When lunging a horse that is running
free in a round yard, don't you just hate it when the horse turns to go
the other way, that it turns to the outside with it's back end in your
Most Trainers' see this as ignorance
and a lack of respect and I do as well. I feel that it says a lot about
the training, attitude, respect and willingness of a horse. I get such
horses here on almost the daily basis and have experimented with a number
of systems to fix them. NH systems, 'Join Up' and even a system that is
popular in the Northern parts of Australia, that of using a stock whip to
flick the back legs every time they are pointing in your direction, until
such time as the horse gets the message and always faces up.
In the end, I designed my own
system. You will need to concentrate on the subtleties of your position by
degrees and your timing. Like any good training behavior.
Stand in the middle of the round
yard and send the horse off. Doesn't matter what gait or speed. You will
normally find that such horses choose their own anyway.
Step across about one giant step
(meter) towards the front end of the horse and ask for the horse to turn
back the other way. Have a lunge whip in your hand.
The horse will turn with it's rear
end in your face.
Immediately take a giant step
towards the other side of the yard. Towards the front end of the horse
and in so doing, flick the horse across the rear legs. The horse
will spin back the other way.
Don't worry about upsetting the
little darling, a bit of explosion in the roll backs is good. You will
be quite impressed on just how good your horse can do a roll back.
Immediately take a giant leap
across the other way and repeat, repeat, repeat. Set up a rhythm. The
horse should not move out of an area measuring about 3 meters max.
The direction of your sideways
leap and the sideways whip is creating an imaginary dividing line across
After a dozen or so turns back,
you will see the horse showing the whites of it's eyes as it strains to
look at you over it's shoulder and to work out what the hell you are
doing. It will also be running out of oxygen as well may you.
The horse must not escape and do a
lap of the yard. A real no, no.
Now get ready, suddenly, you will
see a slight hesitation and sign that the horse is looking for another
option. This will happen just as the horse goes to turn again but it
won't. A realization that there must be a better way, that it is
getting tired with all the new found athletics. You can catch it here
with your eye and a slight rock backwards on the balls of your feet. It
will halt. Square and parallel to the fence.
THE MOMENT the horse does this,
you must step directly back away from the horse and remove yourself
momentarily from it's space. You must also let your body energy down and
The horse will stop. Either side
on or facing you. If it goes to face you, withdraw another step or to
and draw the horse towards you slightly. This will allow the horse the
confidence to enter your space and to turn and face you.
If it didn't, ask it on again and
repeat, repeat. It will get the message. That depends only upon you and
your ability to see it happen.
If the horse has faced you, just
slowly and quietly step around to one side a little and softly, softly
as the horse to lunge on again. Do not give it the 'Mother in Law' look.
Withdraw the energy from your body and look downwards, NOT AT THE EYE OF
THE HORSE. Have the whip pointing out in front and to the side of
you and try to point it around between the fence and the horse, just to
promote it to do the very first turn inwards. Should it spin towards the
fence again, just flick it across the back legs ago, go to your position
again and repeat. Won't be long now.
If it completes the turn inwards,
let it go a couple of full circles of the yard as a 'Reward & Relief"
for doing the right thing. Then stop it, rest for a while and pat it.
You may also talk nicely to it.
There you are, another 4 types of
'Reward & Relief" That made 5.
Leave the round yard and give the
horse the 6th reward.
So, what were the building blocks
that made that system work?
'Advance & Retreat'
Making the bad thing hard and the
good thing easy.
'Reward & Relief'
This system works on every horse and
inside 5 minutes. (Depending upon the goose in the middle of course.