What lunging technique do you use?

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What lunging technique do you use?

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  • Proper technique for lunging a horse
  • What to do if your horse shows you his shoulder while lunging

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    01-25-2013, 05:52 PM
What lunging technique do you use?

My horse was never lunged by his previous owners, or our first trainer. My new trainer wants me to lunge him, to build up his respect for me. She had me stand by his ribs, hold the front end of the lunge line with my finger pointing out, and swinging the back end of the lunge line toward his butt to get him moving. I am new to horses, and this is not only challenging my coordination, but my horse seems confused by the swinging rope, and swings his butt away from the rope, and turns to face toward me. He really does not seem to "get" it. He did finally start trotting for the trainer, but I have yet to really have any success and he gets super frustrated and actually ends up kicking out after a while of not being able to figure out what he is supposed to be doing.
A dear friend of mine, who had her own horses for 35 years, and did a lot of training of horses, suggested that he is as frustrated and confused as I am. Instead of being stubborn, as he comes across, she feels he is not getting it. So, she suggested I buy a very long lunge whip, and have the horse be one side of the triangle, the rope one side, and the whip the other side down low behind his legs, with me being the point. Then she suggested that to start out, my hubby hold a rope attached to his halter, or the side of the halter on the side away from me, and walk him around while I say, waaaaaalllllk, very slowly and drawn out, then do it again on the other side, for a total of ten minutes at a time. After a while, she said hubby will be able to let go, and just walk with him, then disappear. She said the waaaaalllk will teach him a valuable command that can be revisited when riding if something spooks him. She said then work up to a sing song, Trot, trot trot....and a very fast CANTER CANTER CANTER. She does not think he is getting that he is supposed to walk in a circle around me. I have to agree, because he has mastered all of the other ground exercises our trainer gave me to do.
My question is, how do YOU train a horse to lunge who has never been taught?
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    01-25-2013, 06:14 PM
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I start teaching a horse to lunge by walking with them (my horses all lead with their shoulder level with mine) I then move more away from them keeping them out with the handle of the lunge whip. When they are about 10 feet away from me I will, on a corner of the arena keep the turn on so they are going around me. I keep them out with the whip and when I want a faster pace I will tell them 'Terrrr ot' and crack the whip behind them. They soon catch on.
    01-25-2013, 06:23 PM
Lunging is about the most difficult thing to explain in words - it's ALL feel. Based on your horses reaction - to face you - sounds to me like (2 things) a Horse who isn't well broke for lunging and a person standing too close to his head. The horse needs to have enough rope (and know he has it) to be able to move away. Next you shouldn't be standing near his shoulder, but closer to his midline - even behind his midline to drive him forward until he's moving.
Does he comprehend verbal cues like 'walk on' and 'trot'? Could you possibly video you lunging him. Typically I find if your horse turns to face you - you're standing too far forward or he doesn't have enough rope to get away.
    01-25-2013, 07:11 PM
CRHorse, the horse is doing exactly as you are telling him. I am going to suggest you focus on one thing at a time, getting him to move forward a step or two. If how you signal him to do so fails, try doing it a little differently, maybe turn your body a little in the direction you want him to go as well as point and twirl the rope. As long as you don't inflict pain, there is no wrong way to train your horse. Keep happy thoughts and think of it as a game. When you get the response you are looking for try to remember what you did and try again. If you become frustrated, turn your back to him and look at your boots and count to ten.
    01-25-2013, 07:34 PM
LOL, I can't video tape it because we moved a few months ago, and my hubby's company had the movers pack us. About a third of our wires, chargers, and important belongings are missing, including the charger for our camera. It is very frustrating.

I do think I end up too close to his front end, because I can not get him to move forward and he turns toward me, and he is a big horse. I start out back toward the middle of his belly. Tomorrow morning, I am going to try to use the lunge whip to help make him move forward. I am quite certain that between him never being lunged, and me not being coordinated enough to swing the rope, stay in the correct place, and let out the rope for him, we are a sorry team at this. Today, I did a lot of leading instead of frustrating ourselves, because my hubby could not help and I want him here to try our new technique. He did great with our leading work, then.... I had him back up and he did great, so I was praising him, and he lost his balance because we were on a hill, and stepped right on top of my foot (with his draft mix huge foot)...OUCH!!! I could not even speak, so I pushed him back off of my foot. I walked him around a bunch more after that, just to end on a good note. He walked out of the pasture gate (which swung away from me) when I was putting our other horse back in after feeding, and I walked right up to him, haltered him and led him back in. When we first brought him home, we had respect issues, but he has radically improved with that. I know we will get lunging eventually.
    01-26-2013, 12:55 AM
It might be because you are standing too far ahead of the drive line, the drive line is behind the shoulders. How I taught my horses was by using Clinton Anderson's methods (do a search on Youtube for his vids). Stand just behind the shoulders, point with your left hand (holding the lead line) and tap behind them and then if they don't move forward tap their butts, don't hit though......it's hard to explain on how to do it properly.......with your hand that you are pointing with is the direction you want them to go, use that hand to push their head away from you if they turn in......
I trained all of mine, I was green as the grass.....it's hard at first but once they get it, they will be good....usually it's the person not doing it properly which is confusing for the horse......
    02-08-2013, 07:17 PM
Goodness, I want to update you all. We had the most successful lunging lesson!!! I bought the long lunge whip. I hold the lead in my hand, with my finger pointing out. I stand over to the side of Spirit. I swing the whip behind him. As soon as he starts moving, the whip stops swinging but follows along behind his feet, his reward. I had him walking and trotting around me in a perfect gentlemanly fashion!! I am so excited. The only change we made was me using the long lunge whip instead of swinging the rope. Not sure why a whip swinging is okay, and a rope not in his mind, but it fixed our issue, so I will take it!!
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    02-09-2013, 01:30 AM
If neither you or your horse have ever 'lunged' before, I wouldn't start with trying to lunge, for starters. (I also don't agree with the 'respect' concept in this regard, but that's another subject). I'd ensure you & he were good at the basics, of which 'lunging' is just a progression of - eg it's doing at a distance what you've already learned/taught up close.

I agree with your friend & others that it sounds to me that your horse is confused but doing what it sounds like you're inadvertently asking him - yielding his butt away from the pressure. As for techniques, there are some different ones & you can indeed teach him to go forward with that cue, but my personal way is to teach the horse to yield to pressure(bodylanguage, stick/whip/rope, direct, actual pressure...) wherever it's directed. So *after* training your horse to do this, your lead hand is giving him a 'lead forward' cue and your whip/rope/hand is signalling out behind the horse to 'push' him forward. If I direct pressure at the horse's hind end I expect him to move it away from me & face me. If I direct pressure at his shoulder he will turn away, if I direct pressure in front, he'll slow or stop or back up.
    02-09-2013, 02:19 AM
Green Broke
I use Clinton Anderson's methods. I don't TRY to get next to the horse or behind the driveline. I stand out in front of the horse and send the horse away. Many times, the sending away is the hardest part that people have. If he just stands there facing you, swing your rope or stick towards his head and then walk towards him. If he doesn't move by the time you get close enough to hit him, don't feel bad about doing it. You've given him enough warning to move away. It may take a few tries but he will get it. If he backs away, keep swinging and walking towards him. Once he steps forward and away, stop swinging and let him be. With practice, he will get better and it will be easier. Once he moves away, that exposes the driveline for you to encourage more forward movement.
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    02-09-2013, 02:25 AM
Originally Posted by crhorse    
Goodness, I want to update you all. We had the most successful lunging lesson!!! I bought the long lunge whip. I hold the lead in my hand, with my finger pointing out. I stand over to the side of Spirit. I swing the whip behind him. As soon as he starts moving, the whip stops swinging but follows along behind his feet, his reward. I had him walking and trotting around me in a perfect gentlemanly fashion!! I am so excited. The only change we made was me using the long lunge whip instead of swinging the rope. Not sure why a whip swinging is okay, and a rope not in his mind, but it fixed our issue, so I will take it!!

It's likely that when you swung the end of the leadline, you swung it at his hip, from the side. That will drive the hip away from you but he'll only move his hind away, and thus his front will turn toward you.

with the long lounge whip, you were able to get the driving pressure more BEHIND his body, thus he will naturally move forward.

loungeing is a lot harder than it looks, but I am glad you found a way that works for you and your horse.
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