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Morgan Quarter - problems on lunge line

Hi. I have an eight-year-old Morgan quarter. He is very affectionate. I have only had him for a little over a month now. Most of the time he is a very good boy. He was owned by kids and apparently abandoned at the previous boarding facility.

He is very affectionate to humans. He will follow me and does a whinney when he sees me. He nuzzles, too. My main focus is for him to trust me and respect me. I am afraid today maybe I lost his trust, I'm not sure.

Normally, he has been pretty good on the lunge line, but today, he really surprised me. He switched his direction so the lunge line wrapped. Then he knew I would have to reel him in and unwrap it. He would rather walk to me than run around in the lunge line. I had a long whip and used it only as a threat. I feel bad even saying that. I never hit him with it. I'm trying to train him to canter, as it seems like its hard for him to canter as opposed to a fast trot. Anyway, he ran towards the gate and tried to smash it open. I yelled at him that this was bad. He attempted a very small rear at the gate. I tried to get him going again, but he did the same thing.

I'm not sure how to (1) prevent him from trying to crash the gate which is very dangerous; and (2) turn the opposite direction so I have to unwrap the lunge line and reel him in.

He is my first horse (I'm 44). I did ride alot as a kid, but never owned a horse before. I spend a lot of time with him. I don't want bad habits to continue and I do want my horse to feel he can trust me and respect me.

I am also afraid this crashing through the gate could be attempted with me on him. He has never done this so far, but he does try to stop at the gate with me on him. I urge him on, however. I am not afraid to give correction but I want my correction to be as nonviolent as possible. I prefer to work from love and trust rather than fear and intimidation.

I eagerly hope to hear from you soon.

Thank you
Carol E.

Hi Carol,

Sorry it has taken so long to respond. It has been a busy summer already.

As part of the 'sacking out' process, horses need to get used to things around their legs. Sometimes a horse will get away from a handler while lungeing. The handler should let go of the line and allow the horse to run and drag the line. Horses new to lungeing or leaning should be trained on a shorter line or in a round pen. Gradually increase the length of the line as the horse gets used to the exercise. Lungeing requires very precise body position (including what part of the horse the human is looking at) by the handler. To help this horse I would begin to go very slow (walking only) and allow the horse time to get used to every little step he does where you want him to go. once you get a nice circle at a walk, then begin to ask for a trot.

To keep him from crashing the gate, never let the energy get to the point where he would want to run away. Slow down, breath, be more sensitive to the escalation of energy and never allow the horse to reach the point of 'no return.' This is how trust is built and confidence with a horse. One step at a time, perfected slowly. Make what you do not want hard for the horse to do by putting him to a task. If he does not want to go forward, bend him into tight hind quarter yields a few times in both directions. He'll want to move forward after a few times doing that process (unless there is a pain issue involved). You get good at it before you need it. It is a basic skill of good horsemanship that all should know how to do.

Good luck and please keep me posted.

Sincerely, Franklin

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