Lunging Issues

I have a mare that I bought green-broke a few years ago. Due to a few different circumstances, she spent most of that time being a pasture ornament. I got her going this spring and have been riding her. When I bought her, the previous owner said she had to find a trainer that “could convince the horse that it was her idea” to do something. She is certainly a strange horse.

Anyway, lunging this spring went okay initially (not spectacularly, but okay). We had a few obstacles to work through with riding, but we’ve come a long way together. The issues I’m facing now and that are ongoing, are that she refuses to move forward, particularly when being led or on the lunge line. She just plants her feet and refuses to move. And when she really doesn’t want to work while being lunged, she spins to face me.

Does anyone have any experience with such issues? If so, how did you solve them?

Lunging with 2 reins will stop her turning in. Be taught if you don’t know how.

For going forward on the lunge start with leading. You click and she walks before you walk. You say halt and she halts before you halt. You say back and put a thumb on her chest for back.

Once that is down pat you click, she walks forward, you take a step back and you are in the correct position for lunging.

Her turning towards you and you trying to stay in the lunging position means that she is lunging you! This comes down to experience.

Lunging (useful lunging, especially) is a skill that need to be taught to the handler just as anything else would be taught to a rider. If you have not been taught to lunge properly, then see if you can find someone to give you lessons. So much of it is about body position and it could be that you are too far in front of her and so are sending her mixed signals.

Likewise, lunging is something that needs to be taught to the horse.

Before lunging, though, it sounds like you have bigger problems than that if the horse doesn’t even lead well, so that’s where I’d start my lessons - with basic ground work.

I’m the opposite of the poster above. I don’t want my horses to move before I do, want them to wait for me to move before I move. I don’t want my horses walking off without me. I want them following the movement of my steps - my rhythm and speed and direction. I want them to stop when I stop.

So decide how and when you want her to move and teach her accordingly. Does she give well to pressure? (She should.) Teach her to follow a feel - it all starts there. If this sounds foreign to you, get someone to help you.

Although I am no expert, and you may need one, your horse sounds similar to mine with one difference. What I want doesn’t have to be “his idea” --but it does have to be less work than any alternative. My horse will always choose to do less. Clearly, standing still is as “less” as it gets. So, were this my horse, I’d have to make choosing to stand still more work than what I want (to go forward). I’d move his feet --don’t care where, but make those feet move. Move horse sideways, back, circle any way you can but keep those feet moving until there is one step forward --then stop and move away quietly. Just stop. Watch horse. Should look for lip-licking, blinking, or a deep breath. Then, give go forward cue again --if horse does not go forward, move his feet --back, sideways, any way at all and keep those feet moving until there is one tiny step forward --everything stops. Rest. Now horse is learning (on his own) that responding with one little step forward gets him REST! Failing to respond gets him WORK. As I said, my horse always chooses rest --I just have to figure out how to make that choice clear to him.

You might ask “if horse is planted, how to I get those feet to move?” --Whatever it takes. I use a long (4’) whip --and I apply it progressively harder until I have some response. I start with a motion (not touching) --no response? --tap --no response? tap harder --until I have some response --some movement. Then everything stops. Quickly horse learns the progression --movement, light tap, harder tap. The horse learns to respond to the movement.

Personally (and others have ideas too and favorites) I think looking at Clinton Anderson’s Lunging for Respect DVD would help you. Not saying Anderson is the best or the only, but he does 8 30 min lessons on that DVD that progress logically with the result that the horse is more respectful of handler and responsive to on-the-ground commands (go forward, sideways, move hips, move shoulder, back up) --on a loose lead line when asked with a clear motion. There are segments on YouTube that might work --but as I said, the DVD is worth a look, I think. The on the ground cues translate nicely into riding cues too – but again, I’ve never seen Anderson in person, don’t know him, don’t think he’s the only one out there. But it worked for me and three horses I worked with using that method.

Foxglove

[QUOTE=Pocket Pony;8738269]Lunging (useful lunging, especially) is a skill that need to be taught to the handler just as anything else would be taught to a rider. If you have not been taught to lunge properly, then see if you can find someone to give you lessons. So much of it is about body position and it could be that you are too far in front of her and so are sending her mixed signals.

Likewise, lunging is something that needs to be taught to the horse.

Before lunging, though, it sounds like you have bigger problems than that if the horse doesn’t even lead well, so that’s where I’d start my lessons - with basic ground work.

I’m the opposite of the poster above. I don’t want my horses to move before I do, want them to wait for me to move before I move. I don’t want my horses walking off without me. I want them following the movement of my steps - my rhythm and speed and direction. I want them to stop when I stop.

So decide how and when you want her to move and teach her accordingly. Does she give well to pressure? (She should.) Teach her to follow a feel - it all starts there. If this sounds foreign to you, get someone to help you.[/QUOTE]

Yes I stand and horse must walk before I do. This is a basic. In the end it is almost immediate and the click is between me and the horse so you would probably not see a difference.

They are taught to stand still.

You see a lot of beginners. Horses walk because they walk. Horse is happily following their feet. Beginner ties up horse. Beginner walks off horses go to follow. Suddenly not a happy horse or rider.

Once horse is down pat with moving on your signal no halter is required. They are listening to your sounds not feet or halter. You can be away from them or on a horse.

After going back with the thumb you teach back and a small tug on the tail or back and wave finger from side to side. Always 2 signals for back. You only want one horse to back out of a float at a time. Not 2.

So you walk to the ramp and stio. The horse should keep walking as you have not said hakt or click and Horse self loads. Tug on tail and say back. They self unload.

Walk to gate. Open it. Click. Horse walks through. Say halt. Horse halts. You close gate. Step to shoulder click and off you go.

Wave finger from side to side to move a horse on the other side of a gate so as you can go through the gate on the horse you are riding.

I did see a post on a forum from a girl who fell off a large horse. She fell off the left side. He stood on her left foot. A strange situation as horses dint normally do that and try their best not to stand on you. Most horses would move off. He had been taught not to move unless you walked first. She could not walk. She tried everything else to get him to move and nothing worked. She couldn’t push him off. I guess she asked him to pick up his hoof in that time. From memory I think she was stuck there for half an hour until someone saved her.

That’s why you teach them to follow a feel. You ask - in whatever way you’ve decided that means something to you and your horse - and they follow it. It relates to everything. You have a language that works for you and your horses. My language is a bit different but works for me. OP needs to figure out what she wants her language to be and teach accordingly.

Thank you all for the advice! I will ask my instructor to give me some lessons, to see what I can be doing better/differently.

Getting her going again under saddle had some bumps in the road as well. She also refused to move and would go backwards. I ended up carrying a crop and when she doesn’t want to move, I add leg and give her a chance to respond, if that doesn’t work, I also add tapping with the crop. When she moves forward, all pressure goes away. She has done really well with this and now moves forward beautifully and with a light touch. So I think with a lot of groundwork practice, we can get her lunging well, too. You’ve definitely given me good ideas of what to do!

Buck Brannaman’s 7 Clinics DVDs. They aren’t necessarily going to teach you how to lunge, but they will help you with getting a better feel on the ground and under saddle. They will give you some good basics for lungeing and more.

Lunging is very simply comprised of 2 things - go forward and soften to pressure. You need to teach both of those or your horse will not really understand what you want it to do. The go forward is self explanatory. The horse needs to give to pressure on the head which will keep it on a circle while going forward. No need for any fancy equipment etc.