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Spinoff from injury thread lunging vs. free-lunging

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  • Spinoff from injury thread lunging vs. free-lunging

    What do you all think is less likely to cause injuries, better for getting sillies out, and better for exercising?

    Personally, I'm not a fan of the lunge line. I think for the relatively well-broke horse, they are less likely to play and get their sillies out on the line as opposed to free lunging. The small circles on the lunge line can't be good for their joints plus it's boring for both of us.

    However, some of the horsey antics they pull while free lunging make me nervous. I cringe when they stop hard at the gate and seem like they're sizing it up to jump out of. I worry about the stress that is putting on their legs.

    Discuss: which is better for what? What do you do to minimize the risk of injury?

  • #2
    Free lunging, when there is a suitable space for it, is better for getting them quiet. It's more dangerous though, because you have less control over changes of pace and direction, and some horses cannot handle it. I have one that I tried it with once, and have never been so scared in my life. It took about 45 minutes to be able to catch him.

    Comment


    • #3
      I typically RIDE the sillies out, unless they are going to be quite big.

      I do NOT believe in free lunging at all. I think it is the quickest way to get a horse hurt...encouraging them to run around like an idiot just never seems like a good idea. If I need to lunge a horse before I ride it, then that's what I do, and fairly structured with side reins and transitions. If they buck, I don't make a big stink about it, but the goal is to warm their bodies up (because most horses I find that need to lunge pre-riding are silly because of a physical thing and not a mental thing).

      I had a horse for a while that needed to be lunged for about 5 minutes before every ride (PITA). He rarely did anything while lunging, but was always much more rideable after being lunged...if I didn't lunge him, he was horrible and a little scary. Never once considered letting him careen around the ring...I would think that would just wind them up!
      Amanda

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      • #4
        Originally posted by wildhorse188 View Post
        What do you all think is less likely to cause injuries, better for getting sillies out,
        IMHO, these are mutually exclusive LOL

        Getting the sillies out is asking for injuries in regards to either lunging or free lunging, which implies some sort of relatively small, confined area.

        Getting the sillies out in a pasture is very different.

        Lunging is for exercise and focusing. Not getting the sillies out.

        Free lunging is not for getting the sillies out. If the horse has excess energy, turn him out in the largest area that's safe and let him do what he wants to to, no direction from you. The minute you try to "free lunge" him and he goes racing around, he wins, you lose, and that's not a precedence you want to set.

        And if you turn him out in a ring to get the bucks out, and he walks around, he does NOT have excess energy, so don't go goosing him to start running If he then decides to be goofy and not pay attention when you lunge or ride, it's purely a training issue.
        ______________________________
        The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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        • #5
          Everything that JB said, x2.

          When I lunge or free lunge (RARELY), they are to focus on ME. It is work, same as under tack. Get your sillies out in the field - you have 23 other hours in the day to be a horse, I ask for work for 1 hour.

          Comment


          • #6
            ^^^^^^Absolutely This^^^^^^^^

            When I lunge it is at a show, so free lunge is not an option. Even my young horses are not allowed to act "silly" on the lunge line. My time=work time, pasture time=play time. There is nothing I hate more than seeing someone with 1200 lbs with its hair on fire at the end of the tape.

            Comment


            • #7
              I prefer free lunging to a lunge line, because you don't have that constant turning putting pressure on their joints and torque on their tendons. If he is going to gallop and buck, I'd rather him do it in a straight line where he has plenty of room. True, the sliding stops at the end of the ring make me cringe, but for the most part he doesn't do anything too worrisome. I find he will basically hold it together at the walk even when he is super fresh, so before I let him loose in the arena I get on and warm his muscles up at the walk (and trot, if we are able to do so without explosion). I have no desire to be a bronc rider though, so when I feel that he is trying with all his might to contain himself and not kill me, I give both of us a break, hop off, pull his tack, and let him unwind. I don't chase him, don't pick up a whip, but he gets his galloping and bucking out and then trots right back to me in five minutes when he feels better and I can climb back on and be productive. While I do appreciate it's better to ride it out of them, I prefer not to risk my safety doing so. And unfortunately, my guy is far too interested in grass to do much running around in turnout, even though he's out for 8 hours a day, so sometimes he just needs to let it out in the arena, and I let him. But to answer the OP's question, when possible, I'd much rather free lunge than spin him in a circle.
              Tucker the Wunderkind

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              • #8
                Unless I'm feeling too poorly to ride (in which case the appy always got a day off, whereas the TB would lose his mind) I longe a bit. But the horse HAS to be focused on me. I tolerate no sillies on the longe line and none free longing. I have free longed the TB before to check out his movement and form o/f free, but only for about 10 minutes. (I freaked out a little when he decided to jump one of the 4'+ standards instead of the much smaller vertical in between them. No more free longing O/F.)

                If they're acting silly--doesn't matter how silly--they get ridden through it, no questions asked. Although I have been told I'm crazy, so that could be why I am of this persuasion.
                Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I'm not a big fan of longeing on the line because of the torque. I free longe sometimes and it's not chasing the horse around. We do walk-trot-canter around me on command (...more or less). It's the same as longeing with a line except for the torque on the legs. Obviously it doesn't work if your horse isn't at least a little obedient.

                  ETA: If I want my horse to run and buck, I'll chase him briefly, as in one or two quick cracks with the whip. For the most part, if he's going to be silly, he'll do it on his own. The last few times I've tried to make him run around, he quietly began trotting and cantering in circles around me .
                  Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                  Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                  VW sucks.

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                  • #10
                    Circling is torque. You can make the circle larger or smaller, whether you have a physical line or not
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                    • #11
                      My horse occasionally needs to be less loose and run like a dork for a few minutes, especially during the winter. He doesn't do much playing outside, and you can feel him start to get rude, tense, spooky, etc. I let him chase himself for a few minutes, because it's not about the physical energy. I could let him lunge or canter under saddle for as long as I want, he'll still be antsy. I find most horses appreciate an occasional run and buck session to get rid of the mental energy. My horse does a lot of squealing, bucking and striking, then happily goes back to work refreshed and happy.

                      On the lunge, 'playing' isn't allowed. That's work time no different then being under saddle.
                      .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I guess it depends on what you mean by "free longing".

                        To me, it means that the horse is circling me (either in a round pen or within a larger area) but without a longe line.

                        But some of you seem to be using the term free longing to mean what I would call
                        Liberty work- horse is under your control, but using the entire arena
                        or
                        Turning the horse loose in the arena and encouraging it to run and play.

                        Longing, whether on a longe line or free, puts torque on the joints because of the size for the circle, not the presence of the line.

                        Liberty work is probably the healthiest and safest, but only if done properly.

                        Turning the horse loose and encouraging it to run and play may be the best way to "get the bucks out" for a horse that doesn't get regular turnout, but it seems to me it has the greatest potential for injury to both horse and human.
                        Janet

                        chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Driving as opposed to either. Since I start all mine, once they learn to drive there is never a need to lunge again. In general I would always rather ride the silly out and it's never that bad ever. But if I feel they need something driving on a circle is much better.

                          Yes horses always need to pay attention while lunging but for even grown horses I see the fun lunging brings especially if it has been ages since they've done it. Mine all know voice commands ect but I will always do 2 reins as opposed to one.

                          Terri
                          COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                          "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JB View Post
                            IMHO, these are mutually exclusive LOL

                            Getting the sillies out is asking for injuries in regards to either lunging or free lunging, which implies some sort of relatively small, confined area.

                            Getting the sillies out in a pasture is very different.

                            Lunging is for exercise and focusing. Not getting the sillies out.

                            Free lunging is not for getting the sillies out. If the horse has excess energy, turn him out in the largest area that's safe and let him do what he wants to to, no direction from you. The minute you try to "free lunge" him and he goes racing around, he wins, you lose, and that's not a precedence you want to set.

                            And if you turn him out in a ring to get the bucks out, and he walks around, he does NOT have excess energy, so don't go goosing him to start running If he then decides to be goofy and not pay attention when you lunge or ride, it's purely a training issue.
                            The largest area that is safe, however, is often the indoor! And while I agree that you don't want to chase the horse around, sometimes they need a little encouragement to get started.

                            I think, like anything, you have take the horse into consideration. If yours gets absolutely ridiculous when free-lunging, then it likely isn't the right approach for that individual.

                            Many other horses, however, are sensible and the risk is relatively low. I'm not about to suggest there is no risk, but, in my view, the risk is lower than the alternatives. I typically free-lunge in winter when the its cold and the paddocks are frozen and snow covered. It certainly isn't every ride, but some days you just know that your horse could use some time to get the sillies out. I'd rather get that done in the indoor on good footing than the alternative.

                            While I don't often free-lunge in the nicer weather, I did this past weekend. There was just something about the mare that suggested she might need a few moments. I let her loose, she trotted, cantered a circle, humped her back a bit (she doesn't typically buck), played and then came over for a cookie. We went on to have a super ride. She doesn't really have much excuse for needing those few moments since she is turned out for 14-16 hours a day in a huge paddock with some friends and in regular work, but I suppose grazing is a higher priority.

                            As for lunging, I'm largely of the view that lunge-time is work time and that its no more permissible to be silly on the lunge than under tack.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I agree 110% with JB!! When I start mine on the line they are never allowed to just careen around and act like maniacs. I want a horse to move and carry it's self the same way I would expect of them once they are under a rider. I never got why people chase them around on the line like that. Work their brain , you work their body. I can make a horse build up more of a sweat just W/T then others who just let them tear around at mock speeds. Also it does nothing for developing the correct muscles either. Like anything with horses lunging comes with it's own set of risk. If you take the appropriate steps you can greatly reduce them. I personal teach my yearlings to walk around me in a circle. They learn to yield away from me by voice command and by asking with my body. When they are two they learn to ground drive lightly. I want them to move forward, steer and stop. Once they have that they are turned back out. At 3 they learn to "lunge" in an open field where I am able to open and close the diameter of my circle. Only once they are responsive to me, my body and a my voice do I free lunge them. I like to use the free lunging to gauge their responsiveness to me without relying on the bit, same thing I would expect under saddle. I never use lunging as a way to get rid of the sillies, that is what their 24 our turnout does Good luck in which ever method you choose.
                              Worth A Shot Farm
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                              • #16
                                If you're turning the horse loose in a ring to get his jollies out, that's not free lunging It's giving him the time, hopefully only because he doesn't get enough turnout, to release some pent up energy

                                If you have to encourage him to get silly and run and buck, then
                                IMHO he doesn't have pent up energy and it's a training issue if he can't properly behave under saddle without that.

                                Liberty work can be wonderful, but it's not about just turning them loose and causing or allowing them to run and slide and tear around. If you want that behavior, take yourself out of the equation. Either they're energetic and need some zoomzoom time, or they aren't and don't.

                                But as soon as you want to try to dictate gait, speed, and/or direction, the less control you have over the horse's choice, the more you teach him you can be ignored.
                                ______________________________
                                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  This past winter, I was forced to teach my horse how to free lunge in the arena, as turnout was nonexistent for weeks due to ice, and lunging was not an option (former Saddlebred facility=very narrow indoor).

                                  He was allowed to buck/play while free lunging as long as he followed two rules: he had to maintain whatever gait I asked for, and he had to keep going in the direction I chose--no running all over the place.

                                  Took a while for him to figure it out, but eventually it worked out well. Once the weather got nicer, I lunged him in the outdoor for 5-10 minutes, but that was to work/observe his movement. No sillies allowed.

                                  Now that we're at a facility with ample turnout, NONE of this is needed...he's out all day and is a pooped pony by the time I ride in the evenings.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    JB, I totally agree with you, except sometime the encouragement in the "getting the jollies out" stage isn't really forcing them to work, it's just striking a match in the presence of a lot of flammable materials. I've turned turned them out and they just look at me like "we are going to stand here because its what we do" and then I can do something as innocuous as blow a raspberry and the show begins.

                                    That said, I'm not a big fan of turning them out in a ring for that sort of jolly removal. I like them to think of rings as serious places for serious horses doing serious business. Turnout areas are places where they get to call the shots. But I recognize that is not always a set up that works for everyone in every place, but I do think about the stupidest thing I have ever seen is the practice of getting off the horse (tacked up), tucking the bridle/reins/stirrups up safely and "free longing" a horse in the ring (i.e., letting loose and chasing the crap out of) a horse who is fresh. Excellent choice, letting a horse know he is allowed to run around out of control (and be chased) when he is tacked up. Makes perfect sense to me.
                                    Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by yellowbritches View Post
                                      I typically RIDE the sillies out, unless they are going to be quite big.

                                      I do NOT believe in free lunging at all. I think it is the quickest way to get a horse hurt...encouraging them to run around like an idiot just never seems like a good idea. If I need to lunge a horse before I ride it, then that's what I do, and fairly structured with side reins and transitions. If they buck, I don't make a big stink about it, but the goal is to warm their bodies up (because most horses I find that need to lunge pre-riding are silly because of a physical thing and not a mental thing).
                                      Yes, this. Had one get VERY hurt (pulled suspensory) free lunging. NEVER AGAIN. EVER.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        IMHO, free lunging is a terrible idea. We don't let them run around and act like maniacs for longer than about 2 minutes in turn-out, so we're not going to encourage them to do it as free-lunging. It's a disaster waiting to happen. I'm lucky enough to be employed by a barn who has the luxury to be picky and purchase only those horses who are naturally mellow. However, horses can be horses and if they need to get some bucks out - they can do it on a lunge line. However, they are not allowed to gallop and careen around and act like idiots. They can buck and kick - but only a big circle and still paying attention to the knowledgable person lunging them. To each their own. Whenever I think of free-lunging though, I think of the horrors I witnessed when we left PB for two weeks and went to Ocala. The paddocks there were full of free-lunging - terrifying and in often deep sand with people trying to ride past.

                                        ETA - We often do just ride the sillies out, but sometimes this just isn't an option at certain horse shows where there's nowhere to ride without a lot of other people. Trying to ride through the silliness can turn into a whole different problem if you're in a group - not only is it rude, it's dangerous.

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