Another lunging question

Discussion in 'Horse Training' started by timmythenarwhal, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. timmythenarwhal

    timmythenarwhal Registered

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    I know there are a million threads on lunging already, but I can't seem to find any information that can help me. My horse knows how to lunge, she knows how to stay out on a circle of any size, balance herself, and all the cues for w/t/c and of course whoa. She's perfect, until we get out past about half of the lunge line. Then she gets testy. She rushes her trot and canter, she gets hot and won't stay in the walk for more than a few steps. She takes half a circle of not a full two or more to come back down to a walk, or even a trot some days, even when I make the circle tiny (like basically shoulder to shoulder I'm getting dizzy tiny). We've done all kinds of ground work and are keeping up on it, but I can tell that she's just going through the motions, there's just enough hesitation that it seems she's constantly checking if she really has to do anything I say. I'm really not sure what to do with her at this point, any advice would be appreciated.
    P.S. I do have a new trainer, who is having the same issues if not worse with her, although tends to work through it faster.
     
  2. Rhythm 'n Blues

    Rhythm 'n Blues Senior Member

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    WHY are you lunging? Does the horse absolutely require being lunged?

    Basically if you’re having this issue, then you’re lunging isn’t conducive of anything, so why are you lunging to begin with?
     
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  3. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    Why are you lunging? for what purpose?

    Does your horse know how to lunge, what age, what training? Need more details to give any real help.
     
  4. timmythenarwhal

    timmythenarwhal Registered

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    We are lunging essentially because I've always been taught that if the horse doesn't respect you on the ground, why would it under saddle? Plus my horse is younger (almost 4!) and I'm not the lightest rider, so being able to get her to build her topline without me on her is important for her comfort. I may be looking at this weirdly, but I don't really see how 'the horse is capable of doing so and just doesn't want to so we stopped trying' would accomplish anything either.
     
  5. mooselady

    mooselady Senior Member

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    Ahh, so just because.......there are more ways to get respect on the ground other than lunging, leading in hand, moving them around, anything you do handling them is ground work, and you have to have respect.
    Maybe best to have someone ride her, I'm a heavier rider and when I bought my mare she had been out of work for years, so I had someone else ride her for a month to build her fitness before i took over.

    Try looking at it, as why should she be asked to something she doesn't need to do...find something that works better.
     
  6. Garfield70

    Garfield70 Senior Member

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    Do not excessively lunge young horses. Particularly not on smaller circles. It's bad for the legs.

    If you can't properly ride a horse collected on a small circle it has no business being lunged on that very small circle. The horse is probably getting testy because you ask something it lacks the balance for and is therefor uncomfortable. Do not bully a horse into something that is physically or mentally hard for it.
     
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  7. manesntails

    manesntails Senior Member

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    Stop lunging the horse. Get on, warm the horse up under saddle. Going around in mindless circles would make you testy too.

    Your horsebuilds topline through weight bearing onnnnnn.....it's topline.

    If the horse is too much horse for you to warm up without your tiring it out in order to feel comfortable mounting up, get someone more experienced to warm her up. Someone who can calmly sit through any shenanigans the horse might do while fresh.

    You got the horse, go ride it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  8. slc

    slc Senior Member

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    Well there are a couple reasons this happens.

    The biggest reason this happens is that you are expecting the horse to walk and jog around really slow and quiet on the longe line, and she can't.

    Why? Because she is getting too much grain and rich hay and grazing. Doesn't get turned out enough. Or(and...), she's simply an energetic horse and you don't work her often enough.

    You will find with young horses, unless they are very phlegmatic by nature, that the worst thing you can do with them is give them a longer workout once a week or every two weeks. They simply don't behave that well. That is just inescapable. They get more and more frazzled as the workout goes on, and they just don't do it often enough to settle into the work.

    And this is another huge issue - the footing where you longe her is slippery, and she's going fast because she feels her feet slipping. Yes, a lot of horses start getting really fast when you let the longe line get longer and trot and canter because they feel their feet slipping.

    Another possibility is that she's really crooked in one direction - all horses go faster on the longe line in one direction. They do that because they are kinda falling down in one direction, and it makes them nervous. Some horses are more sensitive to this than others.

    The other possibility is that she just is not used to having you lengthen the longe line, she thinks she's loose, and she starts acting like she's loose, it's just a bit exciting. In fact I would say that is just about universal in young horses, again, unless they are really extremely phlegmatic by nature.

    And/or she's 3 1/2, and that's kinda what they do, they run around. They get excited. Especially when you feed out the longe line, they go faster. They get excited. That's what they do. That's kinda life.

    So here are some suggestions.

    First of all, most of them don't need any grain at all by 3 1/2 or 4. Vitamin/mineral supplement may not even be needed, depending on your hay and pasture(if you feed old hay you probably need a vit/min supplement). If you're feeding alfalfa, stop. It's got about 30% more energy than other hays. It gets most youngsters very energetic, and when they are that age and not in a work program, there is nowhere for the energy to go. Look at your concentrated(bagged) feed. Does it have a lot of starch and sugar in it? Like a sweet feed? Maybe you should switch to a ration balancer that's more protein and fat. If you are feeding supplements, give them a hard look and see what they are contributing. Most supplements aren't worth the container they come in. Then look at the condition of the horse. Don't try to make her look round or more mature, aim for a slim healthy weight. Unfortunately most of us horse folk either feed way too much or not enough. It really is about getting a balance between food in and energy out.

    Second, put her on a program. Most young horses act up simply because they don't get worked often enough. It's not about wearing them out, and it's absolutely not about longeing them for hours. It's about how OFTEN you work them. You'll get a far better behaved horse if you longe them for three minutes every day, than if you longe them once a week or once a month for an hour, until they settle down or whatever.

    The other issue of course is that young horses are out of shape. No matter how strong they are, they're not conditioned to go in circles and be ridden, their bones are adapted to straight lines, not circles. You overdo it with them, you run the risk of having a lame horse, even a ruined permanently horse. DON'T work young horses down. DON'T try to tire them out. No matter how badly they behave. Don't get tempted to tire them out. Don't get mad at them for behavior that is simply part of being a young horse. Let them get their ya-yas out in the pasture, running around with their buddies. If they are stalled up all the time, they're going to be jerks, and that is NOT their faults.

    The trainer I knew who had the absolutely best trained healthiest young horses was an incredibly lazy individual. Oh he got on or worked the horses five days a week, but none of them EVER got worked for more than 10 or 15 minutes, no matter how horribly they behaved. Tomorrow was always another day. He did it because he was lazy, but there is a huge amount of merit to making sure they work OFTEN. BRIEFLY, OFTEN.

    But the bottom line is that you have to teach your horse to go on a longer longe line. It is absolutely not good for her to be on a short longe line. She's got to get out onto a bigger circle.

    So...first of all, give her a chance to be good. Work with her AFTER she's had a long day out in the pasture, kicking, running, bucking and carrying on. Give her the POSSIBILITY of succeeding. If she's not at a place where she can do that, if she's in a little muddy pen, get her somewhere else.

    Then think about this. The fundamental problem is that you've simply never taught her to go out on the longe line. You're skipping ahead too quickly. She doesn't know what's going on, she doesn't know what to do.

    It isn't about immediately getting them out on a 60' circle. That isn't reasonable. What you need to do is get them to go out one FOOT, not 50 feet. They say every walk starts with one footstep, that's the truth here.

    At the same time (and frankly I would not longe her UNTIL she knows how to go out), she has to learn that you are going to tell her to go out, not LET her go out. So you need to be practicing, in her stall(probably the best place because it is a small area), that when you push on her shoulder with your hand she moves away from you, her whole body together, not just the shoulders or just the rump. After a LONG time this is going to become you AIMING the tip of the longe whip at her shoulder, and she'll move her whole body sideways. If you can't do that now, don't longe her until she knows it cold.

    Never make the mistake of trying to urge the horse to go faster when/with the longe whip pointed forward of her girth line. The longe whip has to mean, forward of your girth, get over, behind your girth, go forward. So you NEVER get after her with the whip forward of her girth line. Ever. If she does not (in the distant future) go OUT away from you when you point the whip at her shoulder, you walk out to her and push her out with your hand on her shoulder. Don't get after her with the whip.

    So maybe now you see how really a whole lot of schooling MUST happen before you longe your horse. If she goes bananas when you lengthen the longe line it's a training issue, steps in training have not been done.

    When longeing a horse, the horse is supposed to keep a contact with the longe line. It's not supposed to droop down or drag on the ground. When you send her out, you will (eventually) point the whip at her shoulder and give her some longe line to take out. She takes it out, you lower your whip, which means, 'that's right, that's what I wanted, good girl.'

    You need to lengthen the longe line AN INCH, have her halt, go out to her, pet her and say, good girl, and walk her forward a few steps, and then STOP THERE. Put her in the barn or turn her out or whatever, but don't keep trying to skip ahead when you haven't taught her the concept.

    With young horses, you teach them CONCEPTS, in tiny tiny steps. You can't expect them to do things until and unless they have been taught the concept.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  9. Circle C

    Circle C Senior Member

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    Agree 100%
     
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  10. timmythenarwhal

    timmythenarwhal Registered

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    Thanks for the advice! This is the first green horse I've brought along, so my arsenal for dealing with whatever issues come up is pretty much what my trainer tells me and what people actually bother to explain in training books (not as much as I'd hoped). Unfortunately my girl is currently in a small turnout that's also mostly mud, so I think lunging will allow her to get her excess energy out in a safer way than running around the arena, but I'll definitely look into shorter sessions and more 'get on and go', she is much more relaxed under saddle. Until I moved her to this trainer half the time I would just hop on and go, and aside from the occasional spook and sticky spot to work through she would do pretty great. I was looking at it as a ground work/respect issue, but after going through the replies I can see that it's not the best way to look at it. The arena is loose sand that could be a little slippery feeling, it's allowing her to get herself worked up, and generally I tend to get frustrated with her which I'm sure she can sense and helps nothing.
    Now to find a way to tell my trainer o_O
     

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