I know zero about showing babies, but I await many fancy Joey pics 🙂

  2. love that you are getting out there and doing all this with him. He is a great equine citizen. All of this will greatly pay off when you start riding him.

    • That’s the hope! He got to see so much at that one show this year and handled it all completely in stride. If he spooks at a tractor dragging the ring when he’s under saddle, he has no excuse now hahaha

  3. It’s a good thing Joey is so quiet! When I’ve worked with babies, I ended up just really frustrated. LOL Their brains are so scattered it drove me nuts!

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