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Advice for lungeing and a nervous trail horse

I have searched your archives and did not find the answers I am looking for. I have a 7 year old mustang gelding. He has the most incredible personality. He is playful and loving, but I have a few issues that no one at the stables where I board can seem to answer intelligently.

First -- my horse does not know how to lunge. I can take him to the round pen and get him in position and ask for forward motion and he will just turn and face me, or walk up to me and nudge me like he expects me to lunge. I know he was brought off of the mountain at approx 7 mos old, and was professionally gentled, but I don't know exactly what that seems to entail. So I would love to learn how to teach him how to lunge for several reasons. Can you help??

Second -- He is new to me, the area, and our creek trails. He has gone out several times and had what I call typical horse issues is some areas. He has shown excellent improvement in many areas and I have no doubt after a few months of exposure he will be an excellent trail horse, but a new issue was posed yesterday. Several horses from another stable in the area came up behind us and we allowed them to pass us before we continued. Gordon became extremely excited and impossible to control. Little bucks and rears, taking off after the other horses and he tried to kick his trail mate. With my experience and confidence level, I dismounted and tried to small circle him but he would have nothing to do with it. My trail partner, she is much more experienced than I am, switched with me and it took her 10 - 15 minutes to calm him down. She seemed to think he was acting like a stallion. Can you give any insight and possibly another way to get him to refocus his attention when these thing arise?? Also, how to keep him calm around new horses, especially when away from the barn?? After we were able to continue along the trail, we were met by another group of horses from the front, and either he was too tired for the last episode, or he doesn't mind them if he see them coming at him, but either way, he just let them pass like they weren't even there. Many of the other boarders frequently trailer to nearby trails and parks and I would love to go, but I get intimidated and then have trouble continuing.

I love this horse and have waited 20 years to own my own horse. I am working on my human issues and confidence on a daily basis and Gordon and I are bonding and trusting quite well. We get along on the ground very well.

Please let me know if you need further information from me. I absolutely love your web site and value any input you may have.

Thank you in advance.

You are asking me for a lot of information that would be extremely difficult to provide you in a simple email. I shall try to offer a few suggestions. First, try using a plastic bag at the end of a five foot stock whip, called a 'flag,' for a motivator. Horses like yours may have a potential to kick when pressured too much, so be careful. Begin by getting a few steps forward, slowly. Just enough pressure to ask the horse to move off a particular spot and build on that. Don't be too attached to what his lesson looks like. Just begin to get some simple forward movement, a few steps and reward that with a good boy and a short break from any pressure (a rest).

To put a horse's attention back on you (as the rider/leader/handler) when he gets distracted, put him to a simple but precise task. This task can be yielding the hind quarters, several rotations in both directions. This makes it very hard for the horse to exhibit any behavior you do not want because he goes to doing this move as soon as he does anything at all that is out of order. This included getting nervous, jigging, bucking, rearing, biting, backing when not asked and more. In other words you are making what you do not want hard for the horse and re-focusing his attention on you as his leader. You need to practice asking for hind quarter yielding, both from the ground and in the saddle, and you both need to get good at it. You practice this move before you really need it in a trail situation. You get good at it at home in a safe and calm environment. Once it becomes like breathing for you both, you will have a wonderful and effective tool to immediately stop what behavior you don't want and have the horse's attention back on you. I can teach you how to do this, but not exactly in an email.

You might consider one of my DVD's for you. They offer practical and effective information. Also, telephone coaching is a convenient way to get answers and coaching in areas of horsemanship in which you would like to progress. I hope I have offered some helpful suggestions......

Sincerely, Franklin

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