View Full Version : XC Schooling on Lunge Line

Jun. 28, 2010, 04:17 PM
I apologize for my poor COTH/Google searching skills if this topic has already been discussed...

My goal is to introduce xc as a positive experience with safety as a priority (isn't it everyone's :D?). I have a youngster that I'd like to eventually like to take over some xc elements via the lunge line... In the past I've always ridden my horses when introducing them to new elements, but as I get older I'd like to have to different tools in my box if needed.

Are their any books or articles on this subject? While I've done a lot of lunge line work with my horses (flat and over poles), I have never utilized this training method over xc fences.

How do you do make sure younger goes over? Pros and cons to this method?

Thanks everyone!

gully's pilot
Jun. 28, 2010, 07:00 PM
David and Karen O'Connor do this with all their horses; I don't know if it's covered in their videos, but that's the first place I'd look.

Jun. 28, 2010, 07:01 PM
Ask Denny.

Jun. 28, 2010, 11:02 PM
I've done it quite a bit.... once they are longeing correctly in general, it's not hard. My current Training horse went on her first xc school when she was 2, trotted over ditches and through water, over logs and up/down banks on a longe!


Jun. 29, 2010, 04:36 PM
Thanks for the replies! I've PMed Denny... hopefully he'll contribute as I think this could be a valuable tool in my box :cool:

ThirdCharm: What do you do to prevent a runout? It's the movement from side to side that I would think would be tougher to control from the ground... Or do you just find that introducing fences in this manner just allows for a more stress-free schooling session and the horses are more game and apt to go over (or through/down in the case of water/bank)?

I'm just so used to having walls/wings in an arena to help keep the horse from pursuing other options.

Jun. 29, 2010, 06:55 PM
I do think you have to use some sort of wings, both to channel the horse where you want him to go, and to prevent the line from getting caught on the fence.

Also,don`t ask him to do it over a fence that can`t be made easier if he doesn`t want to go.

Jun. 29, 2010, 07:47 PM
I've done a ton of lunging o/f and x/c, including some pretty complicated stuff. The key, IMO, is to teach yourself and your horse to go straight and forward. If you have to drive your horse forward still, it isn't ready to be lunged of. If it doesn't keep the lunge line taut (take up the contact), it isn't really ready yet. And if it--and you--haven't sorted out the cue and response to come OFF the circle and go in a straight line for however many strides you can keep up with, then you and it aren't ready to do much lunging o/f.

You can lunge o/f on a circle, of course. And you can use a chute to help keep the horse straight (but a chute isn't a necessity--and, in fact, relying on one for routine lunging o/f can prevent you, the person doing the lunging, from developing the skills needed to lunge in the open, such as over someone else's xc course, IMO.).

Getting the horse to keep the contact (in other words: to stay out on the circle and to move out when encouraged to) and then to understand to travel in a straight line are two interconnected skills because they both rely the horse moving away from the whip (or whatever you use to influence the horse's position and pace) in a more sophisticated way than most demand in regular longing. I think that way varies with individuals, but I like my guys to move out of the circle when I point the whip at their inside shoulder and move forward when I point it behind them. When it is raised, it is driving or warning; when it is lowered, it is just a reminder; when it is not pointing at the horse at all, the horse is either stopped or what I think of as "loafing": moving at will. All three of those whip positions I find myself using when lunging o/f, including xc, because experienced horses often don't need to be "driven" (i.e. encouraged) at all--they just need to be sent along and allowed to sort things out for themselves, while greenies sometimes need a lot of encouragement and guidance.

In fact, that's an important thing I'd like to end with--which I just happened to "lecture" someone on last week when I was showing them how to lunge a greenie (a three-year-old) over fences: YOU have to commit to what you are doing and make the right kinds of judgment to give the horse a good experience. It's just like riding. Oftentimes, an experienced rider with a good eye for distance and pace and balance is the best rider to put on a green horse because that rider can make sure the green horse's first experiences are positive and encouraging. The person lunging a horse o/f also has a huge responsibility to make sure that the way it is done adds to the horse's confidence and willingness. If you get the line tangled in your hands, if you let the line get caught on a jump standard so the horse pulls it over or drags the fence with them, if you overuse the whip, under-use your voice (a wonderful, "clarifying" aid), or just plain miss your line (i.e. don't get the horse down to the middle of the jump, making it unsure whether it is to jump or go around), you can cause more harm than good. For example, I found that the person I was teaching last week often forgot to look for the jump well in advance in order to gauge the arc of the greenie's circle accurately (so it would arrive in the middle of the jump). She needed to be glancing over her shoulder early, when the pony was still 180 degrees away from the jump, in order to calculate how much to let him drift out (to increase the number of strides he'd have to approach the jump) or pull him in to keep him from gyroping out of control.

Eh! I could go on and on. This is a subject that I've gotten deeply into. It's not as easy as it looks, but you'd be amazed by how much you can do with a horse on the lunge line. One of my favorite advanced exercises is to have the horse walk into a big grid. My other favorite is the high triple bounce for slow knees.

OK, OK! I'll shut up now!

Jun. 29, 2010, 09:27 PM
I was just going to say, "Where's Wynn?" on this one? She is an EXPERT at this!

Jun. 29, 2010, 11:04 PM
I've longed my youngster over my ditches and up and down my banks (2', 2'6", 2'11", and 3'3") often. I think it makes for a horse which understands the questions!

Jul. 4, 2010, 01:11 PM
Thank you everyone for all of your responses!!

pwynnnorman - very informative! I look forward to "studying" your post. :)