Teen Forum Moderator
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: South East Texas
I personally believe that its NEVER too early to start with the basics of lunging, and beginning with this age will probably be a very good thing for him, because it will teach him discipline, improve his muscular tone, and help when you begin teaching him to be ridden(that is, if he's for the purpose of riding, and isnt too small.) because he'll already know the basics.
One of the most common problems that I've seen with young horses- especially ones that have been taught to walk on a lead line from an early age(that is in no way a bad thing), is that they don't understand the cue 'move away.' When you try to get them to move around you- they'll simply spin in place to keep you at their left shoulder- as they've been taught. This takes a bit of retraining, and its crucial to NEVER let you frustration show when teaching him that its ok to step away from you.
I have a miniature horse filly who now sucessfully walks, trots, and canters at my signal- and it took about...2 1/2 months? For her to get to this point- so it can be rather slow going, but you will get there. My method isnt exactly the same as everyone elses, but it ends up with a well trained animal. Theres always the method of forcing them away from you until they learn- too. =]
The first step is to teach him to 'move away.' To teach him this, find a word that works for you that means for him to step away from you(this is a handy trick for other things to, like show classes.) I use the term 'move out' but anything will work. Press against his chest or shoulder(or both!) firmly while saying 'move out.' once he takes a step or two away- praise him. Within a few days you should be able to tell him to 'move out' and he will move away from you. At this point you should also be able to walk around him without him feeling the need to spin. Now you can actually begin trying to lunge.
The best way is if you have another experienced person helping you, because he wont understand what he's supposed to do at first. I'm assuming you have a lunge line/whip since you lunge your mare, but if not- you can always use another rope. Its best to start in a round pen, also. Start with simply using a lead line-and have your friend take your colts halter and begin leading him a circle around you- with you standing firmly in place. Talk to him as he circles so that you stay his center of attention. Have him make a few circles, then stop. Go over to him and praise him. Do this a few times so he understands the route he needs to take.
After a few days of this, introduce the whip. Snap it behind him and have your friend move him forwards if he doesnt move on his own. Hopefully he WILL move on his own, however. By now your friend should be able to let go of his halter and he will move in a circle still. If not, keep practicing the step before this one.
Once he is moving in a circle (dont worry about his pace) for you by himself, your friend can move away. If he stops, snap the whip behind him again to get him moving. After about a week of this- you can start working on gaits. Whenever he is walking, call 'walk'- and trotting, call 'trot' to familiarize him with the words even when you're just leading him around. Then begin reinforcing your words with the cues. Have him move out and begin circling you on a lunge line- and after he picks a pace, snap your whip behind him and call for him to step the gait up. If he's walking, say 'trot!', or if he trots, ask him to 'canter!'. Continue to snap and call this word until he moves up his pace, then praise him. Have him make one or two circles, then ask him to 'woah'. If he doesnt already know to stop, point your whip in front of him. He should stop.
Continue working on this in both directions. Counter clockwise and clockwise. Eventually he should 'move out', 'woah', 'walk', 'trot', and 'canter' at your request. Those are the basics of lunging. Later you can introduce faster and slower variations of each pace, direction changes, and sliding stops- which I'm working on with my filly right now. But for now, that's about all he needs to know. Hope I helped atleast a bit, but remember that if you don't like my method- you can alway go for someone elses =] I opt for the gentler onces that let the horse figure his own way through instead of forcing them to, but that's not something everyone agrees with.
Happy lunging! If you have a question, feel free to ask me.