Groundwork and lunge whip

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Groundwork and lunge whip

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  • How to use a lunging whip

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    10-24-2010, 07:54 PM
Groundwork and lunge whip

I have a 15 yr old gelding who has lost some of his ground manners and is turning a little skittish. I can still catch him in pasture and halter him, he just likes to see if he can get away with stuff on halter and isn't responding as well to pressure and stuff like that. I can get him saddled but I haven't ridden him in a while. I think he might be a little stubborn if I were to go out and ride him right now.
I want to start working on his ground manners again, like a refresher course. I also want to go through some of the lessons I have seen on Clinton Anderson and Parelli. I'm referencing the lessons regarding giving to pressure where eventually the horse moves when you point to a shoulder with the "stick and string".
First question, do I need to completely desensitize him to the stick and string? Last time I brought it out he shied away from it bad, I couldn't get near him with it.
Second, do I start with pressure training with just my hand/finger or should I go ahead and start pushing on him with the stick (once he gets to where he accepts it)?

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    10-24-2010, 09:39 PM
Yes, desensitizing is important, but with a caveat - he can't be so desensitized to the stick that it becomes useless. He still needs to respect it enough to move our of your space. "Complete desensitization" is as bad as "complete sensitization" - you just have a very dull horse instead of a very flighty one, trading one problem for another.

It's more a matter of your intentions than the stick. When you have "low energy" and waving the stick, you're desensitizing. When you have "raised energy" and you're waving the stick, it's time to scoot, calmly, but promptly. Sensitizing is just as important as desensitizing. Dennis Reis harps on this concept of intentions, and in his demos is very deliberate and exaggerated about demonstrating raised vs low energy, intentions of rest vs intentions of motion.

What tools that you start with is all a matter of preference. I started out very attached to my stick, but have gotten to the point that if I do much groundwork at all the stick is just superfluous, and I get just as good a reaction off of my personal bubble, a hand, or a twirl of the end of the rope. It doesn't matter what you poke him with, all that matters is that he responds appropriately to the pressure. Eventually you'll need to use a fingertip to scoot him over, or a leg, or a spur, etc.

Good luck!
    10-24-2010, 11:16 PM
I understand everything that you are saying, but I am trying to figure out how to actually accomplish this. I guess what I need to figure out is, if I get him to where he is used to the stick and doesn't really jump at it anymore but moves to the touch of it, is that where I really need him to be? And I can see how my "intentions" and energy level will affect how he sees the use of the stick.
    10-25-2010, 12:56 AM
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Yes, you can start moving him off fingertip pressure: center of chest for backing, 2-handed high on neck & behind front leg for front leg cross over; hindquarter near the top of the crease at flank/rear leg. Goal is to use no more pressure than it takes to move a floaty thing across the surface of water.

If you can, rub him with the side of the stick (like playing a violin) to get him used to it, if not then just have it near and don't be concerned with it yourself. Maybe if you are gromming him, lean it where it is in your way so you have to keep casually moving it about to get to your things and such. Then you can progress to scratching him with it, and casting the line about gently. My sister told me he should be thinking "Ahhhhh - the stick" not "ARGGGGG#!#!# THE STICK"
    10-25-2010, 06:16 PM
Originally Posted by Haulinbass02    
I understand everything that you are saying, but I am trying to figure out how to actually accomplish this. I guess what I need to figure out is, if I get him to where he is used to the stick and doesn't really jump at it anymore but moves to the touch of it, is that where I really need him to be? And I can see how my "intentions" and energy level will affect how he sees the use of the stick.
Short answer - Yes.

If he's really that jumpy about it, I'd start desensitizing the air around him -- getting him comfortable with you moving the stick in "his space" without touching him. When he falls asleep when you start windmilling the stick around him and over his head, start rubbing him with it, around the back first, then around the neck, hindquarters, and barrel. When he's good with that, tie a string to the end and desensitize the air, again, if you have to, to the string spinning and smacking the ground. Sometimes the noises frighten them, so be prepared for that. When he's quiet there, toss the string over his topline, and later around his legs. CA calls it "flogging with kindness", and goes into extreme detail with the entire process, as well as "troubleshooting".

Ideally, I like a horse to fall asleep when I, with low body energy, can helicopter that string over his body, slap the ground anywhere around him, and completely trace his outline with the end of the stick, including face and flank areas.

You want to keep the pressure on until he stands quietly and shows some sign of relaxation (blinking, lick/chewing, resting a hind leg, etc). Sensitizing will be the opposite - apply pressure until he moves the way you want him to, and then release the pressure as a reward for moving.

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