Monday, January 5, 2009

Riley meets surcingle Part II, or How I Hurt My Hand

This is probably the closest thing to a tantrum that Riley has ever thrown. His feeling about the surcingle is "Noooo Likie!" Someone messaged me to say that the equipment doesn't fit properly or is badly designed. Even if that were true, it's not really tight. I think he is just not used to it. Once he gets through each little episode he seems more accepting. I like his perplexed expression as he circles me. Don't judge his gaits from these videos -- he's not 100% happy and the tension really shows.


In the other direction, he has a bit of a moment as well. I managed to hurt my finger, not sure how. Bob the cameraman is getting a little tired at this point.


"I think I'm hurt!"
I've learned to always wear gloves when lungeing Riley, but in this session I learned that riding gloves may not afford enough protection. I bruised my left ring finger during Riley's outburst in the second video -- strictly a pressure-type bruise, not a rope burn or other trauma, and I didn't feel it until we were driving away from the barn.

Some might fault my use of the lunge whip too close behind him, but he tends to turn into the circle unexpectedly, and the way to avoid that is to keep him forward. I'll grant that pushing him forward may have caused the second little tantrum. Overall, though, I'm happy with how he's coming along. Thoughts?


  1. I think he looks like a lot of green horses with the surcingle on for thr first few times. He was far less exciting than my youngest was lol. Mum just walked past and went thats a really nicely moving horse isn't it. lol.

  2. I loved the videos- Riley's reaction to the surcingle was mild compared to my De Laurentis filly's. She was completely nonchalant about it being tightened, and then in the walk and trot but when she stepped into the canter she just looked so horrified and exploded. Then of course, everything was fine again after a few seconds and it was no big deal. Aren't they just so funny sometimes?

  3. I can't say for sure from a video, but I don't think your equipment is fitted improperly; he's just not broke yet. Give him a little more practice--miles in the surcingle--and he'll figure it out. That was a comparatively small tantrum, and right on par for a young horse learning about new pressure.

    Also, I wouldn't fault your forward cues at all. Forward above all else, especially in the beginning. I like to avoid those types of pressure injuries on a strong horse by holding the longe line "upside down," like a driving rein. Pressure is less likely to damage the sturdy part of your palm than the delicate bones of your fingers.

    Good luck with Riley!

  4. Don't worry about Riley having his moments on the longe line. That's strictly a male horse thing. If you ignore it and keep on working him, he will stop acting up. Whenever you place too much emphasis on a movement or actvity you feel is incorrect the horse picks up on it immediately...his very own 'ah-ha' moment and will keep on doing whatever you found irritating: again and again for his amusement.

    Longing with a surcingle is new for Riley and the more he's worked with it, the more comfortable he will be.

    I would suggest that you keep the loose extra part of the longe line in small loops that you can hold in your left hand while longeing to prevent accidents. If you need to give him more line, allow a looped portion off, while still having control of the remainder.

    Where are Riley's leg wraps while you longe him?

  5. I think it's much better to keep him moving forward, rather than risk him turning in. Keep pushing him forward through the temper tantrum so he learns he has to keep working and can't get out of work by goofing around or having a tantrum.

    I'm not an expert, but I would think you would want the surcingle to fit normally, same as you would for an older horse. If it's too loose, couldn't it possibly be moving around and irritating him that way?

    Yes, always wear gloves. I learned that one the hard way years ago. Ouch!

  6. Thank your husband for filming these! Try not to run him down, hehehe.

    I'm very impressed with how long Riley will stand still for you. The surcingle experience was great, it was like every once in a while he'd space out, then he'd sense it, think, "OMGosh, something's GOT me!" and squirm/buck, but then he'd remember, "Oh yah, SHE put it there. Like all the other weird things I have to wear in my life with humans. Oh, woe is me, better just behave and get it over with."

    Psst - Riley, it gets WORSE! hehehheheeh but no, Riley, what I really wanted to say was, "Welcome to the grown-up horse world. Don't you feel big now?"

    ~lytha in Germany

  7. I think he looks fine, for a green young fella! He only acted up for a minute or so each way before settling down - not bad at all for his fist time in a surcingle. A surcingle is a pretty simple piece of tack - I think it would be pretty hard to not fit it properly - especially with someone experienced. It's not like you had all kinds of draw reins or something on him...

    I have a 18 year old gelding who will occassionaly buck when I'm lungeing him if he has had a bit of a break from being worked.

  8. I don't know if it is a fitting problem as I have never worked a horse on a surcingle but I did notice that his elbows were hitting the buckles when he extended. It might just feel a little funny to him.

  9. I for one was very impressed that Riley was so good for you. Instead of taking off and dragging you, he listened. There is no perfect way. If it's too loose, oh well, he learns to deal with it. You are doing a great job and so is he.

  10. he's adorable :-) i'd say that sort of thing is pretty normal. as long as they don't look worried, i usually just keep a little pressure on to keep them moving forward (even if just in walk) and let it play out. it's not as if he's doing somersaults or anything...

    in addition to gloves, and having the rein come in through the top of your hand, here's a tip for not hurting yourself during an episode of playing (or bolting) on the longe that works for me:

    if you carry the extra loop of the longe rein in your whip hand, you can bring that hand behind your outside leg or hip, wrap the line around the outside of your thigh and brace it there with the inside hand so that you don't get yanked or burned as much by the longe - your leg takes most of the pressure (which doesn't hurt, especially if you've got flabby thighs like mine ;-) and, with your inside leg forward, you have a firmer base of support against the pulling. hope that made sense!

  11. I don't think he looks uncomfortable any more than a young horse with a new thing wrapped around him would be. And, of course he is a redhead, so temper tantrums are par for the course! He looks like he's going to be a smooth ride, too! That canter looks heavenly. He's super cute.


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