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Do you lunge your horse a lot?

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  • Do you lunge your horse a lot?

    Do you use lunging as a tool for schooling or fitness? Do you lunge at all? Do you lunge only using side reins? Do you lunge WTC with side reins? Do you lunge over cavaletti? Do you lunge only your green horses, or do you lunge your well-schooled horses as well?

    Just curious, as I know people who lunge before every ride, people who don't lunge at all, and people in between.

    If it is part of your program, what is your protocol and why do you use it?

    If not, why not?
    "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

  • #2
    I lunge my young horse (four and a half), but not my older Fjord (fifteen).

    The young one has a schedual for her because we (my instructor and I) don't want her to get sour.
    She gets a ride, a lunge in sidereins the next day, a day off, ride, free lunge over a jump/caveletti (she loves jumping), usually I will have a lesson on a Sunday, and then she will also get a ride out to school in the paddocks just to keep things interesting! So usually it works out about 2 lunges a week, in side reins unless jumping.
    So it is pretty important in her schooling.

    The fjord gets cranky on the lunge :P


    • #3
      As a general rule I don't like to lunge to get a horse tired. However, I would rather someone lunge their horse if they felt they needed to than get hurt getting on a hyper horse. For the first month I had my horse, I threw him on the lunge line when we went to a clinic or show but only to see what he would do - literally it was twice around each direction at the trot. After that I haven't bothered.

      I will lunge with side reins if my horse has been in (not worked and not turned out) for more than 3 days. It's both a safety issue for me, and allows the horse to get back into work without me interfering with him. Sort of a gentle transition back into having to move.

      When he was just learning to canter and half-halt I lunged him with side reins more often. Sometimes once a week. Much better for him to figure some things out on his own.


      • #4
        I have never lunged my current horse. In the past I've lunged when i think my horse would benefit from working through an issue without a rider or when I've been unable to ride for a long period of time. If I do lunge I start without side reins to warm up, then add them

        I have, at times, long lined and also done some work in hand. I try to avoid straight lunging because of the stress it can put on a horse's joints.
        Last edited by Bogie; Sep. 28, 2011, 10:01 AM. Reason: Fixed typo
        Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
        EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


        • #5
          I use longeing and long-lining quite a bit. It is, obviously, very useful in starting a young horse into work before s/he is put under saddle.

          But I use these tools with my mature horses, as well. It lets me see them working ... my eye is often better than my feel/skill in the saddle, and watching them work from the ground helps me target massages and future workouts better. With a horse recovering from an SI injury, the longe/long-line work has been invaluable in carefully easing her back into work. With my elderly horse, a longe workout once a week lets her go through all her paces without the extra weight of a rider. She is sometimes used for longe lessons for beginners, as well, so the longe work keeps her perfectly tuned for that, as well.

          I use cavaletti, terrain (long lining/ground driving on hills is a great workout for the human booty, as well as the horse's!), even small jumps; I do everything off the horse that I would do from the saddle. I use side reins, removing them for periodic walk breaks.

          I do not use longeing as a tool to "get the bucks out" or tire the horse before riding. That said, as I've gotten older, when the little voice says it might not be the best idea to ride Horse X today, I may very well opt for a longeing workout for the specific purpose of keeping my feet firmly on the ground that day. ;D I also have had a cold-backed horse that, for a time, warmed up much better with a short longe session.
          Equinox Equine Massage

          In the depth of winter, I finally learned that there was in me invincible summer.
          -Albert Camus


          • #6
            My horse has some back issues, so before every ride I lunge him in both directions w/t/c without the saddle, then put his saddle on and do both directions again. I work him for maybe a total of 10-12 mins with lots of transitions. It keeps him in a happy place, and it help me see how he's moving that day. I use side reins sometimes if I think he needs to really use his back more.


            • #7
              I think it goes back to - every horse is different.

              I do lunge for fitness and training purposes. I use sidereins sometimes and long line sometimes. I have a TB mare that is 7 who has a crooked canter and after having her totally vetted, chiro and saddle fitted, lunging her without side reins etc and having her go over poles and small jumps as well as a lot of cantering - I lunge her larger than a 20 meter circle - this has improved her canter and strength SO much. I felt it was a lot trying to do this solely when riding her. But I would not do this with my dressage horse - he I rarely lunge but when I do - its for fitness and I dont use sidereins on him.

              A client has a horse we use sidereins on because he will not use his back at all without and it really helps him as he came to my barn with back issues - lunging him with the side reins correctly has made a huge positive difference.

              My 22 year old exracer who I have pretty much retired as he has a lot of arthritis gets lunged about 3x a week - and he is loose lunged and he goes long and low and stretches himself out nicely - tracks under, stretches up through the back.. - from his dressage training back in the day - still a pleaser!


              • #8
                I love lungeing and do a lot of it, for both horses and riders. My reasons/protocols are similar to coloredhorse's, with the addition of the usefulness of lungeing to help break tasks into smaller parts to help the training/education of both horses and riders-- i.e., lungeing helps riders to improve their seats and feel of the horse's movements by eliminating the distraction of steering the horse, while lungeing the horse (without rider) enables the horse to focus on his/her balance, movements and responses to the tack without the burden/distraction of carrying a rider.

                I've also found lungeing over cavaletti marvelous PT for rehabbing stifle injuries.

                Really bugs me to hear/read lungeing dissed. It's a great tool.


                • #9
                  My current horse gets lunged if she has had 3 days off. She's a baby and 2 days is ok, 3 days and I want to make sure shes ok Usually its 10 mins w/o side reins. Also if I'm hauling out for a trail ride to a new place (there are no trails where I board) I'll do a 10 minute lunge w/o side reins prior to loading in the trailer. I usually work her on the lunge with side reins, transitions, etc once or twice a month. It helps me see things and is a quick day for me if I need to work early.
                  Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!


                  • #10
                    I don't longe my current horse, a homebred 7 year old trakehner mare that I "broke" (hate that word) myself. I never taught her to longe or longline. I just didn't find it necessary for her. Now her older brother I did quite a bit of longlining and some light longing (walk/trot) before I broke him. He was the first horse I trained and I wanted to feel safe and have him at least know some steering and brakes before I got on him. Also, Nova was a big 17.1 horse, and Keira is a 16 HH medium build horse, somehow Nova was a bit more intimidating to get on for the first time.

                    My mare doesn't even know how to longe, but this winter I think I will teach her. Longing has its place and can be an effective training tool, so I think it's best if Keira at least learns how to longe. I'll likely have her do a little bit of cavelletti and small jumping on the longe.


                    • #11
                      I pretty much always lunge.

                      Most of the time I free lunge in a round pen. I tend to do alot of transition work. My goals with lunging tend to be warm-up, fitness and schooling. I have two OTTBs so its good exercise for them and allows me to get a good feel for their frame of mind on any given day.


                      • #12
                        I used to lunge my OTTB once a week or so just to teach him how to do it. He was also long-lined for a couple of months when he came off the track. I never saw any real benefit from lunging though. Now I do it once every couple of months just to see how he looks from the ground and to remind him of how to do it. I wanted him to know in case I was ever injured and could only exercise him that way. I usually use side reins.

                        I'd love to be able to be lunged on him, but he's not always that balanced being lunged, and often gets quicker and falls in on the circle, thus making me have to "ride him" when I'm supposed to be trotting and cantering without reins/stirrups. I think he gets tense too.

                        The last time I lunged him was a couple of months ago and he was surprisingly calm and steady and listened to my half halts. We did some walk/trot transitions and some leg yields in and out on a circle. I was too afraid to disrupt that by asking him to canter!

                        I was actually just thinking about trying it again this week to give him an easy day in between his event last week and one this weekend.

                        With my semi-retired eventer, I've been thinking about trying it again as a way for him to warmup without the burden of a rider. He's quite arthritic from behind.

                        With my minis, it's the best way to warm them up before I jump them. Plus, I don't get so tired running around! We use mini-sized side reins and a surcingle. I usually have them trot over poles or raised cavaletti.

                        Check out my blog at http://lindsayberreth.com


                        • #13
                          My horse is 4, and I don't lunge on riding days. I do have a separate "lunge workout" day, typically once every week or every other week. I work him in Vienna reins, WTC.

                          I have a really busy work schedule, so lunging is effective on days when I have less time (for tacking up, etc) or if I am really exhausted and know I won't put in a good ride. Mostly, though, it helps me keep tabs on how his gaits are developing. I'm quickly finding out that a growing 4 year old is changing ALL THE TIME and things that used to be weaknesses become strengths and vise versa as he develops. I like getting to see this on the lunge because it helps me recognize what I need to target or back off from under saddle.
                          2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                          Our training journal.
                          1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                          I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.


                          • #14
                            I use lunging (and in hand) as a training tool. Most horses, regardless of their level, get at least once a week work on the ground to crisp up footfalls, flexibility, and shape without the burden of a rider.
                            I have a 2nd level horse (my heart horse) and a 3rd level horse (resale project).... in fact just yesterday I was crisping up the responsiveness of the hind leg on my heart horse in hand. today I'll probably do in hand transitions with the resale boy to quicken his hind leg.
                            I'll admit, I am a tad lazy and don't always whip out the surcingle and side reins, even though they would make the process so much easier.

                            I really don't understand the "get the bucks out" every ride crowd. I've never encountered a horse that truly needed that, but have met many who have been conditioned to *think* they do.
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post

                              I really don't understand the "get the bucks out" every ride crowd. I've never encountered a horse that truly needed that, but have met many who have been conditioned to *think* they do.
                              I second this. Horses don't have bucks that need getting out! It's the owners/handlers that encourage/allow this response to the lungeline. In my world, tack=work. I think its dangerous to let a horse play on the lungeline, as well as teaching them that they can act up and blow off their handler. If my horse seems dangerously fresh, I might let him loose in the indoor to play before I tack up. If he's on the lungeline, its worktime. Period. No bucking, no ignoring me, no blasting around.

                              Sorry for the mini-rant. Just a HUGE pet peeve of mine.
                              2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                              Our training journal.
                              1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                              I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.


                              • #16
                                No, I don't longe much. Its hard on the joints. I longe maybe once a week (if that) with sidereins for a change of pace from riding.


                                • #17
                                  I used lungeing in the very beginning with my OTTB. I use sidereins that have a surgical tubing insert which make them VERY giving and makes the contact more stable than traditional sidereins. I believe it is very helpful for teaching the horse to be soft in the contact and gives them the idea of softening the poll/flexing a bit. But I believe sidereins cannot teach a horse to reach forward to the contact because they are fixed, so after the initial work I don't lunge anymore. I believe educated hands on a good rider are far more productive then any lungeing device.


                                  • #18
                                    I hardly ever lunge. The only time would be if I am going away to a clinic or something and want to control sassiness.

                                    There is a fine line between "hobby" and "mental illness". - Dave Barry


                                    • #19
                                      I probably lunge a couple of times a week - sometimes because I don't have enough time to saddle up and ride. Other times before I ride, esp in the winter months, to set the tone and try to get some focus.

                                      "I am still under the impression that there is nothing alive quite so beautiful as a thoroughbred horse." -- John Galsworthy


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by Tonkafriend View Post
                                        My horse has some back issues, so before every ride I lunge him in both directions w/t/c without the saddle, then put his saddle on and do both directions again. I work him for maybe a total of 10-12 mins with lots of transitions. It keeps him in a happy place, and it help me see how he's moving that day. I use side reins sometimes if I think he needs to really use his back more.
                                        Similar story here. Horse can be very girthy so I girth up gradually, having a trot and canter each way before going up another hole or two. Usually no more than 10min unless he's having a sensitive day, and I don't bother with any gear if I'm planning to jump on.

                                        He also has a history of sacroiliac problems which have been managed with lots of long and low work, including on the lunge. As he's a bit "special" I don't normally ride without someone present so he often gets several lunges a week to keep him going in between rides. I use runnings reins rather than side reins as he is less likely to curl or brace and happier to stretch down in them.

                                        Have another horse with problems (hollow backed and weak right stifle) who is coming back into work after a year off. I lunged him for 4 weeks, long and low in running reins before getting on. Maybe 3 times a week? I now do his trot work under saddle but he isn't strong enough for canter work under saddle yet - so I intend to add in one or two lunge sessions a week to do the canter work until he's strong enough under saddle.

                                        I would avoid spelling the first horse (sold him 6mth ago and just purchased back) - if he mentally needs a break from flatwork, I will probably cut him back to 2-3 lunge sessions a week, perhaps with a few fun outings, trails, etc. But he always needs to be kept ticking over. If he did have a big spell, he would be brought back in with several weeks of lunging preparation like I did with horse #2.

                                        I seriously hate lunging, would much rather be in the saddle! But it is a very beneficial tool for my two so I suck it up and do it anyway