Question about lunging and learning the horse language
I found you accidentally on YouTube when I was searching for help to break in my pony or to lunge it properly first. I want to do everything right. I will soon take part in a lungeing course; I know the theory but lack practical experience still. I have the feeling that I am sending the wrong signals to my pony. I would like to learn more about the body language of my horse and about my energy. The pony is a 3.5 years old Appalosa and also a little too fat, so I would like to get her moving more. Unfortunately, we do not have Prairie for the horses to run. She does not make a single step forward, at least not without treats. Can I learn the horse language at all? Didn't it take you years to learn it?
There are many reasons why your horse does not want to move. It might have to do with your energy or the position you chose relative to your horse. Most of the time horses say: “Hey, you want to drive me or see me running? Why? Why should I go faster, you don’t do it either?”
Or they say, “I can only understand you as an example; alas I do not recognise anything in you”.
All horses run when their mate in the herd runs. But they do that because they understand each other and know how to make each other run. One has a real relationship. All horses only become my friends so quickly because I speak their language and never break their code of honor! That is the most important thing for horses. That is why I get almost everything from them “as a gift”.
I understand well that you want to train or have your horse trained in the traditional way. Horse lovers usually know nothing else than to start with lunging. Unfortunately, from my point of view, I can only tell you so much about this, that lunging is only fun for the horse if the human has already established a relationship with the horse.
To develop a relationship with the horse, you have to speak its language and respect its needs. You will realize that no horse in the world likes to be lunged if it is not conditioned to do so. Of course, hardly any horse trainer will confirm this. The reason is that most horse trainers have never known it any other way themselves and think it would be a RELATIONSHIP if the horse started walking “on its own” after the fifth time on the lunge. You will never see a horse lunging another horse in a herd on a circle for an extended period of time. That is so monotonous and inanimate, humans must have invented that.
Of course, if horses learn from the beginning to be obedient, to move along the lunge line based on driving aids (whip), then this is not the way of building relationships I cultivate. Horses will then do whatever you ask them to do. They are like that. They see no way out. Furthermore, they dutifully run their laps to please people and avoid resistance and relationship problems. They submit, so to speak, to all the demands that a relationship makes on them. This is because they behave like a small child behaves towards its parents. You really have to look closely to not getting a purely “functioning” horse.
Thus, I cannot provide any advice in conventional ways. If you are sure that you are mature enough to lunge your horse without subduing it, then I can only recommend that you always try this with a free horse from the beginning. First, learn the body language and understand horse psychology, then there will be no problems. Only a free horse sees a chance to communicate with you physically with his language. The horse immediately reduces its “opinion” by 80% when it is on the rope. A small tug on the halter immediately teaches the horse that pain, no matter how small, will make him obey faster.
It only took me so many years to learn the horse language because I could not find a teacher who came close to making me understand how horses actually think, feel and act. That was the reason I started the SALIHO School in the first place. I teach horse language and horse psychology in a very simple and understandable way, at least that is what my students say. It means, it does not take years anymore.
The other problem with the pony being too fat really comes from, as they wrote, you do not have a prairie (meadows) for the run on. We only offer horses a too small a home, and then we have to move them artificially because they otherwise get too fat or sick and stiff. I myself once had to spend a year in a large horse farm with little space. One of my horses was healthy and fit for 20 years without any training but lots of open-air areas (1ha); however its suffered so much from the consequences that I had to feed up, gymnasticise it for 2 years afterwards, and had to pay a lot of money for the osteopath to treat it. In between the therapist came and said I had to lunge it more. Doing it my own way, of course, I was exhausted after 5 min. Of course, he should continue to walk – but my gelding looked at me and said, “Tell me, are you crazy to let me continue to walk here in circles like a fool without you moving along?”
My gelding immediately wanted to mentally separate from me and say goodbye to me on the heart level. Only then I realized what is behind the “motives” of millions of horse owners for constantly lunging their horses. I decided at that point when my gelding was so deteriorating in that stable, that if I did not find anything better, I would rather give up my school and move into a big lonely pasture with a hut before I did that to him any longer. But everyone has to follow his/her own path and agree to compromises that are acceptable for oneself. Meanwhile, I am uncompromising when it comes to the well-being of my horses. And I receive exactly the same well-being back from all sides in life.
Kind regards, Alexandra König