Tonight, instead of chasing the boys around the pasture for a few minutes, I decided to dust off my longe line and do a bit of longeing with Saga.
The main reason I want to start longeing him again is to get him more balanced in the canter, and also to help clean up our canter transitions. Out in the arena this last weekend, our transitions were horribly, embarrassingly sloppy, and Saga even bucked a bit on the right lead canter depart as I yelled, "NO! NO! BAD PONY!!!" The idea is to do lots of transitions without me in the picture so that he can find his balance and regain his strength and coordination - none of which will be helped with me flopping about on his back.
So I got out my longe line, put Saga's halter on, snagged my longe whip, and... oy. First, Saga ran madly in circles to the left (and I am NOT a fan of running your horse around on the longe. It's a training tool, not a way to tire your horse out!). Then he spun around and ran madly the other way, longe line wrapped about his big lug of a head. The only thing that did go well is that he didn't drag me halfway across the pasture, and he didn't fall down. So from that standpoint I guess it wasn't a complete fail.
We did eventually manage to get a few circles of decent (i.e. not running around like a mad man) trot and one canter depart each direction. I didn't want him to get too warm, since it was getting dark, so we didn't do more. It was good for me to watch him go at the trot - I didn't see any unevenness anywhere, even when he was doing a really big trot, so that's great. The canter was very telling - he's more unbalanced to the right, falling in and just generally running in the gait instead of a steady three beats. Left isn't great either but again, I think it's due to lack of balance and muscle. He's had nearly a year of no serious work, so it's understandable if somewhat frustrating.
On the positive side, I now have something I can do with him several times a week if I get home and don't have much time before it gets dark. Even if I only longe him for 10 minutes and do a few trot/canter transitions each way, and a few canter circles, it will help with his strength and make it that much easier under saddle.
Oh, and next time? I am SO longeing in a bridle or a cavesson.
Dolly - further and better particulars
1 week ago