When we think about lunging training for our horses, the first thing that comes to mind is usually that our horse is going in a circle and we, or a trainer, are standing in the middle of that circle. We make the horse move with the whip, but what are we doing with our bodies? That’s why in this blog we will teach you how to train your horse to respond to your body language!
Horses are naturally herd-bound animals. When they are in the wild, an alpha mare leads the herd. The herd learns that wherever she goes, they will follow and be safe. This is the position we want to be in with our horses.
We want them to know that they will be safe when they follow us of their own will!
How to train your horse to respond to your body language?
We’ll start teaching your horse to respond to your body language by practicing by stopping the horse at a walk.
Think about what auditory cue you want to give your horse. It’s important to pair an auditory cue with your body language so that your horse knows what’s expected of him.
👉 You can use any word or sound you want to command your horse to walk, but make sure you’re consistent. For instance, if you make a clicking sound to get your horse to walk, that should be the sound you use every time.
👉 Use very distinctive tones for each command, and try to keep your verbal commands to a minimum. If you’re constantly talking, the horse will start to tune out your voice.
Common Horse Commands: You could say “Whoa” to get the horse to stop immediately, say a long “Trot” sound to speed up to a trot, and make kissing sounds to go into a canter
You can carry a short whip to help teach your horse. Start by having your horse in a halter. We prefer a rope halter so that you can clearly establish cues with your horse.
You can attach a lead rope as well. Stand beside your horse and ask them to walk. After a few steps, stop and plant your feet. How does your horse respond? Does he walk on a couple of steps, continue walking, or slow down?
If he continues walking without any notice to you stopping, give the halter a halt until he stops
If he slows down as you stop, reward him with a pat or praise! This is the action that you want.
Remember to use your auditory cue as you stop your feet. Try walking him and stopping your feet again, and as you stop, turn your body towards your horse, closing your outside shoulder.
We are now incorporating your body language and your movement as you ask your horse to stop his feet, too.
You can keep walking and stopping with your horse until you feel that he understands this. When you start your lunging training, you will be able to use this to cue your horse on the lunge line.
Watch the video to learn more 👇