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Help! My horse has learned how to get away from me while lungeing!

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  • #21
    Health problems

    I am not convinced it is not a health issue. There are a number of issues common to Draft crosses. Equine Polysaccharide storage myopathy is one, degenerative suspensory ligament desmitis is another. EPSSM is VERY common in drafts but I have seen quite a recently lot of DSLD in draft crosses especially if it is Clyde and Shire blood in the cross.

    The alternative is to just start from scratch and retrain her to lunge. Remember reward(food and scratches)make things MUCH clearer for some horses. PatO


    • Original Poster

      Ok, can I bring y'all home with me to help with my mare?!

      ideayoda - Trying to get the lateral flexibility - not longitudinal flexion - and relaxation in the jaw. She gets tense and does a LOT of chewing on the bit. (kk french link loose ring). I do not lunge often - at MOST 2x a week. But the footing hasn't been very good lately (thanks Sandy). I am a novice, but have dealt with some problem horses in the past, and am comfortable with the lungeing process.

      huntcup - I also use the cradling the line behind you next to your butt technique. It has stopped her more than once.

      I think a contributing factor here is that last May I was pulled off my feet by my son's dog while dogsitting (he is not a very good boy and I was standing in mud!) and had to go to the ER cause I couldn't walk. Turned out nothing was broken, but I had a hamstring pull and gluteal strain on my R side, and am still recuperating from that (darn this old body anyway!) Consequently, I think I am protecting this injury still, realizing that if I just let her go, at least I won't get hurt.

      Thanks for the ideas - I have a call into my trainer. I don't want this behavior to escalate. Like I said in my first post, this was always in her bag of tricks, but was a pretty rare event. Now it seems more ingrained (at least, over the past week or so). I take full responsibility for letting it get this bad, just hope that we can nip it in the bud.
      "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death."


      • #23
        If she is still tripping I'd check into an epm test. Can be a neuro sign and also can make horses resistant to work.
        Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


        • #24
          My boy did this! Bolting was his answer... and he did it out of fear. He spooked himself badly once and bolted, got loose~ and then he started doing it at the smallest provocation.

          My solution for him was to teach him to ground drive (basically just double lunge), with a surcingle. The inner rein would run from bit through a ring on surcingle to my hand, and outer rein through surcingle loop, then around his butt to my hand. We started at walk in straight lines, then progressed to walking and trotting on a circle. He basically never had the chance to learn to get away from this type of lunging, and has never tried to bolt away since. It was also an invaluable tool to have when for a brief period in time he decide to not get on the horse trailer.
          Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
          Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
          Take us to print!


          • #25
            Forgot to add:

            If my horse is really being snot or I suspect he will be (i.e. pasture mates running in his view, windy day, just 'that look' in his eye), I shorten the side reins a little more than usual and make sure the one one the inside is shorter - not everyone does this - but it stops a horse from bending away, popping their inside shoulder towards you, and getting an angle on you. There is NO way to stop a horse from bolting when they've got their nose turned away from you. My horse became a pro at this. He'd do it to unsuspecting people, turn his nose a fraction of an inch to the outside, pop his shoulder toward the handler, and then...gone. I walk/longe him and make sure he's always bending towards me, even when we're walking a straight line. If he tries to bolt this way, I've got at least a chance of shanking him hard enough to stop him.

            Anyway, when he's being snot, besides keeping the inside side rein shorter, I'll do as one poster said and I'll run the longe line through the bit ring, under his chin, and clip it to the other ring.

            Then, when he tries to bolt, I yank the longe line as hard as I can. The longe line under the chin gets his head up...right into the side reins. He gets a double whammy; longe line on bit/under chin and the side reins catch him HARD.

            It's a serious correction. Some might call it mean. But I'd rather do that than take the chance of him pulling me off my feet and injuring myself...or injuring himself by running like a fool.


            • #26
              Tripping + diminished work ethic = sore or other health issue.

              Yes, you can likely teach her to not bolt off by using stronger techniques, (and likely will have to because she has developed that routine now), but unless you resolve the underlying issue she will find other ways to try to communicate with you she is having issues.

              I have trouble comprehending that a horse can be so "lazy" it trips unless the footing is very poor. Horses are prey...lazy should have been eaten from the gene pool long ago!
              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


              • #27
                believe me...... horses that have never been asked to work or who have learned how to get out of work - will drag their feet and trip. i have seen it many times.

                once you ask them to motor on they magically stop tripping......


                • #28
                  I would echo one of the previous suggestion to make the arena smaller. I would also be thinking if she thinks getting away is the way to stop working, unclip the lunge (for her safety) and make her move her feet. She doesn't get to stop until you say she can stop. Takes stamina on your part but a few sessions where you determine when she stops might make her decide it is easier your way. If she wants to move off, you keep those feet moving.
                  You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something… S. Jobs


                  • #29
                    Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                    For sure, lunge with a caveson, with side reins attached to the caveson. A stiffer caveson/unserrated serrata is even better. But everything is technique.

                    Totally spot on. The only thing I might add is lunging in the corner. It at least gives a visual to the horse for some boundary. If you google Portuguese or Spanish Lunging Caveson you will find a few options as described by Ideayoda. I am not in favor of using the bit as I honestly don't think it actually teaches only punishes and no, I'm not a horse hugger. But it is important to lunge correctly, it's not just about standing in the middle of a circle and changing gaits, be mindful of your body position from torso up and keep it as tho you were in the saddle. No chicken wings, elbows at your hips and do not yield to pressure, horse must yield. Keep humane contact as all times.

                    I had a young horse who would suddenly explode on the lunge without notice. Everything going along beautifully then total chaos. I actually took lunging lessons and invested in a strong Portuguese caveson...end of problem and yes it did have a serreta in it...too bad! Horsey learned quickly to yield to pressure but they can be an extremely cruel tool if not used correctly which is why I suggest a few lessons to learn technique.

                    Hope you can find your happy medium.
                    "Every little girl wants a pony so why should big girls be any different???"


                    • #30

                      I agree with lots of what has been said here in most cases BUT how BIG is this mare? How young is she--or more to the point--how GREEN is she? Is she at all fit?

                      The reason I ask is because draft crosses come in more than one type. I have worked with some that are very athletic, agile, etc. and others that were very weak and extremely unbalanced. Those--particularly the really big ones, may be totally unsuited to working on circles of 20-30 meters. The get unbalanced, freak out and either speed up and run off or they buck to right themselves and regain balance. Their lack of balance makes them afraid on corners. Many of the real drafty ones are cow hocked and have osteoarthritis in the hocks which compounds the problem with discomfort when making turns, or when picking up a particular lead. And being overweight and not having sufficient muscle tone in the hind end also add to the balance issues.

                      So if this mare is one of these, then I say STOP lunging her! You may be able to do a little ground driving at a walk, but you are probably better off riding her straight and forward on the trail or in a field--somewhere with a large arc--at least until she is stronger and more balanced.
                      "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by mbm View Post
                        get help from a trainer who will not allow this kind of behavior. She has your number now and that is DANGEROUS. The tripping *might* be EPSM or more likely just her being lazy and not putting effort into her work.

                        if this were me i would lunge her only in a bridle, with side reins, with the line either thru the bit ring and up over her head to the other ring OR thru the bit ring back to the girt. either will give you leverage.

                        also if possible make a lunge arena with T stakes and hot wire so she cant leave.

                        wear gloves, keep her on a small circle and drive her forward. do NOT allow her to lose focus from you for even a second.

                        but really find a trainer who can help you. this is a VERY bad habit that needs to be canceled now.
                        ^^ I second this comment - I had this exact same problem with my very big BWP after he first arrived at my place. He had absolutely no respect for the handler and would break away at the lunge or even just hand walking.

                        First I put my Portugese caveson on him - but to my great surprise he still managed to break away although the caveson was properly adjusted and I had years of lunging knowledge.
                        To remedy the lunging problem, I put a bridle on him with a snaffle bit - I strung the lungeline through the bit and clipped onto the girth or surgingle loop. Additionally I put loose bungies or side reins on him as well. This simply keeps the head and neck from getting high enough to give him the leverage to break away. And kept him on a bending circle to keep him focused and working.

                        Ultimately he went to NH boot camp to learn respect for a few weeks.
                        Now I have a lovely lovely horse who is well mannered, lunges, leads, loads, clips - well you get the picture


                        • #32
                          I had the exact same problem. Tried to hook my gelding up every which way. He just plain didn't care and if he wanted to be done, he would swing his head, and take off. Until we got a good trainer. Now he does not even think about trying. It does take some time though and he did try at first a couple of times. It has been six months since we got new trainer. What she did: basically reread OreoCookie and MBM's posts. We ran the lunge line through the bit and hooked it on the girth. Then make them go forward. He tried a couple of times, but that spun the stinker around and almost made him fall over. He knew exactly what he was doing and deserved it. Overall, looking back, it was a leadership issue. Once I worked with this trainer who showed me how to get his respect, he quit trying. At the time, he had NO respect for me. He knew darn well what I wanted and just decided he would rather not.
                          It is going to take some time to fix, but I see it as a necessity. Once you rule out any medical issues, of course. He also behaves much better under saddle now too


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by mbm View Post
                            who cares about her mouth at this point? seriously. she needs to learn NOW to not pull away. this is a very.bad.thing. and must be stopped. if it hurts she might think twice before doing it again.
                            Any trainer worth a grain of salt should ALWAYS care about the mouth. It is entirely possible to work through this with a cavesson or rope halter. There is absolutely no reason to use pain to dominate this horse unless she is being aggressive and dangerous by intentionally trying to cause the OP harm.

                            I'm sorry, but it sounds to me that she is just smarter than the OP and has taken advantage of her. THAT is a retraining issue, and if the OP can't do it without strapping her head down or positioning her equipment to inflict the most pain and leverage, then she needs to abort lunging for now and find someone who can properly retrain this mare and get her respect.


                            • Original Poster

                              Just an update, if anyone is still following this thread...

                              Had my trainer out, and we used one of those lungeing attachments (you know, the v shaped thingy that attaches to both bit rings). No side reins or extra equipment. She tried again to get away, but was not able, or not willing, to put her head & neck into it. I was able to hold her with no trouble. We did lots of turns (think round penning without the pen) at the trot.

                              I always thought that putting the line thru the near side bit ring over the head and clipped to the off side ring was the most accepted way to control a horse on the lunge, but my horse seemed to use that leverage to her advantage? (using her head & neck to pull away). With the lunge clipped to both bit rings, she seemed unwilling to pull (I guess we are talking about more bit pressure here). There was absolutely no pressure on her mouth unless she pulled away, which she tried about 3 times, after each time was turned as quickly as I could to go the other way.

                              Anyway, after the lungeing & the unsuccessful attempts to pull away, we had a lovely ride. Forward, willing, responsive. Not saying my problems are over by any means - my butt is still feeling the effects of the 3 good pulls!

                              Just wanted to post in case this helps anyone.

                              BTW, she is not a heavy draft x, 16.1 h about 1250 lbs.
                              "Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death."


                              • #35
                                Putting the bit through the ring, over the poll to the other ring pulls up. It puts pressure on the corners of the mouth which are much less sensitive than the bars. Using the connector you are describing, when your mare pulled, she would have been pulling down on the sensitive bars of her mouth which would have hurt more. She sounds like a smart mare and decided against pulling on a more sensitive area of her mouth.

                                Glad you found something to help you with your immediate problem of her pulling away, though I do hope you will continue to work on the underlying training issue.


                                • #36
                                  Sometimes those of us who're little more "mature," need leverage with a big horse. I ride ALOT of them! and I am short and more "mature." lol! ;-) Big horses can be, if they were not taught right as foals, become quite pushy! They have to know their side of the bed at all times, not just now and then. Glad you found a way to instill some confidence which translates to her. ;-) Acrylic fingernails are a godsend! lol!
                                  Bethe Mounce
                                  Head Trainer, AmeriCan Romance Equestrian
                                  Brentwood CA


                                  • #37
                                    You could bring out the big guns and use a chain lunge line.
                                    Or go the opposite direction....1/4 acre isn't really that big. Free lunge her in there. Then she can't get that satisfaction of getting away from you or playing games because she is already free, and she still has to WORK. (And YOU don't have to worry about gathering up the lunge line or keeping it off the ground so she doesn't step on it, etc) Make your free lunging sessions about work and going forward forward forward and don't stop until she is being an obedient little princess. I am a big fan of free lunging. Do that for a few days. Hopefully she will settle and reach a cooperative obedient state faster and faster each time out. After a few days or a week, go back to using the lunge line and see if she's not a sweet, well-behaved angel

                                    As far as the tripping, perhaps the mare's toes are too long. I recently worked with a gelding whose toes didn't look horrendous (only slightly too long...and he had great feet) but he tripped more than normal. After getting his toes backed up the tripping became a lot less frequent. I'm sure his previous farrier thought there was nothing wrong with his feet too. :/


                                    • #38
                                      Free lunging would be fantastic IF you know what you are doing and have done it before. Otherwise, please don't. I've witnessed too many horses go over or through a fence - even a solid wood round pen - because their owners/trainers didn't know how to free lunge correctly.


                                      • #39
                                        A horse like this was cured with a chiffley bit - or ring bit - or stallion bit - same thing.

                                        Some big footed horses are not comfortable being lunged as the circle is small and can come up with strains if prolonged lungeing occurs. Think of the torque.
                                        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique