Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: North Dakota, USA
I will have to disagree with those that say to make him spin or back up. By making him spin or back up, you have stopped asking for what you want. Essentially releasing the pressure to go forward, which is what you want. That release or change tells the horse that what it did was right, so it will continue to do it again.
OP, he hasn't forgot how to lunge. He has however, learned how to avoid it, by spinning and backing up. By trying to get closer to his hip, you are the one getting lunged. He spins not only to avoid lunging but because you are trying to get to his hip.
Let's put a different perspective on this. Instead of "making" him spin or back up, let him. Let him make the choice of going forward. When we put pressure on the horse, the horse will try different things to "get away" from the pressure. When we release the pressure, whatever the horse did last, that is what they learn is what was needed to make the pressure stop.
When you ask him to lunge, let him spin and back up but keep asking him to lunge. Keep asking until he takes a step forward. That step will actually be him moving his front end away from you by pivoting on his rear end.
When I lunge a horse, I don't try to get to its rear to make it go forward. I put pressure on its head and neck to move away. That will give you your access to the rear end to move the horse forward. I give a horse a count of three to respond when I ask it to lunge. Then I go directly towards their head. At first I may end up smacking their neck or the side of their jaw before they turn away. The instant they turn away, I quit asking. When they get more consistent about turning away when I first ask, then I start to ask for more forward movement.
I have had to work with different horses that did the same as your horse. Some were quicker to respond than others but they all figured it out. Just remain calm, be patient and be consistent.
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