Can lunging create a closer bond? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 01-26-2013, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Can lunging create a closer bond?

This is based solely on my own experience. I own a 12yo OTTB - he has not raced since he was at least 5, and counting from his original owner/breeder, I am his 7th owner.

When I got him almost 4 years ago, he was polite, but not "warm and fuzzy". I could not touch his ears - period, unless I was putting on a bridle or halter. I found out, through trial and error, that I can clip his bridle path, but not his ears. I can, however, play with his ears however I want. That took time. Did not like his face rubbed, chin or neck scritched. Sometimes, would like butt scratches (talk about feeling low down - here you can scratch my butt...)

Personality wise, he is essentially lazy, will do what asked, but has a stubborn streak when asked to do something he doesn't particularly feel like doing. He is has, for lack of a better term, an oral fixation. His blanket has to stay in a box, or he will play with it in his stall until it is dead. Learned that the hard way. All the other kids have their blankets folded across the back wall of their stalls when not in use. He has been known to filch his neighbor's to play with.

He has warmed up to me on the ground, a lot. When I go to get him from the pasture (sans treats - don't want to get mugged), he either comes to meet me or stands and waits for me. I normally tack up in his stall, without him being tied. We have a "deal", as long as I am currying, brushing, etc., he can root around for leftovers. When I get ready to pick feet, he stands straight and in the center of his stall. That is not something I deliberately taught him, just worked out that way.

Under saddle, we do ok. I have an OMG what could happen sort of brain and I have to really keep it under control. He has never maliciously dumped me. The times I have come off of him, he has stayed right there, even the time the arena gate was wide open.

After I had had him for a while, I started dismounting in various parts of the ring and "asking" him to walk with me - not being led. He did and now does it very well. This came in handy in the in hand obstacle class we did one time - got a blue ribbon - LOL. He walks when I walk, he stops when I stop. Today, we walked all the way back to the barn from the arena - reins over his head - me not actively leading. He didn't stop once and try to graze.

A few weeks ago, since I can only ride on the weekends and he is a TB, my trainer taught me to lunge him in side reins. The side reins are to get him to use his back and get off his forehand. We lung without the side reins attached for most of the session, don't want to kill him. The first time we used the side reins, my trainer with me, he did fine to the left, but his stubborn streak showed up to the right. We got that worked out.

The first time I did it alone, same thing. Left good, right, stubborn, but we worked it out. Today, right good, left stubborn. I have noticed tyhat he keeps his inside ear on me at all times. Once we are through lunging, I ride.

First time I rode after the lunge session, he was so much more relaxed and listening to me instead of wondering what the others were doing in the pasture. Same thing today. Well, there was the one spook - but even his occasional spooks are now different. They used to be to the side (hate those) - now they (2) seem to be down - sucks me into the tack!

Ok, - the point of this novel is this. Not only is my horse easier to ride, but he is much more "affectionate" on the ground. He suddenly likes his head rubbed. As I said before, we walked all the way to the barn without him being led and I was the leader all the way.

So, have the lunging sessions created a closer bond between us or does he see me more firmly as his leader? Either way is good for me.
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-27-2013, 12:02 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Brandon, Manitoba Canada
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Yes I believe it does help the horse/rider bond, I free lunge all my horses.....as soon as they see me make a step back they know it means to turn directions. When I bend in to them they know they can come in to me.
I follow Clinton Anderson's Lunging for Respect and Gaining Respect and Control on the ground.....it made a huge difference in all of my horses.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-27-2013, 12:24 AM
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I think a mixture of both. It's definitely a key piece of the pie, but you need all the other slices to create a true bond.

"Strength is the ability to use a muscle without tension"
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-27-2013, 01:18 AM
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I would say first that your horse is not being "stubborn" if going one direction is harder than the other. Would it have been going to the right that was the hard direction? Remember that track Thbds race counter clockwise, so they get used to going to the left and going right can be phsically difficult. Always assume that if your horse displays displeasure about going someway, or somewhere, that first there may be a physical reason (stiffness or soreness) or an emotional one (buddy/barn sour, fear, habit). But calculated stubborness is unusual.

The fellow might have been more "affectionate" after lunging because he was just more warmed up and relaxed and had some endorphins flowing from the increased heartrate/breathing and excersize. It happens to humans too.

Your guy sounds like a really nice horse and you are lucky to have him. He's doing well by you and you by him. I see a bright future for you two.
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-27-2013, 05:30 PM
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Pretty sure he sees you as a leader and THEN it creates a closer bond. That's what happened with Dai and I
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