Groundwork question (free lunging) - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 01:28 AM Thread Starter
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Groundwork question (free lunging)

I have been working with Koby a lot more lately since we have moved barns and I am able to go out to see him more. Right now on a typical day, I start off by doing groundwork for about a half an hour after I groom him. I start off by free lunging him. I feel this works best for getting his legs stretched out and muscles warmed up (plus he really loves it). He responds well to my cues when I free lunge, except it takes a few tries for him to turn into me. His first response is to turn away from me his butt facing me. He never kicks out but I don't like him turning away from me like that. I would love it if he turned towards me. That is what I am working on the most during groundwork. I start off by sending him forward using a carrot stick or lunge whip while I point and focus my attention on his hind end. After he makes a couple circles around the arena, I move towards his shoulder, bend over slightly and gesture for him to turn towards me while backing up like I am pulling him towards me. (If any of you watch Clinton Anderson, he does this.) Koby usually looks at me like I'm nuts and turns away from me. I cut him off and try again. I move towards his shoulder and "pull him in". After a few times he gets the message and comes towards me. After he does this I point to the direction I want him to go and send him that way. I guess my question for you all is, am I doing this right? I feel like sometimes I am just winging it but I don't want to confuse Koby further. He really just wants to be a good boy :) If anyone has any tips to get him to turn towards me that would be great! I also need to learn more groundwork exercises to disengage his hindquarters. Tips would be welcome! Thank you!

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post #2 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 02:03 AM
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Please don't free lunge as groundwork. Lunge with a rope, it gives you more control and teaches the horse respect for your commands. If you free lunge, the horse can flip around and run all over. With a rope, you can teach them with pressure and pointing. It gives you more respect for you from your horse. Make sure you have a lunge whip you can use to correct his movements without endangering you. Make sure you stay by the hip, so the horse isn't encouraged to turn around. The horse should be trained to go foward when you move toward its hip and stop and face you when you say whoa. To teach them to stop correctly, use a ROPE and when you say whoa, pull the rope toward you, so they are facing you and stopped. If you do it enough times, they will eventually stop, turn, and look at you when you say whoa

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post #3 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 04:00 AM
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I will disagree. Free lunging is fine to do as groundwork.

Kayla, when he does turn in towards you, turn around and face away from him for a few seconds. This removes all pressure to him. When he gets more consistent about turning in, you can stop turning away and concentrate on sending him the other direction.

When changing directions and he does turn away, get after him to go back the original direction and try again. Like getting him to turn in to stop, you'll step to the side to get in front of his driveline. You should have already switched hands with your stick or whip. Point the other direction and create pressure for him to move with the stick/whip. When he does turn in to change direction, relax your body and do not push him forward. Just let him go, until he starts to understand the concept. Then you can work on consistency.
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post #4 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 04:31 AM Thread Starter
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I free lunge and also lunge with a rope. I think way too many respectful trainers free lunge to say it isn't good groundwork. I have also experienced great success with it so I will continue to do it. Thanks to both of you! :)
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post #5 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 06:26 PM
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You can free lunge, but you will not get as much respect free lunging.
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post #6 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 06:57 PM
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^^Disagree thoroughly with the above, but it depends what you mean by 'respect' and also what you're asking for v's what you've taught the horse.

Kayla, I will tell you how I go about it. Firstly, I do (tend to, not always) start with a rope attached & teach the horse to yield to direct(actual pressure) & indirect(implied, waved whip, bodylanguage, etc) pressure in all directions relatively close up, before doing it at greater distances until it's 'lunging', then I make sure that's pretty solid before I 'test' it with 'free lunging'.

So... If I direct pressure towards the horse's shoulder/neck/head, he will turn away from me. Pressure towards his rump, he will move his rump away, so turn towards me. Waving my arm/stick out behind the horse(&/or pointing to where I want the horse to go) tells him to go forward. Using a motion as if he's got a rope attached & I'm drawing his head toward me tells him to come to me(I first teach him this with a rope attached & actual draw). Using a drawing motion along with pressure out behind(well, it's more beside if they're facing you) gets the horse running to you.

And as usandpets says, removing ALL pressure the instant the horse does 'Right' is an important part of teaching him what Right is. But start out accepting whatever the horse can give you, wherever he's up to in training. Eg. accept/reinforce the 'tries'.
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Last edited by loosie; 11-23-2012 at 07:01 PM.
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 09:52 PM
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I free lunge to build trust. Kayla, when you want him to come in to you he may think this is a good way to get out of lunging. I like the horse to stop and stand until requested to do something else. To draw him in I drop the whip, slouch my shoulders a bit, and back up all at the came time. I will also turn my body so my shoulders appear smaller. By turning the shoulders the horse thinks your interest has gone elsewhere, like a predator turning away.Horses are inclined to follow what is leaving. If your signals are too strong he will turn his head away and present his rump. As he's moving around the pen just back away three or four steps and see what he does. Just be open minded and play around with it. Keep your energy low and try to keep his low to keep him thinking. The faster he goes he begins to become more reactionary.

Last edited by Saddlebag; 11-23-2012 at 09:56 PM.
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post #8 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 10:35 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for all the helpful advice! I do think I need to just play around with it more and figure out a way that really draws him in towards me. I think the signals I was giving were too strong. I think I am going out to the barn tomorrow so I will try a few things and let you all know how it goes! Now another bad habit he has is that when he is in his stall and I go to put his halter on him, he will turn so that his butt is facing me. I feel like when we are both in an enclosed space like a stall, it is too dangerous to do a whole lot. After a few seconds he turns back around and lets me halter him. What should I do when he turns his butt towards me? I feel like he is showing disrespect when he does this and I just don't like the thought of his big old booty in my face lol. He has never kicked at me before but I don't want to risk it. Any safe suggestions are welcome!! Thanks!
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post #9 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 11:10 PM
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subbing, great ideas everyone.

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post #10 of 17 Old 11-23-2012, 11:48 PM
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I don't agree with not getting respect by free lunging. I free lunge all my horses and then also online. My mare will start to turn as soon as she sees me step back, she has learnt that is the signal to turn and change directions and never gives me her butt. She has a 3yr. gelding who is also free lunged and he turns in 99% of the time but at first he will try to see if he has to listen or not.
I also follow Clinton Anderson's methods and I have very respectful horses, when I walk out into the pasture they all know I am the alpha. Check out on Youtube for his vids, there are alot of vids up there that would probably help you out......

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