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Bucking on the Longe

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  • Bucking on the Longe


    I bought a 2 yr old OTTB in Nov. - she had trained but never raced so was "broke". I put her on the longe a few times, sat on her to see what she would do (nothing!) and than gave her the winter off.

    She bucked a bit last year on the longe, especially the first few times but this year when I started her again... I'm talking four feet off the ground, hind legs WAY over her head bucks. I suppose I should be grateful that she is athletic and that she hasn't tried that under saddle....yet.

    I longe her in loose side reins a few times a week. I usually get on her to cool her out - she's not tense when I get on and has never given any indication that she might explode.

    I've trotted her a bit u/s and yesterday, she picked up a canter so I let her. She was definitely light in behind and popped up a bit once or twice. I didn't react and stayed light on her back.


    Should I be letting her rodeo buck on the longe and if not, what should I do to stop her?

    I expect some antics as she is just a 3 yr old and so far, under saddle, she has not acted like she wants to "let fly".

    But I was wondering if allowing her to bronc it out on the longe is enforcing her natural tendency to get light in behind (she's a little downhill right now plus she goes long & low).

    I'm not sure if at her age she understands that she can get her kicks out on the longe but that behaviour is not to be tolerated under saddle? I let her have a few but if it seems like she is starting to get a little too exhuberant; I feel like I should stop her.

    Should I tug on the longeline and pull her up when she bucks or make her move on? She doesn't balk and buck; she seems to be doing it out of freshness and youth; not nastiness but she did offer to get a little light under saddle as well so it is in her.

    I think she's going to turn out to be a little on the lazy side so I don't want her to develop a habit of balking or resisting work.

    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River

  • #2
    She should not be allowed to screw around on your time. Ever.

    If she needs more turnout, or better footing for turnout so she and get the bucks out, then address that. But when she's under your direct control, she should be working for you.



    • Original Poster

      Originally posted by stryder View Post
      She should not be allowed to screw around on your time. Ever.

      If she needs more turnout, or better footing for turnout so she and get the bucks out, then address that. But when she's under your direct control, she should be working for you.

      Well, she's currently on 24/7 turnout so she's not lacking in that area

      I'm wondering if instead, I should turn her loose in the indoor - chase her around a bit (or she just sniffs at the flower boxes on the jumps) than just get on her. She is broke so I don't have to baby her in that department...I just don't want to get bucked on my head
      \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


      • #4
        Originally posted by Czar View Post
        Well, she's currently on 24/7 turnout so she's not lacking in that area

        I'm wondering if instead, I should turn her loose in the indoor - chase her around a bit (or she just sniffs at the flower boxes on the jumps) than just get on her. She is broke so I don't have to baby her in that department...I just don't want to get bucked on my head
        The question is in fairness can she romp around and play in her turnout area? We have 12 hour turnout in small groups in decent sized paddocks this time of year....My horse has a keen sense of self preservation and will not go wild and romp when the footing is icy, too muddy, etc........

        We turn out in the indoor for 15 minutes or so for a good clean roll and to get the sillies out if we haven't worked him in a day or so....He is usually pretty mild mannered, but can get ripping around when the outside paddocks are rough...... That is just playing fair IMHO....

        As far as the lunging issue, I go around and around on my thinking on this....On the one hand expecting obedience under my supervision is important....However, if the lunge is the only opportunity to get the sillies out, I tend to lighten up a bit as long as he doesn't try to drag me around the arena ,....

        There was an article many years ago in Practical Horseman regarding allowing a horse to play on the lunge....I can't remember who the trainer was, but he basically felt it was best for the horse's mental health if you let them play on it if they need it and even advocated using 2 lunge lines to extend your horses area if you had the space....

        Food for thought.....
        Crayola Posse: Mulberry


        • #5
          I have an OTTB as well and he does not lunge. He bucks he rears he kicks out at me, he spins, he roots you name it and he does it.

          However, He doesnt need lunged ( thankfully ) so I just dont do it. All it does is get him wound up and liable to hurt himself or me.

          Maybe your mare is the same, she sounds quite enough under saddle that she may not even need to be lunged. I know this isnt "solving" the problem and lunging is a good tool to have in your pocket but I wouldnt start a battle that doesnt really need to be fought.
          Ride it like you stole it....ohhh sh*t


          • #6
            in my opinion, when a horse is on the lunge line he is working. not playing, not getting the sillies out, working. he is to stay at the gait i ask for until i ask him to change, move in and out on the circle when i ask, move at a good working pace stretching down into any equipment (chambon, side reins, etc.) or if no equipment, still push from behind and get that back up and engage those abs! he does whatever he wants when i'm not with him, when i ask for something he can turn on his little brain for 20 mins and do what i tell him to.

            the pony i worked with in college was a TERRIBLE lunger when i first started with him. to him lunging was 'tear around like a maniac' time. he would gallop at full speed, buck, spin, you name it. he was a little fire-breathing dragon. NOT acceptable in my book!

            so we worked on voice commands and transitions. A LOT. starting with walk and whoa and working up to trot and canter. i installed 'whoa' 'walk on' 'trot' and 'canter.' buttons. for the first couple months i lunged him only in the round pen; having the 'outside aid' of the wall REALLY helped! you have to be very clear and consistent in your body language. for example, if you ask for a 'whoa' and do not get it, place yourself in front of the horse's shoulder and really get strong with your body language, and maybe a strong tug on the line. if this means literally running to block with your body before the horse gets to a certain point on the circle, then do it! (and by that i don't mean literally run into the path of a galloping horse, but move yourself within the center of the lunge circle where you are standing to block forward motion.) firmness and consistency will get the point across. in a few months my pony was lunging quietly in just a halter, little nose on the ground and back up, moving freely, and tranisitoning up and down easily using voice commands and subtle body language. it can be done!
            Proud member of the "I'm In My 20's and Hope to Be a Good Rider Someday" clique



            • #7
              I have 5 horses that I never let screw around on the lunge line. It's work time and, as the above poster mentioned, they are not allowed to mess around on MY time. If I want them to burn off some energy I turn them loose in the ring.

              My OTTB, on the other hand, is one who lets loose on the lunge line whenever he's feeling "up." He's remarkably loose and quiet under saddle when he "gets his bucks out" (I really hate that phrase, by the way, since in theory I don't agree with it). Bucking on the lunge makes him less likely to buck under saddle, so I don't have a problem with it as long as he's paying attention to me before and after the buck (I cringe writing that since I want a horse's attention on me every second we're working). But it's a personal decision based on his particular (and quirky) personality. And with my boy I don't mind "defusing" him after a break or on a particularly cold day (he's uber reactive to the weather). And since I've started letting him do that he hasn't offered so much as a squeal, let alone a buck.

              So I guess my point is that as a general rule, I don't think horses should be allowed to play around on the lunge. But there are always exceptions to the rule. If you think letting her buck on the lunge will make her more prone to buck under saddle I wouldn't allow even a misstep. If not, I guess I wouldn't take such a hard line on it.
              Flying F Sport Horses
              Horses in the NW


              • #8
                Sometimes they need to uncork a couple and they won't do that in their usual 24/7 turn out-they don't like to work that hard.

                If you gotta lunge, you gotta lunge but you get two problems. First is they can get hurt screwing around in that small circle, they can slip behind and go down and/or they can get a suspensory/catch themselves, fall on their noses...whatever.

                Then you get the problem mentioned above, they are under your direct control but you are not in control-they can get loose, they hit the end of that line, you cannot hold them, and they can learn they are stronger then you.

                Additionally, it is really hard to make them warm up gradually on a lunge if all they want to do is cavort around-then they can get hurt.

                Sooooo what to do? If you HAVE to lunge, which I am not sure you do, especially if you worked her the day before? Thinking more then loose sidereins would be the way to go. You need to tighten them up a little to restrict her movement-not too tight but you need some control of her head and shoulders to hold her and help with her balance.

                It's a trap many fall into...too much groundwork at the expense of learning to comply because you can't back up your demands on the ground and have few options for plan B. You get on and you got options to redirect misbehavior, from the ground there are few if any. Just hanging on.

                I do it but I don't really like turning them loose in the arena. That is a place where they should be serious and obedient, not acting a fool...and tyou get the same problem with starting cold with no warm up and ripping around-they get hurt.

                I like to lunge in the tack. I saddle up, use a regular bridle and use either sidreins or just tuck the rein under the stirrup leathers and drop the irons (this works really well). Run the lunge line thru one bit ring then over the poll to the opposite. You do need to halt and switch the line when reversing. Never had any trouble despite about 10 years doing this with a variety of horses. I can keep control, they can still buck and fart a little while still under control and learning to balance themselves. 10 minutes each way on the clock MAX-it's hard for them. Never needed to do it except when it's the first work session of the week after a day or days off.
                When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.


                • #9
                  One of my mares that had two years off to be a broodmare has been acting similarly recently - NO inclination to buck undersaddle, but she gets really broncy on the lunge line. At first, she was just back to work, so I let it go. But, I've started correcting her now. I'll do the jerk-jerk on the line, and gruff voice telling her to "Knock it OFF!" - seems to do the trick. I want to make sure she knows she is on MY clock and not free to do as she pleases. She has caught on quickly and I just have to tell her "Hey, no ma'am!" and she'll just trot on. I DO make a point to send her forward after the correction. Dont want to teach her bucking = stopping.
                  Rural Property Specialist
                  Keller Williams Realtors

                  Email Me for Horse Property!


                  • Original Poster

                    Thanks for all the advice.

                    IrishWillow - I do the same thing...a few tugs on the longe when she gets really silly and a growl. I did snap the whip as well to send her forward but that seemed to feed into her antics. If I let her putz around, she won't do anything...it's as soon as I ask her for more which is why I tend to think she is slightly resistant/lazy. At least she's only 3 and it's not a habit yet - I'm sure once she realizes that her "work" now will be much easier than what she was accustomed to; she will level right out.
                    \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


                    • #11
                      I have a mutual understanding with the mare I ride that if I let her loose in the ring to play before I ride, she has to pay attention for the 30 minutes I am on her. If she has had a few days off or it is really cold, Ill put her on the lunge for a minute to warm up her back.

                      Every now and then I know that she just HAS to buck, but being a good girl knows not to do it with me. So I finish whatever I'm working on at that point. Hop off and put her on the lunge. It usually takes 4 or 5 circles to get it all out. Then I hop back on and she is happy as a clam.

                      She knows when she is being lungd for a workout, or for play. She very rarely plays around if we are lunging in side reins or something. The worst she will do is a tiny happy hop at the beginning.


                      • #12
                        I'm wondering if instead, I should turn her loose in the indoor - chase her around a bit (or she just sniffs at the flower boxes on the jumps) than just get on her. She is broke so I don't have to baby her in that department...I just don't want to get bucked on my head.
                        That would be my approach. Let her have 'her' time, esp given that she is young and the weather has been so wacky and her turnout may not be ideal for really letting loose. But when she is on the longe line or under saddle, that is YOUR time and she must listen. I know (and have worked with) a number of horses that go really well under this system.


                        • #13
                          I would do the turnout in the indoor to get her sillies out. She's loose so it interprets as play time.

                          I had a young mare who was very similar to yours. She would dink around on the lunge line so I quite lunging and just turned her loose. So anytime she was loose in the ring was for play. However, as soon as the saddle went on, she was all business - play time was over.
                          Yogurt - If you're so cultured, how come I never see you at the opera? Steven Colbert


                          • #14
                            Bucking on the Longe

                            She might need some cowboy time. This year we rescued a OTTB from a really bad situation. The first time we saddled him it was like our own PBR live. Off to the cowboy and he certainly never let him buck if he was being handled in any way. 9 months later he is a happy willing saint!


                            • Original Poster

                              I actually just started getting right on her and she's been fine. She obviously did have some good training beforehand and seems to know that you don't bronc out u/s.

                              I DID come off of her last week but I don't think a longe would've helped that situation! lol (she spooked at a noise just outside the arena, ran into a standard which made me get off to the side a little which scared her and a few romps and a spin later and I was airborne ...haven't hit the dirt like that in YEARS!)

                              Anyway, I had the opportunity to get in touch with her breeder through a series of coincidences and she sent me pics of her being broke as a yearling (poor baby)...I probably would not have bought her had I seen those pics first (and I certainly wouldn't have hopped right on!) but she's actually been great
                              \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


                              • #16
                                I tend to agree with PNWJumper's approach...

                                As a general rule, longing is work time and playing is not allowed. I have 3 exceptions to this rule.

                                1. During the winter, if turnout is extremely limited and I want to maintain some control over one (versus setting them completely free in our smallish indoor with a base that tends to freeze) I will let them play on the longe line but ONLY if they are exceptionally well mannered. NO pulling on the line. If they must buck, they must buck balanced and stay light on the line. This sort of longing is always done naked...no tack. Maybe a bridle (no reins) if I think they're going to be extraordinarily silly.

                                3. Horse shows with no turnout. I let them get their kinks out on the line in the morning. Like the above, this is always done naked. There must be a clear distinction between when playing is allowed and when it isn't, and being tacked versus naked is easy for the horse to understand).

                                2. Let's face it...there's times when horses are just stupid. Someone passed out the crazy juice or there's a weather change...whatever, but sometimes they get a light up their 6 and it's best to stick them on the longe rather than ride it out. In this case, I longe them in tack and sidereins set on the short side so the more they go go go, the more they work work work - and trying to buck or play is self punishing. Usually they begin to regret their antics when the adrenalin wears off and they realize what muscles they have just worked.

                                To be fair, horses should have a time and place to play. Believe it or not, 24/7 turnout can cause a horse NOT to play because it's normal. There's not the buildup or excitement that usually causes horses to play.

                                Were I working the mare, I would encourage her to play loose in the indoor. Then I would tack her up. Then I would longe her in sidereins and discourage any playing (every time she bucks, she is pushed into an active canter, lots of transitions, etc. so her tail is worked off every time she misbehaves. She'll learn it's not worth the extra work). Then I would get on. I would follow this routine for a month.

                                A set program like this shows the young horse what is expected. There is play time and there is work time. If you simply go to getting on, you never teach them what is allowed and what isn't, and she will likely always play on the line. And if she never learns obedience and the rules, don't be surprised if she learns to buck under saddle. And if she gets you off and she's smart, she'll learn to be a bucker. (that sounds like the "if you give a mouse a cookie" kids book. lol. anyone want to illustrate?)

                                My young horse has a HUGE buck...I have to be very careful to not let it ever become "okay" when he's working, because there's no doubt he could get me off if he understood his power.
                                It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. (Aristotle)