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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 15, 2010
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    Default HELP: My Mare is Smart than Me

    I need help out-smarting a very sharp and strong-willed TB mare. To make a very long story short this mare was improperly lunged for 12+ years. She was stuck on a lunge line and allowed to gallop around to "take the edge off."

    She is very smart and immediately (within 20 minutes) picked up on the idea behind correctly lunging. She understands that a whip pointed at her shoulder means move out while pointing it at her hock means more activity within the gait. Her upward transitions are BEAUTIFUL but she completely ignores the downward transitions.

    Today we spent 45 minutes walking and trotting on a smaller circle. When I asked for a downward transition (voice plus half halts) she would ignore me, and I would direct her into the fence. When she gets 2 strides out from the fence line she calmly transitions down but without that physical barrier she ignores me. She definitely understands what I am asking but she is also smart enough to realize that once the fence goes away I can't make her stop.

    So, how on earth do I make her understand that she must respect the downward transitions? I am sure this is incredibly boring for her but until she is respectful I can't safely do all the fun stuff I've planned.

    Any ideas?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 22, 2009
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    Well, one method is to make her WORK. If she's cantering around and you ask for a trot, she should trot. If she blows you off, give her a good growl and make her *move* not just a slow lope, but a fast canter. If the lunging area is big enough, ask for a gallop. Keep her going past her comfort zone untill she WANTS to stop. Once she starts trying to trot, don't let her for a few times around. Then ask again. If she again blows you off, keep her going and try again. Most horses learn that its easier to trot when they are asked then to get worked hard.

    This method doesn't work for all horses, but it is quite effective for many!
    .



  3. #3
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    Jun. 15, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big_Grey_hunter View Post
    Well, one method is to make her WORK. If she's cantering around and you ask for a trot, she should trot. If she blows you off, give her a good growl and make her *move* not just a slow lope, but a fast canter. If the lunging area is big enough, ask for a gallop. Keep her going past her comfort zone untill she WANTS to stop. Once she starts trying to trot, don't let her for a few times around. Then ask again. If she again blows you off, keep her going and try again. Most horses learn that its easier to trot when they are asked then to get worked hard.

    This method doesn't work for all horses, but it is quite effective for many!
    Thank you for your response.

    Since she was allowed to gallop around without any balance for so many years and is forward by nature I am afraid that it might cause her to revert to her old ways. Also, she is the type that will go long past her physical limit.

    If she was lazy by nature I think this would be the perfect solution but I don't know if it would work for her.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
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    3,656

    Default

    One thing I have found helpful with teaching horses downward transitions on the lunge is to really exaggerate my voice cues. Saying Whoa, walk and trot in very different, individual cues and lowering and dropping the phrase at the end. You can even start this with someone beside her as you pair your cue at the walk and trot. Another thing, do you have your lunge attached to a bridle over her crown or to the side of her halter?



  5. #5
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    Default

    Do you have a round-pen - you could try stepping into her vision to block her and stop her and then gradually use it for slowing her down?



  6. #6
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    Jun. 15, 2010
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    She is lunged with side reins in a loose-ring snaffle with the lunge line running from inside ring over the poll to the outside ring. Holding a whip has zero effect on her responsiveness because she does not have any fear about the whip. I can run it all over her at the halt and if I point it at her should she calmly moves out instead of speeding up.

    To ask for a downward transition I relax my body, let out a big sigh, give 2-3 half halts, and then close my hand while telling her to 'haa-lt" or "waaa-aalk" in a slow soothing voice. She responds promptly near the fence because she has learned that I can use the fence-line for reinforcement but she has realized I have no physical barrier in the middle of the ring.

    It is definitely a desire to have her way as opposed to being scared or not understanding what is being asked.


    Foxtrot: I love this suggestion and I have used it on the lunge line. She understands what it means but unless I can follow through with the fence line barrier she ignores me. Unfortunately we don't want have a round pen at this facility.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec. 31, 2000
    Location
    El Paso, TX
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    14,254

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    Longe with 2 longelines...one on left side of bit, then through ring on left side of surcingle, and the other on the rt side of the bit, run through the middle rt ring on the surcingle then over the back, so you hold both. Halt using a voice command, and half halt (with both lines), and then more pressure if she doesn't.

    (And I laughed at the ironic typo in your thread title...)



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov. 22, 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    The attitude shown by your title and first sentence are troubling. Instead of outsmarting/dominating the horse, try working WITH the animal. The first part of this is determining the ACTUAL problem, which is NOT "Horse won't obey." Look to WHY. Is there a balance problem? Miscommunication on your part? Horses are incredibly accommodating creatures, and when there's a "problem" (as defined by you), there's usually a darned good reason.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun. 20, 2009
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    Northeast Ohio, where mud rules your world...
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    OP, I don't take your title as reality. I am the one with the tempermental mare so I can understand your frustration. I get it.

    So I suggest working dilegently on the Whoa command with her on a very short leash. Get that down pat and have her only about 15 feet out at best. You will have better body control if you are not all the way out on a lunge line. Give her three strikes to get the command. One and two are just the word, three is the word with a very definative pull on the lead and a body block. Always! so she knows that on the third ask, you are going to give a physical command to the lunge line. Every time!!

    Once you have a whoa deeply ingrained start adding just a little jog. Get her to whoa on a dime from the jog, again only out on a long lead line. Then work on whoa from the trot or jog, again while being within very close proximity to her. Make her think that every downward transistion for now is a halt. and she better do it or the third request comes with a snap of the lunge.

    Once you have this then you can start letting her earn her lunge circle space little by little. When a horse is ignoring a ground work cue, you need to get closer to the horse to gain their attention. If you give her a few feet of circle and she goes back to ignoring you, choke back up on the line. She'll get it.

    And no, I don't think making a horse move more and harder is a solution for this. Your horse is moving and won't stop, so make stopping the goal. Do the exact opposite of what the horse is doing. She is zoning out and moving, you get close to zone her in and make her stop. Everytime she zones out on you, you are going to get close and zone her back in. The end result is an obedient horse on a normal lunge circle. But the steps to get that will not look anything like a normal lunge circle until she respects your cues. You've already tried getting the result while she is on a normal size circle and she hasn't given it. So make your circle much smaller and your cues much more definative until she understands the objective. Then let her earn her space on the circle.
    ...don't sh** where you eat...



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2006
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    Southern Finger Lakes of NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by GraceLikeRain View Post
    She responds promptly near the fence because she has learned that I can use the fence-line for reinforcement but she has realized I have no physical barrier in the middle of the ring.

    It is definitely a desire to have her way as opposed to being scared or not understanding what is being asked.
    If you could add a serious lunge cavesson to your bag of tools, you might have a bit more success with a snap and tension on the line, in conjunction with "whoa"-- running into that pressure on the nose can sometimes be enough to make the mental connection for them.

    Short of that, you can try to work upwards from full halts to half-halts to down transitions. Because she's already very good at "go," continue what you're doing, and use the end of the arena fence to box her in and step in front of her to get a good, solid whoa. Whoa-step-step-WHOA. Whoa-step-step-step-WHOA. Etc, at all three gaits.

    Be sure to do this where you can actually stop her-- at the fenced end of the arena. She needs to actually whoa.

    Once she's doing it at the fence, try on the open side once or twice-- if she's got whoa there, then go on to the next step. If she doesn't , keep reinforcing it with the fence until she does respond properly on the open side.


    Once whoa is firmly established, consistently, regularly, and even with a bit of fun-- one of our "not-so-good-stoppers" has recently decided that the game is now to stop perfectly before the added corrections of me stepping forward into his line of direction (from voice command only; you can tell he's enjoying the game!) then ask for a smaller whoa (but say easy, or whatever word you use to mean slow down, but don't stop) with a lighter version of the aids-- step just slightly in front to slow her, and then catch her while she's still moving and back away from your "whoa posture" and drive her on in the gait you want.

    If she speeds up out of the gait you want, name the gait like it was your idea, then come around again and try it again where you can control her at the fence. Eventually, if you're as patient and consistent as you have already been, and if she has no choice but to stop (now) and then slow (eventually), she's going to make the change.

    It's tough to bring improperly-lunged horses back to proper understanding of the process, many congratulations to you for how far you've come already!



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 6, 2009
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    2,372

    Default

    Why do you have to longe her? I consider longeing a training tool, and if it doesn't add something to a horse's training, I don't use it. I don't consider it an essential thing in and of itself other than that the horse should know the basics, just enough to do it safely. I don't want to discourage your efforts, only to put forth another point of view. Truly, it is difficult to enforce the downward transitions on the longe, if I were in your shoes I'd drop the longeing and work on a lot of downward transitions under saddle where you have a lot more control.



  12. #12
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    Jun. 15, 2010
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    Thank you for the feedback and different suggestions.


    Jetsmom: I am really interested in long-lining and/or working with two lunge lines. Right now the surcingle I have available does not fit her the way I would like so I am in the process of looking at one that will fit better. Once I find one I will definitely look into this.

    Nightsong: The "why" is because she can get away with it right now. Her attitude is similar to a bored pony pawing in the wash stall who does not stop unless you throw a curry comb. She is an alpha mare who needs to be taught respect and boundaries in every new setting. Since she was never taught respect on the lunge-line she decided to do things her way when she gets bored.


    Winfield: Thank you for the great post. Just like anything else, it takes time to learn new habits. I do know that it takes time and patience to build new habits. Thank you for the polite and well written reminder.

    Bayou: A few other people have mentioned using a caveson. I am going to do some research later today and see if I can find a well-made one within my budget.


    Beehoney: To make a very very very long story short, I had a bad riding accident that destroyed my body and confidence. Consequently, I have not cantered or jumped since the summer. By getting her responsive and respectful on the lunge-line, I have the freedom to do the things she loves. I want to be able to lunge her out in the field, over fences, etc. Even though I am not at the point where I can do these things, I want my mare
    to experience the things she loves the most.



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