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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, I just bought a 2011 off the track standardbred gelding. As I expected, he had never been lunged before the pre-purchase exam. Although he did better than I thought (the person lunging him also wasn't that experienced in lunging), he still doesn't know the technique particularly well.

Any tips for training a horse to lunge? Any groundwork exercises you found particularly helpful (for both lunging, and just in general)? Thanks.
 

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I think you need to determine just exactly what he already knows in-hand.

Lunging is really just an extension of the lead. If he leads well and you can move him out of your way on the lead, all you have to do is make your communicative space larger over time.

Practice moving him in his halter and lead rope. Play a game and see how far away he can go on the lead and still respond to you. (When I say play a game, I don't mean let him do whatever he wants, just make it fun). When he gets out of reach of your arm, get a lunge whip, make sure he's not afraid of it, and use it as an extension of your arm.

IMO, lunging isn't for making the horse go in senseless circles until he's tired. It's to get him to pay attention to you and to learn to use his body correctly, learning balance on a circle. Especially at first, and since he's off track, he won't have the greatest balance. Take it slow and build up gradually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Play a game and see how far away he can go on the lead and still respond to you. (When I say play a game, I don't mean let him do whatever he wants, just make it fun).
That's a good idea. What kind of things should I ask of him when doing this?
 

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On a lead, I always make sure my horse first knows to move out of my space.

I will teach the yield of forehand first, both sides, then hindquarter. Try to have the lightest cue possible- like pointing toward the forehand or quarter for the yield. Then teach a side pass, and you can ramp it up to half-turns or whole turns.

He should then be able to move freely on the lead anywhere you want. Tell him to move forward by pointing at the girth area, tell him to slow or stop by moving slightly ahead of his motion, and a slight tension of the lead. Decide on a specific cue for trot and canter, and always use it for those specific gaits. I use 2 clucks for trot and a long kiss for canter. Slow him out of the gaits before he gets fatigued or unbalanced, or he will begin to dislike the work. To move him out on the lunge line, point at his side just as you did for the side-pass. He will move away from you, and remain out on the lunge. If he drifts in, repeat the side-pass cue.

All of this isn't going to happen in one day, remember. If you take it slow and concentrate on how he's responding, moving and reacting to you, you will develop a great working horse, and lunging should be no problem.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you! This has given me lots of ideas and help to get started. I have no problem taking it slow :)
 
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