Lunging Help

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Lunging Help

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  • Horse behavior clinging nipping

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    10-04-2009, 11:12 PM
Lunging Help

I tried to do a simple lunging excercise with my new horse today. He seems to have a problem getting way to excited with it though. I don't have a round pen yet so I was doing this in the middle of a pasture with plenty of room and a long lung line. As soon as I get him moving around me in a circle he starts trotting immediately and can't seem to calm down enough to walk. I can get him to stop and I can get him moving again at a trot but I can't seem to calm him down and just walk for more than about 3 seconds withouth either stopping or freaking out and trotting. He kind of gets this wild, nervous look in his eyes and tosses his head a lot so I have a feeling his previous owner (who seemed to be very dominant aggressive male type person) liked to really make him run and get all riled up. Anyways, blah blah does anyone have any lunging tips on how I can get him to calm down and lung a little less stressfully.

I'll try it again tomorrow and get my boyfriend to video tape me. Maybe that will help explain what I'm talking about.
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    10-04-2009, 11:33 PM
Lots of horses arn't trained to walk on the lunge line, just trot and canter, so he maybe getting a bit confused. Are you using a whip? Try without that, otherwise I can't really help sorry
    10-04-2009, 11:43 PM
I was using a whip today but I was already thinking about trying it without it tomorrow. Good idea. Thanks :)
    10-05-2009, 01:49 AM
Super Moderator
My mare couldn't stand being lunged with a whip for the longest time so it could definitely be the whip. However, even without the whip it has taken her literally the last year to get to a place where she'll usually walk when I tell her "easy....eeeeaasy.....easy....walk" (the "easy's" are to prepare her for the walk command, she won't walk unless I tell her easy before I tell her to walk). Now I can lunge her with a whip but that's only becuase I've spent the last year without one. Haha Also try lunging him in a smaller circle. My girl has a hard time keeping a walk the farther I let her be away from me so I generally kept her out of kicking range but really close when I was first getting her walk on the line. I'd only have her walk a few steps then ask her to trot right before I could tell she was going to trot (I've been told that Lacey and I have a connection that most don't so it may be harder for you to tell but he'll probably start speeding up his walk or something, when he does tell him to trot and push him into it if he needs it).

She came out of a situation very similar to your boy and it's just taken a year of calm consistent treatment to get her to realize that I am never ever going to be irrational with her. Some people may feel I'm anthropomorphizing but I really feel that she knows that I won't come after her or scare her in any way, unless she breaks a rule. I basically laid down rules with her like: no eating when I'm holding the lead rope, no nipping/nudging, no barging, stopping when I tell her to, no running me over, basically just stuff like that. She knows that I'll give her fair warning, I always make an "eeeehhhh!" sound right before she does the wrong thing that I'm about to come after her (with her it's enough to smack her gently in the neck, she just crumples) for and she usually fixes her behavior right as or right before I even have to make the noise.

He'll figure out that you're gentle and worth his trust if you show him that you're gentle and worth his trust. It may take a year like it's taken with my girl but it's totally totally worth it when you go somewhere "scary" and your horse is clinging close to you, sniffing your hand when things get extra scary and sighing because she knows that you've got it covered. Believe me, it'll make you feel like so much more of a human, there's really no way to accurately describe the feeling but it's amazing.

Sorry that this is so off topic but it might give you some hope. =)
    10-05-2009, 02:45 PM
That gives me so much hope! He is such a sweet boy and tries so hard to learn. I think he has just had some not so fun experiences in his past and has never really had someone take some time out to bond with him and be his friend. But hopefully that just means that once we get to that point our bond will be really strong. I'm fine with putting lots of work and being patient because I think it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
Anyways, as long as the weather holds up I'm going to try lunging again today and see if I can get the so not interested boyfriend to tape me. He thinks i'm a horse dork. Lol.
    10-05-2009, 09:58 PM
Well he lunged beautifully today without the whip but the riding afterwards was not so good. He kept throwing his head around and didn't want to do anything. I thought maybe something was pinching him but I checked everything, took it off and back on and nothing helped. He even did it when I sat on him without a saddle (probably stupid, but I wanted to see if it was the saddle that was hurting him). I guess I just have to be a little more firm tomorrow.
    10-06-2009, 12:17 AM
Super Moderator
I'm glad I was able to give you hope! I truly understand how hard it is to bring a "misused" horse back from the brink (or in Lacey's case, euthanasia)

Lacey actually did a similar thing when I first got her and I tried riding her. She would buck and rear and basically do everything to try and scare me. She never bucked hard enough or reared high enough to get me off, that wasn't her intention, she was just saying "HEY!!! I'm really scared of what you're going to ask me to do! Please don't scare me more!" I actually had to give up on riding her for a few months and I just worked with her on the ground. We did lots of lunging and leading exercises and basically just got to know each other. Once she figured out that I'm benevolent on the ground she realized that I'm benevolent on her back too. When she'd act up I'd just sit on her, not asking her to do anything except walk calmly. I wouldn't engage the reins, I wouldn't touch her sides, I'd just sit there (grabbing mane most of the time because I felt insecure, lol) and she figured out that nothing she did could cause me to punish her or get off. Now I can hop on bareback in a halter and she's good to go, she likes to have "discussions" still but she knows that I wouldn't ask her to do something she couldn't handle (which as it turns out, is what she's the most afraid of).

I found out this last summer that her previous owners "trained" her using a sort of ask then strongly demand (demand using way more force than is ever necessary) strategy, even though they knew she had never been taught the things they were asking for. Some horses just shut down with that sort of thing but Lacey, and your boy it seems, learned to fight. She still fights sometimes, that has been in no way removed from her personality, but she fights more softly. She picks her battles instead of turning everything into a big fiasco. More importantly, I've learned how to deal with it. I keep breathing, keep my energy low, I sigh a lot (I've found that Lacey loves it when I sigh, she'll generally sigh right after or soon after I do, releasing the built up tension), and I just calmly ask her to do things I know she can do, like going in a circle. If I start fighting her back, kicking her or smacking her neck, that just brings me down to her level and makes the whole situation worse because "OMG! Mom is getting mad! There must really be something dangerous going on here!"

He'll come around, no worries. =)

What kind of bit are you using on him? If he's not in a single or double jointed snaffle already, I'd suggest putting him in one, atleast for the time being. Good for you for checking his saddle fit! That was a big issue for Lacey too. She is hard to fit with high wide withers and a wide shortish back, not exactly your usual combination. I had been riding her english but I switched to western for the summer and guess what? The english saddles don't even remotely fit her anymore, they were actually hindering her muscle growth before and I just thought that they didn't fit perfectly. O.o

lunging, training horse

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