Please help with lunging difficulties. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Unhappy Please help with lunging difficulties.

Okay, so I have a four going on five year old new forest gelding, Freddy.

Today, when I went to lunge him, as per usual, as we normally do, he was refusing.
He was kicking out, trying to pull away, he reared and whenever I spoke to him ane encouraged him, it would do nothing.

He would stand facing the inside of the circle, at me, and would not move. So I told him to stand, and went around to his rear, but as soon as I did, he followed me. I tried with and without whip, to see if it made a difference, but it did not.

He looked happy to see me, and is in no pain - moving correctly, no limping or lameness and he had no saddle on so there was no pressure on his back.

I also checked his feet - they were fine too, the ground is of correct softness/hardness, everything is fine - as usual, but he just wont do it, when only Saturday, he was absolutely brilliant.

I kept calm with him, used a firm voice when he was acting incorrectly and a encouraging voice when he was correct, so no anger was shown.

If you could give me some pointers on how to correct this, then I would truly appreciate it!

Also, if you have any ideas on making sure there is nothing wrong, e.g why he is doing this, I would also be glad to hear.

Many thanks for you time,
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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Hi Naomi (BTW , I love that name!)

Have you been lunging him a lot? I mean has he been easy to lunge for a year and then suddenly decided he won't do it, or has it been only a dozen good times and now problems?

My first thought was that he was in some sort of pain in his back or something. Usually, a horse that knows the drill and has been lunging for a long time without problems has no emotional issue with it and would only resist if it were a physical issue. However, you say that he "goes brilliantly" otherwise, so I will take you at your word.

Who knows why (other than the above reason) he has suddenly taken it into his head to resist. It could be that your body language this time is not quite right and he is picking up on it more this time. For example, he stops and faces you when he refuses to go forward. Do YOU stop? if you stop moving your body and if you back away from him , even lean away from him while facing him , it is virtually an invitation that says, "stand, now come toward me". he is following your body's unwitting direction.

And, when you are trying to go around to his hind end, your body is actually saying to him , "move your hind end away from me", so he does this and ends up facing you no matter what you do.

There is a great video by Chris Irwin (who I found out about from other good folks on this forum) about this. Some of his talk about how you bend and point your core is a bit confusing to me and a refinement that you could bypass in the beginning, IMO. But he explains that to avoid the horse thinking tha tyou are driving the hindquarters away, you have to come around to them in a very close ark, with your mental focus more on reaching their shoulder, than getting behind them. Once you have gotten up close to them against their shoulder , you can work your way down the body (staying close) and arrive at the hind end, even go around it and work your way up to the front end.
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post #3 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 05:10 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Seattle, WA
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In rereading your post, when the horse reared, you spoke to him to encourage him, but you no doubt ceased asking him to do what you started out asking him to do; go forward. Thus, he learned that if he acts up, he gets his handler to be buffaloed and she loses her focus.
To reassure him you must not let his display of disobedience or frustration derail you from your path. He will actually be more assured if you continute to ask for him to go forward. He will feel better because no matter how he tantrums, you are calm and insitant and not drawn into the fray, just stay the course. He may get worse, rear, kick. It doesn't matter, You just keep asking him. Eventually, when every action he throws out there does not earn him a sessation of the pressure (the whip and your body pushing him forward) he will stumble upon the correct choice; go forward. By accident he will go forward and that is when you instantly stop the pressure and use your voice to praise him. Be pretty quiet during the struggle. Let him go forward a bit, and then stop your body, let him come to a stop. Go up and pet him and let it all be friendly and relaxed. Then try again.
After the friendly session, when you move away from him a few steps before starting to drive him forward, he may try to follow you, so you will need to put your hand up or raise the whip just enough to say "no, you stay there".

When you are far enough away, start asking him to go left or right as the case may be. You may have trouble getting him to move his head away from you so that he steps out on the circle and thus his side (driveline area of just behind the girth area) becomes available to you to drive him forward.

Those videos with Chris Irwin offer good advice on how to do this, too.

Go to Statelinetack website and search for his video links. They are free and each is about 4 minutes long.
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 05:36 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Thank you ever so much for taking the time and effort to reply to my post.
I can assure, as you were worried, that he isn't in pain, but I have to say I am very confused at this behaviour.
Thank you for your advice, not really sure what to address in this reply other than the fact that I am checking those videos out now, so thanks :)
The problem is, I haven't had this behaviour with him previously, so you can imagine why I was a little frightened, but I have a tough person inside me so I will be firm with him.
Thanks again,
Naomi. (I hate my name!)
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 05:47 PM
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Location: Western MA
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My horse is doing the same thing. I realized that there was something in my body language that was asking him to come in to me, instead of going out. It is really hard to explain but watching some videos of others doing it right might help. Also, having something in your non-whip hand like a carrot stick (or my cheap version an old broom handle cut in half) might help to keep him from turning in too. THere is a fine line between a horse that just doesn't know what you are asking and one that is being disrespectful. I hope this helps...
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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I think you might be right about the body language, I have had the worst day ever and probably was asking for comfort in his eyes.

I need to remember to separate my emotions and my work with him.

I honestly don't think he's being disrespectful, but he does know what he's doing.

I will definitely use your broom handle idea.
Thank you! :)
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 06:10 PM
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Naomi (l still love that name!! you can't change my mind!)

You can hold a whip in your off hand , or a carrot stick (whatever the heck that is) or a broom stick . It doesn't matter. It is just an extension of your hand, so whatever is easiest for you to manipulate. I like a lunge whip, but not the really long kind, the medium length. Longer than a buggy whip, but not a lot longer.

It is the action of backing up, or leaning your core away from him (while you are looking for comfort in his eyes ) that is drawing him to you , counter to what you are saying with the whip. Making two contrary requests on a horse is VERY frustrating to them. They are happiest in the cocoon of clarity. Say what you mean, mean what you say and the horse will heave a sigh of relief that he can now do his job, and that is to be a good follower and EARN his praise.
I think you have such a loving attitude to him that you are hesitant to come off as a meany. No worries, any resistance will evaporate in the face of calm clear guidance.
I feel really sure you will move past this glitch in no time.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-24-2011, 06:38 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Thank you - I feel I often forget that as well as being my baby he is also a pony, and a very strong one at that!
I'm glad you like my name :) haha
I have no idea what a carrot stick is either.
I do use a lunging whip, but only as a necessity as he is usually on voice command.
We must have been having an off day!
Yes I do worry about being a meany, but I will endeavour to keep calm, but sometimes being a small girl alone with a young pony in a field is somewhat worrying!
I'll do my best :)
Thanks for your help, I hope this is easy to 'fix.'
NewForestNay is offline  

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