|Mississippi 19 month old Walker Mix being
worked by beginner.
Question: When trying to get the gelding to lunge, he refuses to go
out and continues to come back to the center of the circle. He does
not go away from the lunge whip and
From Panelist Liz
It sounds like he just does not understand what you want. So in his youthful insecure confusion he comes to you. Start by just working with the leading and he probably has this just fine so when leading start to take one step farther away from him while leading. Do it very inconspicuously, if he comes back close to you just keep on leading and try taking that step away again. Once he is used to being that extra step the make it 2 steps away. Reward with a positive tone of voice for holding this position for even a few strides. Horses really respond to positive input and you want to build his self confidence and let him know you are happy with what he is doing. For some horses breaking things down into small steps works better and build from there.
When getting to the lunging don't ask him to go way out from you. Ask for him to just go out 4 or 5 feet, even on the end of a lead rope works, and if he takes just 2 steps forward , reward him for it and build from there. Take your time, for some horses it just takes longer than we humans would like . At 19 months and for a several years yet you have an adolescent mind you are working with. Short lessons are better and do not over work the lunging. He is to young to use it for conditioning. Too stressful on the body at this age and should be done at a walk only. But it is good to teach him to learn to listen for commands of whoa, stand and move up. A lesson taught is forever ,a lesson forced will make the future ones harder and take longer to come by.
From Panelist Laura
Since you don't have a round pen where you can do some free longeing (no line), you might need to back up a few steps to show the horse what you want.
You could start out by leading your horse in circles, gradually making the circles larger and giving the horse more of the line to have him walk further away from you. Do this from both sides. When he's comfortable being led from either side, continue giving him more line until you can walk a small circle while he walks a larger circle. Once he's at this point, he knows he's to go around you in a circle and you can start doing some actual longeing.
From Panelist Lee
This is an old trick that I learned from a really good book "Breaking
and Training the Stock Horse" by Charles O Williamson. If the horse
won't stay away from you (whip broke or some other thing that makes him
want to cling like velcro) -- find a long fishing pole or light dowel rod,
tie it with short strips of cord so that one end is fixed under his
jaw (assuming you are using a halter to longe him) and hold the other end,
with your longe
From Panelist Nancy
I will try to explain to you how to start your horse lungeing:
With your horse on your right, tap him on his side with the whip (about
where your leg would hang if you were on him and tell him "Walk".
When you say the word, "Walk", you will walk alongside of him.
Repeat this until he understands that the tap on the side and the
command means for him to walk. Be sure to tell him, "Good boy"
and pat him each time. When he understands this thoroughly,
start stepping further away from him and start walking in a small circle
while you give him the same commands as before. Eventually you
If you have a round pen to work him in and your horse isn't inclined to panic, you can work him free in there and just drive him out to the perimeter of the pen with the whip, taking care not to frighten him. You want him to respect the whip, but not be afraid of it. The position of your body in relation to the horse will be the same, and also the command to walk. Always let him know when he has done the correct thing and praise and pet him. That is really your key to teaching the horse.
PS: If he bucks or kicks at the touch of the whip, give him a good smack with it. Bucking or kicking in response to a command must not be tolerated. But also, be sure you have taught him what the touch means, as I explained above. If he doesn't understand that he is to move forward at the touch of the whip, then he really has an excuse for bucking or kicking.
From Panelist Jonathan
It is quit obvious to me more ground work/bonding is needed here before lunging . I'd say about 6 months worth . This animal is striking back with bucks and kicks from fear , since it does not sound like you are hurting him . I just do not believe in working a very young animal like this in joint/muscle stressing circles . But , only time will tell if I am correct , but by then it could be too late .
From Panelist Steve
I do not lunge young Walkers, or any Walker for that matter. Vigorous
lunging can be very hard on a Walker's joints, especially the hocks. The
last thing we want to do on a Walker is injure its hocks. They are stressed
enough with normal use. Light, very light lunging I guess is OK. However,
I also have experienced the negative feedback that comes with troubling
a horse to move away from you. I don't know why anyone would want to do
I use Parelli's Six Games (i.e. minus the back-up for this very reason) in lieu of lunging. I add some finishing round pen work when they are ready to be ridden. Then I teach back up from the saddle which is easier, less noxious and less confusing to the horse.
From Panelist Stella
The art of lunging involves alot of body language, the whip itself is
secondary. Even horses well-trained and with years of experience lunging
will quickly discover if their handler is not astute in these commands,
and respond similarly to your horse. It is more difficult for a green horse
to learn without more complete communication. The bucking and kicking stem
mostly from his frustration in not being able to understand what it is
you want, and why you are using the whip on him.It is rather difficult
to verbally explain the ways to use your body
You want to particularly keep this initial training as free of problems
and as easy and positive as possible for the young horse to maintain a
willing, relaxed attitude right through later under saddle training. It
is well worth the investment of extra time, trouble and perhaps lesson
fees not to jeopardize the good relationship you have obviously built with
him thus far, and it is far more difficult and time consuming to undo problems
than it is
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