Teaching a horse to lunge

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Teaching a horse to lunge

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    11-10-2012, 10:06 PM
Teaching a horse to lunge

Unfortunately my mare has been injured for the past couple weeks and has started to lose a lot of muscle tone. Once she has recovered and can start working again I figured we'd take advantage of a training opportunity and start out getting her back in shape by lunging.

I have had this mare for over a year, she is very quiet and can go for periods of time without riding and still be quiet as ever when you get on so I have never had the need to lunge her. I have only tried lunging her once and it was on a two acre lot (didnt go well!). She bucked and bolted and threw a huge hissy fit... while I don't think I will ever do a lot of lunging with her, I figured its a good thing for her to learn. Also, now that i'm boarding her I have access to a round pen which I think will really help with first teaching her.

Although I have lunged many horses in the past, I have never actually TAUGHT one how to lunge. So.... any suggestions/advice on the best way to go about doing so?

Thanks in advance!
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    11-10-2012, 10:49 PM
I went to a Clinton Anderson tour this summer and he had a very good explanation on how to lunge.. Let's see if I can remember at least half of it...
The way he teaches it (or the way I understand it, anyway):
1) point high (with the hand that has the lead rope in it --in the direction you want your horse to go.) If he doesn't go, don't panic. Horses that are first learning this just think you're crazy pointing toward the air. Don't skip this step, though, because if you want your horse to be able to lunge by just pointing, you're going to have to do this over and over!
2) click your tongue. again, horses starting out probably won't go with just this, either.
3) use a lunging whip or the end of your rope and spank the ground behing your horse. he should be moving by now. If not, spank the ground harder and harder until he does--eventually actually spanking your horse if you really have to.
Once your horse is moving, stay behind the 'drive line' (which is his ribcage/shoulder area) to encourage him to stay moving. If he wants to stop, encourage him a little with clicks and if necessary the whip/leadrope.
To Stop...
1) switch hands with the leadrope and the whip ...up until now you should have had the leadrope in the hand toward the way you were going. (I.e. If you were lunging clockwise, your right hand)
2) step in front of the 'drive line' and (for lack of a better word) 'pull' the horse's head so it's facing you and verbally say "yeild" or "whoa" or whatever you want to say.. Just make it consistent.
3) if horse doesn't turn it's forequarters toward you and stop, use the whip and encourage him to stop the motion--almost like putting a barrier there so he doesn't want to go farther... So hard to explain!
To change direction...
1) same as step 1 in stopping...
2) Step in front of the drive line, pull horse's head around, encourage with whip, point with that hand (just like you did before), click, then spank if necessary.
He should change direction and eventually you will want to have him doing a rollback to change direction, and you won't have to pull his head around.. You'll just have to point the other direction, you know?
This is ridiculously hard to explain--for me anyway!
I'm sure I have a video somewhere of me lunging my horse.. I'll find it ...Otherwise just search youtube for "lunging for respect" and you'll probably find exactly what I just tried to explain. It's way easier to watch rather than try to decipher my vague description of how to lunge! It's kind of just trial and error- see what works best for you and your horse..
Good luck and hope I helped a little bit!!
    11-10-2012, 11:14 PM
Thanks doubles, I will definitely try searching youtube.

I think it will be easier now that I have the round pen and she can't bolt all crazy!
    11-11-2012, 01:08 AM
Do the roundpen work without the line first. You can find episodes with clinton anderson at www.downunderhorsemanship.tv . I find this method gets the job done very easily.
    11-11-2012, 01:11 AM
Double S explanation is good Just to add to it What has worked well for me, when starting out, make your circles small Have them walk slowly/calmly around you till they get the idea of the circle & moving forward to your cues & body language. Once they go along with your cues & are not having hesitation or displaying resistance then gradually let your line to increase your circle size. Once they can do the walk well,able to stop on cue & know how to change direction, you can then start asking for more speed. I like to use verbal cues of trot/cluck, Canter/ kiss.

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