The Horse Forum banner

1 - 20 of 31 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Today I took my gelding out and about the farm on a little trail ride. When I first took him out from the paddock, he was his usual forward walking self, no more, no less. We walked around the property on a route we had done before with another horse, but this time solo. He was great. I like to repeat the successful solo rides, so we then ventured down the path towards the second barn on the property. This trail he has done about 3 times by himself and with others, twice, without any issue.
On a gravel pathway going away from the barn he started speeding up, next thing you know he's throwing his head around which accelerated into some plunging around. I started circling him, asked him to go forward, but could tell this wasn't going to get any better. I turned him back and he started jigging and prancing. I got off, and started leading him, but he was so up he was crowding me and clearly upset wanting to go home.
It was a rather ugly walk home with me asking him to circle, backup, walk a few steps, repeat, repeat.

I took off his tack and brought him into the round pen...at first he didn't want to enter but when he did bucked and ran and eventually was calm and listened to my verbal commands. Then I handwalked him back towards where he was misbehaving but not all the way, just some point where we had some grass and then returned home quietly.
This guy isn't in full work because my saddle isn't the greatest fit and I'm having to wait for my new saddle in 6 more weeks. Meanwhile I trail ride 3 days a week, usually free lunge once, arena hack 1 day a week, and the rest is hand walk.

The owner told me he didn't need lunging, she rode 2-3 times a week for 30-45 mins. My question is, I never had to really lunge my (previous) horse before I rode. Should I just lunge him more frequently and assume he needs it? I certainly did not read him correctly such that the second half of the trail ride was weird. OR do I assume that he caught wind of something and that was it? He is normally really good on the trail.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
23,204 Posts
On a gravel pathway going away from the barn he started speeding up, next thing you know he's throwing his head around which accelerated into some plunging around. I started circling him, asked him to go forward, but could tell this wasn't going to get any better. I turned him back and he started jigging and prancing. I got off, and started leading him, but he was so up he was crowding me and clearly upset wanting to go home.
It was a rather ugly walk home with me asking him to circle, backup, walk a few steps, repeat, repeat.
Sounds like, IMO you dealt with it reasonably.

at first he didn't want to enter but when he did bucked and ran and eventually was calm and listened to my verbal commands. Then I handwalked him back towards where he was misbehaving but not all the way, just some point where we had some grass and then returned home quietly.
Why didn't he want to enter the round pen? Does he view it as a place of Work/punishment maybe? Why were you 'round penning' him? What did you want it to achieve? Just to 'run off' the heebie jeebies & settle down? Sounds like it may have achieved that. Remember though, it will have absolutely nothing to do with going off down that path & his behaviour then though, so if you intended it to be punishment or such, forget that idea.

When you waited for him to be calm, walked him back to the 'difficult spot', let him have grass, before taking him home, making it a non-event etc, yep, IMO that was a good thing to do.

This guy isn't in full work because my saddle isn't the greatest fit
Could it be that it was nothing to do with the place you were at & everything to do with saddle fit? That he had been trying to communicate his discomfort in small ways, but by that stage he felt the need to shout about it?

The owner told me he didn't need lunging, she rode 2-3 times a week for 30-45 mins. My question is, I never had to really lunge my (previous) horse before I rode.
IMO if you 'need' to lunge a horse before riding... 2 major reasons.

1; He's fed too 'high octane' fuel &/or exercised too little &/or cooped up too much - and in that case, my answer would be more exercise generally, less feed, less time in lock up, more freedom/play time, and in the meantime, letting him run off some 'beans' while loose in the pen or arena, rather than attempting to lunge him(get him circling in a controlled way at your 'commands'.

2; Your training isn't up to the level, and you're trying to 'wear him down' before riding, so he's less resistant. In which case my answer is to work on his training, as 'lunging' to wear him out before riding is not going to help the underlying issues, and is only going to make him fitter, meaning you have to lunge for longer, to get the same effect.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
538 Posts
Some horses do better with a little lunging before riding. I think it's unnecessary for most horses, though. One of my three needs a little lunging. She's a 21-year-old Paint, beginner safe within her comfort zone (the arena with her buddies), thoroughly trained, on pasture 24/7. She just needs a few minutes to remember that the humans are in charge. Most days, it takes less than 5 minutes. Sometimes, I ask for a walk and I get several laps at a lope before she looks at me and thinks, "Oh, hi, did you say something?" Once I can get a trot, walk, trot, walk all within one circle, I know her brain is back inside her head.

If a quick lunging session helps your horse engage his brain before a ride, I don't think that's a problem. If you need to wear him out, as Loosie said, there's a bigger problem.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
23,204 Posts
^Yes, I should clarify, agree with the above, that in some situations, depending how & why you're doing it, a short(even 3 circles or such) lunging session can sometimes be appropriate - just meant I don't believe it generally is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,687 Posts
It doesn't sound to me like the horse needs lunging before riding, because he started out calmly and it sounds like he stayed that way for most of the ride. Then later something spooked or excited him. I don't see how lunging would have prevented that. It is doubtful you would get a horse so tired from lunging that they wouldn't react to something stimulating.

I've used lunging before a ride mainly for two reasons. One is to see if a horse is moving soundly. Perhaps I wondered if they had a stone bruise, or they were recovering from a recent minor injury.

The second is to assess a horse I don't know well. A friend may tell me to run over and take their TB for a ride, and mention they haven't been ridden in several weeks. I'm going to put that horse on a line to see how frisky they are feeling before I hop in the saddle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
It sounds like he could have had some pent up energy that he needed to get out. This time of year I find most horses become silly from the lack of movement and cold. It can't feel nice standing around in a stall and only being able to walk to and from the gate, hay and water when the ground is frozen(mud?) and/or covered in deep snow.

I find longing very useful for many reasons and will longe most horses at some point.

Longeing can allow a cold, tight horse to warm up and stretch without the rider interfering.

Wearing the saddle will allow the horse to accept the feel of it during movement and help the horse overcome their saddle reactions or cold back behavior before a rider is up.

The horse can get any extra energy and silliness out. Especially in winter.

If horse has balance issues (ex. Cantering on a circle) under saddle, sometimes its better for the horse to figure it out on their own on the longe line.

If a horse lacks confidence in himself at different speeds and/or when wearing his saddle, practice can help him. It also builds trust in his handler if the longeing is done fairly and patiently.

Free longeing can show how scared a horse is because they want to be on top of or next to the handler instead of out working. Some horses are afraid of their tack and will bronc, which is when they go on a longe line for control. (I am talking older horses that have years of riding under them... Surprise!)

To check where the horse is mentally and if I sould get on or give it another day of longeing for the horse to settle and focus. This is important for horses that have been sitting for awhile, maybe a couple of weeks even.

The obvious soundness check.

I think it's important to know where the horse is at mentally and in their understanding of basic training. This can all be seen to some extent on the longe line and with tack. I use both a line and free longeing, but it depends on the horse. Some horses don't need longeing, some need it only in winter, others year round. It all depends on the horse and the reason(s) to do it.

I would suggest feeling things out with your horse. Maybe it was a one time thing. Maybe he does need to move a little before you get on. Listen to him and your gut.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thanks, hey and Happy New Year.
Generally Im not a fan of lungeing and do it as seldom as possible. When i do its to have him release any energy he wants to expend. I stood in the center while he took the opportunity to run, i didnt use the lunge whip, just pointed from time to time. So no pressure just voice asking to come down and walk or trot. I see ppl lungeing for 30-40 minutes which I can't imagine doing. For me, 15 mins tops and I do an in hand walk warmup before.
It did strike me as odd he was so calm diring the first half. Maybe I'll get better reading his body language and either abort or alter my direction when he begins to "march out' which is not usual for him. Is that copping out?
As an aside when i had to walk him back through all his anxiety to get home, not once did he go to nip or bite me.
I'm going to repeat the same ride today, a do-over Jonathom Fields likes to say. ..but with my GFs trail horse so it ought to be a better ride.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
And to clarify. He"s outside 24/7 in a big paddock, all forage with some beet pulp and vit/minerals.
My saddle fitter whose a rep for Schleese (my new saddle to be) adjusted my dressage saddle as its a bit too wide at the tree. We have only been doing walk/trot in the arena depending on weather-hes much happier outside, and lunge for canter work. I am aware theres different pressures with canter under saddle so havent pushed for canter riding. He came to me with white patches behind the wither, sadly. I can't wait for my new saddle!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Why didn't he want to enter the round pen? Does he view it as a place of Work/punishment maybe?
Hey I think I figured out multi quote!! Good question. Its not like I say, ok go for it now! I let him meander about, which is what he did....then after several circles i ask for a quiet trot....he does that....then he eventually is asked to canter, and then it goes from canter to whatever he feels like. He did a nice stretchy trot at the end. So I don't view it as punishment...
what about starting the ride in the arena, THEN go for trail ride. Or is that not workable? I would not read too much into one experience. if it reoccurs again, then there might be something to it.
LOL that is always my preference. Our indoor is always too busy and I usually aim for the outdoor if the footing is ok.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
502 Posts
It sounds like he could have had some pent up energy that he needed to get out. This time of year I find most horses become silly from the lack of movement and cold. It can't feel nice standing around in a stall and only being able to walk to and from the gate, hay and water when the ground is frozen(mud?) and/or covered in deep snow.

I find longing very useful for many reasons and will longe most horses at some point.

Longeing can allow a cold, tight horse to warm up and stretch without the rider interfering.

Wearing the saddle will allow the horse to accept the feel of it during movement and help the horse overcome their saddle reactions or cold back behavior before a rider is up.

The horse can get any extra energy and silliness out. Especially in winter.

If horse has balance issues (ex. Cantering on a circle) under saddle, sometimes its better for the horse to figure it out on their own on the longe line.

If a horse lacks confidence in himself at different speeds and/or when wearing his saddle, practice can help him. It also builds trust in his handler if the longeing is done fairly and patiently.

Free longeing can show how scared a horse is because they want to be on top of or next to the handler instead of out working. Some horses are afraid of their tack and will bronc, which is when they go on a longe line for control. (I am talking older horses that have years of riding under them... Surprise!)

To check where the horse is mentally and if I sould get on or give it another day of longeing for the horse to settle and focus. This is important for horses that have been sitting for awhile, maybe a couple of weeks even.

The obvious soundness check.

I think it's important to know where the horse is at mentally and in their understanding of basic training. This can all be seen to some extent on the longe line and with tack. I use both a line and free longeing, but it depends on the horse. Some horses don't need longeing, some need it only in winter, others year round. It all depends on the horse and the reason(s) to do it.

I would suggest feeling things out with your horse. Maybe it was a one time thing. Maybe he does need to move a little before you get on. Listen to him and your gut.

Good luck!
Really well balanced, thoughtful advice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,585 Posts
Generally Im not a fan of lungeing and do it as seldom as possible. When i do its to have him release any energy he wants to expend.
It sounds like you have a horse that lacks manners, both in the saddle and on the ground. Part of the problem is that you are letting HIM call the shots. You are training him to do what HE wants.

I myself rarely lunge my horses (different of course for colts/fillies who are not broke to ride yet). Instead, if needed, I use (basically) ground work sessions if something specific is needed. And it's not really lunging because they don't go round and round. They are asked many things, such as disengaging the hindquarters, change of direction, backing up, moving the shoulder, etc. Working on body control.

And.... working on that control immediately. No monkey business screwing around. When I put that halter on, it is now time to WORK. There is no time for letting the sillies out, bucking, romping, whatever. It's not tolerated. That's both on the ground or in the saddle. If you want a solid mount that doesn't do these things, then never allow it. Simple.

Its not like I say, ok go for it now! I let him meander about, which is what he did....then after several circles i ask for a quiet trot....he does that....then he eventually is asked to canter, and then it goes from canter to whatever he feels like.
But you kind of do ("say ok go for it"). It's unfair and inconsistent to the horse to let him to what he wants, then ask him to do something specific, then let him do what he wants, and go back and forth.

At no point should he be doing whatever he wants. You should be in control at all times and instructing him on what you want him to do. Teach him to listen at all times and then you will have a horse that listens at all times.

I got off, and started leading him, but he was so up he was crowding me and clearly upset wanting to go home.
It was a rather ugly walk home with me asking him to circle, backup, walk a few steps, repeat, repeat.

As an aside when i had to walk him back through all his anxiety to get home, not once did he go to nip or bite me.
I'm going to repeat the same ride today, a do-over Jonathom Fields likes to say. ..but with my GFs trail horse so it ought to be a better ride.
I think how you handled the ride is just fine. If you are ever past a point you feel uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with getting off and leading your horse from the ground. But do NOT let him crowd you. The walk home can be as ugly as it needs to be. If you only make it one step at a time before he crowds you again, handle it and show him he needs to keep out of your bubble. TRAINING takes as much time that it needs to take.

But starting to address your training habits (letting him do what he wants sometimes) is going to help tremendously with his issues under saddle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11 Posts
Please forgive me if I made a mistake with the quotes.

Beau159
"At no point should he be doing whatever he wants. You should be in control at all times and instructing him on what you want him to do."

Isn't it better to work with the horse as a partner instead of against him? As a partner I would want him to feel like he can communicate anything to me. He knows I get the final say, but he can make suggestions and I can choose to go with them or not.

Beau159
"When I put that halter on, it is now time to WORK. There is no time for letting the sillies out, bucking, romping, whatever. It's not tolerated."

Instead of just riding through all the chaos from the extra energy, distracted mind, tightness, etc., why not get it out before hand? Set him up to have a positive and productive experience under saddle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,821 Posts
We all have different approaches. One thing I do not do with a horse is lunge them. When they are young they learn the concept, but I refuse to lunge someone to “get the business out of them”, or to “teach them a lesson”.

I have always had trail horses - well broke trail horses in that they will all get the rider from start to finish, over the river and thru the woods, without anyone drowning or ending up in a hospital bed.

Due to serious health and injuries for both myself and my 25 yr old TWH, he hasn‘t been ridden since at least 2015 and that ride was about five minutes.

This morning he miraculously went on a five minute ride. Joker had been in all night, I fed him breakfast, brushed, bridled him in a hackamore which he has never been in. It took a few tries but I got him to skinny up close to the fender of the race car trailer and I got him —- without a saddle.

Off we went for a five minute miracle ride around the barn, to a section of his pasture and down the rail. Joker never missed a beat, he was pretty much the same as the last day he went on a serious trail ride in 2010 or 2011.

No lunging, no thinking maybe he should see a trainer for 30 days of refresher, after five years of no riding, but it does help that I have always done my own training:).

My horses are also on big pasture during the day, where they have a chance to live like a horse. It makes a huge difference when a horse can get to pasture and have the room to blow off steam without getting in another horse’s way.

Broke horses stay broke, not perfectly but not to the point they need lunged. The most embarrassing thing I ever saw on a big ride, was some woman lunging her horse to death at the trailer, before it was time to move out.

I was embarrassed for the horse and so were other seasoned riders, as it was plain she was not at all secure in her riding ability and should have never been on a 285 horse ride. I don’t know how she fared, as my horse was thankfully a fast mover and stayed with top 10-12 riders (including the lead) the entire time - we were all on Walking Horses.

I said all that to say, nupe, I do not believe in lunging. If the horse has a training problem, lunging is not going to fix it:). Even my onerier-than-onery horse has never been lunged; he may occasionally get the riding crop to his butt, but no lunging.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
617 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Lord I miss my heart horse!!! I KNOW I have to up my game with his new boy. But having had 8 years of a kind, super well mannered, happy to go where pointed gelding that I seldom had to correct.....sigh.
You are correct - he does lack manners on the ground - which translates under saddle. But a point that Paradise made resonates with me.
If I observed him not wanting to enter the round pen, I think I wanted him to think it wasn't for punishment....hence I wasn't putting much pressure on him to run around. I liked that he walked in a relaxed manner, the trot looked pretty much the same, and when he moved up into canter the option was there for him to blow off steam.

Every day I see small steps in improvement, haven't had a regression yet. I would agree to disagree, or be fluid, about methods especially since I am - we are- continuing to learn about each other. I do have help on the ground, my trainer is aligned with Jonathan Fields who I like his style.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,821 Posts
I get it about missing your heart horse:)

My heart horse was with me 24 of his 27 years and never took a misstep. He was uncannily intuitive and intelligent. Not that athletic but a tremendous heart and work ethic.

These kinds of horses can really spoil a person:).

My other remaining horse has been with me 24 of his 26 years. He is ornery to the 10th power. I think he came into my life to keep me humble as none of my other horses ever said no for the sake of saying no. He is athletic and a tough as nails trail horse that never once panicked on narrow, cliff side trails.

13 years ago, I stumbled onto the fact that he is soy and grain intolerant. Removing those things from his diet, made a him a much more compliant horse. He never has been mean, but he Is a 1,150# con artist who, to this day, will occasionally try me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,585 Posts
Isn't it better to work with the horse as a partner instead of against him? As a partner I would want him to feel like he can communicate anything to me. He knows I get the final say, but he can make suggestions and I can choose to go with them or not.
Where at any point did I say you should work "against him"? I'm not saying to beat him, or be mean to him, or do anything of the sort. I am saying that you should EXPECT him to BEHAVE. And in turn, he should WANT to behave for you because the horse gets reward when he does things correctly.

Why would you want the horse to make a decision FIRST? Then you have to retroactively decide what to do about it. This should not happen. Because that's how your horse decides to buck. Or rear. Or bite. Or spin around on the trail and run for home. Or whatever behavior you want to come up with. And you are left behind being reactive .... instead of proactive.

Any time you are handling a horse, you should be calling the shots at all times because you are proactive. Think about it.
You're taking your horse down the trail at a walk. Your horse should continue to walk down the trail, at a walk, until you instruct him otherwise. If you want to trot, you ask your horse to trot, and he picks up the trot. You want to turn down the trail to the right, so you turn your horse down the trail to right.

Do you let your horse wander aimlessly where he wants to go on the trail?
What if he wants to walk up on the highway? Do you let him walk up onto the highway into traffic because that was his suggestion? I hope not.

Sure, horses are also horses and they might be unsure of (for example) a hole in front of them. But.... being a proactive rider, you saw the hole well before your horse did and were already squeezing with your legs and riding your horse forward BEFORE your horse actually stopped (because you felt your horse thinking about it) and also used your legs to guide him safely around the hole.

You did something BEFORE something happened. Because you were in tune to your horse. Because you were paying attention. And because you were instructing your horse what to do. You can control your horse and you can do it in a fair, but firm, and confident manner. You're not forcing your horse to do anything; because let's face it, a puny human isn't going to force a 1,000 pound animal to do anything. And if your timing isn't right, or your feel isn't right, or if you aren't fair to your horse, or if you are inconsistent, then you are going to **** them off or spoil them, and they aren't going to WANT to do anything for you to know that they don't have to because you won't stick to your guns.

In the wild in a band of horses, there usually is a lead stallion in charge of the herd. He calls the shots. He controls the herd. This is horse language. This is what horses understand. If you want to be in control of your horse, be the lead stallion. Horses need a LEADER to follow. That is how you create a solid, trusting, reliable, obedient horse. When they know you are the leader and they trust what you say without hesitation.

Instead of just riding through all the chaos from the extra energy, distracted mind, tightness, etc., why not get it out before hand? Set him up to have a positive and productive experience under saddle.
If you have properly prepared your horse to be ridden under saddle (with your ground work), then you are ready to get on.
I don't mind if they have extra energy. I can put them to work and use that energy for something.
I don't mind if they are distracted. I can redirect their attention onto the task at hand and keep their mind on me.
I don't mind if they are stiff/tight; the warmup will loosen them up.

Why is that chaos? You are taking the time to TRAIN your horse to ride off under saddle and behave.
You can absolutely still have a positive and productive riding experience WITHOUT lunging.
TRAINING your horse is what sets them up to have a positive experience.

If they need to "get anything out", they can do it on their own time while they are free in the pasture. Not when I am around.

This is how I hopped on my Shotgun for a ride, no problem, after he hadn't been ridden in almost 2 years (first part due to tendon injury, second part to me having a baby). A little extra energy momentarily in the wide open field (that I redirected) but not a big deal at all.
This is also how I hopped on Dexter for a ride this summer, no problem, after he hadn't been ridden in 11 months (due to a hock infection). Rode perfectly.
Did the same for my Red two years ago, after he came off of 12+ months no riding (injury to tendon in front leg). He tends to be quite spunky when he has time off but he was fine, his usual self, and handled quite well.
(Let me add, I am sick of injured horses and hope I am good for a while now!!!)

And every single one of them, I did NOT lunge before I got on.

This is how you create a well-trained horse that can sit and then you hop on and have confidence you have control and your horse will respect you. When you don't allow bad behavior at any time they are handled or ridden, and you expect your horse to pay attention to you at all times.

You aren't doing a horse any favors by allowing him to act a fool for 5 minutes in the round pen. In fact, you've probably trained him to do it by routine......
Horses will do whatever they are allowed to do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,687 Posts
I found @beau159's post interesting and agreed with a lot of it. For example, being proactive, reading the horse and anticipating what they might do so you don't have to correct it. I've many times had horses feel hesitant, but catching them in that moment been able to keep them confident and moving forward.

However, this philosophy has a couple of points I disagree with. First, it does not allow for horses that have different personalities, especially ones that have had bad experiences in the past or errors in handling. It also seems to blame everything on the handler, and assumes horses can always have behavioural issues fixed right away, simply by not allowing them.

We can't fix all behaviours with a strong will or correct maneuvers. Horses can have powerful and persistent emotions that can take a lot of consistent positivity over a period of time to change.

I've met horses that could not handle an approach that was about them never setting a foot wrong while being handled, and they either became nervous wrecks or had worsening behaviours. Some, especially nervous or reactive types need freedom within parameters and the reassurance that they can make some decisions on their own without repercussion. For some personalities, this approach is what makes them into better behaved horses; the ability to relax rather than micro-managed.

Dogs and other animals can be like this too. Some do better with a strict, militaristic approach to handling. Others are too sensitive and need gentle guidelines and the ability to relax within them.
 
1 - 20 of 31 Posts
Top