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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2008
    Location
    Central NY
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    734

    Question Changes Leads While Lunging-problem?

    When I "free lunge" my horse in the indoor arena, I notice she changes her leads for no reason, like a stride or two, then sometimes back again. She never does this when she's being lunged on a line or in the smaller round pen, just large areas where she can spread out.

    Is this any kind of issue? Or is she just feeling good and being rambunctious, not thinking?

    She has dumped me twice (very bad accidents-helmet saved my life!) in the last 6 months due to tripping, then bucking because she was mad she tripped.
    She's 10 and is mostly great, unflappable, but like any mare can have a mood from nowhere.

    So we're trimming her feet a little differently and I'm paying greater attention to her balance when I lunge her. I've noticed the "lead change" thing and wondered if it indicates anything wrong with her feet, legs or balance?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Default

    "Lunging" is where you have the horse either in a small, round enclosure and/or on a lunge line-preferrably with the line attached so you can have some control, over the poll is good and easy. Ideally the horse should be bitted with side reins to either surcingle or tack.

    "Free lunging" by turning them loose naked gives you absolutely no control and no way to correct any mistake or misbehavior. So there is nothing you can do. It's not really lunging, it's just playing where they can do whatever they want. It's also a good way to get the horse injured or yourself run over or kicked.

    If the horse was confined to a round pen or in some type of arrangement to give control, you would drop them back to a trot to correct the leads then go canter again. But you can't do that with them loose.

    I feel a little strongly about this because I know one 18 year old girl and 2 nice horses who died as a direct result of this type "free lunging". All 3 accidents could have been prevented by just having some control of the horse.

    Oh, NEVER put a fractious, fresh horse in a round pen naked and get in with them to chase them around. You will get kicked-got the dent in my head to prove that one.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 1, 2004
    Location
    Magnolia, TX
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    5,616

    Default

    If she's doing it where she has room "to spread out" and think about which way she might want to go, you can probably safely attribute it to good balance and athleticism. When I'm looking at prospects, one of the things I like to see is light and easy (and clean!) changes at liberty. If you notice your mare only swapping in front or is consistently late behind, that may be indicative of a physical issue. If she's just swapping because she's happy and she can, enjoy it!

    To follow up on Findeight's comment, what you're doing is exercising at liberty. And you do need to be cautious. Unless you're actually longeing the horse (meaning: on a line), you have no control of the head and therefore no control of the feet. Playing horses often kick, and I know a couple people that got both barrels while "free longeing" in the round pen.
    Jer 29: 11-13



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr. 7, 2012
    Posts
    302

    Default

    The idea behind working a horse in a roundpen (and longeing) is to keep the horse`s attention, the horse`s body should take on the nice curve designated by the size of the roundpen or length of longe, the horse should have it`s focus on you and if it does, it`s attention will be towards the inside, where you will be standing, not outside the roundpen where the horse`s attention can wander and they can wish/plan they were somewhere else.

    A horse who`s attention is outside the roundpen will easily change leads because his body takes the shape where changing leads is easy....bent in the direction of the lead, in other words, convex to some degree instead of concave.

    Longeing and using a roundpen is not exercising the horse, it is an art, just like riding, a skill and should be used to develope a relationship with the horse. Like any skill, it should be learned from someone who understands the nuances and can pass those on to their student.



  5. #5
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    Jun. 17, 2001
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    down the road from bar.ka
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    Quote Originally Posted by re-runs View Post
    The idea behind working a horse in a roundpen (and longeing) is to keep the horse`s attention, the horse`s body should take on the nice curve designated by the size of the roundpen or length of longe, the horse should have it`s focus on you and if it does, it`s attention will be towards the inside, where you will be standing, not outside the roundpen where the horse`s attention can wander and they can wish/plan they were somewhere else.

    A horse who`s attention is outside the roundpen will easily change leads because his body takes the shape where changing leads is easy....bent in the direction of the lead, in other words, convex to some degree instead of concave.

    Longeing and using a roundpen is not exercising the horse, it is an art, just like riding, a skill and should be used to develope a relationship with the horse. Like any skill, it should be learned from someone who understands the nuances and can pass those on to their student.

    Absolutely, any time you touch the horse you either train or untrain so lunging is training. But the OP here is turning her horse out "naked" in a big arena and calling that "free lunging". It's not. It's chasing it around so it can play, possibly "untraining" any ground manners present because the horse can get away with it and is free to totally ignore it's handler with no consequences. They learn something inappropriate and unsafe.

    Sorry to be blunt but this is a good way to get hurt, and hurt bad. Anecdotally, because nobody keep statistics on this, I'd say more people are hurt by horses while handling them on the ground then were ever hurt falling off. And the only fatalities I personally know, the teen and the 2 horses were "free lunging" as OP describes.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep. 12, 2008
    Location
    Central NY
    Posts
    734

    Default Clarification, my omission mistake

    Thanks for the replies.
    My horse is not "naked" when we lunge- she is wearing a circingle, side reins & bridle. She never seems to notice if/when I use a line, but I do switch on/off with it.
    We aren't using a huge arena, just a small one... only the size of a garage, I'd say 40 by 20 feet. No one uses it anymore since the large one was built. (& sometimes it's raining with puddles in the outdoor round pen)

    For some reason my mare is really good with voice commands. If she is on the wrong lead, I just say "no" in a certain tone & she'll change. Really. She'll even "reverse" with the word and just changing the whip to my other hand.

    And luckily, she never gets close enough to me to kick or hurt me-not with that whip in my hand! I wear my helmet & gloves when lunging too.

    The farrier tells me her front legs are slightly different lengths, which could be the underlying reason. I do notice she changes more when she's fresh & "spreading out" than when she collects at the canter which is why I thought it might just be a "whee" moment for her.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr. 29, 2006
    Location
    Evansville, Wisconsin
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    Default

    My younger mare will occasionally switch leads right as she approaches the arena door while longing. As far as I can tell it's only indicitive of her desire to leave the circle and exit the arena. When I don't grant her permission to do so, she'll swap back in a stride or two after passing the door

    So I agree with the posters who say it's likely that your horse's attention is simply wandering.
    "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
    -Edward Hoagland



  8. #8
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    You should still aways be using a line in an open area like the arena.

    Simply because she is free to ignore you and you cannot get her attention to fix it, little flip of that line and she will return her attention to you.

    I have been lucky but am old and have been in this along time so have my share of mishaps.

    I had one I was getting "smart" with and had it in sucingle and side reins in the arena to show off (I admit it) how I did not need the line to keep it in a circle.

    Something happened up a hill near the ring and it tried to bend head and neck outside the circle to look. Stumbled, somehow got a leg over the side rein. Came up off it's knees scared to death and somehow got a foreleg over the siderein and tried to bolt with the leg over the siderein. Did a somersault and ended up upside down unable to rise. Had to run in and get a knife to cut the rein to let it get up.

    No physical harm done but...had I bothered to just attach a line I could have held it's attention on me and avoided the whole debacle. It remains about the dumbest thing I ever did.

    Friend I was trying to show off in front of was less then impressed.

    THINK and stay safe while avoiding teaching them something you did not intend. In a split second you can undo weeks of training.
    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2007
    Posts
    2,169

    Default

    To get back to the original question, the repeated tripping would concern me more than lead swaps--UNLESS they involve a lot of cross-cantering.

    The combo of frequent cross-cantering and tripping would make my nose start to twitch for stifle, joint issues, or neuro.

    If it were just the lead swapping, yeah, I'd say that's just normal athleticism.



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2012
    Posts
    28

    Default

    I too would worry more about the tripping and the bucking. I'm more inclined to think that the bucks may have been more a symptom of pain than of being mad she tripped. Horses don't really tend to think like that.

    Have you ever had her adjusted by a chiropractor? I know some people are skeptical - I was and then I gave it a try and was amazed by the results. My daughter's horse was 10 years old, very stoic, not likely to show pain - the chiro adjusted areas in his back, hips and knees and you could actually see the difference when he walked back to the pasture. He was moving more freely and was much more relaxed. He was also more square when he stood and he was not stiff under saddle anymore.

    Tripping and bucking would make me call my chiropractor for an assessment. Lead changes while free lunging are no big deal unless, like the above poster noted, she is cross-cantering. That would suggest chiro to me too.



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