Lunging Problems - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 02:32 AM Thread Starter
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Location: Pennsylvania
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Lunging Problems

I own an 8 year old, off-the-track TB gelding, Prince, who I've had for about a year and a half now. He's very willing to learn and intelligent, but he doesn't always understand what he's supposed to do. I'm sure some of this is my fault, considering I'm no professional and I'm learning everyday too! I know that a big step to establishing a partnership with your horse is bonding and trust, and that lunging can help with that. However, Prince doesn't seem to lunge. I don't belive he was taught to lunge, and my attempts to try and teach him have failed. He isn't necessarily afraid of the whip, more or less he understands it means to move. So naturally, he turns in to face me and we look silly while I try to get behind his shoulder and we run in circles. He's decided that if he turns to face me, I can't make him move with the whip. I'm not sure how to fix this. Also, on the rare occasion he does decide to move off in a circle, he pulls on the lead and/or cuts in close (this "cooperation" of sorts is a rare thing, mind you). Anyways, any and all help would be very much appreciated! Thank you for your time!

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post #2 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 02:59 AM
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I don't think that lunging particularly helps your horse bond with or trust you, except in that any good, clear training should help all that, by getting you & your horse more understanding & responsive to eachother.

If your horse doesn't know how to lunge, then I wouldn't start trying yet. The way I use/teach lunging is as advancing basic yielding, to test/establish them responding to my requests at a distance. Therefore I ensure they first know how to yield softly to pressure up close, then just gradually increase the distance.

My method of teaching yielding is to apply pressure to whatever part of the horse's body to get him to move that bit away. Eg. if I directed pressure towards my horse's rump, then I'd expect exactly what it sounds like you're getting - the horse moves HQ away so it's facing me(keep going with this & it can look like your horse is lunging you around him!). To get the horse to turn away from me, I direct pressure towards his neck/shoulder. Forward or backward is taught with pressure out behind or in front of the horse.

I start teaching yielding with direct, fingertip pressure, but I also teach them to respond to implied pressure - eg. waving whip/rope, pointing finger, etc.
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post #3 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 03:03 AM
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^^ What loosie said.

And I accompany the close-up yielding training with vocal cues like "back", "and-walking" and "whoa" to make things a bit easier when working either from a distance or on their backs.
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post #4 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 10:03 AM
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Got to agree with Loosie completely - that being said I'm going to assume you have taught him to yield - considering he keeps yielding from you and not just going out. It's funny you mention this today as I just moved to that step with my horse yesterday! My horse fully understands yielding every part of her body in both directions from my body language alone - no pressure is needed any more. So I know these skills are solid. So now I move on to lunging - I'm using this as a way to reinforce verbal cues for upward and downward transitions as I don't have a round pen - I don't see any other reason for lunging and would never lunge a horse to get them 'tired' or to try to bond with one - it simply doesn't work that way. I could go on about that if you want just ask, but I'm going to explain how I got my mare to lunge so that you can try.
I started using a lunge whip with the rubbery butt end pointed toward the horse. You make a triangle between the horse's nose - you - the horse's hind end with the butt end of the stick. Your body and line of sight should be in line with the horse's girth area. To get the horse to move forward use your verbal 'walk on' cue and step a little behind the girth - essentially driving them forward. You can wiggle the butt end of the stick in the direction of their rump to encourage movement of any kind. Now here's the reason I use the butt end - If the horse begins simply yielding his hind end, use the butt end of the stick to immediately yield the horses front end. If you're fast enough you'll get the horse out straight again. I find though if your body is positioned just right the horse will drive away from you and not yield. The next very important thing to make sure of is that the horse has enough rope - is he's constantly yielding his hind end, he may not have enough rope to move forward (or he may not know he does). So focus on keeping yourself in line - you will have to do a lot of walking about at first to keep yourself in that line - but any forward movement is huge and be so excited when they do it right. If they walk out a few steps correctly - major praise and let them rest a minute (gives them a minute to connect the dots) then ask again, each time asking a little more walk. Remember to practice this evenly on both sides. Remember the lunge should be a little slack at most times unless you need a correction - you don't want the horse bracing on it. Practice this with walk halt transitions until he has the concept solid. If when asked to whoa you can choose - do you want him to come to you or stay out and wait for further direction. There are a number of reasons to want to do either - you choose what works best for you and your horse. If you want him to come in ask for a halt and then slowly reel him in to you. Send him away again, sometimes in a different directions, sometimes the same, so he doesn't get programmed. If you want him to stay out, ask for the woah, if he starts to turn into you immediately use the butt end of the stick to yield his front end back out - only yield him as far back as where he was origionally.

Sound like you've got lots of work on your hands :) You'll have fun working with this horse! Good luck, practice often :)
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post #5 of 5 Old 08-01-2012, 02:22 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all very much for all of your help! :)

Teaching him to yield makes much more sense now, thinking as we haven't made those skills very solid just yet. I most likely wouldn't have thought of it that way and it will make a huge difference I'm sure! I'll be sure to work more on yielding and not worry about the lunging right now. That will help us both a lot in the long run.

Also, I just wanted to mention that I realize lunging isn't about "bonding". My main reason for eventually wanting to teach Prince to lunge is to work out some "kinks" and to help him develop his gaits on the ground. "Bonding" was the unintelligent sounding word that came out at 2:30 AM! Oops! :)
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