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This is really starting to get off topic, but I'll respond anyway.....trying to keep it relevant to the original topic of if you should lunge your horse before riding or not.

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.
I always find it interesting when people give horses excuses for their PAST.
What does that have to do with anything?
Whether the horse is a green 3-year-old or the horse is a 13-year-old with bad havits, if they (for example) won't move forward at the walk under saddle when you ask them to, are you going to treat them differently? No. You train the horse you have in front of you. How they got there makes no difference.

I never said, and am not saying, that horses will have all their current problems magically fixed immediately. All training takes time and it's illogical to think that some sort of magical method is going to instantly cure your horse of all their problems. But you must be consistent and you must be fair for the horse to make any progress. So I truly cannot comprehend how allowing a horse to buck and kick around in a round pen to let off steam will give the horse any progress whatsoever in training. You just told them it was okay to do those things 15 feet from you. Why would they not then believe they could do it 5 feet in front of you? Maybe right beside you? And if you don't have any control over their body at that moment .... what's stopping them from doing it?

I also never said horses aren't going to make mistakes. Because they will. And you will not prevent all of them. Nor will you always be perfect and always prevent everything (that's wishful thinking). But again, you must be consistent and fair and never allow the bad behavior, whatever it may be. And do your best to set your horse up for success.

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.

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.
Again, we're getting sidetracked from the lunge vs not lunge topic, but what does it matter if a horse is sensitive versus "dull"? Bad behavior is still never allowed. Ever. You still need to be consistent and fair to the horse for them to progress and learn.

Quite obviously, you can have an extremely light touch with a more sensitive horse because that's all they need to get your point across. The adjustment of your weight may be all the cue they need for whatever you are asking them to do. For one that is (currently) still oblivious to subtle cues needs something stronger than that (on their way to training for quieter cues). The delivery of your cues is indeed affected by the horse in front of you, but it does not change what behaviors are allowed and what behaviors are not allowed. It still does NOT change the training. You still need to be fair, and consistent, with your horse at all times. To be as firm as necessary and as soft as possible. I think you think that I'm kicking hard on a horse, or smacking them if they don't listen, or any number of forceful scenarios. No!

Also, plenty of training can be accomplished by "doing nothing"...... In the trail riding example I posted above, where you've asked the horse to walk along and it's their job to keep walking along. I'm not pestering them while they walk. I'm not micro-managing them while they walk. If they are walking correctly, I leave them be and allow them to continue. If I sense they are going to slow (when I didn't ask for that), then they're getting a correction to continue on at the pace I asked. And then they have the opportunity to do it correctly (and be left alone) or to make another mistake (and be corrected).

Or maybe I'm working on some reining maneuvars and I've asked my horse for a nice stop. And I might want them to stand there stopped for 2 minutes. If they walk off without being asked, sure, they'll get corrected. And once again, they get the opportunity to just sit there ... as I've asked.

But yet .... you are still always in control of what you want the horse to do. Even if you've asked them to do nothing.

And if anything, the sensitive nervous horses are exactly the ones that are insecure (which is why they are nervous) and need a leader to rely on and be reassured with. You show them what they need to do to get reward, and their ears are always on you and happy to do it. My favorite horses to ride are the sensitive ones.
 

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...I always find it interesting when people give horses excuses for their PAST.
What does that have to do with anything?
Whether the horse is a green 3-year-old or the horse is a 13-year-old with bad havits, if they (for example) won't move forward at the walk under saddle when you ask them to, are you going to treat them differently? No. You train the horse you have in front of you. How they got there makes no difference.

I never said, and am not saying, that horses will have all their current problems magically fixed immediately. All training takes time and it's illogical to think that some sort of magical method is going to instantly cure your horse of all their problems. But you must be consistent and you must be fair for the horse to make any progress. So I truly cannot comprehend how allowing a horse to buck and kick around in a round pen to let off steam will give the horse any progress whatsoever in training. You just told them it was okay to do those things 15 feet from you. Why would they not then believe they could do it 5 feet in front of you? Maybe right beside you? And if you don't have any control over their body at that moment .... what's stopping them from doing it...

...Or maybe I'm working on some reining maneuvars and I've asked my horse for a nice stop. And I might want them to stand there stopped for 2 minutes. If they walk off without being asked, sure, they'll get corrected. And once again, they get the opportunity to just sit there ... as I've asked....
The horse's past can definitely make a difference in training. I believe there is a big difference between allowing behaviours with the excuse that a horse was poorly trained, vs understanding a horse's behaviour based on their past.

If a young, inexperienced horse won't walk forward you'll think they may be confused, and do things to ensure they understand the cues and have confidence.

This is in contrast with a horse that you know has a habit of mental resistance, that has been smacked with crops, spurred and learned to spin, back and go sideways as evasions. This horse will need creative approaches, and trials of different tactics. It won't be as simple as being confident and giving guidance. Or strong cues the horse knows they can ignore.

It is the same for many issues. A green horse might bite a handler. Usually a strong correction will let the horse know this is not acceptable. They may never try it again.
The habitual biter that has gotten away with it for a long time will be savvy to corrections. That horse will need a more creative approach. The handler may need to figure out what the motivation is for biting in order to stop it.

I agree with consistency but believe different horses sometimes need different approaches.

I agree that allowing a horse to buck and kick around does not further training. But also I don't believe it will hamper training. I've never had a horse think that if they were allowed to buck or kick when at a safe distance from me, that they could also do it close to me.

Sometimes I have found it very helpful to let a hot horse run a bit and relieve some energy before working them. I've also had a hyperactive dog that focused much better on obedience training if he was allowed to run loose beforehand. Other dogs did not need this.

What would your approach be if you asked a horse to stand for your two minutes, but the horse started moving each time after ten seconds, and continued doing this for forty times when you asked? Some would turn this into a marathon session with the horse. I personally would start thinking about why the horse can't accomplish the task, and figure out what I need to do differently.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
More or less on topic, but what you think about long lining in the round pen? Since I am waiting for the saddle fitter/new saddle to arrive, I thought that would keep his fitness up. Remember, we are only doing walk and trot currently. In the demo saddle (same model I am buying and waiting for - his gaits were much more lofty and free). And I am not going to ride bareback on this fellow yet!
With long lining, there is better control exerted. And my trainer can teach/guide me.
BTW great responses. I am going to start another thread about being tested...
 

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The horse's past can definitely make a difference in training. I believe there is a big difference between allowing behaviours with the excuse that a horse was poorly trained, vs understanding a horse's behaviour based on their past.

If a young, inexperienced horse won't walk forward you'll think they may be confused, and do things to ensure they understand the cues and have confidence.

This is in contrast with a horse that you know has a habit of mental resistance, that has been smacked with crops, spurred and learned to spin, back and go sideways as evasions. This horse will need creative approaches, and trials of different tactics. It won't be as simple as being confident and giving guidance. Or strong cues the horse knows they can ignore.
I disagree. Because it doesn't matter to me whether the horse is green and doesn't know better, or whether they have bad habits. I'm still going to train the horse in front of me. There's only so many ways (in this particular scenario) that you can squeeze with your calves to ask the horse to go from a standstill to a walk. There's no creative approach. There's no "different tactics". My end goal is the same. I want the horse to walk off briskly and responsively when I lightly squeeze with my calves, to move them from a standstill to a walk.

While their behaviors influence my in-between cues? Of course. But again, it doesn't have to do with their past. It has to do with the horse in front of me at that moment in time. The green horse could decide to go sideways (as a wrong response) just as easily as the one that has been smacked with crops in the past. And I won't correct either one differently. I'll straighten them as necessary and try again.

I'm a simple person. I don't over-complicate things.

It is the same for many issues. A green horse might bite a handler. Usually a strong correction will let the horse know this is not acceptable. They may never try it again.
The habitual biter that has gotten away with it for a long time will be savvy to corrections. That horse will need a more creative approach. The handler may need to figure out what the motivation is for biting in order to stop it.
I disagree with the underlined bolded sentence. While there is always more than one way to skin a cat, it does not matter to me whether it's a green horse that has bitten me or an older horse that has a habit. The older horse has clearly gotten away with the behavior due to lack of consistency from the prior handler or wrong corrections. For some reason, the prior handler did not do something right and that is why the behavior escalated into a habit. If you start to give that horse consistency and fair corrections, over time the behavior will stop. You don't need to come up with a "new ways" to tackle the common behavioral problem. But you do have to be fair, consistent, and firm as necessary. Once again, I'm a very simple person.

(Of course, its fair to consider that maybe the habitual biter started doing so because of pain such as an ill-fitting saddle or lameness issues that the prior handler did not address. It is always our duty to make sure our equines are as comfortable and pain-free as possible. However, biting is still NEVER allowed so addressing from a training standpoint for discussion purposes.)

For this particular example, I only have one way that I handle biting (which some disagree with) but it's effective, fair, and it has worked for many, many horses over the years.


I've never had a horse think that if they were allowed to buck or kick when at a safe distance from me, that they could also do it close to me.
.......until the day it happens.


What would your approach be if you asked a horse to stand for your two minutes, but the horse started moving each time after ten seconds, and continued doing this for forty times when you asked? Some would turn this into a marathon session with the horse. I personally would start thinking about why the horse can't accomplish the task, and figure out what I need to do differently.
Depends on the horse and depends on the day. (I'll sound like a broken record, but train the horse you have in front of you at that moment.) Sometimes, 2 minutes is not an achievable goal. Goals can always be adjusted. You have to recognize when it would be a good opportunity to do a marathon session for the horse, and when it will not benefit the horse. And that's what is referred to as "feel" and "timing".
 

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I disagree. Because it doesn't matter to me whether the horse is green and doesn't know better, or whether they have bad habits. I'm still going to train the horse in front of me. There's only so many ways (in this particular scenario) that you can squeeze with your calves to ask the horse to go from a standstill to a walk. There's no creative approach. There's no "different tactics". My end goal is the same. I want the horse to walk off briskly and responsively when I lightly squeeze with my calves, to move them from a standstill to a walk.

While their behaviors influence my in-between cues? Of course. But again, it doesn't have to do with their past. It has to do with the horse in front of me at that moment in time. The green horse could decide to go sideways (as a wrong response) just as easily as the one that has been smacked with crops in the past. And I won't correct either one differently. I'll straighten them as necessary and try again.

I'm a simple person. I don't over-complicate things.



I disagree with the underlined bolded sentence. While there is always more than one way to skin a cat, it does not matter to me whether it's a green horse that has bitten me or an older horse that has a habit. The older horse has clearly gotten away with the behavior due to lack of consistency from the prior handler or wrong corrections. For some reason, the prior handler did not do something right and that is why the behavior escalated into a habit. If you start to give that horse consistency and fair corrections, over time the behavior will stop. You don't need to come up with a "new ways" to tackle the common behavioral problem. But you do have to be fair, consistent, and firm as necessary. Once again, I'm a very simple person.

(Of course, its fair to consider that maybe the habitual biter started doing so because of pain such as an ill-fitting saddle or lameness issues that the prior handler did not address. It is always our duty to make sure our equines are as comfortable and pain-free as possible. However, biting is still NEVER allowed so addressing from a training standpoint for discussion purposes.)

For this particular example, I only have one way that I handle biting (which some disagree with) but it's effective, fair, and it has worked for many, many horses over the years.




.......until the day it happens.




Depends on the horse and depends on the day. (I'll sound like a broken record, but train the horse you have in front of you at that moment.) Sometimes, 2 minutes is not an achievable goal. Goals can always be adjusted. You have to recognize when it would be a good opportunity to do a marathon session for the horse, and when it will not benefit the horse. And that's what is referred to as "feel" and "timing".
I mean this with all respect. If you have always had success with the same approach, and have never had to find creative ways for horses that did not meet your expectations, you have not met enough horses yet.

This is something I am not saying from just my own experiences, but from good horse trainers I respect.

Perhaps you have kept all the horses you've worked with, so I'm not saying this is you. But trainers I have been around who thought there was no need for changing their methods based on the personality of the horse always had horses they moved on, said were unbalanced or crazy, or turned down the opportunity to train.

Unless we are talking about the same thing in different words. For example, if biting is never allowed. So if my OTTB habitual biter nabbed you five times over a month, and tried many more. At what point would never allowed come in?

Let's say strong corrections just made him do it more? What if distractions didn't help? Then what exactly does "never allowed" mean? What if he did have some pain, but it was not easily resolvable and you still needed to work with him?

Those are the kinds of situations that have led to me getting stumped at times and needing creativity.

Never allowed sounds nice. I believe horses should not be allowed to bite. Tricky horses can bite you while you are figuring out how to make them stop biting. There is just simply no method or horseman so in tune that every horse can be stopped from bad behaviours quickly.
 

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I mean this with all respect. If you have always had success with the same approach, and have never had to find creative ways for horses that did not meet your expectations, you have not met enough horses yet.
Again, I feel the topic is getting dragged off course so this is the last time I'll comment (since the original question was whether or not you should lunge your horse before riding) but horses are horses are horses. If you take them back to ground zero, fill in the holes in their training (which is where most problems arise) and build up from there, and make sure they feel their best, you can almost always create a steady trusted horse with consistency and time, and little complicated thoughts. Are there exceptions out there? Of course there are. I've had one myself

I've lost count of the number of horses I have worked with all these years. I suppose if I sat down and thought about all of them I could come up with a headcount. I started colts and put miles on horses for people in my college years, bought horses to train and sell, and of course have had my own horses through the years. Of course I know there are plenty of people more knowledgable out there than me and plenty of people who've encountered way more horses than me. But I feel I've been pretty successful with just keeping things simple, and keeping firm boundaries for the certain behaviors that I do not tolerate which are things like biting, kicking, bucking, and rearing.

Unless we are talking about the same thing in different words. For example, if biting is never allowed. So if my OTTB habitual biter nabbed you five times over a month, and tried many more. At what point would never allowed come in?

Let's say strong corrections just made him do it more? What if distractions didn't help? Then what exactly does "never allowed" mean? What if he did have some pain, but it was not easily resolvable and you still needed to work with him?
Biting is NEVER tolerated in my book. Absolutely never. That is a very hard line in the sand for me. I am not willing to risk a piece of my flesh going missing.

If your correction made him do it more, then I would wonder if you are not doing the correction right. Either your timing is off, or it's not delivered correctly, etc. There is something making it ineffective. I would also explore his other ground manners. Most of the time, there are holes elsewhere that can be improved that would also serve useful toward the biting issue which ultimately, is a lack of respect.

Distractions.... why would you want to distract him for a biting issue? This I do not understand. I can't really think of any scenario where I want my horse distracted because you want them to pay attention to you, especially when working on the ground. You want them aware of your body language.

As I stated above in previous responses, we do our best as owners and handlers to keep our horses as pain-free as possible, but pain is still not an excuse. Biting is still not allowed; even if they are in pain. Because that particular behavior is just too dangerous, IMO. The horse can easily do great harm to me by biting. Plus, horses get injuries. I need to be able to doctor an injury and have my horse allow me to take care of them. (Always exceptions: Maybe a scenario would be that you just got a new horse with issues and they go and get injured, and you haven't had enough time to correct the issues. Then you just do the best you can, because there is not a lot else you can do.)

And sure, some horses will always test us. Some are like that. You might go a couple months with no problem with biting and then all of a sudden they try to bite again to see if they can get away with it. It's a very tall order to try to be perfect all the time and to be perfectly consistent with your horse, but especially one that tests the waters every so often, it is so so so important. You let them get away with it one time, and then it picks back up again as a result. Which is why it doesn't matter to me if it is the first time ever they've tried to bite me, or they came with a bad habit - because they are going to get corrected in either situation and shown that is the wrong thing to do. Every time.

I would NEVER allow a horse to try to bite me and not do anything in response to it.
 

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I want to clarify the reason behind my responses. It's not to say anyone is not experienced or to say your methods are wrong. It is to give a perspective to those who might be having issues, such as the OP on the thread, or later readers.

My point is that many people will say (as in responses here), that if a horse does not do as expected then the handling is wrong or the horse is nuts.

A way to test if the handling is wrong is to see if it works for most horses. I agree in theory horses should not be allowed to do dangerous behaviours such as biting a handler. But experience has taught me not every horse is the same. Ten horses try to bite me, the behaviour is corrected quickly, consistently, strongly. Ten horses stop biting after one or two attempts.

Then number eleven comes along. He is very smart and opportunistic. I can never stop him from biting. That is because he has it down to a science. He will wait for weeks and months for the golden opportunity. It will be when you are not paying attention, and also he has the ability to get away fast, such as when he is turned loose. Then he will bite and zoom away. For him it is a joke. If you are in a position to correct him he will never do it.

Then number twelve comes along. He has been punished harshly for biting. If you attempt to correct him he says, "Is that all you got?" He bites other horses that take chunks out of his hide. Then he goes back to bite them again. What can you do to him that is worse? If you take a direct approach, he thinks this might be a game of wills and steps up to the challenge.

In this case, it is better to take his focus (which is playfulish but aggressive) off the handler. He has learned that handlers can be good play things to help cope with anxiety. If you fuss at them they either play aggressive games with you or try to make you move around quickly. If the handler tries to move him around, it makes him more anxious, which increases the focus on the handler/pacifier. More games. He sees even other horses kicking him as games (which was solved by turnout with mares, who did not play the games).

So are horses all horses, or are the first ten easy fixes and the other two more complicated?

What worked for horse 12 was a long game. Biting was averted by evasive handling but not reinforced by punishing (games). He was taught to look around when walking instead of focusing on trying to ease his anxiety on the handler.

Hard corrections did not help, but consistent minor redirections did. The quieter the handler was, and the less fuss made about attempts to bite, the less he tried to do it.

This was a horse that would try to chomp on you ten times if you led him for five minutes. Consistency did teach him differently, but it was not the right timing and approach several times, it was many hundreds of times. He had been in the habit of coping this way for many years, with many handlers and trainers.

I want people to understand if they run into trouble that not every horse is the same and not everything can be fixed by following the same steps. That way horses may not need to be passed around when the quick fix didn't work, and people may understand some horses require more creativity, time and patience.
 

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If this has only happened one time and you have not ridden him since, I would be curious to know if it happens again on the next ride. Because you seemed to have a nice ride for quite a ways until it fell apart, my first guess would be that if it happens that way again, it is the saddle. Like putting on shoes that are a bit uncomfortable but not TOO bad, but after walking a distance they hurt more and more. Lunging won't help that.

If he was fine for his previous owner, any chance of borrowing his previous saddle and see how it goes? It could eliminate that one thing as the cause. I think you would need to give a few days for his possible sore spot to heal before trying with another saddle. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #29
Update: my sense is he was too fresh from not being worked hard enough. Serial trail rides just weren't cutting it (all flat trails here unless you trailer out and even our parks are flat)..
My trainer suggested lunging for several days in a row which I have been doing. Except today when another trainer schooled him in the indoor where I haven't been as comfortable riding in. He did lots of walk, trot, and canter, and I didn't see much evidence of him not liking his saddle. No evidence of nipping or resistance and he was calm and likely tired after.
He'll be schooled again tomorrow and then a couple times a week in the indoor til it seems he's better accustomed to that and then I'll resume my lessons in the indoor. Lunging as and when required: he is getter better at halting on the outside instead of coming into the middle and better listening to verbal commands.
 

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As seems usual, I agree too with the vast majority of what beau said. Also all that gotta said. Couple points in your post beau, I want to comment on...

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.
This idea strikes me as rather 'head in the sand' tho. Horses are generally pushovers - just because, due to temperament, training, etc, most horses don't need to be manhandled into everything doesn't at all mean that 'a puny human' with tools can't force a horse into stuff, and with those tools, such as a bit, ropes, training, just because it may not need to look like brute force, doesn't mean it isn't compulsion trained.

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.
I too agree with not just letting a horse go berserk when I'm with them, but I might tell them they're allowed. Agree that this is not happening while I'm on board, and extra energy, not having ridden for X long, etc are no excuse imo - if you can't pull your horse out & jump on him, whether you last rode an hour or a month ago, there's something wrong with your training or such.

But when talking excess energy, considering horses are often kept so unnaturally, in solitary, in little cushy paddocks or even in stables or years with little 'turnout' at all, they may not be ABLE even, let alone motivated, to use that energy, have a good play, on their own time.
 

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BTW this silly platform that doesn't show all responses - my last response & saying I agreed with beau & gotta - that was re your first 'to & fro' as per post I quoted you from beau - just seen all you guy's subsequent discussion but not read it, so dunno what else you both said.

More or less on topic, but what you think about long lining in the round pen? Since I am waiting for the saddle fitter/new saddle to arrive, I thought that would keep his fitness up.
In a pen? Same as (actual, rather than just turning loose)lunging - if you're doing it for fitness as opposed to training, BOOOORING! Why would you go round & round? Get out of the round pen & go SOMEWHERE. If you're actually going somewhere, doing something, then I think long reining is a great exercise.

pdate: my sense is he was too fresh from not being worked hard enough. Serial trail rides just weren't cutting it (all flat trails here unless you trailer out and even our parks are flat)..
My trainer suggested lunging for several days in a row which I have been doing
If the reason you have trouble controlling your horse when riding(forget details of original post & cant see here without losing response....) is because he is 'too fresh' for you to handle, how on earth is getting him fitter supposed to help? Cutting any high energy feed & giving him more turnout time could be the answer, but lunging him for exercise is only going to help in the short term, by wearing him out, and you'll just need to do it for longer & longer for the same effect as he gets fitter
 
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