Lunging a more nervy than cold-backed horse before riding?

Tickles

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The horse has tack that fits & is seen by vet, back person, physio, etc.

Possibly due to previous bad experiences (not in current home) he panics a little about his girth being done up, not just puffing himself out but looking nervous & trying to escape (he isn't tied up for tacking up due to this & his girth is done up one hole at a time as he walks around you in a little circle).

Nervy again when you get on - doesn't like anyone else near him and takes a few fast steps as though he is expecting something horrid. Fine almost straight away afterwards.

Last time I rode him I lunged him in his head collar (he is v good to lunge, I'm a complete novice at it) before tacking up which seemed to help us relax together. I was wondering if he might suit being lunged in his saddle before getting on? Presumably I take the stirrups off for this? Any tips appreciated!

Obviously I'll check carefully with people who know him too.
 

Cyberchick

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Sounds to me he has had a bad experience of some sort so I would have this in mind. Personally I would tack up and then not do anything just to make the experience more pleasurable and with no stress. You could give him a good fuss and a little feed. Repeat this. Lunge with tack on including the saddle and as long as the stirrups are secure you can lunge with them on. It can get them used to the noise of them flapping as well, like you would with a young horse.
The main thing to remember is to stay calm and relaxed and take the stress out of it or him so take your time, never rush when tacking up. Always do the girth up slowly, start loose then give him a walk, then do up another hole etc. All this until he learns it wont hurt anymore and there is no stress involved.
 

Lollii

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One of my horses is much better being lunged for 10 mins before I get on him, I tack him up get everything on as if I'm going to ride (stirups up) then lunge, then pop on and all is ok!

It works for us.
 

annret

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Lunging is great for settling nerves, and lots of horses are a little anxious about being mounted if they've had back pain in the past or been mounted with someone dumping their weight unceremoniously on their back. It does sound to me like anticipation of work in general.

I'd personally lunge him in his tack - twist his reins up into his throatlatch, and loop the stirrup leathers in a knot round the saddle though they may fall down but tbh having a bit of banging against his sides might help desensitise him once he starts to settle on the lunge. Slip the lunge through the nearside bit ring and over the poll to attach to the outer ring.

Another thing that's a possibility is that he may have gastric ulcers which are common in nervy horses - Equine America do a product called U-Gard Plus which, although not cheap, may be very beneficial if this is the case -
http://www.surreyequestrian.co.uk/equine-america-u-gard-plus-1.6kg-z-r.html

Alternatively, a calmer may be the best way forward to combat anxiety - I'm a fan of Magnitude which is probably the cheapest/simplest yet very effective supplement, esp at this time of year with magnesium deficient spring grass -
http://www.surreyequestrian.co.uk/equine-america-magnitude-908g-z-r.html

Good luck & don't worry too much - when he realises everything's fine then I'm sure he'll relax.
 

Queenbee

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I currently do this with my new mare. I bring her in in very 'high spirits', feed her lincon valerian calmer with a handful of chaff. lunge her with tack on and then get on. It really helps, although my aim is to do less and less lunging with her until we do not need to do it.
 

UKa

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Hm, I would think that lungeing him "naked" would be beneficial to loosen up any tension including in his back before tack and rider come on that way it is less stressful for him.. I do this with my mare a lot who has back issues and although there are no behavioural problems when I tack her up I just think it is the kinder way to put a saddle on if she is warmed up first. Discussed this with her physio and he thinks it is a very good idea...

I also never lunge with the saddle on as the flapping of saddle pads and stirrups just annoy her - if I lunge before riding she goes naked, if I lunge for the sake of lungeing I use a roller...
 

Tickles

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Thanks for the reassurance & advice everyone.

Cyberchick - I will try the tacking, treating & untacking a few times on the weekends. Will be a good opportunity to show OH. (He is very good at treating, so he can join in with the fussing part straight away!)

Annret - I know he has sometimes been on a magnesium calmer which worked. Will mention about ulcers but hopefully not as he is v settled at the yard, in field, with the other horses and when actually ridden, think it is more like what you said about previous pain/unsympathetic riding.

UKa - thanks, interesting to hear different view points. He certinly relaxed & stretched down a lot when we tried the head collar only lunging last time.

All - will discuss with those who know him & probably try lunging before & after tacking to see which suits him best.
 

diggerbez

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have a look at this thread i posted the other day as might have some ideas you could use

http://www.horseandhound.co.uk/forums/sh...rue#Post4421630

FWIW i tried today walking him in-hand for ten mins with rug on before getting on and he let me get on without an explosion! when i lunge him i do so in full tack with stirrups down so they bang about a bit and desensitise him...
smile.gif
 
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