Sorry, this is long, but I just went through an experience like this myself. When I was having issues with my horse on the lunge, my trainer did take me straight back to leading, disengaging the hindquarters, backing up etc. etc. It was deflating at the time because I felt like we had taken a step back. However, in hindsight, it not only re-established my position as leader but it also helped her focus so much more. It seems really strange to fix a problem working on something else entirely, (i.e you think you would correct a lungeing problem by doing more lungeing...) but in my experience so far that hasn't always been the case. I mean, on the bright side, it shows your horse is pretty sharp. He's learned that he can use his size, speed, and strength as an advantage, and in addition, he's learned that you are at a disadvantage in putting pressure on him being that you are further away. Because we are no match for the horse in any of the areas I just mentioned, we have to use different tactics, we have to make him think that using those things are pretty uncomfortable versus the alternative. I think the best tactics are achieving submission, asking lots of questions while lungeing, and focusing on getting your horse to take responsibility for his end of the rope. Your horse sounds switched off, on the longe, to him you don't exist. He spends his time being reactive versus responsive.
My horse did this for the first few weeks we began working at a new barn, in the indoor for the first time. She's normally an under-reactive type of horse, but I found that on the lunge she became over-reactive. Speeding, dragging me, bucking, facing me. After spending a week very frustrated, (I felt I had done the wrong thing in moving her, I was wondering who stole my horse and replaced her with this demon?) I met with my trainer. This is what worked for me:
First, She cut the ring in half using just ground poles. (I see you have lots of barrels and stuff in that yard. Even if it's a primarily visual barrier, you may want to try to create a smaller, marked off area in that yard using ground poles and barrels. This is your work place. In it, you are God, you say what you mean, and mean what you say, lol) She had me untack Frida, and we used a lungeing caveson and brushing boots. (If you have never tried one, I would invest in a used, well-fitted leather caveson, or even a rope halter. As the other posters have said, a headcollar is unclear and nagging. It can interfere with the eyes and gives unclear pressure distribution. On the other hand, I would advise against lungeing connected to a bit, as this can be too much pressure, and if you are anything like me, you end up worrying about being too harsh on the mouth, and thus are confusing and unclear because you yourself are unfocused. I love love love my lunge cavesson, and a good one is hard to find.
We spent a good 15 minutes asking Frida to back up, yield her hindquarters, and stop and process this. Not bossing her around perse, but getting her to be aware of all four feet, and getting her used to the idea that it was me in charge of where she was moving them. During this time I started noticing alot of sighing, licking and chewing. After a bit of that, we decided it was time to try the circle. I used just a long light lunge rope, stood in front of her, pointed with one hand in the direction I wanted her to go, and spun my spare rope in the other hand at her shoulder. She yielded her shoulder and moved off. Because I didn't have a whip, which I customarily do, she became a bit sluggish, so I sent a wave down the rope that bumped her shoulder and got an over-reaction. I dealt with that for about 3 circles, then my trainer had me shorten the rope to half its length with the my lead hand, and take the excess and begin spinning it at the hindquarter while turning her head in a bit. Basically I was asking her to yield her hindquarter and stand in her own space. She tried to avoid it by speeding up, then tried again to avoid it by changing direction. I just countered her reaction by changing hands and spinning the rope again, pushing her hip. It can get alot worse at this point because they will be trying to figure out where the right place is, testing the boundaries, etc. I think that's fine, in the beginning, and it's the horse's right to do so. If we worry about punishing them during that time, it makes finding that place more difficult. The discomfort you create by maintaining the pressure is cue enough that he still needs to figure out what you want. Eventually she stood in her own space, and I immediately released the pressure, let her have a lick and chew, and sent her off again, and just repeated and repeated it. Circles are boring for the horse, you try running around in a circle 50 times and see if you don't switch off. It's only productive if they are responsive enough to expect that you are going to ask something, and that you are worthy enough candidate for them to answer.
Phew, good luck. I've gotten really good results with this, on my horse. I also find that I don't have to be the one out of breath at the end of our sessions, and that I don't have to keep nagging her to keep the pace, or to slow down. After so many cluck clucks and kiss kisses I start to feel like I'm giving a mating call, plus my throat gets dry, lol.
Last edited by Seahorseys; 02-12-2010 at 06:47 PM.