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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I'm new to HorseForum so I'm not sure where I should post this question - forgive me if I need some time to get used to things. :)

I have started working my "off the track" Thoroughbred again since the weather is finally breaking. So far I've been doing the basics (longeing, ground manners, etc).

Since moving to a new place, my horse has become increasingly distracted with his environment when I'm longeing him. He listens to my commands without a problem and has been getting back into the swing of things very well.
However, he is more attentive to what he hears out in the woods that surround the arena than he is with me. My trainer taught me that his inside ear should be facing me and his attention on me, waiting my next request.
I tried to give the longeline a little rattlen when he loses focus, but he's even grown desensitized to that. Any tips on keeping his attention?

Thanks so much!
 

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you can ask the horse to go faster. or, you can step a little back around them. so, you don't step directly toward them, but more as if you were trying to sneak around them in a circle. I mean like one step, not a huge movent, but as much as it takes, and as little as you can manage.

this will often get a hrose to look back to see what's going on. it can also get them totally off the circle, and have them attempt to swing around and face you. so, you do this in a minute amount at first, and be prepared to ask them to keep moving forward the second you see their ear or eye come back.

you can also kick a little bit of sand, or slap your thigh . any kind of small noise, not necessarily intent on driving them, but enough to get them curious.
 

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oh, and if they are mentally fixated on some place, you ask them to do something BEFORE they get drawn into the place, like the gate, ore where the buddy is . get them busy before they leave you mentally.
 

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I'm not a fan girl of Clinton Anderson by any means but his method of lunging and asking for frequent changes of direction have really helped by easily distracted TB pay a bit more attention :) Google or YouTube "lunging for respect by Clinton Anderson" and see what you find. I know there are articles and videos that help teach and illustrate the concept.
 

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When you see him begin to loose focus, do something he does expect. As for more speed, ask for less speed, make him try around, make him face you. Something that he doesn't expect. :)
 

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Hi Devil,
Welcome to the forum. You have mentioned longlining. This sounds like a Monty Roberts technique. I am concerned that you are again working with your OTTB. OTTB's are about as smart as they come. After 2 weeks of desensitization and ground work you should be riding and putting trail miles on him. TB's are extremely sensitive (not the same as spooky). They need a lot more stimuli to keep them engaged and desensitized.

The fact you're worked him/her, then took the winter off and are now back still working him on the ground with longlines (I am assuming your not working him as a cart horse. If so please specify), tells me he/she is bored out of it's mind. Hence the detracted behavior.

Please give us the sex, age and and how much training you have put into the horse. I hope this is not a stud but a gelding. A philly/mare is okay too but can be problematic. :wink: Keep us posted.
 

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Since moving to a new place, my horse has become increasingly distracted with his environment when I'm longeing him. He listens to my commands without a problem and has been getting back into the swing of things very well.
What goal do you have in mind while lunging him? Are there training tasks you're working on teaching or fine-tuning? Are you just lunging him to loosen him up or as a prelude to doing something else?

If it's not the first option, then I wouldn't be surprised if his attention wanders. If you're not actually asking him to do something that he has to focus to accomplish, he'll find something to take up the rest of his brain, and it sounds like all the things outside the arena/roundpen might be it. If your commands are being followed well, but half his attention is elsewhere, then obviously your commands are well-established and routine enough to him that it only takes half his attention to do them.

You have three options IMO:
1. Make your lunging tougher so he has to pay attention (changes of directions, speed, poles, long lines, etc)
2. Accept that you're just limbering him up and it's just not going to take all of his attention
3. Ditch or shorten lunging and move on to work and warm-ups that DO challenge him and require him to focus.

Just making louder noises or more obnoxious rattles with the line will just teach him to ignore louder noises and more obnoxious rattles if there's nothing more to it. I am glad that it sounds like he's settling in and listening to your commands well- perfect time to keep moving forward! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you everyone for the answers so far :) I appreciate them!

I realize I should have specified a little more on my gelding's training. I've had him for five years and have been consistent with his training (not all the same things, he's had quite a variety!)
During the winter I worked him in different ways, but I did keep him active with different activities around the ranch. I definitely didn't let him go lazy since the weather wasn't fun.

A few of you mentioned that I could need to change his longing a bit, to keep him attentive. That makes a lot of sense!

I'm building him up to start riding trails and doing other activities with my friends who are also riders. Longing, thus far, has been to loosen him up and help me get back in the swing of things too.

I plan on setting up ground poles next time I longe him. If I have any additional questions, I'll post them promptly. Thank you to everyone again!
 

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Much good advice has been given about trying to keep and regain your horse's attention. You might also want to consider the following.

You mention that the horse is distracted by new sights, sounds, and, possibly, smells in its new environment. Have you tried introducing him to what these new things are?

Horses, by nature, pay careful attention to anything new. After all, they don't know whether this new sight, sound, or smell might indicate a threat. As they learn these things are not a threat, their minds can be free to pay more attention to other things such as your directions. This is the basic idea behind desensitizing training.

Of course, you can't -- and probably don't want to -- desensitize your horse to everything. Still, the more things a horse learns are not a threat, the more he can relax and learn about other things.
 

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You indicate that you have trained him consistently for 5 years, and are building him up for trail riding? Are you able to ride this horse or are you just doing ground work at this point?
 

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Clinton Anderson's lunging for respect!! There are a few exercises you will have to teach him leading up to being able to lunge for respect...but my hyper aware morgan mare completely focuses on me when we work on that.

He put out a cheap book ($20) on the method.

Gaining respect and control on the ground for english and western riders by Clinton Anderson. You can buy it on amazon for $22ish. It will change your whole relationship with your horse.

If he is looking out into the woods under saddle, do frequent changes of direction asking him to bend and do different loops. Clinton talks about that in his book as well.
 
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