Dear Cherry Hill,
mixed breed horse is only 1 year old. She was neglected for the first 7
months of her life but has come a long way - whenever I try to lunge her she starts
bucking and goes out of control. How can I make her stop???? Melody
First of all, I never longe yearlings. I feel their legs
are not developed enough to take the stresses of working on a circle. The
only exception I make to this is if a young horse has the bad habit of turning
its hindquarters to people or is hard to catch. Such a horse needs to learn
to turn and face me and stop. I'll take the horse to the round pen and
use a few longeing lessons to teach the horse to face me and stop. I always
work my horses in a 66 foot diameter round pen or on a longe line that is
at least 33 feet long (which makes a 66 foot diameter circle). This is the
equivalent of a 20 meter circle in dressage - a large enough circle where I won't
be stressing the horse's legs.
Your horse's bucking sounds like bucking due to youth, exuberance,
and lack of exercise. The best way to PREVENT your horse from bucking is
to turn her out with other active horses directly before her longeing lesson.
This way she will burn off excess energy in a natural horse way. If you
take your horse out of a stall or small pen or paddock and take her to the longeing
area, it is no wonder she will kick up her heels. If you let her take the
edge off with turnout prior to training, you will have a more profitable session.
You don't tell me how you are longeing (free, in a round pen,
with a longe line out in the open, what?) so the next part of my answer is shooting
in the dark, but here is how I teach a horse not to buck during longeing.
In fact I use the same technique for a horse that is racing around fast or cutting
into the circle. Basically I stop the horse and start again. Here's
how I do it. I longe the horse free (without a longe line) in a 66 foot
diameter round pen. When the horse starts a behavior I don't want to continue,
I step toward the horse and in front of his line of vision which turns
the horse into the fence of the round pen and then I let the horse move off in
the other direction. The horse might turn, trot off and then buck or run
again. If so, I step toward the horse again and turn him. It usually
only takes about 3 of these "hard turns" before the light bulb
goes on and the horse starts looking for a different way to behave and watching
me very carefully. NOW we can start developing some productive training.
You can see all of these techniques demonstrated in my two longeing books which
are thoroughly described on my website at www.horsekeeping.com