horse wont lunge - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 05-24-2019, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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horse wont lunge

Hello all. Im glad i found a forum like this. Im not much for social media or forums or any of this stuff but i need help. My wife and i just purchased our first 2 horses. With the help of her riding instructor we found 2 horses that were within our budget that seamed like good fits. We looked at MANY MANY horses.

My wife ended up with a great Morgan quarter cross gelding. he stands a 15.2 and is great on the ground and in saddle. He walks and trots and runs both under saddle and on a lunge line.

I got a nice big heavy draft TB cross gelding. He again has great ground manners he stands, ties, saddles, bridles, and is great for the vet and the farrier. but he only walks. and thats actually fine with me im too old to trot or run around the mountains. Our only problem with either horse is with "big boy" we were told from the ranch we got him from that a PO had beat him and he hates the whip so they never lunged him. I have been trying to get him out and lunge and sure enough he hates the whip or the lunge line. He will not turn away. i will not step away. He rears back and stomps his front foot. I can back him up turn him and he calms right back down but will not lunge at all. should i not care? I know lunging or respect is common but if i have no other issues should i give up?

thanks for any help.
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post #2 of 16 Old 05-24-2019, 11:05 PM
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I know how frustrating this can be. Some horses just seem to get stuck and defensive on the lunge line. Ultimately, it's your decision if lunging is beneficial to you or him, and if not, then you really don't need to teach him. But if you do, here's what I would start with - some might have different methods but this is what works for me.

Do you have access to a round pen? Even a small closed-off arena would do. That way, you could make him move off of your pressure without worrying about the potential tangles and hazards of a lunge line, especially if he rears or bolts. I would avoid using the whip if he has such a problem with it (on a separate note - you can desensitize him to it, but potentially with varying degrees of success based on his past). Let him off the line, and get some distance between him and yourself in case he explodes since you don't want to get hurt. If he's better with a lead rope than a whip, then you can use a lead rope to spin and move him away from you. Start with light pressure; face him directly with square shoulders. Take a light back and forth swing with the lead rope at your side and cluck. If no response, spin the lead rope in a full circle at your side (pointing it towards his butt, but don't hit him with it) and take a step towards him (be assertive about it). If no response, continue to make yourself "scarier" with more motion or noise. You want him to move off of your pressure. Don't lighten up if he turns to face you (more pressure if he does this - make the wrong thing hard and the right thing easy). Once he moves away/sideways, lighten up a bit (again - make the right thing easy), but not so much that he's drawn back to face you. Figure out how to keep him at a consistent trot or canter - this takes practice and getting to know your specific horse. Learn how to step to the side while facing him to intercept his path and make him change directions. Just some basic round pen work. He needs to understand that pressure means moving away from you, not turning to face you. This is just the beginning, but I really think this would address the underlying issue of him not moving away from your pressure.
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post #3 of 16 Old 05-24-2019, 11:08 PM
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He needs to be taught a whip is an extension of your hand. You need to be in the proper body position in relation to the horse. See if your wife's instructor can show you how. Hands on help clears up confusion.

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post #4 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 12:33 AM
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Honestly, you say your are older, and with not so much horse experience, that he is otherwise a good soldier and knows his job. Personally, I would not bother with lunging.

It is true that teaching him to yield his shoulders away from you is a good skill, and this can be done without a whip.

If you want to experiment, I'd try ground driving him. the reason I say this is that he is pawing, and rearing up when he faces you and you put pressure on him. He is pushing BACK at you, and you could get into real trouble and create a sour, resentful horse.
byt grounddriving, you get him going forward with putting pressure on his face/shoulders. This might help him to feel freer and move more forward.

As you get to know him better, I would not try lunging for now. It is not essential for horse ownership, IMO.

Good luck with your new horses!
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post #5 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 01:08 AM
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So many people think that lungeing is just a matter of standing in the centre and just having a horse trot around you but, it is an art in itself.

Body language is so important, being ambidextrous also helps!

One thing I dislike about Clinton Anderson is the way he gets a horse on a short rope and makes it 'lunge' in a very tight circle. This is very hard work for a horse and, it could easily knock itself badly.

Really there isn't any reason to lunge a well broken horse.

As for the horse being whip shy that is probably because it has been used unfairly/incorrectly.
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post #6 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 03:51 AM
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I just got my new horse back from the trainer's where he had a couple week tuneup prior to riding season. She said he didn't know how to lunge and didn't see any reason to teach him. I never tried because I didn't see any need to either and I don't like lunging with a line.

I agree it's a good skill to have and maybe you could practice with some of your instructor's horses who already know how to lunge. Sounds like your horse doesn't need it though. Free lunging in a round pen is a lot more fun than with a line if you have access to one. I used to free lunge my other horses once in awhile--it's a great way to play with them and hook up. But I don't have a round pen where I'm at now.
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post #7 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 04:17 AM
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Hi & welcome to the forum, non-forum person! Hope you enjoy & get a lot out of it!

Agree with most others. Why lunge?? And I mean that as a serious question too - what are you wanting to get out of lunging him? As it sounds like you're a 'beginner', if you don't know how to lunge a horse - let alone how to teach a horse to lunge, let alone a horse who has been abused & become afraid/resistant of lunging, these are reasons that I wouldn't bother. As he is well trained to ride, good at other stuff, there's another reason why not to.

Lunging is hard on joints. It's also pretty boring, if you're asking for lots of mindless circles too, so if you're doing it to exercise the horse, you might just exercise his body & his mind - or attitude towards you & 'work' - goes to pot. For those reasons I generally reserve lunging as a training exercise, to teach/reinforce a horse for leading/driving & yielding at a distance to my bodylanguage/voice. So if you feel the need for that, I'd suggest you get your wife's instructor, or otherwise find a trainer, who can teach your horse, and you at the same time.
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post #8 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 07:16 AM
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While you are pondering the above feedback re: "Why lunge at all?", it may be a good exercise for you two to desensitize him to the lunge whip and show him that it's not a scary object in your hands. You may want some instruction on how to desensitize, because that, too, requires a bit of skill, but it'll give you something to do together, increase his trust in you, and is easier on his joints.

If he loves walking above anything else, there is no excess energy to "get out", and if you want to assess his mood before getting on, just hand-walk him and see how he acts next to you.
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post #9 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 07:42 AM
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WELCOME to the Forum!!

Fear from something in the past is a task to work on, to overcome and to teach the animal he not need fear it with you...but you will need help to do that as you yourself are not as accomplished as that re-educating is going to need.

I too am not sure why the "need" to lunge.
If the horse is all those things you just described as a riding partner, then ride him.
Same for the wife's horse...
Lunging puts a lot of stress on the horses body most don't realize.
Over time, done in to small and to quick a can be damaging honestly.
There is an art to using a lunging session to work, to train, to exercise correctly with control not just let the horse run crazy in a circle which is what many think lunging is about.
If you just need the horse to run and move its legs for a bit before riding, put him in a large pen and chase him a bit but forget the lunge lesson time.
You are also in a testing period, and everything you do that horse is watching for a weak link to authority and respect given or choose carefully your task that you remain top-dog in authority or be low-man on the totem pole and not respected.
Same for the wife's horse...pick your battles carefully.
That means set yourself up for success and achievement, not a failure.

So, if the horse fears a whip...
Someone may have already mentioned this...
Use a twirling lead shank, just something to make a extension of your arm and movement directed as you wish and want.
But with help, over time, work that fear issue so you can use, or just carry a whip of any kind with this horse and he not fear but respect...a huge difference.
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post #10 of 16 Old 05-25-2019, 12:23 PM
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If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it. You said he is already well behaved under saddle in a way that works for you. There's no reason to introduce lunging. Every time you allow him to rear, stomp, and refuse to move his feet for you on a lunge line, you are losing his respect. That loss of respect can transition to the saddle if you keep allowing it to happen. So, my advice would be to forgo the lunging. Get out there and ride your horse and enjoy him.

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