Free lunging and teaching 'cruise control'?
 
 

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Free lunging and teaching 'cruise control'?

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  • Teaching horse cruise control
  • Horse cruise control

 
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    07-28-2011, 05:37 AM
  #1
Foal
Free lunging and teaching 'cruise control'?

Hi guys,

I have two questions to ask of you:

Question 1:
I've been free lunging my mare, just to give her a break from riding (I free lunge once or twice a week) and work on developing some muscle and I've been teaching her a command to change directions - I use the word 'switch'. Now, when she changes direction, she turns away from me (towards the fence) and then continues in the new direction.

Is it better for her to turn towards me or away from me? If its better for her to turn towards me, how would I go about teaching her this? Put her back on a lunge line?

Question 2:
I'm helping a friend with their horse, another little Nooitgedacht mare, and before we try anything else with her, I feel that the first step is to teach her cruise control - as in, to go at the pace I dictate in a calm, rhythmic manner without trying to go faster or slow down (this mare goes the faster route).

But I'm having some troubles there. Usually I use circles and half halts if a horse starts getting too fast or moves up a gait, but these don't seem to have the desired effect with this mare. She'll either keep going at a fast pace on a circle or will slow down only to immediately speed up when I send her out 'large' (around the whole arena).

Any ideas for alternative ways? I'm not so keen on stopping her each time she goes faster as she takes this as a reward (i.e. Stopping working). Or am I simply being too impatient and if I just keep at it with the circling, she'll get better eventually?

Thanks in advance for any advice!
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    07-28-2011, 06:20 AM
  #2
Green Broke
For changing directions, I feel they are being disrespectful if they turn away from you. When she stops, does she face you? Start with that and then get her to change directions. If she turns her butt to you, get after her to go back the first direction and try again. Personally, I don't use verbal cues. I rely on my body language to communicate with them. I step in front of them or ahead of them to change direction.
As for the cruise control, as long as she stayed in the same gait, I would let her be. If she would change gaits, I would slow her until she went back to what you asked. While loping and she goes too fast, I would check up on the reins or halfhalt to slow her up. Just keep up with it and be patient. She'll get it.
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    07-28-2011, 06:50 AM
  #3
Green Broke
After thinking more about it, are you controlling where she goes while doing the cruise control? If you are, this takes away from her concentrating on her cruise control. How long do you try to keep her at the same gait? I feel the cc exercise is more about keeping the same gait than speeding or slowing of the same gait. That will get better in time.
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    07-28-2011, 07:00 AM
  #4
Foal
Yes, when I ask her to halt, she turns to face me and waits. I guess I can go from there and teach her to change directions that way. I agree that body language is very important but as my mare tends to over react to pressure and I'm sure my body language isn't perfect, I find that verbal cues help both us (me - in improving my body language and so that I don't unintentionally confuse her, and my mare in that she knows what I want and so doesn't panic).

As for the cruise control, no, I don't control where she is going (except when I ask her to circle if she speeds up). As far as I understand it, the point is that she can go where she wants but at the pace I dictate.

I'm not really happy with her choosing the pace within a gait. Her trot is fast, tense, unbalanced and hollow with a giraffe neck and head carriage and I believe that letting her carry on trotting in that manner is not productive, in fact it might even be counter-productive. I've tried riding it out with her trot, thinking it'll get better but after 20min of it, still no improvement.

Ideally, I would like her to maintain the gait at a nice relaxed but forward moving pace. She's no where near ready for collection (and won't be for some time to come) but I'd like her neck to be relaxed and soft with her head down not inverted, tense with her head in the air. I am in no way referring to 'on the bit' but just at a relaxed, natural level.

Am I expecting too much of her to want both gait and pace-within-a-gait control? I'm not worried about speeding up and slowing down within a gait just yet, but I would like that when I ask for a trot or canter, to get a relaxed, calm, working gait from her.
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    07-28-2011, 07:11 AM
  #5
Weanling
Yeah turning away isn't too good. When you go to cut her off to change direction try easing off and changing the angle a bit so your not "trapping" her between yourself and the fence but instead being in such a place at such a time so the fence pushes the horse towards you. Then you complete the turn towards you. You need to be able to anticipate what's going to happen so you can adjust your position before your horse turns away though.

For the 2nd horse, stopping will indeed work. If the horse truly saw stopping as a reward/release then it would not make any sense for the horse to ever get faster without permission, as getting faster and stopping are opposites, and horses obviously seek the reward/release.
     
    07-28-2011, 07:20 AM
  #6
Foal
Christopher, thanks for the information about getting her to turn, that makes a lot of sense and I shall definitely try it. As for the stopping thing, I definitely agree with what you're saying, this is just from my experience with the horse. If I stopped her when she was going too fast (going along the lines with, let me get her to relax, refocus and try again), she didn't seem to get any better. But when I tried to 'ride the speed out' by keeping going until she relaxed and slowed down, she seemed to link relaxing/slowing down with stopping working and started to relax/slow down much quicker. Does that make sense?

The problem was getting her to keep that relaxed pace without having to halt and reward her the whole time.
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    07-28-2011, 09:04 AM
  #7
Green Broke
Okay. A couple more things. I'm not familiar with that breed but I'm assuming that she's still green broke. Her tenseness and head high in the air is a big part of not being collected and working off her rearend. That should partly correct itself by working with her. Also, a horse with it's head up high is a horse that's alert, looking out for itself and not looking to the rider for leadership. Another thing that will change with working with her.

Yes, during cruise control she should be able to choose where she goes.

When she speeds up, do you maintain your rhythm, or do you match her? Such as if she speeds up her trot, do you post faster or keep your post of where you want her to be? It feels uncomfortable but it's also suppose to feel uncomfortable to her where she'll try to match your pace. If you speed up, that just tells her that it's ok to go that speed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by munschk    
Christopher, thanks for the information about getting her to turn, that makes a lot of sense and I shall definitely try it. As for the stopping thing, I definitely agree with what you're saying, this is just from my experience with the horse. If I stopped her when she was going too fast (going along the lines with, let me get her to relax, refocus and try again), she didn't seem to get any better. But when I tried to 'ride the speed out' by keeping going until she relaxed and slowed down, she seemed to link relaxing/slowing down with stopping working and started to relax/slow down much quicker. Does that make sense?

The problem was getting her to keep that relaxed pace without having to halt and reward her the whole time.
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That makes perfect sense and should tell you what to do. If you still want to make her circle to slow down and she stays the same pace, make the circle smaller until she slows down. If she speeds up right away when leaving the circle, put her back into a circle again.

Another thing you could try instead of just having her circle, would be stop and back up a good distance. Then immediately go back to the speed you want.

The part about having to halt and reward all the time will get less and less as she learns what she should do.
     
    07-28-2011, 09:11 AM
  #8
Foal
She's a 12 year old mare but hasn't been worked with regularly in the last 3 years and has been doing this with her rider for the last few months since being brought back into work.

No, if she speeds up, I slow my posting down until she returns to my rhythm (which can take a while but she does eventually respond). I will also half-halt and sing to her too (silly I know but its more for keeping the tense-ness out of my body which would exacerbate the problem).

She does not know how to back up yet, we are in the process of teaching her that. She backs up on command on the ground and we've just started with in the saddle backing up.

I think I'm probably just being impatient, expecting faster results than she is ready to give me. I think I must probably stick to circling, slower posting, half halts (and singing XD) even if it seems like that's all I'm doing and she will eventually begin to calm down and work in a nice relaxed pace.

But I shall definitely try the back-up method as soon as we've got it going in the saddle.
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    07-28-2011, 02:16 PM
  #9
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher    
yeah turning away isn't too good. When you go to cut her off to change direction try easing off and changing the angle a bit so your not "trapping" her between yourself and the fence but instead being in such a place at such a time so the fence pushes the horse towards you. Then you complete the turn towards you. You need to be able to anticipate what's going to happen so you can adjust your position before your horse turns away though.
Not to hijack but my horse was taught to free lunge by previous owners and they taught him to always turn away toward the rail to turn around. He's been doing this for about 9-10 years now. Should I try to train him to turn towards me? After as much as they did with him free lunge wise I think it'll really confuse him. Would the quoted method still work or should I just let him do what he's been trained to do?
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