Methods of teaching a young horse to lunge
I have reached the point with my little mare that I am ready to teach her to lunge. My agistment place has a basic round yard that I have already been doing things such as leading and basic ground work and she's comfortable in there. I have introduced to both the lunge rope and whip and she is not afraid of either. I planned to lunge her in a halter. So for the past maybe week I have been trying to teach her to lunge. With my previous young horse I used the method of starting of a short rein and going in small circles and gradually letting her out. That worked well for my last one.
For this one though she does not respond well to that. She just swings out her hind quarters and comes to stand next to me. I have tried pointing the whip to her shoulder but she will just walk right into it and it does not bother her. So when this didn't work after a few days I thought I would try another method I have read about, which is leading her around the outside track and then gradually letting her have more rein and stepping back. While I can get her sort of walking with me a little further back than her shoulder if I give her rein she just comes closer to me. If I step back she stays by my side. I've tried putting the whip between me and her but she turns her hind quarters so that she is facing me or ignores it.
I don't know what to do with her, because I don't think its a matter of time on this, she is making zero progress. Are there any other methods that I can use to teach her to lunge? I do not have a helper, nor can I get one that would be competent enough with horses.
I'm not all that fussed on perfect lunging, I just want to be able to walk, trot and canter her under saddle before I get on. Free lunging she is worse that. She'll just work towards you. If I were to throw a rope at her head she would keep coming. She just doesn't want to go away. She understands walk and halt and to move on.
I would start with long lining her. That way you are with her more and kind of follow her around a bit and can enforce "GO!" a little better. Eventually you can stand more to the inside of her, let the outside rein go a bit and it will be more like lunging the further inside you get and the more on a circle she gets.
Overall it just sounds like whatever method you choose, you really need to be a bit tougher in encouraging her to work.
You said that she just walks right through your whip, that is telling me she doesnt respect it. Put your whip down and use the end of your lead rope. Dont move your feet at all, just swing towards her shoulder and ask her to step away, 1 step, release, 2 step release and just build on that but you dont move, make her move. She has to understand that when you put pressure on her shoulder, she needs to move and not into your space. Make a 5 ft rule. She stays out of your 5ft bubble and if she crosses that line, you are going to "bite" her with the end of your rope. Hope this helps.
i'm not sure if i understand exactly what you're doing in that pen...but i'll tell you what i would do if this mare was dropped off at my place tomorrow - but first i want to say, it's NOT a bad thing that a horse might want to be close to you. as long as she isn't being pushy or trying to "take" your space, then having a horse want to be close to you is a very good thing. i would NEVER allow a horse to push into me or move me around, but i don't go with the "arm's length" or "X amount of feet" rules, i want my horse to enjoy being close to me, i want them to understand that when they are near me things are ok. if you see a horse close to a person, and the horse has it's head down it shows they aren't going to worry about that scary rock or dog or car because they know you are taking care of things. that's a horse that trusts it's herd leader (you). i actually do exercises with my horses to teach them to lower their heads and relax around me.
what i would do with this horse is put her in the pen with no lead rope or lunge line. turn them loose and then you just stand in the middle of the pen in a very unassuming, non-threatening way and just look off into the distance and watch the horse out of the corner of your eye. as soon as the horse turns away from you or stops paying attention to you, shuffle and stamp your feet to spook her - so she looks at you. when she looks at you, immediately go back to your original unassuming posture. if she walks up to you, that's fine, you can pet her and reassure her. but keep doing this until the horse realizes that when she's focused on you, nothing scary happens, but when she turns from you or isn't focused on you, something scares her. i have done this with horses and eventually walked out of the pen and had them watch me for 5 minutes or so, while i was outside of the pen. i've had people criticize this because it sounds too simple to accomplish anything, but believe me, it teaches the horse to pay attention to you, it generally is a very very positive exercise and you probably only need to do it once or twice.
after you have gotten this horse's focus and started making it understand that it needs to pay attention to you, then i would start to lunge her. i have to admit, i don't have alot of experience with horses that won't lunge because i've never had the problem, but i think that you should also consider finding someone to work with you - i know you said you can't find anybody, but i'm sure you could if you look around. one person to keep them moving forward and the other to hold the lunge line is probably what this situation requires. if you have to do it yourself, i would just recommend having a long whip and if she won't move when you ask her to, really pop her rump with it - you won't hurt her or damage the training just because of a couple smacks on her rear - obviously don't overdue it or use it as a cure for your frustrations.
sorry this post is so long, just some suggestions, if you have questions i'd be happy to talk more, or here is a good article about lungeing http://www.liverystable.net/lungeing_article.html...good luck to you.
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