|Texas 8 month old Walking Horse
Question: No problem ... I just wanted to know in training a young filly without a round pen is there a preferred way to train her to lunge??
From Panelist Liz
I do have 2 round pens here and last year I decided to teach my yearling walker to lunge with out using one first thing just for a brush up on myself.
I do use a hand tied rope halter so I do have more direct pressure on the face if I need it when they try to test by going away from you in an open space, and they usually will a couple of times only if you handle it right and keep control and they know that going away is not an option.
I start them out at a slow walk and just ask them to go out about 4
feet from me working both directions the first few lessons and increase
over time. Get the signal for whoa right away using the voice ( they should
know whoa command from just leading and stopping before lunging) and a
tug release on the halter. When asking for a whoa on a lunge give the voice
and tug release but also take a step from the hip to toward the shoulder
to signal whoa. To get them to move forward on the lunge I walk toward
the hip . Not in to their space but to send them moving forward from me.
I may need to use the end of my lunge
They will have no understanding at first of what you want. So reward
any forward motion with a positive voice. At this age you only have
so long of attention span. Do not over work the lunging . Lots of short
lessons at first and build from there. I will increase speed from a dog
walk to a faster walk and then break the fast walk down into 2 speeds of
A reminder to keep the rope up off the ground or draped to loose that they get a foot hung over it. Do not let the extra length of rope that you are not using lay on the ground around your feet the get tangled and hung up in. Do not tie a lunge around your waist. If at all possible do not let them break free and get away form you on a lunge or this can set up for it to happen again and become a learned behavior.
Drape the excess rope in big loops on your hand so you can feed it the length in and out as you need to. Do not wrap it around your palm. And last , wear gloves.
Have fun and enjoy your baby, remember she will still be that for a long time yet.
From Panelist Jonathan
As to my preferred way to train a 8 month old filly to lunge
The best workout I have found for a 8 month weanling filly is sitting in her pasture watching her learn about being a horse for the next 10 months with normal ground manner training ie: accepting a halter , picking up feet , grooming , earning her respect etc.etc. . Then I start advanced ground work for the next 10 months consisting of lead work out in the real world slowly incorporating accepting a bit , saddle , cars , dogs , birds and paying close attention to me etc.etc. .
Now , I would consider working her in a very large circle .
From Panelist Erica
What I like to do is get your horse used to softening towards the line or your lead rope (I personally prefer to start out with a lead rope - all cotton - as it is too easy to get tangled in a long lunge line for what I start out with). My ultimate goal is to have my horse(s) calmly move around me at the walk, trot and eventually canter with slack in the line and with their head tilted towards me of their own accord.
Also, when starting young horses (or at least with my babies) they seem
to be bothered extremely by the lead snap on the side of their halter by
their nose, so I move it to the
With the horse moving, I will leave slack in the line when they leave
slack themselves, however if they take all the slack out and pull on the
end as they move around I will give a small tug on the line and then put
slack back in. Soon they learn to leave slack in the line themselves and
will slowly develop their head turned slightly inwards towards me.
Please Note however, that I will not lunge ANY horse under the age of a
year and a half as they are not emotionally or mentally able to understand
all that an older horse can. They will often tune you out if they are too
young, and there is a greater chance for injury in lunging a
From Panelist Laura
My personal feeling is that 8 months is too young to longe a horse.
The turns, especially at speed are hard on their little legs. You
might want to
These horses live a long time and letting them get a little more mature before you start them will help keep them sounder for the rest of their life. There's no need to hurry. When your filly has matured more (closer to having her knees closed), take it easy on the longeing since it will still be hard on her legs. At your filly's current age, you can work on things like leading, ground manners, trailer loading, clipping, baths, etc. You can put blankets on her & despook her with various objects to help make her later training easier.
If you have a gentle horse, you could do a little ponying (lead the baby off the older horse) to help introduce her to all sorts of things. Enjoy your baby.
From Panelist Lee
I would do it at a walk, maybe a flat walk. Not anything faster. Use a halter or longeing cavesson, and ask her to bend her nose toward the center of the longe circle, do lots of transitions between walk, flat walk, walk and halt, (whoa) and don't work her more than about 10 minutes, total time on the longe ( 5 min a side), for at least a year. It will help a lot if you do this work in an enclosed area, a corral or even the corner of an arena -- it is not a good idea to just do it out in the wide open spaces.
One trick to doing this with a halter, attach the longe line through the halter fittings at the noseband, run it under the jaw, and snap to the far side as you work her. This gives you better signal power for asking her to bend her head and neck slightly toward the center of the circle.
Have you taught a number of horses to longe? It helps a lot if you have!
From Panelist Carol
I highly reccommend Dr. Robert Miller's series on foal training, and also the Parelli Natural Horse man ship program. Rather than longing in repetitive cirlcles, find creative ways to condition her to stimuli that she will encounter in the human world, and go over backing up, yeilding the hindquarters and forehand, even negotiate obstacles in hand. Some circling is ok, just don't bore her. Thanks for your letter and happy playing!
Carol Camp Tosh
Back to main page
Ask a Trainer