Lunging question

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HorseyGurl22

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I've been working with Rascal on lunging him and he is doing awesome. He will now listen to voice commands for "Walk", "Trot", and "Whoa"(stop) in both directions and will transition smothing from all of three. The only thing I can't get him to do is canter.

Now, I've never had to teach a horse to lunge, the big guys I've worked with already knew how to lunge and all of the voice commands.

I have trie encouraging him on by clucking and kissing at him as well as encouraging him on with the whip. All he does to trot faster.

Any ideas?
 

Sue_C.

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This is a mini, right? Are you intending to harness train him? If so, I would not worry about the canter at all. If you are lucky, he might never break in harness. Aside from marathon racing, there is really never any NEED for a harness horse to canter.

If you are worried about conditioning him, trotting, is actually harder to do, and builds muscles even faster than cantering anyways. Even my riding horses, when conditioning them for competetive rides, I stuck mainly to the trot. Harder on me, too.


If you are determined to get a canter, it is all a matter of having him respect the "cluck". For my riding horses, one cluck=trot, two=extended trot, kiss=canter. For the driving horses, kiss=trot-on, or road trot, instead of canter.

It should be cluck-snap, not a constant clucking that means nothing to the horse. That is like nagging at a child...after awhile...they tune you out. You could also change the way you ask for it. Try saying "can-TER...AND snapping with the second syllable. You don't have to be beating the horse to death.
If you are good at snapping the whip, it is the noise as much as anything, that gets their attention. You might have to connect once or twice, but after that, they usually have learned that cluck, means GO forward.
 

justaboutgeese

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I concur with the previous poster in as much as its not critical. If they never canter great. Mine can move plenty fast at a trot and I honestly have never seen them break into a canter or gallop even when playing by themselves. The last thing I want from my harness horses is a gallop in harness. While there are some events that you will get to canter in harness it is not a natural, diserable, or needed gait for harness horses with the excepotion of chariot races etc. Definatly not for the average driver or horse.
 
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SunQuest

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Just keep asking for more speed. He will only be able to trot so fast before he breaks into a canter. There are ways of doing this, one of which is cracking the whip behind him. Another is clucking (or kissing) to get him to understand that you want forward movement. I use clucking in a general sense to mean speed up. I use words to denote what gate. Walk, trot, extend, canter ect. By clucking, I am only telling the horse that I want it to go faster or to move from a stop. (In western, clucks and kisses are often used to denote the gate. I use an english approach where clucking is used to increase the horse's speed.) And the last is to actually touch him with the whip to let him know you really mean business. I prefer to use the first two choices and then go to the last if I get no response. Eventually they learn that when you ask with verbal type cues that you mean it.

Now on the kissing or clucking and using that to mean to speed up.... there is a right way and a wrong way of doing it. Once a horse has learned that cluck=move, then you can use the cluck and time it to the position of the feet to help encourage the horse to move faster. It is all related to the timing and the hind feet. It is hard to explain in words, and easier in person. But it has to do with the horse's lead and where the hind leg is that impels the horse forward. I will try to make this clearer than mud! LOL...

The goal is to get the horse to spead up by clucking to make the feet move faster. So you cluck in time with the gait which drives the horse faster as the horse thinks "oh… she wants me to move a foot". In other words, the faster you want the horse to move, the faster your clucks will be. It is in time with the gait. The easiest way to do this is to watch the horse's hind feet. You would specifically watch the inside hind leg. When it is just ready to leave the ground, give the cluck. This causes the horse to want to move that leg further forward faster and results in increased speed. If you cluck when the horse is just putting that hind foot down, it will cause the horse to shorten it's gait and want to slow down. It takes some practice to time the clucks just right, but when you do, you will see what effect it has.

Unlike the previous two posts, I do think it is necessary to teach all horses to canter on a lunge line and in a cart. The reason is that while cantering the horse does use different muscles than trotting. I agree that for stamina one would use the majority of lunging activity at a trot, but by cantering some it helps to round out the look of the horse. And the primary reason for cantering in a cart is so that a horse learns what a cart's bouncing feels like should it ever spook while under harness. The last thing you want is a horse to spook and then get even more scared because it has never experienced the difference in the cart bouncing at the three beat gate of the canter. Besides, many of the combined driving events do require cantering on the course. And as a side note, I see my horses canter much more often at play than they do trotting... The reason goes back to what Sue_C said. The canter is a much easier gait which uses less energy than the trot does.

edited to fix spelling error.
 
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runamuk

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First off cantering on a lungeline is not good for a horses legs......the better choice would be to use a roundpen.......second many horses when cantering on the lunge learn the dreadful habit of leaning on you unless you bit them up and use side reins........what is your intended purpose behind the lunging? If it is just for condioning I would reccomend finding a slight hill and working at a trot so that the horse has to do a little hill climb work....that will muscle them up quite nicely and strengthen the chest shoulders and rear ........
 

SunQuest

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runamuk said:
First off cantering on a lungeline is not good for a horses legs......the better choice would be to use a roundpen.......second many horses when cantering on the lunge learn the dreadful habit of leaning on you unless you bit them up and use side reins........
This really isn't that big of an issue with minis as long as the lunge line is fully extended... On large horses I would agree that it is hard on the legs to be on a small circle, but even in a round pen running in circles is hard on a large horse's legs. I like to use a 25 foot cotton line when I lunge the big horses so they are actually lunging in a circle that is equivalent of a round pen (that is too much weight for a mini so I use a standard flat nylon lunge line for them).

But when on a lunge line I like to actually do more than just run the horse in a circle. I use the line for lots of transition work as well as other things, but sendom use it as a strictly exersize tool. I use it to get a horse listening to me and my verval cues as well as teaching the horse that I can be further away from it. So lunging with a lunge line should not be viewed any worse than using a round pen as long as one knows how to properly lunge a horse. That means making the circle big, and the person lunging also travelling in large circles or even the whole length of an arena which is one of the biggest keys to not having the horse lean on you as you allow the horse to straighten out and then ask it to bend in the corner. Again, it all comes down to knowing the tools and how to use them to get the most out of them.
 

runamuk

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Well I will disagree after being an assistant to sevveral trainers over the years lunging is typically only used for conditioning and teaching verbal walk trot canter whoa........if you want to do more you have to move to ground driving.......where you can do serpentines and bending exercises.......as for lunging up and down an arena wall ....youngsters who have never been lunged do tend to drag your butt up and down the wall I really prefer mine to go in an actual cirlce in a balanced manner.......

just my 2 cents
 

HorseyGurl22

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Well, my main purpose of teaching him how to lunge is to teach him the voice commands and also to condition him. I think that teaching a horse all three gates and then teaching them to transition in different combinations gives them better sence of balancing themselves. At least this is what I've seen in bigger horses.
 

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