Last Updated on June 22, 2020 by Allison Price
The Essence of Lunging A Horse
Lunging is a wonderful way to develop the strength required to carry a rider. Although it is a good way to exercise your horse, lunging a horse is not really necessary. But we suggest that you keep doing it so that your horse will get used to it. Because you might need to lunge him in the future. To help you more, we will discuss in this article the steps in lunging your horse. Also, we will give the common mistakes for you to avoid.
Steps to Lunge Train Your Horse
It is a useful exercise for both horse and handler. Through this, your horse can safely burn off extra energy without you riding it. It also helps when you are teaching your horse obedience. Lunging can help a horse learn to be more flexible and balanced when done correctly. It can also increase fitness if the horse has not been working.
Before lunging a horse, make sure you have everything you need. A lunge line about 30 to 35 feet long is essential. Flat webbing is preferable to rope since it’s lighter and easier to handle. Prepare a lunge whip and lunging cavesson or sturdy halter as well. Exercise boots or wraps to help protect your horse’s legs. It’s preferable to lunge your horse in a ring, arena, or round pen to avoid distractions. Gear for yourself will also help. Prepare your sturdy boots or shoes, gloves, and wear your helmet just in case.
Halter the Horse
To lunge your horse, it should be outfitted with a sturdy halter. Then, lead your horse to the ring or arena. Position your horse where you want it to travel. Walk to the center of the circle where you want your horse to work.
Hold the Lunge Line then Whip
Hold the lunge line in your left hand if your horse will be working to the left. Hold your lunge whip in your right. If your horse is travelling in a circle to the right, hold the lunge line in the right hand and the whip in your left. Hold the line and whip making them the sides of a triangle. You are the apex of the triangle. The base of the triangle will be your horse. Your arms should be bent at the elbow and you should be standing relaxed.
Walk the Horse
Ask the horse to walk. It’s important to help your horse understand your voice aids. Use the same tone and inflection each time for each cue.
Maintain the Circle
Hold the lunge line up not dragging on the ground as your horse move off on the circle. Keep your elbows bent. Also, keep the whip pointed at the horse’s hocks. Always maintain the triangle. Keep your circle very small if you move. You might get dizzy if you only spin in one spot.
Upward and Downward Transitions
Your voice aid for upward transitions can be reinforced by the whip. It will only take a wave of the whip for some horses. Others may need to lash to be popped. This is done by flicking the ship sharply. Practice perfecting this before you try lunging. For downward transitions, many people lower the tip of the whip to the ground.
Halt and Change Direction
Ask your horse to change direction. Ask him to halt, step backward and turn. Then change your whip and line hands. Send the horse off in the opposite direction. This will take some time to practice coordination in the movement.
Common Mistakes in Lunging
Lunging can only be healthy for a horse if done in a responsible and correct way. But a lot of mistakes happen during lunging. We have listed the common mistakes so you can avoid doing them.
Mistake 1: Lunging with a Bit
The mandible of the horse is placed inwards when you lunge with a bit. Working with a bit makes it more difficult for the horse to take a correct flexion. It is the best option to train with a good-fitting cavesson. Because with this, you act on his upper jaw. During a half-hat, you request the upper jaw inwards instead of the mandible.
Mistake 2: No Solid Foundation
Oftentimes, horses are lunged without a proper foundation. Some of these horses have a hard time to relax. That is the reason why they don’t learn fast or well or they learn the wrong things. Trust, clear communication, and true connection make a good foundation. Develop true connection through Liberty Training. When the connection is strong, you may continue to the basic groundwork. Those who take the time to create a solid foundation will have more fun and success during lunging. Because the horse will trust you and all your aids.
Mistake 3: Wrong Body Language
The horse becomes confused when the handler uses the wrong body language. Some horses become anxious; others become angry. Others will block or start to run. Horses constantly read the handler’s body language. When the body language is wrong or confusing, problems will arise.
Mistake 4: Stopping at the Wrong Moment
Many handlers make the mistake of not stopping at the right moment. They either continue too long or stop too early. By continuing too long, you’re crossing the limit of the horse. The muscles become tired. And they will remember lunging as tiring. But when lunging is too short, the horse will not reach the relaxation it needs to start moving correctly. Observe the horse and notice the best moment to stop.
Mistake 5: The Handler Leaves His Own Circle Line
The handler walks along in a small circle during lunging. It is important to know well where to lay down your own circle. Many handlers allow themselves be pulled away or pushed away. They walk a bigger circle or even a smaller circle. By doing this, you cannot sense if your horse walks balanced or not. It is important that you stay on your own circle whether it is big or small.
Benefits of Lunging a Horse
Whatever the reasons you choose to lunge, have you ever wondered what are the benefits of lunging a horse? Here are some:
- It is one of the initial steps of the breaking process with horses. It teaches your horse to respond to your voice commands.
- Lunging helps your horse develop the correct muscles to carry the rider.
- It can be very useful to improve their flexibility and suppleness in their work. Also, it improves their transitions both upward and downward.
- Lunging is also an excellent way to calm your over excitable equine.
- It is a wonderful form of exercise when you are short of time. Your horse will have a quality workout in about 20 minutes.
Lunging your horse is not necessary but there are benefits if you do. If you choose to lunge your horse, be careful to do it the right way. Failing to do it correctly can only harm both you and your horse.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!