Lunging Canter

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Lunging Canter

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  • Horse doesn't like to trot or run
  • Horse holds head high at trot and canter on lunge

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    07-07-2008, 09:57 PM
Lunging Canter

I have a question about lunging: My horse wil not canter on the lunge without a problem. He refuses and throws his head and gets all strung out. When he does canter, he almost always picks up the wrong lead. He's great free lunging, but the arena's too big for me to free lunge him properly. I have no access to a round pen as of now, so I don't know what to do. Any tips would appreciated!
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    07-07-2008, 10:07 PM
Green Broke
Omg chance use to do this up till well today lol

But before I start my story lol I just want to say the reason could be because it hurts to canter, if you havent already Id say maybe a vet check??

Heres my story hope it helps

Chance use to throw her head buck and twist and always refuse to canter but today I brought out the lunge whip no I did not hit her or anything but I did raise it up and bring it down fast when I smootched and said canter yes I got pulling and head throwing but I made her keep going and once she stoped and reared I just rose it up a little and slaped it a few times in the ground [doest have a flash] and she's like o crap okay and evertually I could just put down the whip and just smootch and she moved right off of my cue. I guess you just have to work threw it. Theres going to be a lot of pulling. She wants scared or anything she just knew I had control of her. So now she moves off of my cues without a whip what so ever. With out to much pulling.

Also make sure your horse has enough room to canter like enough line, I noticed if chance didnt have enough room she wouldnt canter because my guess it was tough on her joint and difficult for her.

I hope my situation helped you out at least a little other people will probably give you much better advice then me lol.
    07-08-2008, 08:18 AM
I agree to make sure you are allowing enough line to make a big enough circle and to not be sending conflicting signals. It's easy to be trying to drive them forward and attempting to keep them in the circle at the same time and actually be pulling them back into a trot (my husband does this )

If you find you aren't sending conflicting signals..if your horse is lazyish, try tossing dirt clods if you can't reach him to tap him with a whip (tap, not beat).

And lastly, I've had a couple that would finally canter for me, but try to take off and rip the line right out of my hand. I put them in side reins for a few sessions (on a loose setting, with the inside rein slightly shorter). Not saying that's a great way to do all of them, but it kept then from worrying about ripping that line out of my hand, and I only did it a few times. It worked, and they softened up to the bit a lot better after that. It won't work for all horses-for many that could just be more confusing (mine also had experience in side reins at a walk/trot already).

This is why round pens are great if you can afford them! LOL
    07-08-2008, 03:16 PM
I might catch hell for this... but...

I always lunge in side reins. Every time.

Before anyone flogs me, let me explain why...

The purpose of lunging is not to have your horse run in circles. It is to get them to a)get some energy out and get the horse to focus before the rider gets on, or b) work the horse.

The best way to focus a horse is to get his mind on working, and make him use himself correctly.
The side reins act as something for the horse to push into, giving them some support (not something to lay on). Make sure you have sufficient push from behind with your whip. In return, it encourages the horse to use their back correctly and carry themselves in such a way that the correct muscles are developed.

A horse without side reins, particularly in the situation you are describing, is most likely leaning to the inside, has an outside bend, their head is high, and is rushing. In NO WAY is this beneficial to the horse, nor is it helping to develope any kind of good habits.

With or without side reins (whatever you choose to do), some good exercises to do on the lunge line...

Walk/trot/walk transitions every circle, then every half circle if you really need to get your horse to focus.

Spiral in and out, making sure not to spiral in too tight, and not to hold the smaller circle for more than a circle. (When the horse speeds/slows its tempo it means the circle is as small as it should go and it's time to spiral back out).

Once you've established a good push, rhythm, and focus, go to trot/canter/trot transitions. If the horse gets sloppy, you can handle it one of two ways:

Push the horse forward on an oversized circle and see if they settle and work through it.
Bring him back to trot and regroup, establish a relaxed even tempo, and ask for the canter again.

My horse is 14, and still gets silly at times at the canter. He does exactly what you were describing, so for us what works is the trot/canter/trot transitions until he settles. Plus the side reins.

Good luck :)
    07-09-2008, 03:27 PM
No flogging here for suggesting side reins. LOL That said I would suggest getting someone to show you how to put them on and adjust them if you've never used them before.

I would first rule out any pain issues. Does the horse canter under saddle with out a fuss and on the correct lead? You also haven't indicated if this is a young horse or an older one that's being a goof.

Often on a line they seem to think, hey I'm far enough away from them that I don't really need to listen. :) I don't use a whip when I lunge, but that's because both of my guy's are brainwashed. LOL

When they were first taught to lunge I did use a whip as an extension of my arm, and that may work well for you. As they got better I would take the whip into the ring with me and drop it on the ground by me feet. If they were good that's where it stayed if they were goof balls I would bend to pick it up. It took about twice for them to figure it out. Now all I do is bend over and "pretend" I'm going for the invisible whip.

The other thing I'm real big on is verbal commands. WTC of course, but you can teach them to change direction, I use the word other and to change leads while not breaking the canter. What I do if they pick up the wrong lead to take a strong step forward, a stomp if you will, and as my foot hits the ground a firmly say "change". My oldest is 16 and he didn't learn the "other" or "change" command until he was about 12 or so, so it's never too late to teach them something.

I see in your avatar that you ride western? I often tack them up leave the halter on and run the line through the stirrup, poor man's side reins.
    07-09-2008, 03:31 PM
Side reins really aren't an option for me. I don't have the money to buy a headstall, bit, surcingle, and side reins.

I know he's not hurting because he will canter, just not easily on the lunge line. I guess I made it sound like he acts up when I try to get him to canter. He doesn't act up or rear or anything, he just gets strung out. He trots faster, but doesn't really canter. I have a lunge whip, but he doesn't seem to mind it.

I'm not sure if I'm using the lunge whip right. I pop it on the ground and in the air as well as I can. I'll take a video of me lunging in a couple of months when I can get out to work with him. I'm also not sure if he's lunging properly. I'm not sure if he has enough room to canter. I don't have another lunge line, but it seems long enough.

Okay, only two more things. How can I get him to pick up the right lead once he does canter?

Last thing: How can I get him to relax when I lunge him? He really doesn't relax past a walk. Should I just go slowly or what?
    07-09-2008, 05:57 PM
I would really suggest you get someone experienced to help you lunge him for a few times. If you posted a video, then I'm sure we could give you some pointers. I'm sure most of us who lunge regularly have worked out our own system with our horse's.

You still haven't said if this is a young horse, a new to you horse or has it ever been lunged before.
    07-09-2008, 10:44 PM
Here's what I do to teach my horse. You just let her canter.. Whether it be with problems or not, like throwing head or what not. After a while they'll stop. But picking up the wrong lead, yell "WRONG" and take them down to the trot. Then ask them to pick up the canter again and eventually they will begin to pick up the right lead.
    07-11-2008, 02:55 PM
Sorry! I totally forgot to tell y'all his age! He's about 16-18. He hasn't been lunged that much because at my barn, they don't really lunge. I like to lunge and I think it's great for horses, but there are a lot of older horses at my barn and they never really have a need to be lunged. The place where I work is also a Girl Scout camp, so everyone's a volunteer. Not every one knows what they're doing.

Harlee, I would do that, but the thing is he won't canter. He doesn't like to canter on the line. Are there horses like that?

I'll tell y'all Spider's story. He can't take a lot of weight on his back because he's been through a lot. He raced when he was young, then when he was being shipped to a new owner, he fell through the trailer. There are scars on his legs to prove it. He also fell off a bridge once, which I think threw his back off. Anyways, I can ride him fine, but he can't take over 150lbs. One day, they were in a push for horses, so they put a bigger lady on Spider. He's already a pretty high-strung horse at times and there were a lot of people around him. Anyway, he reared and flipped over on the lady. While the camp is sorting out the issue, he can't be ridden. So we're lunging him, but not everyone knows how to lunge.

Well, that's his story. He goes fine under saddle, I just don't know what to do. Once school starts up, I'll take a vid of me lunging and restart this topic!
    07-11-2008, 10:01 PM
I would safetly say there is some kind of issue then. :-/ Also if your circle isnt big enough (at least 20meters) it would mor elikely show up.

If under saddle he can't take the weight of a heavy rider, it's because he is sore/injured somewhere, which would make sense as to why he doesn't want to canter on the lunge.

Personally, if he's 16-18yrs old and had such a tough time of it, I'd spend the time grooming/hand grazing/loving him up a bit and forget the lunging. If it's causing him pain or is hard for him for some reason it's just kind of sad to put him through at this point.

However, if you are still hoping to lunge him successfully, working him at the trot on the lunge line and avoiding the canter for now is still beneficial. The trot is the best gate to condition a horse and keep him fit.
Until you can get a professional to help/ evaluate the problem for you, I'd stick to that.


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