I've been having troubles teaching my horse to lunge correctly. She be cantering one way completely fine and then sorta half rears, jumps back and takes off in the other direction. People have told me to pull on her face till she slows and turns and other people tell me to run her near the fence so she stops and turns. Is there a less traumatic way to correct this?
Is she doing it at the same place in the pen/arena? Is something spooking her? Does she have a saddle on when you lunge? I'm just wondering if there is any sort of pattern, or specific thing that happens when she acts up.
My mare did this when I first got her. She'd go up, spin, and go in the opposite direction, or canter like a nutjob!
Firstly, my advice would be gloves and hat, and then a really nice long lunge whip. You don't have to be harsh, or use it on the horse, but a bit of respect never did no one any harm.
When she attempts this, step forwards, however in the direction of her hind, and use the whip as an extension of your arm to send her forwards. If you have to, crack it, or lick her with it for the response you require. If she has learnt that she can do this, she many even think this is the norm, but send her forwards.
If it is in the same place, I would suggest lunging on a slightly smaller circle, so you can push her into that place, and send her forwards using your body language and a lunge whip.
If she does get away with it, and does go in the other direction, move to the front of her as to block her path. This is also good for teaching a young horse transition work. Duffy would never walk from trot when I first got her, and it would be a battle to see who would win.
I wouldn't suggest pulling on her face until a last resort. You have to think she has a big fat piece of metal in her mouth, and if you yank her then, she'll remember it. If, however, she is taking the michael, and the above don't work, think of it like a half halt from riding rather than a tug to get her attention. I would also suggest that you thread the lunge line through the ring of her bit on the inside, over her head, and attach it to the outside ring so you have a nice even pressure and if you do need to use your half halts, its less severe :)
My mustang used to act up when she first learned to lunge and what worked for her was to keep her moving and working her through it. She would buck, kick, and jump around (mainly at the canter), but my trainer and I would just let her work it out and keep her moving. It's important to stay calm and wear gloves & a helmet (good advice Duffyduck) Eventually she would calm down after about a good 15-20 mins of lunging. Just don't get frustrated or upset, that energy will not help the situation. I would even get in the mind set like "oh that's silly, is that all you've got, you don't scare me". Keep working her until you see her licking her lips and her head lowers. I wouldn't pull on her rope, and if she changes direction that's ok, just keep her moving. When she calms down and stays in the proper direction for a complete circle or two, reward her by slowing her down, let her take a break and just stand there with her and rub her. Then try it again and if she behaves keep it short, take it in baby steps, reward her for keeping it going in the right direction and staying calm.
In regards to lunging in a bit, well it varies. I lunge with nothing but a halter, to just a saddle, then if I am planning on riding her right after I will lunge her in a saddle and bridle. She acts the same no matter what. You shouldn't ever pull on the bit during lunging anyway, just keep a halter on her under the bridle and attach the lunge line to the halter never to the bit. Just make sure your tack fits properly and that it's secured so it's not flapping all around. Good luck! :)
My guess, without seeing photos or a video of how she is behaving, but by going by what you are describing, YOU are telling her through your body language (probably in advertantly) to do what it is she is doing.
When you are driving her forward, make sure you are focused toward her hip/behind her shoulder.
When you are wanting her to stop, or do a rollback/change directions, step to the front of her shoulder.
When she is moving foward in the way you are wanting her to (walking, trotting, or cantering) don't nag her...ie, don't keep your whip, or stick raised, keep it down and only raise it if she changes gait; not only will she learn how to take 'responsibility' persay, for the gait you have put her into, but she will pay attention to you for when you are going to ask her to change, rather than getting bored at watching you fling that whip around at her.
When she goes to change directions, and you haven't asked her to, step in front of her driveline (shoulder), and if you have too, use the whip to create a 'wall' in front of her so she gets the idea to roll back in the other direction...usually a horse won't even hit the wall, but some will...let her figure it out; you're not hurting her. Remember, if she doesn't learn how to be soft in your hands, she can do ALOT more damage to you, than you can to her.
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