When i'm trying to lunge my 4 year old buckskin pony he always keeps his head close to me and will not move out onto the larger circle like other horses do, and when i ask him to trot on he stops right in front of me and rears up. How can I get him to lunge? 

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I'll try to help though it has been a LONG time since I lunged a horse. 

Horses do not lunge well automatically, like everything else it has to be trained step by step.  Proper equipment also helps, lunging cavessons with the hinged metal nosebands are the best, but make sure to strap it pretty tight on the horse's head.  If you use a halter make sure to strap the noseband pretty tight and I would put a fleece cover on the noseband and attache the lunge line to the side ring (you have to change it with every change of direction).  I do not recommend lunging in rope halters, just strap ones that have a buckle to tighten the noseband.  People do lunge just using a bit but I do not think that is good for the horse's mouth.  I also do not like side reins since a horse that has some freedom of his head is less likely to hurt itself, but you could use them temporarily to teach the pony to behave if you stop using them when the horse starts doing what you want.  A flat lunging line AT LEAST 25 feet long is much, much, much safer for the person in the center than a shorter line. ALWAYS loop the lunge line in your hand in figure 8s so if the horse takes off it won't tighten around your hand.  A lunging whip with a long lash also helps a good bit.  Practice with the lunging whip until you can "crack" it at will.  The purpose of the lunging whip is to be a signal and to make your arm look like it can reach a lot futher than normal, not to whip the horse.  

First, do you have anyone who can help you?  Lots of old horse books recommend starting lunging with at least two people, one in the center holding the lunge line and the whip and one leading the horse around.  On a difficult horse sometimes three people were needed, one in the middle and one leading the horse from each side.  With this set up you can keep the horse from coming in.  With several days of walk, halt, and reverse you can try to introduce the trot.  This is the easier way.  Be sure to use the lunging time to teach the voice commands WALK, WHOA, OUT, TROT, REVERSE, and CANTER (not all in one session, just start off teaching walk and whoa).  I do not recommend teaching the horse to come in towards you for any reason until you have fixed all the problems with this pony.

I never had the luxury of assistants.  There are still things you can do for the horse coming in.  Pointing the lunge whip at the horse's shoulder can work with some of the horses, for the ones that do not get the message the person in the center can do a sudden, fast lunge forward the instant the horse starts coming in with a sharp and loud "AH AH" or "NO", with a soft and loving "GOOD BOY (or girl)" when the horse moves out.  Make sure that you are always BEHIND the horse's head, neck and shoulder, otherwise the horse will want to come in since its forward motion is blocked.  If at all possible try to avoid stepping back yourself if the horse is not headed out because most horses will just follow you.

If you can't get assistants and the above does not work you can get another lunge line and a training surcingle, and teach your horse to drive from the ground. Then to train it to circle around you attach both lines to the side rings of the cavesson or to the bit, one on each side, then thread the outside rein through the  on the outside surcingle ring and bring it over the horse's back.  This way you can use the outside rein if the horse starts turning toward you.

Get the horse going in a circle reliably at a walk (at least three sessions) before trying to introduce the trot again.  Make sure you are angled behind the horse's shoulder and "drive" it into a trot.  Reward (good boy) ANY trot, even if it is just one stride.  One to three strides the first day, two  to six strides the second day (do on BOTH sides!) and build up from there.

Generally when I was teaching a weanling/yearling to lunge I spent the first three sessions running around more than the horse.  Then everything settled down, but this was with horses who had never been lunged before.  It always takes MUCH LONGER to correct bad habits, you can feel proud of yourself if it takes just ten times as long to correct this pony's bad habits.  It may take longer, patience, consistency and persistence are the keys to success.  The more you are determined to spend the time necessary to get each step right the quicker it will all go.  If you are in a hurry I guarantee you it will take forever.

I hope this helps!     

The rearing and bucking when he has a tight turn seems to be pretty normal. I'm working with a horse that will do that sometimes, and I have a friend who has a horse that will do that.

Tossing his head is a challenge. He's challenging you, trying to see who is boss. That might be something that you should talk to a trainer about. They might be able to give you some pointers. 

Rolling in the sand could be just having fun. I know a stallion who will do that sometimes when he's having a lot of fun lunging. You might want to talk to a trainer about that too, they can advise you on how to get your horse focused and keep that focus (that's the challenge!).

It sounds like he's challenging your authority. With young horses teaching them to lunge when you don't have an assistant to help is all about timing. Pretend there is a triangle that goes from your horse's head to your hand that your holding the lunge line with and the whip in your other hand that goes to the horse's hind end. You want to always stay in the middle of that triangle. You show the pony the direction you want him to go with your hand that is holding the line. With the other hand you tap him on the hip with your whip. You stay on a fairly small circle until he is consistently walking off in the direction you want him to go.  If he keeps turning toward you instead of walking forward and away when you tap him on the hip, shue him out of your space with your hand holding the lunge line while tapping him on the hip with your whip. But stand firm and don't go toward him. Insist that he goes away from you. When he rears at you he's being very disrespectful. A mare out in the field would probably kick him if he did that to her. I would probably try making myself bigger than him by holding my arms up and waving them at him to get him to go the other way and I might possibly smack him on the shoulder with the whip if need be, just to get him to move away. If you smack him on the hip at that time, he's likely to leap towards you instead of away. I had one young horse who was being very agressive and not wanting to lunge turn in and bite me. So you have to be very carefull that this horse is just being cheekie and not being downright agressive.

Tapping the hip might be alright for an experienced person, but if you are close enough to tap the hip, and the horse gets a little excited or annoyed (especially being new to lunging), you could be close enough to catch a horse kicking out if he gets a little ahead of you. So I'd work a little farther from him. When my guy gets a little too close or won't move out I kind of flap my elbows a little, maybe with a hand motion, like brushing or shooing  the air away from me.  I think the horse gets used to your body signals (and eventually voice commands, or a combination of) once you work with them. Having someone show you even once helps a lot. Or catch some videos from the internet. Some horses crowd in because they are uncertain or anxious, or they just learn that the handler will pack it in and they don't have to work if you don't make them. I keep my sessions short, and try to end on a good note, with limited expectations, so everyone can feel good. While you have to be firm and a little persistent with some horses, not much is accomplished if you get frustrated and grumpy. My guy gets excited easily so I try to be very calm and a little boring. A dead quiet horse might need more animation to pick him up. If the horse isn't "getting it" it's probably because you are giving confusing signals. That's why it helps to have an experienced person watch you and the horse and give some pointers instead of muddling along if it's not working for you.

And the rearing thing: naturally you want to avoid that scenario. Does he lead well to start with? If he's not leading nicely under all circumstances, barging into you, or lifting his feet even  a little in a rear, then you should start with basic manners just leading and walking, and backing, both beside you and away from you. Then he should understand moving out of your space better too.

thank you for your advice, he lead very well, he does everything well except for lunge and trailer. 

I just read what you said about the fact that he does lead well.  That is great.  The rearing, tossing his head, coming too close to you, is all him saying to you, "make me".  Make sure that your lounge line is not too long or too short.  Make sure you have correct lounge whip with a snapper.  Wear Gloves.  Make sure the head stall is not cutting into his outside eye, so not twisting or uncomfortable.  THEN AFTER ALL OF THAT, put a small jump up, and poles on the ground.  All not too close together so you can walk around the ring going from one exercise to another.  It is very hard for a horse to rear when they are negotiating their feet going OVER , around, through, inside or outside something.  The cool thing about using a jump is that they land with forward momentum, and if you are lucky they land cantering.  Put his mind on going over stuff and off of you.  Make sure the jump is not too high so the lounge does not get hooked on anything.  :)

Hi, Rachel ... check out this video which may help you understand why your pony is behaving the way he is on the lunge line. 

After you watch the video, let me know if you have any questions.

Enjoy your journey.

Anne

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