Normally, we ride our pony Barbie Doll bareback, but all of a sudden, she started doing this weird thing where she would crow-hop a little when we asked her to stop. I was worried about falling off. I started saddling her up more, and then smacking her whenever this happened, but it didn’t seem to help at all, and I felt like that was not a good solution.
I never thought it could be a problem of leadership until I started lunging Barbie the way Barbara had showed my friend. This time, I looked for signs of her listening to me, but what I saw was disappointing. Barbie hadn’t really been listening at all. She refused to look at me, and didn’t seem to be paying attention.
Now, when I lunge, I ask for lots of turns using my body language. When I ask for a lunge, I keep my body pointed squarely at the horse. When I want a turn, I turn my shoulder towards her. If she doesn’t turn, I swing the rope in front of her. If she still doesn’t turn, they receive a smack on the opposite shoulder.
You may say, “But isn’t smacking a horse mean?” I used to see it this way, but now I see that sometimes it is needed. By building up other steps leading up to it, a horse will learn that they can turn by listening to the other signs. It makes them want to listen.
When I lunge, I look for signs of the horse wanting to join up with me. The first one is having their head turned towards you; this was the big one for Barbie. The second are the ears flicking towards you. The third, and best sign, is licking and chewing. Licking and chewing is when a horse moves their mouth around, like they are chewing on imaginary grass. Licking and chewing is a sign of submission, or relaxation. The fourth sign, which I have only seen a few times, is when a horse drops his head. I don’t require this one, but if you can get it, great.
When I first started lunging Barbie this way, she received quite a few smacks because she refused to pay attention. After several sessions, she was doing much better. She pays attention and usually turns when I turn my shoulder to her.
Barbie has also improved 100% up in the saddle as well. She has never refused to stop, and she hasn’t done anything that I wouldn’t want her to do!