There is no doubt that early intervention is the efficient way to tackle learning difficulties and weaknesses. To nip a problem in the bud leads to both accelerated progress and happier students. This applies to both mental and physical challenges and to both humans and horses. Any behaviour or way of going that is undesirable is much more difficult and time consuming to change if it has become habitual.
GETTING ON THEIR BACKS IS NOT THE PROBLEM
My two home bred event horses, Mandiba and High Kingdom, that have done so well internationally with Karen O’Connor and Zara Phillips, are good examples of my use of lungeing to get a young horse through in the back. Mandiba found it very easy. Here he is as a three year old after three days on the lunge, after which he was ready to be ridden away with a progressive riding programme:
No gadgets are used apart from side reins and the bit is connected with the clips to my Micklem bridle so there can be no strong pressure on the tongue or bars of the mouth. Then here he is this year at Rolex coming second in the dressage:
However High Kingdom was a different story. It took three months of lungeing to get him to the same stage, as he was disconnected and went with a restricted step. However once going in this manner he was able to make rapid progress under saddle:
I have no doubt that if we had lost patience High Kingdom would have had an average trot habitually and we would have lost out on the stunning sight of him last weekend being placed fourth in the dressage in the World Cup class at Tattersalls International last weekend:
It was worth the wait....worth the wait of that three months on the lunge. Onwards! William