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Lunging my new horse -- help please!
I've been riding for about 4 years and bought my first horse a couple of weeks ago. She is a 13 year old QH mare and is the sweetest little girl -- some spunk when you try to ride her and work with her, but adores people. Lilly was trained using the Parelli method and does beautifully in a round pen with no lead rope -- just a whip in eyesight and she's golden. The problem is this: When I bought her, I moved her to a facility with no indoor round pen. The outdoor one is just too muddy to work in. I had figured it wouldn't be a big deal, because I could just use a lunge line in the indoor arena. Turns out I was wrong! This morning I got her cantering for a few minutes, called her in to me to thank her for being a good girl, and then tried to get her to move out again but NO luck. The whip doesn't seem to get her going... instead she walks up to me like a puppy looking for treats. I'm not really sure where to go from here. All I can think of is that she's used to free lunge in a round pen and now I'm using an actual line in one corner of a huge arena and maybe she doesn't get the message. I'm concerned because although she's a sweetie, she's also an alpha mare and I don't want her getting the message that she doesn't have to do what I tell her to. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
I think in this case, your mare has the invite to come check in with you down pat, but she's either missing or ignoring your dismissal of her. Don't worry so much about moving her off in a circle, just send her away. She should know when she's being dismissed just as she knows when she's invited in. Once she's moved out, she'll figure out the circle by pressure/no pressure on the line. Just get as "big" as you need to in order to send her out. As soon as she moves off, stop. Let your energy be her guide.
Given her extensive training, I find it hard to believe that she's "missing" the dismissal -- leaving only the assumption that she's ignoring my cue. The part that I find the most frustrating is that she acts as though the whip is some kind of treat or something -- drives me crazy! One other thing: I always carry carrots in my pocket, and she knows it. She's always nuzzling me looking for snacks when I'm not riding her. Usually I give her one when I catch her (not hard, just a hello treat!) and then randomly throughout the day while I'm working with her. When I ride it doesn't really matter, but is it possible that it's causing problems? Should I wait until after she's lunged to give her anything at all and use the carrots as more of a reward system?? Also, can you explain what you mean by getting "big"? Thanks for the help, I appreciate it!
In my experience parelli people think lunging their horses is bad. Parelli appears to be quite against lunging, and instead does "lateral lunging". The basic form of this is a small circle with a 12ft lead rope. The horse in encouraged to only go a few laps and then is called in. They do a bit more on a longer rope but its more a few laps, then sideways, come in, change direction sort of thing rather than the more traditional lunging.
Traditional lunging is often used to warm a horse up, or work them, where as Parelli is about control at a distance, and its constantly changing to keep the horse interested. Maybe your horse doesn't quite understand traditional lunging? Maybe she is just getting super bored, which isn't an excuse but its good to know where she is coming from.
I'd go back to basics with a long parelli style leadrope. I'd ask her to move out and if the doesn't work do the whole spinning the rope and walking towards her hind end. Tap her on the hindquarters until she moves forward and then let her circle for a one or two laps and bring her in. Practice it until she understands your cue for go out, then she should be good on the lunge.
I was always taught that its best not to call horses in for traditional lunging. Not only can the rope get in the way, but the horse can spook and run you over, get the rope wrapped around you, or just consistently try to "cut in" to finish the session. I've trained my horse to halt on the circle and stand until I come and get him. That way for direction change or anything he doesn't get confused or tangled up.
Horses can get really nippy with treats. I wanted to encourage my horse to come so when I brought him to the gate I would give him one treat - that was all. After about a week he was constantly searching for treats in my hands, even when I was trying to work him. Some horses are fine with the occasional or regular treat, but others do start to look for them, and in that case it is often best not to hand feed them.
Also remember with the whole Parelli thing, they don't use whips so your horse might not be used to it.
I don't know much about Parelli, I just read the book (Natural Horse-man-ship I think its called) and these are my understandings. Good luck.
There are more posts from people who cannot lunge horses that have Parelli training. I have responded in length to several of them and won't put a ton of energy into this post, since you can do a search and find some of the others "help my horse won't lunge" threads.
Basically, your horse is desensitized to pressure OR you are not applying it correctly. Are you backing away from it trying to get around to its' rear end s you can drive it forward? This says to horse "follow me," or "come to me", when you back away from him.
Watch Chris Irwin's series of lunging videos on Stateline tack's websight. They will show a lot.
Also, do you NEED to lunge? One doesn't need to lunge every time. Lunging for respect should only need to be done on occasion. If things are right between you, relationship wise, well,just go ride and enjoy yourself.
Hope I don't come off too grumpy. I guess I am sleepy.
Thank you! I was thinking of buying the book, so that I have a better understanding of it myself. I'm surprised to hear that they don't use whips. All I know about her training is what her previous owner taught me, and she uses a whip, but no lunge line. I definitely agree that she is probably not used to traditional lunging, so I'll try your advice. Thanks! And you're right about the carrots -- it didn't occur to me until I started to struggle with this issue, but I think she is constantly distracted by my pockets and what might be in them. I'll cut back to treats only when I come & go and see if that helps any :)
I have a video of Lilly's training in the round pen with her previous owner a couple of weeks ago before I bought her, maybe it would help if you guys could see what she is used to. I'll try to get it uploaded!
Tinyliny -- No, I don't NEED to lunge (and no, you don't come off grumpy!). I bought Lilly a couple of weeks ago, so we don't have a solid relationship and I am still working on establishing myself as the leader and gaining her respect. Lunging her is important to me right now for 2 reasons; one is that I want to be sure I can do it if and when I need to, and the other is because right now I want to establish myself with her as she is sometimes a little testy (to be expected with a new owner, I know). Side note -- she is blind in one eye (sees shadows and pulsing only), and her previous owner suggested that it's good for her to lunge that direction on occasion. Not sure how big of a deal that is? I would think it's the same as switching directions in the arena when I'm riding her. Thanks for the advice, I'll check out the other posts!
bump bump bump :)
still need more help guys... I've tried everyone's advice, NO luck! she just pivots and turns into me and comes towards me, doesn't respect my space.
Ok so I love giving my horse treats on occasion too. One thing I found that worked well for me is get a fanny pack put it on your waste and keep her treats in that. That way she won't always go for pockets. She'll learn that when its on she may get a treat but when its off she won't always look.
I did a lot of parelli with my colt and love Parelli. I got really frustrated with my horses because I wasn't getting the results I wanted. I finally realized after watching his video's over and over that I was not getting my energy up enough. Sounds like your having the same problem. When she comes in towards you on the lunge stand up tall like you mean it and wiggle your rope. Always start soft give her a chance to listen. If she comes into your personal bubble without asking tap her with your whip. don't whip her just hold the string and use it like a stick. She won't like to be tapped on her face. Don't hit her hard just give her a good few taps and stop tapping right away when she starts to move back. Your reliese of pressure lets her know she's doing what you've asked of her. Make sure you don't move your feet. Do not back up!! If she's trained in Parelli then she knows what wiggling the rope means. She's just testing you to see if you know what it means. This was very hard for me with my colt. He always wanted to come in and get loved on and I would. Hug him, kiss him I loved how he wanted to be close to me. But I finally realized he had the upper hand. His behavior towards when we wern't working was getting worse and worse. Once I stopped kissing and loving him and started getting him out of my space, acting more like a leader he respected me. I still hug him, kiss him and love him but there is a time and a place:)
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