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So I am going to start doing 4H with one of the mares at the barn that I work at. She is a 8 year old American Quarter Horse with lots of sass and spunk. She is not fully broke yet. Well she is broke for riding and is AMAZING around kids (that's why we use her for a therapy horse) but when it come to harder ground and riding work she just is stubborn and doesn't listen.

So yesterday I was working on some ground work around the driveway (the ring is still to wet to use). She was doing awesome and was listening to all my cues. She would start "drifting off" and not paying attention so I would tell her "Lily your working" and she would get right back on track. She has never been lunged before so I decided to try it with her. (I am going to use her for vaulting this summer so have to train her to lunge.)

So at first she was doing really well walking when i wanted her to and stopping when I wanted her too. It was until I brought the lunge whip out she went berserk. She went crazy her eyes got really wide and she started "growling" (a very low whiny). So I grabbed the sting part and held it in my hand so it was only the "stick" part that was dragging on the ground.. She still was freaking out even after I kept it on the ground. So I threw it over to the grass and stared just using my cues and my are as a "mover".

So then after she had calmed down i picked it back up again. This time she went crazy. She started cantering and bucking and then she started to gallop. But the good thing was she was still going in a circle so she wasn't dragging me behind her. Me and my friend were both saying "WOAH" very sternly but she was not having anything of it. I was determined not to let go of the lunge line though because if i did it could get caught in her legs and she would fall and possibly break her leg. So I kept holding on. We finally got her calmed down. I walked back to her stall and gave her a good rubdown. speaking to her calmly.





(A few weeks before)

I had bought a lunge whip for vaulting in the summer and all the horses were out in the field. So i decided to take it out with me to see how the horses would react. They all were fine INCLUDING LILY! (The mare I was just talking about.) I was able to rub her with it and she was completely fine.



So I think she's afraid of it because she knows I have control of her (with the lung line).



Any suggestions on what to do?
 

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Well, you said yourself that this mare hasn't really done any groundwork, and it shows.
I would start slow with her. Introduce the whip slowly, not in the field with other horses. By herself. She probably doesn't understand what you're asking, & it's freaking her out. Start by walking up and rubbing the whip all around her, slowly, that helped my mare a TON to get used to it. Make it a positive thing, praise her a lot when she stays calm. It sounds like to me she just doesn't understand, and if you get frustrated with her, it will make it worse.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
But you see I've tried that and believe me I HAVE TONS OF PATIENCE. Also She has had a lot of experience but just not in that way. If you didn't read it, she is a therapeutic horse and has been doing it for 4 going on 5 years.
 

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Can you put her in another pen or arena and just introduce the whip super slowly? I say an arena or pen, so she can move away if she needs the mental space, but she can't completely get away. Don't show it to her in the context of lunging her, just maybe even put out some hay for her to eat, and put it on the ground next to it. If she accepts that, then you sit there and just hold the whip pointing down. If that's OK, ask her to smell it. Maybe give her a cookie as a reward. Then touch her with it, rub her, etc. If she won't even approach the hay if the whip is there, then move it farther away until you find a distance that works.

Basically, find out what sort of proximity with the whip she will accept, and then gradually increase that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Great Idea! I actually had an idea like that but I like yours much better. I have to wait until the ring dries out though because it is like quicksand XD.
 

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is a lungewhip necessary? if she will go forward, from your arm, will that not suffice?


I would suggest taking a lungewhip, putting a halter on her with a good lone lead, and going out into the round pen or paddock, and just leading her around, with you holding that lungewhip out IN FRONT of her.



you carry it around with you as you walk around, leading her, and pretend to do some chores. Or , really DO some chorse. Or just stop, bend over , pick up some rocks, pretend to 'graze'. Lily will stay back behind you , and the whip will just be out next to you, but in front of her. the thing is, she will be FOLLOWING it, and this gives a hrose a lot of confidnece.



Eventually, you move the whip around, casually, not with ANY intention of having it point AT her, but just sort of randomly. It will end up being closer to her, and maybe right off one side, and then back in front.


You see, I think part of the issue is the odd sound the whip makes if it trails on the ground AND when the whip trails on the ground it can look a bit like a snake, and hroses have intense fear of snakes.


So, basically, i'm describing a way of desentizing her to the whip while moving.
Desensitizing a horse while they are only standing there will sometimes not help you so much when they start moving. It's as if their feelings of unease toward something that they can just barely tolerate as long as they suck it up and stand still, . . . just explodes into panic the instant they start to move their feet.
 

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Great Idea! I actually had an idea like that but I like yours much better. I have to wait until the ring dries out though because it is like quicksand XD.
Yeah, you don't want her associating the whip with being sucked into quicksand, LOL. She might never get over that....
 

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She probably does know how to lunge, but her idea of lunging is being chased around. Or maybe she was chased into a trailer or pen with a lunge whip. A horse who doesn't jnow what a lunge whip is isn't going to react like that.

How does she react to a shorter whip? If you ride with a crop or carried a dressage ship around? I'd start carrying a dressage whip when ever I'm working with her. Do ground work, not lunging. Backup, stop, turn, yielding, ect. You want her think of other things. Just carry the whip, careful not to direct it at her. Once she's cool with that, more than just one day, you can use the whip as an aid. Ask her to yield using the whip instead of your arm.

Work your way up to the lunge whip. Dont fall into the trap of ceeding to her fears and never using one. That's leaving a hole in her training. Imo, a horse who can't get over a fear like this, and who reacts as strongly as she did, is not a good candidate for vaulting. What if she thinks you are chasing her or something while you practice your moves? Stuff following and hanging off them is scary.
 

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Hi, My first question is, do you have someone experienced on hand who can teach *you* how to lunge, and who can teach her, should she need it? Because if you learn how to do it, lunging a well trained horse is one thing, but even if you know how to lunge but don't know how to *train* a horse to do it, trying to do so alone is likely to get you mediocre results at best.

She is not fully broke yet. ... but when it come to harder ground and riding work she just is stubborn and doesn't listen. ... She has never been lunged before so I decided to try it with her. (I am going to use her for vaulting this summer so have to train her to lunge.)
Has she been trained well, but 'stubborn & not listening' to *you* or, as it sounds, is she not well trained, so she doesn't know what you're asking/what you want? Big differences. Few... discrepancies that mean I'm not sure on this point, as to how much she understands, how much is reactivity & confusion, with the whip & otherwise.

You need to first ensure she understands the basics of yielding to direct & indirect pressure up close, before *teaching* her to do it at a distance. If you don't know how to do that, then you need to find someone who does, to teach *you* too. And you need to make sure she is very good at 'the basics' as well as actually lunging out on a circle, if you want to do vaulting with her.

until I brought the lunge whip out she went berserk. She went crazy her eyes got really wide and she started "growling" (a very low whiny). So I grabbed the sting part and held it in my hand so it was only the "stick" part that was dragging on the ground.. She still was freaking out
Maybe she's been whipped or frightened with it before, or maybe it's just a scary looking tool & she's a reactive horse... or... Regardless, you need to 'desensitise' her to it first. This means introducing it to her in such a way it DOESN'T blow her mind or is too much for her. So whether it's how you're holding it, how close you are to it(if you've got a helper, playing with a whip at a distance that could be good start), you need to introduce it at a level that she is uncomfortable with but can tolerate. Then just 'approach & retreat' - if you have a friend to help, just keep passing them, or staying at a tolerable distance, where the horse can pay attention to you, and playing with her there before going away again. Lots of very short, easy 'sessions' will get her comfortable being that close. And with repetition & gradually doing 'more' as she becomes confident, you should soon have her trusting that it's OK when you have stick in hand, OK when you're waving it about. Only then should you start teaching her to yield to it.

This time she went crazy. She started cantering and bucking and then she started to gallop. But the good thing was she was still going in a circle so she wasn't dragging me behind her. Me and my friend were both saying "WOAH" very sternly
If she was doing this and staying on the circle without pulling on you - ie she wasn't actually trying to escape - then I'd think she HAS indeed been lunged before & trained to do it quite well, and she was not as frightened of the whip as it may seem. That perhaps she was instead telling you 'you & who's army'... & that is what the 'or...' that was left hanging above was about. That needs to be evaluated by an experienced horse person, and treated differently to if she's reacting to the whip in fear or confusion.

Oh & I quoted the bit about you saying 'whoa' sternly... because if a horse is in this emotional state, they're not thinking, not in a state to respond calmly, so saying this, it will only be associated with that emotional state/reactivity, so best avoided. Get the horse calmed down first, then start asking for stuff it 'knows'. With the exception of 'quit it' or 'uh-uh!', which should be associated with punishment, so the horse wants to avoid it, depending on the emotions(I wouldn't punish a fear response unless absolutely necessary for safety), I wouldn't generally want to give any 'cue' while a horse is reactive/panicked.

I had bought a lunge whip for vaulting in the summer and all the horses were out in the field. So i decided to take it out with me to see how the horses would react. They all were fine INCLUDING LILY! (The mare I was just talking about.) I was able to rub her with it and she was completely fine.
So I think she's afraid of it because she knows I have control of her (with the lung line).
As said above, *perhaps* it's not that she's so frightened(tho I'd want to rule it out). Perhaps it's that she associates the whip with being forced to do stuff on the lunge & she was effectively telling you you DON'T have the right to control her in that way. But that she accepted it in the paddock doesn't necessarily mean this. Horses are very particular about specifics & the whip may not be associated with Bad Stuff when it's not in the context of lunging.
 

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I don't know a huge deal about training, but have you looked into Pressure and Release type training? There's some great Youtube videos by Warwick Schiller, where he brings out a super scary plastic bag. The horses respond how your mare did, but after a few minutes they're considerably calmer.

I can't remember the specifics, but he would do something like show the scary item (i.e. whip in your case) then when the horse looks at it, he hides it behind his back (takes pressure off). Then builds up the steps like bringing it closer.

It could be worth doing some more research on?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
That was a lot to respond to I'll try to do it in sections.



So yes she was pulling and trying to get away but I was not going to give up because if I did and I let go of the lunge line it would've got caught in her legs and she would've fell.
 

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So yes she was pulling and trying to get away but I was not going to give up because if I did and I let go of the lunge line it would've got caught in her legs and she would've fell.
Unless you had a rope with loops tied in it, it isn't very likely she could get tangled in it. She could have stood on it as she was running & taken a tumble though, or stood on it & panicked to be suddenly 'trapped'. That happens occasionally. I like to let horses go with a long lead on, in relaxed situations, so they learn not to panic but to move a foot if they step on it, and so they learn to keep it out of the way if they're running with it dragging.

At any rate, letting her learn she can run away whenever she's frightened is not helpful, although from a training perspective, once she's at the point of panic & seriously needing to escape, is past the point of training anyway. But allowing the lead to run through your hands(not the best without gloves if you've got conventional webbing line), so the horse can move her feet, get further away from the scary, as her instincts are demanding, but without being put under more pressure or escaping, can be very helpful. So don't take a tight hold & give yourself rope burn, risk her associating strong halter/lead pressure with panicking, but ensure your rope is long enough & you have enough spare to allow her some slack when she panics.
 
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