Raising the energy level on the lunge line - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-04-2012, 12:43 PM Thread Starter
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Raising the energy level on the lunge line

So, I haven't done much lungeing with my horse (just got him earlier this year), as he's very laid back and doesn't need to "blow off steam" before riding. Now I'm wanting to do some lungeing exercises with him as I'm getting him started over fences, and I'm having a hard time getting him really moving forward.

For example, last night I tried lungeing him over a set of trot poles. This was the first time I had lunged him over poles, but we have done them under saddle many times. He'd be trotting on the circle, approaching the poles, I'd try putting on some extra pressure as he approached them to keep him up in the trot, but he'd break down to the walk anyway, then resume trotting once he was past them. I had a friend stand off to the side with another lunge whip and help encourage him and THAT finally got him trotting through the poles.

I did a lot of lungeing and ground work with the last horse I leased, but he was a much higher energy horse. I rarely even used a whip with him and often had to work on getting him to relax more than anything else.

While I don't think my technique is perfect, I think my main problem is really getting MY energy level up. Like my horse, I'm also naturally pretty laid back, and I don't seem to be fooling him when I crack the whip

I'm working with a trainer weekly, but he behaves much better in front of her- just having her in the corner watching gets him much more energetic, as he knows she can step in any moment and really make him work (whether she actually ends up doing so or not)

Any tips on how I can "exude" more energy?
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-04-2012, 01:07 PM
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Instead of a row of poles, set a few up in the circle he will travel on the lunge. Let him get used to trotting over one at a time. At first let him walk over the first then trot him over the 2nd. Usually just raising the whip and pointing it toward his hip should inspire him. When he will trot a few change direction. Don't spend more than 5-10 min or he'll see it as punishment as he's doing as you asked. Give him a complete break for 10 min whereby you ask nothing of him, just let him veg. Now go set up double poles. When he will trot a set of double poles, immediate stop and put him away. He'll be better the next time.
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post #3 of 14 Old 12-04-2012, 01:15 PM
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I sometimes will slap my own thigh when I want to raise more energy or get my horse to see that I MEAN it! or go, "SHHHHHHtttt!" to scoot him along.

also, take one small step toward horse at the exact instant you use this strong outpush of energy.
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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I finally dragged my husband out to the barn to take a video of me lungeing (you can hear him laughing at me in the background...) I thought we were doing better each time, but this time he regressed a little bit and was quite lazy (always happens when the camera's present, huh? )

He really doesn't react to the whip cracking, or getting flicked at him, or me stepping towards him... About halfway through this video a friend of mine steps in and provides some extra motivation, but you can tell that even with that it's hard to keep forward momentum.

This is the 3rd or 4th time he's been lunged over this jump configuration, so it's not a new exercise or anything, and he really did better at it last time.

I know I travel a lot when I'm lungeing; trying to stand still in the center results in my horse being even lazier, if you can imagine such a thing. I hate putting up videos of myself doing things poorly, so please be gentle with me

Anyone have experience lungeing a horse like this? What else can I do? I'm normally a big believer in introducing new things on the ground first, but it's of pretty limited value when I can't get him moving!

My lazy, lazy horse jumping on the lunge line - YouTube
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 08:17 PM
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He looks to me like he's really not taking you seriously. I'd be taking the jumps out of the equation and work him on the lunge until you're getting immediate quick responses to your cues. Every time you tell him to canter and he doesn't, in his mind he's won that little battle and he's going to be less likely to respond the next time. If he doesn't give you more energy when you ask for it I'd be getting behind him slightly (not in kicking range) and really putting the pressure on with the whip so that you're driving him from behind. As soon as he picks it up, take the pressure off.
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 08:33 PM
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I agree. I personally would give him a tap with the whip if he was still lazy. If that didn't work I would give him a good thunk on the butt. Usually just snapping the whip on the ground behind a horse will do the trick. (Hence why I think it is a poor idea to "desensitize" a horse to whips cracking around it. Could lead to a very lazy horse.)

Be assertive and remove the jumps until he respects your requests more. :)
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 09:03 PM
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He actually looks a little stiff and sore to me but it could just be because he's going sooo slow. Is he this slow and short strided when you ride him? He looks like a good egg but if he's sore and stiff he's not going to be able to do more. It also concerns me that he can't pick up the correct lead on the circle and doesn't seem to be able to actually bend his body at all. How old is he? Have you had him checked by a vet or bodywork specialist? A massage and/or chiro work would probably go a long way in helping "unlock" him. If it is not physical I would walk more with him, on a shorter rope without a jump and DRIVE him. Get your voice up, give him a good smack on the hip with your whip, etc. Drive him every step if you have to and only let him quit or slow when you say he can. Even if you can only drive him 3 steps that's fine, just make sure it's your idea to go and your idea to slow. It shouldn't take long for him to learn that it's easier for him to do what you want instead of his own thing. Remember to always reward the try and don't overdo it. Just because a horse can canter 5 circles in a row doesn't mean he should.
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 01:38 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I thought he was getting more responsive, but obviously we have some more work to do without the jumps. For a couple of sessions it seemed like the jumps really caught his interest and I had an easier time getting him going, but this last time just sucked... I don't think I got more than one good step out of him the whole time.

I agree he does look stiff when he's lazy like this, but I've had him checked out multiple times and not found any issues. I am able to pretty easily encourage him to move forward under saddle (and on the lunge when my trainer is there) even though he'd be happy to plod around like this if I would just let him; he really does look very nice when he actually engages himself. Believe it or not, he's only 8. He just likes to act like an old man sometimes.
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 04:30 AM
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Is lunging a necessity to get him over the poles?

I ask because you could potentially try jogging in hand over them. That's what I do. I stop a few feet away, gice the cue to jog, and then we go over them. The same principle applies in keeping energy levels up, but for me, I find it harder because I'm not good at multitasking.

But I like it, gives me a work out.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 04:59 AM
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I think the idea is to allow the horse to find his own balance and stride over jumps before adding a rider, I would think that leading a horse over the jump would interfere with that as he's having to match your pace and in the interest of not landing on you, may get off balance.
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