When I first started training horses, Mac was only a few months old, and was owned by a friend of mine. When he came of age he was one of the horses I was training, which included his two older brothers. To save time and energy we would free lunge them all together, and it was so much fun! I never thought of it as part of the training, back then it was just to get them quiet enough to jump on.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve realized training doesn’t mean tiring them out until they don’t care, it’s about communication, but I still go back to the basics, just now they mean something different.
I just started free lunging Mac and my filly Maggie together yesterday, I never had the need or the facilities to use this before but I am sure glad I do now! Eventually I want to be able to pony Maggie from Mac, this exercise helps with teaching them to tie, and comes in very handy when venturing out on the trails or to a show for the first time. Being able to control your young or inexperienced horse with the aid of your more broke mature horse is a great asset.
So step one is getting them used to working together, and while they figure this out I’d rather be on the ground! Here are some shots of them working together, it only took two sessions for them to start cooperating…
Here you can see how creative you can get by adding the same obstacles you use when lunging just one horse, like jumps and tarps.
Here Maggie came trotting from behind, and Mac start loping to stop her from passing him. In the field he is the boss, but she doesn’t like having to lag behind while he jaunts around at his leisurely pace. Notice how when Maggie goes to pass him, she passes on the inside? remember your riding coach or whoever taught you to ride telling you to only pass other horses on the inside? Horses know how to place themselves around other horses, everything we are taught to do, someone at some point learned either the hard way (by getting kicked) or just by watching horses interact.
Finally I have taught both horses, that when I back down my energy it means to slow down or stop. Here I drop all my pressure to go get my phone to snap these pictures, and they stood stock still the whole time. This was at the beginning of the session and they had plenty of energy this morning to boot. (lots of bucking, sprinting etc) This answers that golden question, you can make your horse go, but can you make him stop?