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Lunging question

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  • Lunging question

    Hi all
    I'm currently not able to ride (long story) but am working my horse with ground work and lunging.

    Under saddle, he tends to fall in with his hind end to the right going to the right, and he doesn't step under enough with his right hind.. Sometimes he falls out with his left shoulder going right. The left is his easier side.

    Currently, when I'm lunging him, he's in side reins short enough to give him some contact, but long enough that he can still stretch down some.

    Going to the left he's doing well. We can do spiral in and out and he's soft and slightly bent inward.

    Going to the right, he actually feels like he's falling out - very strong on the lunge line and I have to give big strong half halts to get a response. I can see that his hind end is falling in toward me. It's a major effort to bring him in on the circle and I can't bring him in as far as going to the left.

    I'm trying to plan my strategy for tomorrow, and am wondering if lengthening the outside side rein might help or if there's anything else I can try.

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  • #2
    Tell us about how you are gaging the length on which to set your sidereins, and how you determine which hole of the surcingle you should use to attach them.


    • Original Poster

      well, the sidereins are equal in length the way they are set. They have knots in them to make them shorter for another horse, so on my horse, they are both the last hole i.e. I can't make these side reins longer, only shorter. On the last hole, they are certainly not too short, I don't think.. they both have slack but keep him a bit round in his frame without making his neck short (I don't know if that makes sense).

      I don't have a surcingle but use them attached to the saddle - actually they're attached to the billets down by the girth just below the saddle flaps.

      There is another set of side reins out at the barn that are longer that I could use if it made sense to make one of them longer...


      • #4
        Not discussing length yet, but the inside side-rein should be at least one hole shorter than the outside, no matter what lenght.

        Attach them up under the saddle flaps as high up as you can around the billets ... so they come out maybe over the top of the knee roll (if your saddle has any).

        Length depends on conformation and level of training. You don't want them too short, but they should be short enough to allow for a partially extended neck while still keeping the poll of the horse as the highest point. They should be long enough to allow for a relaxed but firm contact with the bit.

        Use your longing hand with a give and take motion to help flex your horse to the inside of the circle as you ask him to go forward. Ask him for more bending like you would use your inside rein to ask for bending.


        • #5
          If the horse gets 'strong' on the longe line the handler can make brief, slow, short give and take motions with the longe line to show the horse the boundary of the circle and to supple his neck slightly. If the haunches are tipping in the handler needs to bring the shoulders in, again, by the same sort of motion on the longe line. Trying to push the haunches out to straighten a horse causes the same problems if it is done while riding when the horse is crooked. Straightening comes from controlling the shoulders.

          The side reins should be short enough that the horse is comfortable and balanced, and that his head is slightly in front of a vertical line when he is contacting the bit and the slack is out of the side reins.

          If they are too short, his nose will be too close to his chest and his neck shortened and constrained.

          If they are too long, he will lose his balance, cross canter, and try to run faster on his 'weak' side where his haunches fall in.

          If they are adjusted incorrectly he will fall in more with his hind quarters, because he is losing his balance more.

          The side reins need to be shorter on the inside of the circle to deal with certain problems, this is a problem that can benefit from having one side rein shorter (the inside one), depending on size of horse, 2-3 holes shorter.

          Another idea is to change the direction more often, so the horse's muscles do not get as tired, he will not fall in as much. If a horse is having a problem on the longe line it very often helps to change the directly frequently, so his muscles on one side do not get tired.

          If your side reins are not adjustable, you can get some other side reins. If you can not get other side reins, you can use a pair of broken old reins and put some buckles and snaps on them.

          The side reins need to be adjustable, so that one can adjust each side depending on which direction one is circling in.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks baroquepony.

            The length you describe I think is where I have them - there is contact and he is round on the vertical with the poll the highest, but it's not enough contact to shorten the neck. I'm thinking I need to shorten the inside rein a little.

            ALso, I may have them too low. My old instructor used to have me put them down around the girth. This horse is working 3rd level dressage, so maybe I should have them higher.

            I'll try these things and see if it helps. Any other suggestions? Are there any other specific things when lunging that make a horse fall out and get strong?


            • #7
              I don't particularly like having the two sidereins different lengths because I feel it encourages the horse to lean on one of them, but this is a matter of experience and what each of us finds that works for us.

              When you are attaching the sidereins, you want them to be barely contacting the horse's mouth, especially on a horse that is just beginning. At this length, we you look at the horse from the side, the length of the sidereins will be approximately as long as the distance from the attachment point on the girth to the buttock of your horse. Where you attach on the girth should be about the center of a line you would draw from your horse's mouth to his buttock.

              As a rule, you would want the sidereins to be attached to the girth, such that the above mentioned line from the mouth to the buttock point will be a straight line. Start your lunging using these parameters for adjustment. Work the horse both directions at these measurements for a few days.

              If you continue to have problems, start your lunging session again with the sidereins adjusted as above. However, after you work the horse for a bit each direction, Then, attach the left siderein lower...not both of them. This is only a correction for your horse that should be on a fairly temporary basis until you can get the horse working more correctly on the lunge. Once, you can achieve the greater correctness, then go back to having the reins again equally positioned in height.

              Lunging is an art, and your body language at the middle of the circle will also help you to bend your horse better into the outside rein, especially in your clockwise direction. In your clockwise direction, do not squeeze the lungeline, or "pulse" it, but rather turn your left shoulder more toward the horse's flank, and try to better drive the horse forward into the contact. Keep the lungeline contact steady for this direction. You will want to pulse the lungeline as the horse is going counterclockwise.

              If you know anyone who is skilled at ground driving, you might want to take a few lessons from that person to learn the skills of working with a horse from the ground...both with a single lunge and with a double line. Working with this kind of straightness problem is probably easier to address when using two lines and ground driving. Hope this helps.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks, angel. THat does help.

                As for the consistent contact going to the right (clockwise), he's pulling on the lungeline in that direction almost all the time - enough that it's hard to 1/2 halt without hauling on it. this was partly why I thought perhaps I had the outside rein too short, but I'll double check....

                My instructor offered to help me learn to drive him/long line from the ground, so that might help, too.

                He tends to want to run a lot on the lunge - I am almost always having to slow him down so I don't really get the opportunity to give him a driving aid, though I can see this is improving in the past few days since I've been working him.

                I like your suggestions about the body language, and I'll pay attention to that today as perhaps I'm influencing him improperly without knowing it...

                Thanks all for the suggestions.


                • #9
                  My guy is one sided too, but I find that the quality of our work on the longe improves if I let him warm up off the longe first. When possible, I free longe him in the arena, and he starts by walking, stretching, and then trotting a few laps each direction. When I see hm start to stretch and round, then I put him on the longe. The side reins are pretty lose at this point.

                  We start a by going his funky direction for a little while, then switch, snug up the side reins a bit (at no point are they cranked tight) and go the other way, and finish up by going the hard way - and at that point, he's working pretty well.

                  I also "drive" him on the longe when I want him to engage that back end by stepping toward his haunches, pointing the whip in that general direction. At the same time, I'll take a feel of his mouth on the longe, and sponge the line a bit. He'll usually round up for me well when I do this.

                  good luck!
                  Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.

                  Collecting Thoroughbreds - tales of a re-rider and some TBs


                  • #10
                    Try lunging with two long lines and a surcingle. You will find it easier to make the corrections.
                    ... _. ._ .._. .._


                    • #11
                      Another badly one sided horse here! (raises hand)
                      I lunge the "bad" side first as well, then the "good" side, then revisit the "bad" side just as the previous poster said. She always shows improvement after being warmed up.

                      We use side reins (with rubber doughnuts) clipped to the girth, not on the side.
                      I also find looping the lunge line through a large carbiner (ugh spelling!) clipped to the side dee of the circingle helps "round" her in the circle and promotes better balance.

                      It acts like a rein, lengthening and shortening as needed. Side reins don't really "give" even with elastic, it's still constant pressure.

                      But I feel guilty, the poor gal is strapped up like a mountain climber.


                      • #12
                        Are you (or did you) first attach the side reins to the caveson? Or are you lunging off a caveson at all? It makes hh easier/more gentle/and the horse is less likely to become crooked. And whether the inside s.r. is a hole or two shorter depends upon the horse. Generally it should be because lateral flexability allows for longitudinal flexion. If the horse is crooked, then even attachment actually might help.
                        I.D.E.A. yoda


                        • #13
                          For your half-halt in the clockwise direction, you will need to momentarily lift your lunge line hand, turning your lunge line shoulder to the horse. You might have to momentarily take a step forward on your right foot, with the angling of your body. Don't lose your line connection, but try to keep it within contact. As the horse begins to halt, which is more of what this body language position will do, then you must drive him forward as you quickly come back into a more normal position, even with his side, and with the line down in a more normal contact, while still not going slack. While your whip side shoulder needs to move closer to the horse's hindquarters, it should not be angled as much to drive him forward, as when the horse is traveling the other direction and you want to drive. The degrees of your aids will be different for the two directions in order to get the same effects.

                          How exactly as you attaching the lungeline?


                          • Original Poster

                            Angel, that makes a lot of sense the way you're describing lifting the half halt hand and the body language. I'll try that tomorrow.

                            Currently I have the lungeline attached directly to the ring of the snaffle - not over the crown or under the chin or anything like that - just hooked to the ring.

                            I have ordered a caveson to use as I realize that lunging directly off the bit isn't ideal for regular work. I haven't done a lot of lunging with this horse in the past until now, but where it looks like I'm going to be doing more, I thought investing in a caveson made sense.

                            I like the idea of warming up on the bad side, going to the good side and then revisiting the bad side again. I'll try that, too.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                              Try lunging with two long lines and a surcingle. You will find it easier to make the corrections.

                              Because frequently the problem is that the hind quarters are falling ojut, and not following the arc of the circle. Using the outside rein sets a limit much like your lower leg when you are in the sadddle.

                              Uneven side reins will not solve the problem.
                              Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                              Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                              • #16
                                It is not good to attach the lungeline to only one ring such as you are doing. When using a bit, run the line through the bit ring nearest you, under the horse's chin, through the ring on the opposite side, up the horse's head on the far side, bringing it back over the horse's poll toward you, and then attach it to the bit ring nearest you. This will spread the pressure, making the action of the line more like a bosal. The horse will not be as likely to over bend toward you when you are lunging clockwise this way. You will be better able to stay in a good contact with risking pulling the bit too far through the horse's mouth toward you.

                                When you get your caveson, be sure you use the ring on the top...not one on the side...when you are lunging in the clockwise direction. When you lunge in the counterclockwise direction, you will be able to use either the ring on the top, or the ring on the side nearest you.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by angel View Post
                                  It is not good to attach the lungeline to only one ring such as you are doing. When using a bit, run the line through the bit ring nearest you, under the horse's chin, through the ring on the opposite side, up the horse's head on the far side, bringing it back over the horse's poll toward you, and then attach it to the bit ring nearest you. This will spread the pressure, making the action of the line more like a bosal. The horse will not be as likely to over bend toward you when you are lunging clockwise this way. You will be better able to stay in a good contact with risking pulling the bit too far through the horse's mouth toward you.

                                  When you get your caveson, be sure you use the ring on the top...not one on the side...when you are lunging in the clockwise direction. When you lunge in the counterclockwise direction, you will be able to use either the ring on the top, or the ring on the side nearest you.
                                  echo echo echo good posting angel

                                  attaching the the line to the same side as your lunging from is a big no no
                                  you will ony end up adding to your problems if the horse should pull or nap and if the horse should happen to turn in you will have no control plus as your on the same side your asking him to go outwards if line slacks and you take up the line your asking him to come inwards so can end up teacching him to come in at you matey and christ knows what will happen
                                  why make more problems for yourself -

                                  so as angel says - start the right way, also dont walk with the horse or chase the horse around once your lunging this isnt the correct way either
                                  you must leanr to pivot on the leg as in your leg on the side your lunging at so if the horse comes towards you take a step back towards his quarters and push him forwards
                                  the line should be tuat - and should be used the same way you use reins
                                  slack lines horse has control taut lines you have control and contact


                                  • #18
                                    interesting what someone said about the side reins even w/ elastic don't give. My old trainer said, you want soft hands... and the side reins one uses should mimic that... now think... how soft are those side reins. We used to use flexible surgical tubing now I can't find it- and I couldn't pay for a surcingle... so went to the fabric store, bought the widest elastic I could and then 1/4" elastic. Thats what I use now, much softer and allows for guidance but flex- very very happy with me 5$ lunge arrangement. =D

                                    just a thought for ya'll who don't much like the stiff reins.


                                    • Original Poster

                                      I'll try attaching the lungeline as angel described and see how that works until I get the caveson in.

                                      Originally posted by Icecapade
                                      interesting what someone said about the side reins even w/ elastic don't give. My old trainer said, you want soft hands... and the side reins one uses should mimic that... now think... how soft are those side reins.
                                      I was thinking this yesterday. My horse typically has a very soft light mouth, and when I put on the sidereins with the doughnuts, they are almost alway slack no matter how short I put them. I feel like not only do they not give enough but they also seem too heavy - like the actual weight of the side rein is too much.
                                      Yesterday I used a different set of sidereins that still have doughnuts but are nylon and are much lighter in weight than mine and they seemed better.


                                      • #20
                                        Angel and goeslikestink are right about how important attaching the lunge line to the bit is ... I run it through the ring on the side that you want to start with, slide it up and over the poll and down the outside to end by clipping it to the outside bit ring. Keeps bit in place and even control of bit while longing.

                                        I also begin work on the stiff side of the horse, then switch to the good side, and end work on the stiff side of the horse (which by then should be softened and working correctly (or at least much more correctly).

                                        Sometimes trying to lunge a horse with two longe lines can be a bit difficult.

                                        If you have your lunge line attached to the bit properly, then you will have much better and more refined control of the front end of the horse. You can bring the outside shoulder that is falling out in, and then you can step in behind and encourage the horse to move his haunches out.

                                        In the meantime, when you give and take the lunge line in order to develop bending and rythymic control, make sure thatyou do so OUT OF RYTHYM with the gait you are working on or you will be developing a "rein lame" horse. You can just vibrate the line (rein) or use the squeezing water out of a sponge method or whatever.