I understand what you are saying but his general leading is perfect, this is because when I first got him I did lots of leading work with him and led him everywhere. He follows/walks beside me with his head low. I can get him to back up, circle, halt, side step, ect.
I kind of figured you would say that! I can't tell you how many times I have heard that and went on to show the person how thier horse didn't lead as well as they thought. Of course, I can't do that with you because you live on the other side of the planet but if you work on the things I suggested then you will have less problems with lunging.
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.
Thank-you, but when he was unrideable, due to training problems. I took him back to walking on a lead. I do not let him disrespect me, he use to walk on top of me, now he keeps his head low and is calm and relaxed. He follows nicely, even through scary obsticals. As you said before you cannot show me how bad you may think he is leading, nor have you seen his leading. I have worked with many instructors/trainers with him and they have watched me walk him and he is good and well mannered at it. I know his lunging issues are dis-respect and at the moment I do announce defeat. But once I get a smaller area where he cannot go la la la-ing off we can start again on lunging. Please remember I work this horse every day I know what he is capable and is not capable of.
I just read your post seahorseys and first off great post! I usally do 10-15 minutes of ground work backing up, ect with him. I think the result is that he is not understanding what I want and his in such a large area that he just goes off getting hurt. I know my lunging skills are correct and once I get my yards I'm going to try lunging him in them, if that doesn't work we're off to a trip to pony club and burning enegy in the round pen and if that doesn't work then the lunging is handed over to my instructor with the words "Knock yourself out". That is when I will admit to total defeat. I do not want to fight with him, as I know it will result in him loosing trust in me and me getting hurt. Fighting him will only take us backwards.
Just thought I'd give you all an update. I brought a lunging cavesson and a longer lunge rope, so when he does act up I can just give rope instead of having to straight up let go. So the improvements weren't mager, but we did happen to walk some circles! But I do have a question, how tight should it be across the nose? I think what I've got his set to might be to loose, its the tightest it can go -- Its full sized like everything else.
When I lunged him, I walked alot trying to get him to get the idea of going around me and it really helped, I swung the rope instead of using a whip and that seemed to help to. So I will have to get some pictures tomorrow, but thankyou all for the advice.
It's supposed to be snug around the nose and the jowl strap as well. I always take both hands and wiggle the nose band to see how much it moves. It shouldn't move very much at all, (no fingers fit in between) You might need to make some holes or have it adjusted by a saddlery, that's what I had to do with mine. The nose band is also quite a bit higher up on the head than a headcollar's noseband. Glad to hear you are making some progress. Just keep in mind that a horse should earn his rope and you should be the one making the circle whatever size it is, smaller or bigger. It's hard for me to be mindful of as well at times.
I know you said you know how to lunge, but are you focusing all of your energy at his rump?
My horse was totally green when I got her, and lunging was an issue at first. My horse has always been totally bombproof, and that was a big issue when teaching her to lunge, she just didn't GET it. When she got it, she got aggressive/would turn in, buck, leap around, etc.
Everytime she was naughty I'd make her stop, and start again, pretty much rewarding her when she did it by stopping her. It was a big fight and a big mistake on my part. I was very discouraged and kind of afraid of her... something that has never happened with any other horse. I've started and worked with many horses in my life, and I've never been afraid of any of them, until my own horse... how dumb is that?
One day I got fed up and sick of her being an idiot. I changed everything, like deep down I knew I should, and things have been different ever since. I ended up giving her one swift crack with the lunge whip, got her moving, and KEPT her moving even through her naughtiness. I keep my shoulders square with her hindquarters and I'm always walking towards her to drive her forward. When she gets naughty I move her out faster, ignoring the bad behavior and rewarding her when she listens. I let her race around all angry, and ask her to work at that speed until she's clearly done thinking that its fun to be an idiot. I push her at that speed past the point where she thinks its fun for maybe two-three rotations and THEN I ask her to come down. It reinforces that sure, if she wants to race around like a moron and thinks its funny, fine, but I'm in control of her feet in the end, and she WILL respect my wishes. Let me tell you, it took three or four sessions of that very thing for her to realize that being a moron isn't beneficial for her and it means work. Rewarding the changes of pace when I asked for them and she complied really helped too, now I can transition, extend, shorten, whatever I want and she does it.
You need to be confident in your abilities to take this approach, and I definitely wouldn't do it unless you've got an enclosed space to use. My horse did pull the line out of my hands in the beginning a few times, and she'd race around (again, like a moron) until she felt like stopping. If we were out in the open, she'd probably be in canada by now. If you don't think this is something you can handle, absolutely have your trainer there to assist or do. It is hard work on both the human and the horse, and if you are at all uncomfortable with the idea of working through it, leave it to the professionals.
Chinga, here are a few articles that I think will help, at least in terms of education. In practice, regardless of whether you know how to lunge or not, I think you need some help here.
These articles are long, but very informative (the whole website it! Check it out when you have some free time!) and well worth the read!!!
Hey Maddie :)
Chinga sounds exactly like what Ricky used to do. Although I may not seem as smart as other posters, this is what I did to correct the problem.
I do lunge in a halter and Ricky used to turn in and stop. The key thing I did would be chase him back out instantly and I would make him keep going until I felt like letting him stop. The important thing I did though was chase him out as soon as he turned in.
Ricky used to rear, buck, pig root, crow hop, everything on the lunge but as long as he was moving forward I didn't care. Remember to give clear consistent signals too so he understands.
Ie, if you want him to trot say 'Troooooot on' in a high voice and stick with it.
Your body language also plays a big part in lunging. You want him to go faster? Puff yourself out, be aggressive, lift the whip a bit higher :)
Its up to you how you deal with it, but that's just what I did.