Send the horse forward! You will find so many of your training problem will disappear when you do this one thing. That point was brought home to me so clearly while visiting a high school friend last week.
Mab is a good horseman and has broken and trained many horses through the years. She had read “Forward: Riding with Eloise King” and was excited to start her new mare, Shilo, following those principles. She tacked Shilo up for lunging and brought her into the arena and tried moving her onto a circle. The mare had not been lunged before and was looking to Mab to lead her as usual. Consequently, Shilo kept turning back to Mab trying to follow her instead of moving onto a circle around her.
At that point, I got to see how many people tend to focus on working the forehand and really aren’t used to working the horse’s hind quarters. Even though Mab had gone over the lunging instructions in Forward: Riding with Eloise King, her lunge line hand was stretched as far forward as she could reach and she was focused on the mare’s head trying to get it to go out onto the circle she wanted Shilo to make. The mare was trying to do as she was asked but, like the story of Sammy in the Forward book, Shilo was not being asked to go forward.
“Focus on her hind end,” I encouraged Mab. Then as Mab would direct her attention there and walk toward Shilo’s hind quarters, the mare would turn to get alongside Mab so she could go back to being lead. “Get behind her. Send her forward with the whip so you don’t get kicked.” So around they went in circles for a while — Mab running to get behind the mare, Shilo turning toward her to get in place to be lead. “Bend your lunge line elbow and keep it closer to your body.” Mab did so, got behind Shilo and sent her forward by clicking her tongue and lightly using the whip. Then suddenly, everything fell into place.
Shilo went into an easy, relaxed trot and continued for a few circles. Then it was stop, reward and back into the trot. No problems. You could already see that Shilo wanted to be forward and how it relaxed her as she took those beginning steps toward being forward. After getting that direction well established, we started Shilo in the other direction. This time,
Mab was quicker in getting herself where she needed to be to communicate clearly to Shilo. Shilo picked it up beautifully. Then stop, reward and a happy Shilo was sent back to her stall.