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Vidalaequine 06-22-2011 08:36 AM

Lunging problems
Okay, so I have a bit of a problem with my horse. Scratch that, alot of problems with him. But thats a bit off track, and I'll get into it later. So here's the deal;

My cousins moved into this place with a horse on it, and then they called me, wondering if I wanted to ride him. I said sure, and came out to meet him. I expected a horse that was rideable, and had some kind of manners, considering that he had "done' pony club and endurance comps before. What I found was a half crazy, abused and neglected horse on a one way track to the doggers.

He couldn't lead, be touched near the head, tacked up, he wouldn't lift his hooves, had thrown off the three "experts" that wanted to buy him, was extremley disrespectful, violently afraid of the hose, and reared up when pressure (leading, tied up ect) was put near his head. Not to mention I was told that he was a bolter, and bucked quite often. Oh, and he likes biting.

I've gotten him past most of that, and I'm sorta proud to say that I havent fallen off him yet, and I ride him in a halter, bareback. (Seeing as his saddle doesn't come anywhere close to fitting, same to his bridle, and I can't affored new ones atm).But we still have a fair way to go.

He's become pretty good with the hose, barley even flinches infact, he stands still, I can do his hooves, ect. However, he does have a problem with lunging. Now don't get me wrong, I've had a fair few years spent in the horse world (relative to my age at least), so I'm not a newbie at this. However, I would like some help from others, and other opinions, seeing as I try to keep an open mind, and I will admit, and new to the training side of things. I know that having someone help me would be best, but irl, horsewise, I'm pretty much standing alone. Most of the people in my family are frightened of horses, as are my friends. Those that aren't live halfway across the country.

So back to the main problem, when I lunge my horse, he goes okay sometimes, but other times... well yeah. He goes okayish with his transitions on one side (left I think) but on the others... urg. He also likes think that he's participating in a rodeo. I've lunged him with full gear, just a halter, and yeah I'll admit to having done join up a fair few times. He still stays bucking, pigrooting, trying to run away from the circle, tried charging me once, but was quickly convinced that was a bad idea, likes to disrespect my space, has sloppy transitions and is hard to send out.

I have a lunge whip, and I keep it in correct position, and I can't seem to figure out where I'm going wrong. A huge part of me is hesitant to blame the horse, and I have no idea of how he used to be before he was abused and let out of control, but I'm starting think that maybe it is him. Accurate details on his history are hard to find, seeing as his old owners are incredibly dodgy, and couldn't even tell me when his teeth were last done.

So can anyone tell me what I can do to help the both of us improve? I'm not overly fussed on him working on the correct frame right now, I just want to be able to get working in a circle for more than 5% of the time. I'm not picky aboutn training methods, NH, traditional whatever, as long as it isn't illegal or abusive or going to cause my horse pain.

Doe 06-22-2011 09:20 AM

Well done so far with the horse, it sounds like you've come a long way.

Firstly can you video yourself lunging the horse? (to watch yourself not to post) It's amazing what confusing signals we send, or signals we fail to pick up from the horse. Mostly we are unaware of them at the time. Video doesn't lie however and can be an incredibly useful tool.

Secondly why are you lunging him? What are you wanting to achieve, what is they reason?

Thirdly what style of lunging are you using? Traditional, standing in the middle rotating with some tension in the line, or NH style you not moving, or a more physical mirroring style where you pace a circle too?

Finally and most importantly stepping back - how is he to be led? Is he pushy at all? Can you lead from various positions ( in front, behind and to the side, etc) Also can he flex? Can you lead him in serpentines and ask him to bend?
Often times people try to dominate on the lingo but they fail to understand that their horses may be stiff, or lack balance. Then when the horse resists they increase the pressure, and a battle begins to ensue.

Vidalaequine 06-22-2011 09:53 AM

Thanks for the post :)

I've often thought about using video, and I'm definatley going to give it a try when I'm lunging him next.

I'm lunging him for three reasons mainly, fitness, working off energy so that he's less likely to decide to buck while we're riding, and to help condition his responses.

I use the more traditional lunging style, however when I do join up with him ( and he still buck and carries on) I tend to pace a circle. I don't have access to a round yard, so I use a small arena and I'm not sure how or if that affects things.

Leading is usually pretty good, and I can get lateral flexion pretty easily, ground and mounted. I can lead him from all sides, and yeah he bends pretty well.

He can be pushy at times, seeing as he's the more dominant kind of horse, but I don't tolerate it, and he gets reminded whos at the top of the pecking order.

He did get greasy heel two weeks back, and I haven't been lunging him since then or riding. Just a walk down the lane, and not pushing him. I have suspisions that he may have back pain from his old saddle, and I need to get the chiropracter out, but can afford it at the moment. But I've also noticed that he bucks and carries on in the paddock as well. He is pretty darn playful, but I don't want that while I'm working him.

natisha 06-22-2011 10:15 AM

He probably just feels good now that he is being taken care of. That doesn't excuse bad manners though. Longing a horse to get energy out for riding sometimes back fires as he will get fitter & fitter. I would work on frequent transitions, at this point never going a full circle but turning, say, every 1/4 circle. Keep it at a walk.
Also, maybe he really doesn't know how to longe. Try starting with baby steps.
It's nice of you to offer your time & skill to help him.
What kind of person leaves a horse behind then won't be of any help to those trying to clean up their mess? :-x

candice and mateo 06-22-2011 10:18 AM

i am having a lunging problem as well. my horse keeps giving me his rear. his back feet will start coming round and before you know it, you're staring at his tail. i also cant get him to actually circle. maybe a video of how to start the process of lunging is in order...

Vidalaequine 06-22-2011 10:22 AM

The abusive morons that used to own him. I've heard stories about how they used to try to get him to load onto a float. Apparently they thought that hitting him repeatedly was going to work >:[.

I think that he does know how to do it, some days he can go really well, but then he switches into bronc mode.

But I think I will go back to bascis, just to make sure, and it can't help to reinforce those early stages. I probably wouldn't have though of only doing a quarter of a circle, which is why I posted for help, lol. As I mention, I'm new to the trainer side.

Thanks for the help :D

Doe 06-22-2011 10:24 AM

What do you lunge him in? Just a halter or bridle and bit etc?

Obviously the first thing is pain. If that's discounted and you think he can flex ok then great.

You say he also bucks etc when you try to do join up with him? It sounds like a simple case of him objecting or being confused over what you are asking him to do. Look at it from his viewpoint. 1 minute you have a relationship. You are asking him to trust you and follow you calmly etc etc. The next minute you are chasing him away, effectively initiating the hunt and becoming the predator again. From the horses viewpoint why? It can be very confusing to them and destructive to the work you are otherwise doing with him.

Also if one minute you are trying to push him away for join up ie chasing him, then the next you are asking him to go away in the lunging sense, it can be very confusing.

I know my methods are not usual, and probably would be smeared at by many, but I work with all horses at true liberty first. In a big field. That way it is impossible for me to put too much pressure on them. If I do they simply leave. It may appear slower, but the results are more resolute and complete in my opinion.

So as a solution there are really two options.

The quick fix is the NH type way. Take it as dominance on the horses part. Look at the problem, ie lunging, and force the solution, for example the circling game with Parelli. Send the horse out and leave him out there circling. Teach him that his role is to keep the constant gait until you give him instructions otherwise. You may have a shark on the line as Pp would say, but eventually one of you will win.

The alternative is to listen to your instinct. You've come this far with the horse. Ignore methods or what you think you should be doing and go by your gut feel of what the horse is saying to you. Look at the other areas and strengthen the communication and leadership there and lunging will solve itself.

Most importantly be consistent, that is so important to horses if we want to avoid confusion. Also consider it again from the horses viewpoint. How boring is lunging? It has no purpose for them. Even though we talk about dominance and mares and stallions etc, in reality domestic horses ask for a move and it's over in a second and a few footsteps. They don't often keep chasing/driving like we do with lunging or join up.

I only free lunge. That means that my horse lunges with a simple loop around his neck and always a slack line. He used to resist other forms too. He would do them, but he wasn't happy. Now he has naturally developed a stronger top line. He comes under beautifully compared to before, and all the time we are communicating so he sees a purpose. Very short bursts are all that's needed. Like most gymnastics its purity not quantity that creates results.

In comparison lunging often creates stiffness, resistance (how many horses lean to the outside) and a lack of real strength. Sidestraps etc just exacerbate the situation and leave horses unable to collect naturally.

If your horse is a natural extrovert in the field, then tap into that expression, and you will have amore beautiful creature and a better relationship because he recognises that you show him how to feel more confident and balanced.

Sorry for the long lecture, but I really think that you will get there better with your own instinct that trying to follow what a guru says. Best of luck

Vidalaequine 06-22-2011 10:28 AM

also @ candice and mateo, I have that same problem sometimes, except it's his front end that comes to face me. I usually just send him off with a push on the shoulder, or sometimes hes really good and listens to my "walk on", and othertimes he's really ignorant. Thats when I use join up for 10-15 mins and then lunge for 5. Im not sure if it would work for you, but who knows?

Vidalaequine 06-22-2011 10:46 AM

I usually lunge him in a halter, (rope), as I don't want to ruin his mouth accidently should he get caught in the line. He's already a tad bridle weary, and I don't want to make it worse.

I understand what you mean by the prey/ predator relationship, as thats one of the first things I learned working with horses. When I do join up with him ( I'm not by anymeans a roberts follower, it's just something I was taught somewhere along the line, then added a few of my own things.) I let him do his own thing for a minute or two, get his attention, then send him around. I try my hardest to not chase him away, as the last thing I want is for him to think that I'm a predator.

Yeah, I'd been thinking of doing the circling game, I have the level 1 Parelli stuff with me, but part of me disagrees with a few of his methods.

And I know you're right about instinct, and that's what has gotten me thus far. So I'm staying with it. I never pictured myself becoming a guru follower/worshiper, and I firmly beleive in learning a variety of methds, then choosing what's right for the horse. I'm going to look for stuff on free lunging, and I thank you majorly for the tips and ideas you've given me :D

momo3boys 06-22-2011 03:14 PM

First, I give you my respect for taking on such a project that obviously needed so much love and care!

As far a lunging goes I agree that a video would be really helpful. I know with my gelding (similar issues but from ignorance instead of abuse), my body language was really confusing to him. So without the video my advice would be to start with teeny tiny circles and slowly make them bigger. When he gets 'wild' I would push him harder or ignore him, depending on if he just want to play or if he is being disrespectful. My gelding was 2 last year when I taught him to lunge and when he became a bronco I would ignore him as long as he was going in the right direction, if he tried to be disrespectful and turn around I would put major pressure on that side and really push him to go the other way. That seemed to help, but a round pen is ideal. Do you have a corner of the pasture you can board up just so he has a little less room to try and drag you?

Just MHO, I know there are other people more experienced here too.

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