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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was hoping some of ya'll may be able to shed some light on an issue I have.
I never lunge my TWH before riding him. I have been told by several walking horse folks that it can have a negative effects on their gaits. Is there any truth to this, in anyone's experience? Do any of you gaited horse owners lunge yours?

I know lunging is useful both to build muscle and increase fitness, as well as to establish a leadership role. There are times that he gets antsy, fidgets, and tries to turn back to the pasture, wanting to eat and socialize rather than work. If he tries to turn back towards home, I make him do tight circles as correction, and then point him back in my desired direction. Would lunging help curb this tendency, as he "gets some of his willies out" before we mount up? He's never violent when he decides to turn around, but at the beginning of our rides I have to correct him several times. A bit tedious. Any suggestions and/or insight would be much appreciated!:)
 

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I don't lunge but all the walker show people I know do. From what I can tell it hasn't hurt their gait at all. It also takes the edge off them and they are ready to work afterwards.

Now typically it takes 10-15 minutes for mine to warm up to the point they are gaiting properly, I could lunge or ride them for that time. I prefer to ride for that time and I enjoy that "edge". Plus I don't want my horses trained that they need lunging prior to riding. I enjoy trail riding and I'm not going to trailer them out to a mountain trail, lunge them then go for a ride. I pull them out of the trailer, toss a saddle on them and I'm gone.
 

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How old is the horse? The behavior you describe is fairly common in the immature horse (under about 7 years of age) or in the poorly trained horse (who might need an "attitude adjustment") and some additional training.

Longing will not adversely affect gait in most circumstances. It is an excellent way to prepare a horse for work as it "re-orients" the horse's mind and enforces the idea that it's work time, not eating time, socializing time, etc.

Be careful with horses with a very lateral gait that your circle is not too small. The very lateral horse will have difficulty below about 20 m. in diameter unless it's been trained and conditioned to work with smaller diameters.

When working watch the horse closely. As soon as its attention drifts off you then correct that by making a change (in, say, gait from walk to gait or canter, or in the other direction). This will, in time, teach the horse to keep their attention on you at all times.

G.
 

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A horse can be energetic but it shouldn't change your respective roles...meaning if your horse is so energetic or perhaps distracted (as is the case with my SSH) that it doesn't want to listen to you, then additional work needs to be done to solidify your position in your relationship.

IMO this takes more than lunging. I would incorporate other ground exercises such as backing, yielding hind and fore, sidepassing from the ground, obstacle work, and other exercises from the ground to get him listening to you and respecting you.
 

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I have seen other posts about this and there seemed to be a lot of controversy on whether it was good or bad. In my opinion if you can have your horse do proper gaits in a circle you're going to get better a more consistent walk. It stretches them out. I personally feel that there is no reason not to lunge a TWH.

I however don't think lunging him will help you so much here, I think youd be better off to turn and ride him harder when he tries to turn around. Horses learn very quickly that they want to do as little work as possible so if you make him work hard, serpentines, hard runwalk, bends etc he'll learn that if he stops fighting he gets to have an easier time.

hope that helps some..
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
thanks for the input all.
the horse in question is 13 years old and very respectful to me on the ground. it seems as though it just takes him a bit to warm up.
once we've settled into our ride he complies with every single thing I ask of him, no fuss. it's just the first few moments where he's antsy.
I will try lunging him on a long lead, and hopefully that will drive home the idea that when I say it's time to work, it's time to work.
Although... I don't know if he's ever been lunged. Will he understand what I am asking of him?
 

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Wow. great discussion. I have a 5yo quarter horse, not a gaited horse. I won't even CONSIDER riding him without first lunging him. He has too much energy otherwise.
 

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maybe someone can lunge him with you riding him, if he is good on the ground and the problem is at the beginning of the ride under saddle you'll want to correct the issue while you're in the saddle. You may find that doing the ground work helps to establish more of a respect for you, but I have found that if my problems are occuring under saddle correcting them while I am in it is what works best. If he calms right down and isn't hot then your problem likely sin't too much energy but rather he's somewhat herd bound and doesn't want to listen to you at first because he wants to be with his herd, once they're out of sight he lets it go.

If he wants to turn around when you ride out, carry a whip and if he turns to go back, don't let him and give him a tap to remind him that you're in charge and he must go forward. Be gentle but firm. My mare did this on her first ride out and it was like asking her to cross a creek for the first time, don't let them turn back and ask for them to go forward as you as little force as necessary, but enough to get the point across that you are the leader.

Rule of thumb is work on training whatever your horse shows your first that he needs to work on that day and focus on that until you make progress.

Anyways let me know if lunging him does have any effect as i am interested to know.

Goodluck!!
 

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The lunging part is ok --- it's how "tight" you lunge a gaited horse that isn't ok.

They cannot and should not be expected to lunge as tight a circle as a trotting horse. They need room for their shoulders to make those sweeping movements that allow them to gait.

That being said, I've never lunged any of my Walkers. I trail ride, they never needed it. They "flex" and "give" everytime I make them go around trees and rocks. I don't ask for show ring perfection - good manners and willingness to try/learn and not get me killed on dangerous trails, are more important to me.

I've never had any problems with any of mine gaiting either. Never had to work with any of them to "set" their gait. I just get on them and they go.

They range in age from 16 - 24 and three distinct blood lines if you're only looking back as far as grand or great-grandparents:)
 

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Just how tight a gaited horse can longe depends a lot on their way of going.

Under saddle, I've got a batida horse with a very diagonal gait that do less than 5 m. circles all day long. I've got a picada horse with a very diagonal gait that can do a 5 m. circle but I have to ride that circle (keeping her collected and balanced). My center march horse can also go below 5 m. but it's hard for her and I have to ride her, too.

On the longe, however, I'm not in the saddle and cannot help the horse collect or balance. So on the longe line I don't go less than 20 m. unless I've got a particularly good reason to do so. The most common time is with a young horse learning to longe. We'll walk on a very small circle until the horse gets the general idea of longing. Then we open up the circle and will add the other gaits.

The vast majority of North American gaited horses are lateral in the way of going. But even amongst Walkers you'll find a surprisingly wide range of movement. It's tough to make absolute statements about them. :wink:

G.
 

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I used to ride walkers and I had no problems with longing.

Two issues that I have with it.

1. Very young horses should not work too long in small circles as it may cause developmental problems.
2. The more you work them before you get on, the more fit they get. The more fit they get, the more you have to work them before you get on. 10 minutes turns to 20. Then 30......
After a horse is trained well enough that they won't kill me, I just get on and ride without any longe line work.
 

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I used to ride walkers and I had no problems with longing.

Two issues that I have with it.

1. Very young horses should not work too long in small circles as it may cause developmental problems.
2. The more you work them before you get on, the more fit they get. The more fit they get, the more you have to work them before you get on. 10 minutes turns to 20. Then 30......
After a horse is trained well enough that they won't kill me, I just get on and ride without any longe line work.
Very well said, particularly No. 2! :)

For a period of time when she was 8-9 years old my mare required 5 min. or so of work on the longe or in the round pen to "reorient" her mind that it was work time (vice eating time or hanging out time or schmoozing time or etc.). I have not had to longe her in several years. I will, every few months, do a short longing session to renew her skills (and mine :wink:).

G.
 

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I would always longe my tw mare before riding her. She had good ground manners and for the most part, was pretty respectful. In the summer, she was obviously more relaxed and had a better mind set for work, however, when it was cold, or the wind was up, so was she.

So, we'd longe both directions to get her focused, warmed up and I'd get a chance to see if there were any glitches in her giddyup before I got on. Seeing where her mind was from the ground told me a lot about what kind of ride I was going to have. She was a difficult horse under saddle so it was, for me, important before riding her. Maybe be longed for 5 min. maybe for 15, it depended on her. You can teach a horse a lot from the ground..there's something to be said for having a horse that far away from you and paying attention to everything you are asking and not having their attention drift.

That said, I had an older qh gelding that I wouldn't ever think of longing. In fact, on a freezing cold Christmas afternoon, I'd pull a bit hanger on him, walk him over to the fence, monkey up onto his back and ride him bareback through the neighborhood. He was great.

I'd agree wholeheartedly about NOT longing in a tight circle. Probably not a good idea to longe on the end of a leadrope..for either of you. If you want to teach him to longe, there really is a lot to learn, for both of you and it's not about having a horse charging around in circles just to tire them out either. That's just plain disrespectful of the horse to do not to mention could cause injury.
 

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After a horse is trained well enough that they won't kill me, I just get on and ride without any longe line work.
That is what I do too. I've owned horses that won't even walk once you go on a trail ride and I still just get on and ride it out of them, including my Fox Trotter.

But I have never had a really young horse, so who knows, lunging might be in my near future! If/when I lunge, I really prefer to free lunge in a round pen. I've never been very coordinated with a lunge rope.

PS. Perfect song choice Celeste! :lol:
 

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I actually allow our gaited horses to trot on the lunge line. They however never attempt to trot under saddle. They know the difference. My ssh who is four is the only one who does not trot on a lunge line. I believe she actually doesn't know exactly what a trot is because I have never seen her trot.
 
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