aggression/fear in lunging? flagging marecare also - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 06-28-2010, 11:28 PM Thread Starter
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aggression/fear in lunging? flagging marecare also

I am hopeful that you may be able to advise.
First, backgroundwise, my girl is 10 yo pony of light cob/hackney type and was badly broken in a hurry and then was rough ridden by a boy (who frequently had the whip removed from him at ponyclub etc) so she has had a lot of bad habits - kicking, biting, bucking, bolting. Her nature is fairly dominant so rather than cower from ill treatment her attitude would be more "dont you DARE hit me!"
After 2 years I have a good relationship with her (partly because of Marecare's help which is why I flagged him on this thread) though she remains pretty much a one man horse and she can still take me by surprise.

I have never lunged her before as I have always thought of it as a fine dressage art but I am having trouble getting the time to keep her fit and someone suggested lunging her - not as a schooling excercise but just for fitness.

I tried it yesterday and didnt take a lunge whip as I know that would cause her huge amounts of stress but instead slapped the end of the rope on my boot when insisting on trot. She knew what she was doing and had clearly been lunged before. However when I insisted on trot she swung into the middle shaking her head and swung round again and lashed out. Wow! I stayed calm (tho shaking - I aint no bold cowgirl) took her head and walked her back out to the circumferance of the circle, got her walking calmly and then asked for trot again. She swung in, spun round and lashed out again. When she wasnt swinging in she was whizzing round in gallop with all her weight on the rope (i only weigh 8.5 stone) and her head at an awkward, unbalancing angle. I soothed her down with my voice to get her to slow down and stop. This was repeated many times. Eventually I got her going calmly and then switched directions where we repeated the whole process again. We finished up when all was well - to end on a good note.

This morning I lunged her again and she was still threatening in her ways at first but didnt actually lash out. I kept it brief and ended on a good note again.

What are your thoughts? Why is she behaving like this (my way with her is very quiet and soft, perhaps too soft) Am I handling this correctly? Should I just not lunge her? Also, without a lunge whip, how do you prevent the horse from coming in on the circle?
border reiver is offline  
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post #2 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 12:23 AM
Green Broke
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Hmmm, im not sure about this, but i want to learn about hpw someone would handle this, so im just going to say wat i THINK would be good, and then see what everyone elses says ;)

Are you doing groundwork with her? I think that could help, it might really help you guys figure out that you are dominent, but if you pick the correct way with a good teacher o teach you how, you dont have to use exessive force. then maybe she wouldnt challenge you like that. (im guessing shes challenging you, i havent seen her do it, so i dont actualy have any good idea)

Without a whip i always use body langauge to get a horse farther out on the lunge, and if they ignore it i go "SSSSSSSSST!' but im not sure if that would work here, ive never actually lunged a horse like that.

It might just take time? is she a lazy horse? if shes not lazy then maybe you could just lunge her at the walk, and ask her to trot with your voice, and maybe she will get bored (like ive seen a lot of horses to do) and start trotting, then you could praise her a HUGE amount and love her to death and show her how good that was! but when you see shes about to trot because shes bored, make a specific sound you will always use to make her trot, like a cluck or 'kiss' or something. :) and try that everytime she does that?

And for the whip, im not sure about this, just a guess, but maybe you could bring her into the arena or something with a halter on and hold a whip, and if you jsut holding it sends her into a fit, then hold it and feed her treats and stuff until she calms down a bit, and do that everyday until shes fine with you holding it, and then touch her with it slowly and just leave it on her ex.shoulder until she calms down or at least doesnt act so stressed, feed her treats and stuff. and just keep going each day without rushing it until one day you can ride with it! but thats jsut an idea, ive never seen anyone do this, or heard of anyone doing this,just something i think i might try :) but maybe try it once you have a good strong relationship with her, unless you already do :)

If there are no horses in heaven... im not going.
ridergirl23 is offline  
post #3 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 01:39 AM
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Hi border!

How is our Willow doing?

I am assuming that you are doing the work with her in some kind of pen ....or maybe out in the open?

If you were leading her for a nice,brisk walk how would you ask her to move off from you and maintain a bit more distance?

I own or manage 16 mares here as well as several gelding and each one has a very distinct and unique way that they prefer to be handled and I admit that I encourage their personality.

Several were more than happy to be directed with a buggy whip in my hand at first.

I have found with these horses that after a while they are a bit happier with less cue and yet I get the same try on their part.

So over time I keep reducing the cue and have found that my body position,a slight flick of my finger,or even a soft verbal cue is enough to gain the end result.

All of the horses have consistently gotten lighter and lighter.

I don't start out asking for much and I don't really expect a whole lot at first and I try to always build on the small successes from the last session.

In other words I am not running an assembly line with a production deadline.

It sounds to me like you had some success with the first go at this and I would encourage you to continue what you are doing.

And we need pictures also!

"The greatest strength is gentleness."
- Iroquois Proverb
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post #4 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 02:04 AM
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^ I agree - if you are seeing improvement, even in two goes, then you are doing something right, and stick with it!

wild_spot is offline  
post #5 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 02:47 AM Thread Starter
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Hi Marecare Willow is very well and I am relieved to have her to myself again.

Thanks both for the quick replies and encouragement. Re her leading, gee, since that lad who was using her has gone I have noticed everything has gone downhill. She can now be very bargy and obsessed w grass - though I asked him not to let her graze with her bridle on. I have a heap of work to do re getting her to "get with me" and - as I loaned my Bill Dorrence book to someone who never returned it - am not sure where to start. This is the trouble when you learn a new way and it's not yet "in your bones" - you forget it again very quickly.

I guess I just use my body to ask her to step away from me a little - either straightening my arm or stepping into her space with the thought of "back up". It works but I cant express it properly. I will do this when we are lunging and she is calm. I still prefer to lead her on a loose rope with her behind me rather than under her chin (as is considered correct in UK) as this is more practical when leading her along narrow sheep tracks.

I will post pics shortly on the conformation critique forum as it would be interesting to get different points of view and also what people think her breed might be and what kind of work she will be most comfortable doing.

I heard a great phrase the other day: "If it can buck, it can jump!" Seems to hold true for our Willow
border reiver is offline  
post #6 of 13 Old 06-29-2010, 11:29 AM
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A very common saying here is that if you do something three times with a horse you have retrained it and I think this is kind of what happened with Willow and your young rider.

You are going to have to get back some of the connection that you had and this is why a lot of people just don't want other people riding their horses.

You spend all that time getting things going the way you like and then you have to start over...Oh well.

I would suggest making the long line work something that you do at least once a month and don't go two years and hope that the training is still there.
The session does not have to be more than just a few minutes and just make it a refresher.
I will try to get some pictures in the next day or so of working a horse on a line in the open and post them.

I will post these pictures of this filly and she was quite sassy at the time.
What I like about the pictures is that they show the change in her and this was over a period of about 15 minutes.
You just have to be patient and work through it and be happy with the small progress that you get.

"The greatest strength is gentleness."
- Iroquois Proverb
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post #7 of 13 Old 07-02-2010, 10:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice folks. She has calmed down a lot already and its a relief to see Marecare's photos. Willow was actually rushing me w snaking neck then swinging round to double barrel me but it was ok and though it would be interesting to know why, the thing is she isnt doing it anymore. Was too wet to lunge this morning and is likely to be for a while now - dont have rp or menage and just do it in the open feild - but when it dries up I will keep doing it briefly so she stays in the habit of being calm about it.

Having been a kid that couldnt own my own horse and having relied on the goodwill of other people I would really really like to pay it back by being generous to another youth but I have to accept that Willow is not a novice's pony. That's why I got her so cheap and I need to remember that. That and the fact that she was known locally as "pure evil". She isn't but I think she may well be a one man/woman horse. Which is fine and *maybe* Louis who is now 8 will grow into her in about 5 years. She sees him every day and doesnt mind him, though off lead rein she would never "fill in" for him.
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post #8 of 13 Old 07-02-2010, 12:49 PM
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There is only one solution for this problem border.
You need to start planning your trip to Northern California and spend a couple of weeks in the sunshine working Quarter horses.

Tell Willow that she can come too.

"The greatest strength is gentleness."
- Iroquois Proverb
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-02-2010, 01:51 PM
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I too have a mare that some call "pure evil", some say she has "potential" and I just laugh at her. She can jump a 4' course one day, do 1st level dressage the next day and the day after that she has no idea that trot even exists. In my experience with her lunging is such a good way to get her mentally and physically where I want her but I don't make it all about discipline. I taught her to lunge, to stay out on the circle and not give me any crap about it. She used to be a spinner, bolter, bucker etc and a couple of times in the training of her on the lunge line she would come in "at me" with feet flying. If you stay calm and send them back out then they get the picture pretty quickly like it seems that your mare is doing. Once I established with her what lunging correctly was I started to allow her to get her frustrations and high spirits out while on the lunge line under my control. She now rears, grunts, bucks, kicks and runs around like an idiot for 5-10 minutes when I let her. I send her out and if I tell her to "go" then she can do whatever she wishes at the end of the lunge line. She gets reprimanded for coming in too close to me or pulling to the outside. Other than that I don't care what she does and without me telling her what to do within 5 occasionally 10 minutes she is calmly trotting or loping around, head down and relaxed and licking and chewing. She is a strong personality with a lot of energy (OTTB) and she just needs to be able to explode sometimes in a controlled environment and get all that out before she can be ready to work. It's kind of like teaching a dog to bark so that you can stop it from barking all the time. If you give them a time, a place and some limits in which to "act up" then you shouldn't have problems with an uncontrollable or un-rideable horse. The problems arise when people try to contain the energy and high spirits without giving them an outlet...that's when the random explosions occur.

Just a thought and it might not work for you but that's my experience with a smart and high spirited mare. Good luck and keep us posted!
NittanyEquestrian is offline  
post #10 of 13 Old 07-14-2010, 08:22 AM Thread Starter
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It has been too wet since I last posted to try lunging again (we are in scotland and when it rains it rains . ! and the ground gets soaked) but it's drying up now so I am looking forward to trying again tomorrow. :) Thanks for all the advice. I will deffo keep you posted.
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