Training a 10 Year Old to Lunge *ADVICE NEEDED*

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by The Wolf Queen, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. The Wolf Queen

    The Wolf Queen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    I have a 10 year old QH gelding and I got him last year from a horse auction. Before I had him he was a cowhorse in OK and ND, before that I have no idea. Anyways I havent really tryed lunging him until now and ive really started trying to teach him but Im just not having any luck. Whatever I do he will always spin on his butt as fast as he can to keep facing me no matter what. Im not sure if that is how he was trained or he just wants to do that. I keep trying way to get him to learn to go in a circle but like I said he wont even stand not facing me. Does anyone have any advice??? I really REALLY need it.
     
  2. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    Lots of horses are trained to do that(and trained very hard to be sure they always do it, LOL), and it makes it very difficult to teach them to longe.

    If the horse needs to longe (many don't), well...it's hard to explain over the internet, but there is a way of managing the longe whip and longe line to correct that, basically 'send the horse forward and keep him straight, using the whip and longe'....yeah...that's not very helpful. When he tries to stop and turn toward you, you just...well...tickle him a little bit on the hind quarter with the longe whip, and keep sending him forward.

    To the right, the longe whip goes in your left hand, and the longe line goes in your right hand. The longe whip keeps the horse moving.

    If you think of a piece of pie, the horse is the crust, the whip is the back side of the piece of pie, the longe is the front of the piece of pie. You, you would be, ah, the tip of the piece of pie. You always keep that 'piece of pie' thing going, and you can always turn the horse and push the horse back into motion when he tries to stop.
     
  3. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

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    Start off small, lead him around in a circle with you in the middle of it.

    Then when he is relaxed about going in a circle around you, increase distance little by little and you can use your whip to aid him to keep moving. If he faces you again, try again in a smaller circle.

    I had to teach a two year old unhandled filly like that, took her a few days before she knows what lunging is.
     
  4. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    What you have is a roping horse. Somebody TAUGHT him to always face you and keep tension on the rope. He may even have been taught this lesson rather harshly and he is not about to risk messing up and being punished for it. Please do not be surprised that even if you do succeed in teaching him this, he may always remain nervous and stressed by lunging. If you don't really NEED him to lunge, maybe consider not doing it because this will likely ALWAYS be upsetting to him to do. I have seen some old-time cowboys really get after a youngster HARD to reinforce this lesson and that pain is not something he is ever likely to forget, so you may be doing him a real kindness by not lunging him if you don't absolutely need to.

    JMO


    Rusty


    edited to add:
    If you think of a piece of pie, the horse is the crust, the whip is the back side of the piece of pie, the longe is the front of the piece of pie. You, you would be, ah, the tip of the piece of pie. You always keep that 'piece of pie' thing going, and you can always turn the horse and push the horse back into motion when he tries to stop.

    This is accurate up to a point. But when you are trying to undo this kind of training, you really need to stand more parallel to his hip. If you are at midbody, he will still turn toward you. When you are back more towards his hip, it is easier to drive him forward when he does try. And you really will have to drive him forcefully forward to keep him from turning back towards you. Just be sure to stay out of reach of his hind feet because he may throw them at you in an attempt to stop being driven forward. What you are asking of him is an action that has gotten him severely reprimanded in the past, so he is going to be fearful of that happening again. For a time he may lose confidence in you as his leader, even off the lunge line. What you will need to decide is if it is worth upsetting him this badly just to undo some training. That sense of trust can be hard to rebuild. Why go through that if you don't have to?​
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  5. The Wolf Queen

    The Wolf Queen Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2009
    Albuquerque, NM
    welsummerchicks, i have an extremely long lunge whip that Ive tried using to keep him going but when i poke him or crack it he just starts backing up, always facing me [​IMG]

    EweSheep, ive tried that as well but I actually have to pull him everywhere cuz he has an Eeyore (sp?) personality and when I try that as soon as I move away even with an extremely loose line he starts facing and following me right away [​IMG]
     
  6. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    Yes Rusty it sure can be taught to a horse rather...bluntly.

    Wolf queen, it's not easy, but basically what you're doing is retraining him to get rid of this....incredibly...ingrained...thing someone has taught him. It is a matter of very quick timing and feel to change this habit.

    So say he's backing up and facing me, I would get behind him a little (at least to him, it is enough behind him, from his perspective, to effectively drive him forward...without me getting my head kicked in) cluck and flick the whip at his haunches and get him to MOVE first, that's all I care about, to start. I'll worry next (very quickly, LOL) about getting him moving in the right direction exactly. One thing at a time. Rght to start, all I worry about is GO, SIR. When mommy clucks or (a millisecond later) uses the Whip, GO - I don't care exactly where just to start with. As soon as I get him moving, then it is easy to get him to circle.

    The worst horse to train, is the one that's standing still. Move and everything is easier. As you are seeing, LOL.

    Sometimes, if it isn't too terrified a horse, you can teach him the longe whip means 'go', by clucking and flicking him with the whip when he's loose in the paddock, many people do a little better there, perhaps because they don't have to manage the longe line AND the whip at the same time. I've even seen very clever people do it in a big stall with just having the horse do a step or two (I like more room than a stall if things get too exciting).

    As Rusty said, you need to figure out where your 'go position' is, you will position yourself more toward the hind quarters to drive your horse forward, and more toward the shoulder to slow him down, when longeing.

    That piece of pie gets a little 'pulled' looking, and distorted, when you position yourself at the hind quarter, to drive forward, or at the shoulder, to slow him down.

    The idea of the piece of pie, is to show you that you 'frame' your horse on each end. One one end with the longe whip, on the other end with the longe line.

    Your 'perfect piece of pie' shape is your 'neutral' position, with yourself aimed right at the back of the shoulder or girth area, where you put yourself when the horse does not need to be driven or slowed down.

    Reacting to that positioning is a little instinctive for a horse, but you 'reinforce it' and make it 'trained'/very consistent by controlling the horse with the longe line (bridle, reins) or urging him forward with the whip.

    After a while, the horse learns to respond to more subtle positioning and gestures and body language, and the whip and longe line are there only to reinforce when the horse doesn't listen.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  7. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Phoenix, AZ
    If you have access to a roundpen it might be easier to teach lunging there. Seems like the other posters have more advice than I can give you about lunging (I've never had a horse that would lunge before and really haven't had a need for it), but figured I'd tell you to consider round pen work. It's a lot easier to teach a horse to go in a circle when they are sort of contained in a circle. You can teach them on a lunge line in the round pen too if you don't have constant access to a roundpen just so they get the idea. It's pretty easy to go from round penning with a lunge line to free lunging in a larger arena or field.

    Usually we try to teach our horses to do what your horse is doing, but I can understand how that can be frustrating as well. You could also try teaching him to stand while you walk away. That might make it easier to get into a better position to nudge him along with a lunge whip into a circle. A lot of lunging is about eye position and body language, which is often contrary to popular belief. I find many people think lunging is about a horse just running around in circles. When I've lunged friends' horses, I found that as long as the horse understood the basic concept (to go around in a circle) the rest came fairly easy. I did have someone helping me to fine tune my body language though, and I think that's what really helped. It might be a huge aid for you to find someone with a horse that does lunge and ask them if you can practice with their horse. That way you can get a feel for proper lunging.
     
  8. Rusty Hills Farm

    Rusty Hills Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 3, 2008
    Up at the barn
    Yes Rusty it sure can be taught to a horse rather...bluntly.

    Most people do not have the stomach for that much "bluntness".

    There is another possible way to approach this: by driving. Usually I teach them to lunge and then transition to driving before I start to ride, but in this instance, since he has been ridden for years, it may be possible to start him driving with you behind him about 20 feet and then work him into the circle as you gradually move to the side and finally to transition the 2 driving lines into one lunge line.

    When I drive, I saddle in the usual way, tie the stirrups securely under the belly so they aren't bouncing all around, and (using 2 lunge lines or a pair of driving lines) thread them from the bit and thru the stirrups, then drive him from behind. Using the stirrups this way keeps him working off his hind quarters instead of from the forehand, which I believe a running martingale would allow him to do and is why I use the stirrups instead. Once he is going smoothly, then I would drape the off-side rein behind the cantle (which is much easier to do when you are using the stirrups) and use the near rein to slowly turn him into circling. This way he is already moving forward BEFORE you start bending him in the circle. He is responding to the bit, which is his usual way of working, and may help overcome the urge to turn towards you. It should seem a lot like being ridden and therefore a lot less confusing than being lunged and hopefully not at all like working a cow.

    This is just an idea I had over supper tonight. I'm thinking it would be WAY less confrontational than straight lunging and should take minimal force to execute. Straight lunging without any kind of transitioning him into it may well mean that you have to almost beat him with the lunge whip to get him moving forward, not a pleasant prospect at all.

    If you do try this, let me know if it works for you! I really believe in driving and this is how I start all my youngsters. I just adopted a 7-yr-old and come this spring when I am ready to start her (nobody knows if she's ever been ridden), I will drive her until she is really steady before I ever step up on her, 'cause at my age I don't bounce too good anymore! [​IMG]

    HTH


    Rusty​
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  9. Chickerdoodle13

    Chickerdoodle13 The truth is out there...

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    Phoenix, AZ
    Quote:Most people do not have the stomach for that much "bluntness".

    There is another possible way to approach this: by driving. Usually I teach them to lunge and then transition to driving before I start to ride, but in this instance, since he has been ridden for years, it may be possible to start him driving with you behind him about 20 feet and then work him into the circle as you gradually move to the side and finally to transition the 2 driving lines into one lunge line.

    When I drive, I saddle in the usual way, tie the stirrups securely under the belly so they aren't bouncing all around, and (using 2 lunge lines or a pair of driving lines) thread them from the bit and thru the stirrups, then drive him from behind. Using the stirrups this way keeps him working off his hind quarters instead of from the forehand, which I believe a running martingale would allow him to do and is why I use the stirrups instead. Once he is going smoothly, then I would drape the off-side rein behind the cantle (which is much easier to do when you are using the stirrups) and use the near rein to slowly turn him into circling. This way he is already moving forward BEFORE you start bending him in the circle. He is responding to the bit, which is his usual way of working, and may help overcome the urge to turn towards you. It should seem a lot like being ridden and therefore a lot less confusing than being lunged and hopefully not at all like working a cow.

    This is just an idea I had over supper tonight. I'm thinking it would be WAY less confrontational than straight lunging and should take minimal force to execute. Straight lunging without any kind of transitioning him into it may well mean that you have to almost beat him with the lunge whip to get him moving forward, not a pleasant prospect at all.

    If you do try this, let me know if it works for you!

    HTH


    Rusty

    Interesting exercise there! I always wanted to teach my horse to drive. Seems like this may be a good, easy starting point to getting them used to ground driving.
     
  10. welsummerchicks

    welsummerchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2010
    I'm going to be a pain and say that the two driving lines are probably going to get a lot more snarled up when this animal starts stopping, turning and backing up, and he may do that with her in a ground driving OR double longeing(off to one side) position, even if she tries to run to his hip. I'd like to resolve the first problem with as little equipment on the animal as possible. Basically I would be teaching that if the horse hears a command to giddy up, he needs to giddy up.

    I did break a horse of this, some time ago. It was really just a matter of teaching giddy up (whatever command, cluck or whatever you want to use). It took that horse two sessions, one for each direction. And the deal he made with me was, FINE, IF you stay where you belong, but if you move up out of position and face my head or start to get up towards that way, then I AM GOING TO STOP, and he would get a little mad about it, too.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010

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