View Full Version : Help! Can't get mare to lunge

Apr. 29, 2010, 11:46 PM
I am working on a 8 year old Danish mare (yes she is a chestnut) that should have been broke years ago but has been a very fancy pasture ornament all this time instead. I started her last summer on the lunge and under saddle and gave her the winter off. Now that the 7 feet of snow have melted off the arena we are back at it.

Apr. 30, 2010, 02:05 AM
Is there a reason that you need to lunge her?

I guess I don't understand why the choice is leave her a broodmare or get her going on the lunge if you've already had her under saddle. Can't you just ride her? I have several horses that have never (or rarely) seen the lunge line. Unless there's a specific conditioning goal I'm trying to work toward with the horse I don't usually lunge my green ones after I get them under saddle.

Please don't take this the wrong way, but are you well-versed on how to properly lunge? I guess I'm confused about why you have a jumping bat in hand while lungeing....seems like a lunge whip would be much more effective...especially in light of several of the problems you mentioned.

There are lots of different things you could try, but I'm hesitant to mention anything without understanding where your skill level lies.

Apr. 30, 2010, 02:14 AM
I had a similar problem getting my OTTB to lunge.
Do you have a round pen? I free lunged my horse once or twice in the round pen, then put him back on a lunge line and he suddenly understood what I wanted him to do.
Maybe give that a try?

Apr. 30, 2010, 05:33 AM
Easy to fix. This is a failure to go foward. I don't use a lunge whip, I use a shorter dressage style whip with a plastic grocery bag tied onto the end of it-visual and more noise.

The key is to get her to move her feet.

I never allow a horse to come into my space, remember you are the boss. If I have a horse on the lunge and he/she is not moving I move into their space and DRIVE them out, again with a verbal command, with conviction (I use the word "on") and the whip if necessary. I only use the whip if necessary.

Remember whomever moves the feet wins.

I also have this lovely Y attachment that goes on either side of the head and attaches to the lunge. I lunge horses a very good fitting halter. With this attachement I have control of their head. Trust me, A bull elephant could try to bolt on me and I could stop him in his track with this.

You can PM me if you want and I am more than happy to help.

Apr. 30, 2010, 06:37 AM
what classicsporthorses said.

your mare does this because you let her. get tougher and get some help.

(ps wear a helmet and carry a real whip)

Apr. 30, 2010, 10:04 AM
carry a lunge whip not a bat and point her in the direction she should be moving, use the lunge whip behind the driving line. Start off in smaller circles so you have control over her and it wouldn't be bad (IMO) to put a stud chain over her nose to help you control at first. If she is bolting out or in then you can repremand with voice and then whip and if that doesn't work use the chain. If that doesn't work I have went to the chain first then the command so you get their attention alot sooner before they have time to bolt back or in. Remember though to stay behind the drive line. If you get in front of her then its likely for her to change directions or turn in on you because she doesn't understand.

Apr. 30, 2010, 10:24 AM
Mare just does not know what to do...and, unfortunatly, feels she does not have to do anything.

They know only what they are taught. I had the best luck with a long whip, like a lunging whip. And a REAL lunging cavesson with the ring on the nose-certainly never just a plain halter. Once you teach them what you want them to do and they master it, it's no big deal what you use, within reason. But, to learn, better equipment is a better choice. I also found free lunging in a round pen a great way to start the backed off ones-but that is not an option here?

And, OMG, having somebody lead one from the outside while you wave a whip at it from the inside???? Real good way to get that person leading from the outside knocked down or kicked in the head. Actually, that person leading from outside is restricting forward movement-if that mare really comes forward with her there? That person is going forward to the ER. Seen that once too often. Mare knows to follow a person leading her, it's against what she knows, think that one out.

Is there somebody you could pay to teach your mare to lunge properly then teach you? Do you NEED to lunge her? Lots of horses get broke out just fine without ever going around in circles on the end of that line-especially if they live outside. Nice to know. Don't NEED to know.

Perhaps you can get some help. It really only takes 2 or 3 sessions to get them going. Maybe a free lance Pro in your area?

I'd hate to see a nice mare relegated to punching out babies because she acts like 50% of all horses their first time on the lunge.

Apr. 30, 2010, 10:26 AM
Horses do what they ask and I'm thinking you need to learn how to ask her.

I'm also at a loss to understand in any case why just because you can't lunge a horse that this would mean she should be a broodmare?!

I would have given up on this horse and just let her be a broodmare except that she is drop dead gorgeous. But got to say that this is about the most bonkers sentence I've read for a while. IF she is truly drop dead gorgeous that might be a tick in the check list box for being a broodmare! I can't understand why the heck you'd need a horse that didn't lunge for a broodmare though!?!

Far too pretty to stay a pasture ornament. Likewise, I'm not convinced that pretty horses can't be pasture ornaments. And I'm darned if I understand why if you (or anyone come to that) can't lunge a horse that it means it's destined to become an expensive lawn mower!???

Apr. 30, 2010, 10:36 AM
Is there a reason that you need to lunge her?
Ditto. I've had one horse (out of hundreds) who WOULD. NOT. LUNGE. Just plain dangerous, despite the fact that I used the proper equipment, correct technique, and knew from experience that I was competent at teaching a variety of horses to lunge. So I didn't push it. Not worth me or the horse getting hurt over, since lunging isn't an absolutely necessary skill for my program.

Apr. 30, 2010, 10:39 AM
My new mare is 5 and had never been touched! Lived in a herd. So I started the whole process, and yes, I believe it's harder the older they get, especially a mare.

So she would not lunge, period. I am well versed in lunging, but nothing worked, she would go a bit, then bow out, stop, turn, rear, try to run off etc. I wanted to put a bullet in her head a few times.

Then I figured it out, got two lines and tied my stirrups together with a strap under the saddle, and ran the lines through the saddle, through the bridle on each side and back to the girth and clipped on, so it was like draw reins. It sounds maybe rough, but I could control her lateral movement, forward movement and she didn't try rearing. I also like to ground drive the babies, so this was part of the training I would do anyway.

It didn't take long, maybe a week, and once she 'got it' she is the kindest, nice mare ever. I've been riding her for 2 month, she has never taken a mis-step, offered a buck, spin, rear. We trail ride, just took her to her first x country school, and she was a rock star. Not every horse is the same, but I think you match training to their resistance, sometimes you have to win, then it gets better from there.

Apr. 30, 2010, 11:09 AM
...I started her last summer on the lunge and under saddle and gave her the winter off. Now that the 7 feet of snow have melted off the arena we are back at it.

...as soon as I ask for the trot she goes 1/4 way around and either barges in and turns the other way, turns out and tries to take of, or barges in and wants to rear...jumping bat as a means to establish my space in the circle (not hitting her but just waving it near my body to keep her out). I am so frustrated I just don't know what else to do!

On rereading this.

The mare has been off for months and has forgotten most of what she learned. But she was saddle broke to W-T-C. Don't see lunging is that vital here. Get on and ride her. But...

How does one horse establish their space and tell another they are invading their space? Wave something at them? Nope, they let 'em have it. You need to get the longer lunge whip and USE it on her ample backside accompanied by a loud growl from you. Once or twice and all you will need is that growl.

Other thought would be do NOT use side reins until you have the forward established. Any pressure, no matter how light, means stop to a green horse that has not learned to fully accept contact. You have her confused. And...it's a mare. mares usually are much more adept at telling you they do not consider they need to do this. Negotiate more but back it up with discipline she will understand, meaning you need to use that long whip on the butt a time or two. And, if she comes in on top of you? On whatever you can reach but if that happens? Better just go ride her. She is broke after all.