INPUT NEEDED! Refusing to move forward while lunging; Putting up a fight

This topic contains 40 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by riding for Christ riding for Christ 1 year, 6 months ago.

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  • aiellos1 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 2

    Hello everyone,

    I have a 6 year old QH gelding who is green broke. He knows W/T/C (but his canter still needs work). Over the past month I began doing ground work exercises with him (yielding forequarters/hindquarters/backing up/etc.), as well as, lunging. I have also ridden him under saddle. In general, the horse has a sweet disposition, good ground manners, is good under saddle, and is very smart when it comes to learning new things.

    My problem comes in with lunging. Until recently, my horse was making significant progress while lunging at W/T and responding very well to voice cues. As I worked up to having him canter on the lunge line he would move in a very large circle and pull me around a little, however, after about 3 lunge sessions with cantering I noticed improvement, and he was beginning to soften in both directions. At this point in time, I was working him in a large indoor and outdoor ring, as there was no round pen accessible.

    During our last lunge session we worked to the Left (his bad/weak side) W/T, then to the Right (his good side) W/T/C. When I attempted to work him at the canter on his bad side he immediately stopped, turned his head to the outside of the circle away from me (while rearing), and would pull to get away from moving in the direction I was asking. This kept occurring despite the use of a rope/training halter, lunge whip, and eventually a chain over his nose. Granted we were in a large ring rather than a small enclosed area, however, he refused to give in to any form of pressure. THE MORE I WOULD FIGHT HIM, THE HARDER HE WOULD FIGHT.

    My friend, who is a trainer, worked with him one day. For safety purposes she used a tie down and chain over his nose. There was no luck with her attempt either. He continued to fight and fight, to the point where he’d rather fall to the ground from tripping on the lunge line than give in to what was being asked of him.

    In hope of making progress with this refusal to work, I obtained a round pen (approx. 45-50 ft.). The first attempt at working him in the round pen he was free lunged. The first few minutes he was fine – trotted, dropped shoulder as if to stop a couple times, but kept him moving with aid of raising lunge whip behind him – and he even cantered around once without a problem….

    But then he stopped and attempted to try and jump out of the round pen. He reared up, to the point where both forelegs were at the top of the pen. Fortunately he did not hurt himself, however, after trying to keep his feet moving he would just run head on into the side of the pen, causing the pen to move. Attaching a direct lunge line did not solve the issue, as he proceeded to turn and pull away in the opposite direction. In contrast to the first day this occurred, he will now act this way in both directions when asked to W/T/C whereas at first it was only when he was asked to canter in his unfavorable direction.

    So now I find myself in a difficult position. How do I resolve this issue with lunging, when every other aspect of the horse is fine. I have done as much research as possible to try and figure out some solution. As far as his health is concerned he is fine. Also, saddle/tack fit is not an issue. Part of me feels that he may have some fear with lunging, however, knowing his personality, he may just be too smart for his own good and thinks he can get away with this.

    I was thinking of taking a few steps back and re-working some groundwork exercises to rekindle the respect factor. I would be interested to hear what others may have as a recommendation for this issue. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes the time to respond. And if you need any clarification or have questions I’d be happy to address them.

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Have you had a vet who specializes in horses & horse movement, or a horse chiropractor do a good check up? I’m wondering if something has gotten out of alignment, and with no one to put it back in alignment, he could be getting increasing sore, which would explain why he is getting worse, not better with time. It has only been in the last 10 – 15 years that we humans have come to realize that horse’s get out a alignment much more frequently than anyone had realized.

    aiellos1 Original Poster
    Topics Started: 4Replies Posted: 2

    I haven’t had a chiro out, but I did have an equine massage therapist work on him very recently and she has been following up with him. He is stiff/sore at his mid-back – withers, and at his deltoids/triceps. He will react negatively to poorly fit tack, however, with proper fitting tack or no tack, he moves freely with no major issue. In fact, after addressing the areas where he is sore and incorporating stretches his muscles have been softening and becoming less tight.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Agree with G&S – it sounds to me as if your horse is in pain, and it is getting worse. One question – why do you feel you need to longe (it is a French word, “lunge” is incorrect) him at all? Is there some purpose? You might be better to work him in long lines (driving reins) instead, to improve his flexibility if that is your goal. Being on a longe line is boring, doesn’t really accomplish anything that cannot be done in some other way, and I see little point in it. However, I am really, really prejudiced because of my own horses and their attitudes. A chain over the nose is really, really drastic – might have been better to use side reins. It seems to be making the experience unpleasant as well as painful.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    This is probably one of the few times I’m not in full agreement with Joe-Joe. Most of my lunge lines do have a chain, but I only run it over the horse’s nose on days the horse chooses to be a blithering idiot and pay no attention to me. When dealing with an animal that outweighs me by a factor of 10, sometimes I need something a little extra to get the horse’s attention back on me, and to make it clear that I am in charge. However, once this is accomplished, I remove the chain from the horse’s nose. For me, the chain is a “discipline” not a “punishment”. I should also add that in spring in fall if the horse starts out with a bit of bucking and kicking, I ignore it, as weather relating “feeling good” issues. Most horses figure out my rules fairly quickly, so if the “feeling good” turns into “let’s be naughty”, instead of “okay, got that out of my system, now I’m ready to work”, having a chain handy & immediately available can be very useful. But once the horse settles down to work, the chain gets removed. Using a chain or not using a chain must also depend on the horse’s reaction to having a chain put over his/her nose. It can backfire and upset the horse more, rather than getting the horse’s attention back on the person at the other end of the lunge line. What works with one horse can be disastrous with another, so one must choose discipline methods based on what works with each individual horse, not based on what worked with one’s previous horse, or one’s trainer’s horse, or best friend’s horse. In short, it can be a useful tool, but is not the only possible tool.

    While the English term “lunge” did probably come from French term “longe”, the anglicised spelling is used in most American catalogs, so one checks the index for “lunge lines”, not “longe lines”, and both spellings are usually considered acceptable and correct. Although “longe” might be considered a bit pretentious in some circles, something I know Joe-Joe is not.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    G&S – I’m just old. “Longe” is what we used, and the term to which I am accustomed. As for the practice of doing it, both my loons, in their separate ways, dislike it. Selena is terrified of whips, but will go around changing gaits with the use of words and/or snapping my fingers. Joe Joe, on the other hand, thinks it is stupid (he thinks a lot of things are stupid), and just looks at me and says “I don’t want to, and you can’t make me”. On the occasions I have done it (no time to ride for various reasons), they got more hyper than normal, so I just stopped. My line does not have a chain, and since my horses think they are fragile orchids, I wouldn’t use one if it did. Side reins help keep their heads where they ought to be in a less dangerous (danger to me as well as them) manner.

    The definitions of lunge and longe are totally different, and the terms are not interchangeable. We just don’t speak our own language well in this country, never mind other languages.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Joe-Joe – Every horse person has to do what is right for their horses, and you are smart enough & experienced enough to know that and choose what works for your horses. Kudos to you and every other horse person who understands & follows that philosophy. Like most Arabians, the ones I have worked with (with a few notable exceptions such as the Arabian stallion who would regularly charge at me when on the lunge) understood my rules and could live with them, usually without much if any fuss. However, what worked for me will not work for every horse or every horse person.

    Language is a fluid thing, and American English (as opposed to British English, which is a case of 2 countries frequently divided by the same language) has adopted many foreign words and made them part of our everyday vocabulary. My 2005 Webster’s New Explorer Dictionary does not list anything to do with working a horse on a big circle on a line in its definition of lunge, only the term as relates to fencing. However, my French/English dictionary does translate 1 usage of the French term “longe” as “tether, lunge [spelled as I have typed it here], leading-rein, thong, picket(ing) rope”. The 2nd usage of the French word longe is defined as “longe de veau” which it translates into English as “loin of veal”, clearly not pertinent to our discussion.

    Sometimes my Linguistics Minor in collage does come in handy. Spending the 70’s in Europe, including 5 years in France doesn’t hurt either. When one can dream in a foreign language & have it be grammatically correct, & recognize it as being grammatically correct, one has a fairly decent handle on that language, although I never did lose the American accent to my French, which one of my co-workers once informed me was “cute”. Needless to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, I have never told anyone speaking English with an accent that I thought their accent was “cute”.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Telling anyone anything these days (referring to the cute) is fraught with danger. My sister majored in French, and still has an evil habit of tossing words into letters with the blithe assumption that I (with only two years) am going to know what she means. I cannot read anything she writes, no matter what language it is.

    What I meant about speaking correctly (the TV was annoying me intensely at the time) was people saying various tenses of “go” when there are many, many words one can substitute for “say”. The same applies to people saying “I/she/he was like”. No, they weren’t like. It is impossible to be “like crying”, for example. Drives me insane (more of a putt, perhaps).

    As to the horses – they are each individuals, and without knowing the horse in question, I find I can only answer based on my experience with my horses, which is often not at all useful to the person asking the question.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 2 months ago by Joe-Joe Joe-Joe. Reason: corrected word form

    It is never the horse's fault

    mtraylor67@gmail.com
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 3

    Hi there, have you ever tried using a surcingle? I have used these for years. Go back to your smaller round pen, put a surcingle rig on, and start with baby steps. Just W/T at first for a few days. Get your horse used to walking both ways first, then build up to a trot, and stop. Let the experience be enjoyable for both you and the horse. Try it again the next day (same thing) and the next. Even if you rig up the surcingle five times for a 7 minute trot, it will be worth it in the long run. Once your horse gets walking and trotting DOWN, to where it’s easy and natural with no issues, the canter will come. Get your horse used to what’s going on. Personally, I am not a huge lunge line fan, I like to free lunge in a round pen unless I’m traveling with my horse and have no other choice. Think about yourself going into a haunted house at Halloween. It’s scary, and you have no idea what is going to happen while you are in there. That is how your horse feels in the lunge pen if its to the point of rearing, and trying to get out. You want to have a fun merry-go-round, kicks and giggles experience for you and your horse. Attached is a link to a surcingle that SmartPak has https://www.smartpakequine.com/pt/web-training-surcingle-4982
    You can also buy a surcingle kit for a couple hundred dollars, but your horse is going to need time in the round pen. The surcingle will really help. Good luck, keep us posted!

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Alle – my massage therapist suggested using the alcohol/epsom salts (sports rub, can be bought in any dollar store) on my boy’s back with a wet hot towel over it prior to riding him. He has issues going back to his youth, when he went over backwards in a starting gate. It has really helped him with the pain, and he is much more flexible.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    You might want to seriously consider having a good horse chiropractor check the horse out. Massage therapists are good, but if something is out of alignment, they are not trained to put it back in alignment, and without correct alignment, even daily professional massages will not solve the underlying problem. I never used to believe in chiropractors, but 2 major whiplash injuries resulted in permanent soft tissue damage, which allows my neck to lose correct alignment, which then pinches a nerve, which triggers migraines. One my neck is back in correct alignment, the migraines stop, my neck does not stiffen up, etc., etc. I know when my alignment is out, but horses just know they hurt, and they can’t tell us where. The concept that horses can go out of alignment is fairly new, but the difference in the out of alignment horse after an adjustment is down right amazing. If the mis-alignment is severe, it can take more than one treatment to gradually correct the problem, but a good horse chiropractor will only adjust that which can be safely adjusted in a single session. The longer the horse is out of alignment, the harder it is to correct because the soft tissues adjust to hold the mis-alignment in place, just as the soft tissues used to hold the correct alignment in place, so it can be less expensive to get the problem correctly sooner rather than later.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    G&S – excellent point. Where I am, it would be easier to find teeth in a chicken (we have millions of chickens here) than a chiropractor for horses. It is a great pity.

    It is never the horse's fault

    G & S
    Topics Started: 16Replies Posted: 253

    Some horse vets have also trained as horse chiropractors. Or they might know of someone on your area who knows what they are doing and does this.

    Joe-Joe Joe-Joe
    Topics Started: 17Replies Posted: 1205

    Not mine – I did ask.

    It is never the horse's fault

    pflady
    Topics Started: 0Replies Posted: 25

    I have never heard of lunging with a chain over the horse’s nose. The few times I’ve used a chain I run it under his chin. To get a proper head set I occasionally use a surcingle to attach reins to. My main problem with one of my horses is that he stops and turns toward me (and stands). He is VERY lazy. It definitely sounds like your horse is sore – could be his back, his stifles, his hocks, etc. Have a vet experienced in lameness (the horse doesn’t need to be limping to be in pain) or a good chiropractor check him out.

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