Lunging with purpose

Explaining lunging to a non-horse person..

“So the horse is on a lunge line.”

“A what?”

“a long leash and you make the horse run around you until its behaving or until its work-out is over.”

There is so much more to lunging and sometimes horse owners can miss its true purpose. I often hear, “My horse was full of it so I lunged the energy out”.  Who am I kidding? My teenage-self had the same idea. Tire-out my equine companion to ensure a quiet ride.  What I now know, is horses can be extremely aerobically fit from getting their ‘energy out’ and be in terrible condition for carrying a rider. Fractious behaviors riders are trying to avoid  can actually become worse under saddle because the horse is in pain from improperly carrying themselves and their rider.  Instead of lunging to dispose of energy, I devote much time and attention to lunging in the “zone”.  My purpose is to get the horse working over their back so that they get more from the work.  The goal is each horse is adequately prepared for the work I am asking including work under saddle.

What does the “zone” look like?  Here is my zone checklist.

  • Horse respects my space and cues
  • Horse’s head is stretching low and out into contact with rein weight
  • Horse’s back hoofs are tracking up towards the front hoofs
  • Horse’s length of stride between front feet matches the hind
  • Horse’s stride is as long and equally slow and rythmic
  • Horse’s abdominal are flexed shown by a line horizontal on the belly

Starting from a walk, I continue to do walk work until the above are easily maintained.  Once the walk is consistent I move to the trot. If the horse is unable to maintain, I return to the walk.  If the horse is able, I will move on to the canter.

If you have been lungeing with unclear expectations, its not too late to apologize.  Let me show you clear and kind way to work towards a better riding experience from the ground.

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