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  • Lunging

    I was thinking about this the other day while lunging a young horse before getting brave and hopping on (yay for spring fever!). How much does the average horse in a hunter/jumper barn get lunged?

    In our barn, which is active in the local B circuit hunter/jumper circuit, I can honestly say that most of our horses are not lunged all that often. The young ones that are still new to being under saddle will be lunged prior to riding, usually in loose side reins. I have one 5 year old who gets lunged "naked," in just a halter, to get her bucks out and only for about 10 minutes before each ride. Beyond that, most of our horses only get lunged by their owners if we recommend it for building up their toplines by working in side reins. At shows, it varies from horse to horse. Some just need it to help them settle, some do not.

    A previous hunter/jumper barn I worked at lunged their horses religiously. Many of them were lunged a few times during the week, usually before their owners came out to ride, and then everyday at a horse show. The trainer wanted them dead quiet before their owners got on. I didn't last long at this barn...

    So which is more the norm? I realize that this will vary from horse to horse, but what is the average lunging routine?

  • #2
    The answer is, it depends. On the trainer, the horses, and the clients.

    When I worked at WEF, barn A NEVER longed (all jumpers). Their horses were doing level 5 up to the GPs. All pro riders. They were turned out an hour a day at MOST, but ridden twice daily. Hack or jump school in the am, relaxed trail ride or treadmill in the afternoon.

    Barn B at WEF longed only if necessary. If it was unusually cold, the horse had been off for a few days, or they seemed fresh, they got a spin in the round pen (they had a very large round pen with excellent footing). They went in for 10 minutes TOPS (usually just 5). The stallion got longed quite a bit in the beginning when we first got him, because he was sometimes a little fresh u/s. We had all jumpers and one hunter. One trainer that rode the jumpers and the owner did the A/O hunters, jumpers, and Eq. The eq. horse and the jumper hardly EVER got longed, and the hunter maybe once every two weeks.

    When I moved back home, I started with a barn that longed religously at horse shows. All children riders. I used to be VERY against longing to make a horse quiet, but soon realized that 10 minutes on a longe line is better than a kid falling off/getting run away with because of a fresh horse. I still don't like it though. These horses (ALL of them, even the ones that didn't need it) got longed into the ground. My instructions were: "Chase him until all he can do is trot, then keep chasing him." If the horse schooled badly, i.e., tossed his head a little, stopped, was a little quick, it was MY fault that I didn't longe him enough. Obviously, that pissed me off. I didn't last long. Showing up at 5:00 am to longe 6 horses that didn't need it was a little irritating.

    My horses (Dora and the others that I train) NEVER get longed. If the horse is too fresh/uncontrollable, then I need to do more homework. I will hop on and let them canter around the ring a little if they need to be worn out, but that's about it. I am normally the only one to show them. That being said, I am taking a 4 year old to his first show in June, where he will show for the first time. (I normally take mine to a show where they can just see the sights for the first time) The plan is for me to ride first, show, and then put the 16 year old owner on. He's a pretty laid back boy (he's an app.), so I don't expect any problems. If ABSOLUTELY necessary I'll let him buck around for a couple of minutes on a longe, but only to get the bucks/OMG what is that out, not to wear him out.
    In loving memory of my precious Gwendolyn; you will always be with me, in my heart. I love you.


    • #3
      I have an A/A hunter at an A circuit full service barn. Horse never gets lunged at home. Sometimes horse is a little fresh (but never stupid) so I ride it out. At horse shows, horse gets lunged in the AM before I show - so max 2 times/week. I show about 8 weeks out of the year, so my horse gets lunged a maximum of 16 times/year. It's very hard on their legs so I'm happy with this number!


      • #4
        As a person who considers longing a serious tool in the training of the horse, I find the longe them til the drop school repugnant, and an indication of the quality of the education received by the training/ teaching staff.
        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.


        • #5
          It definitely does depend on the barn, the horses, and the rider.

          At shows it mainly depends on your horse.
          The older horses generally get a light spin in the morning with loose side reins so that they get the chance to stretch their legs and loosen up.
          The younger horses that are on the fresher side also get a longer spin because we try to give them every opportunity to have a good experience in the show ring. It helps them get settled and use to the hustle and bustle of the show. The "in between" horses completely depend on their personalities--if the are generally on the fresher side they get a light to moderate spin if they are quiet they will just get a hand walk or a light hack.

          At home our trainers incorporate a lot of lunging training into the weekly routine. The younger horses get a lot of work in side reins and the Pessoa lunging rig to help them build up muscles and accept the bit in their mouth and learn to go in a frame.

          The older horses also get lunging work to help keep them supple and also muscled. Lunging just gives a different variation on the routine so that they don't get bored.

          The jumpers/eq horses get lunged to help keep them fit and supple.
          The conformation horses NEVER get lunged.


          • #6
            Yup depends on the horse and rider.

            Personally I never lunge my horses. Ever.

            I much prefer to get on and hack twice a day at shows instead of lunging them. Most barns I showed with had the same mentality but would occasionally stick a small pony on the lunge line for 5 mins before the kid got on just to let them get the silliness out. It was never a lunge them into the ground situation though.


            • #7
              Why would someone not want to lunge a conformation horse? (Im just curious if this is b/c yours are quiet and don't need it or there is something negative about lunging a confor. horse)
              Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


              • #8
                Well my family's conformation horse that my mom also rides in the A/O's doesn't get lunged because she is quiet but the 3 other conformation horses at our barn don't get lunged because our trainers/their owners are worried that they are more likely to catch themselves/scratch themselves/hit themselves and break down faster if they are lunged, especially at shows when they are fresh.


                • #9
                  Very interesting, thanks for explaining
                  Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


                  • #10
                    I lunge my mare maybe once a week, sometimes less. The resident H/J trainer lunges maybe once a week too, I *think*

                    I sometimes lightly lunge her after I get to the grounds. Just enough to get her warmed up and take the edge off.
                    When I lunge her at home, it is considered a work out. WTC both directions, stretching, and transitions
                    Rebel Without Cash!


                    • #11
                      The last two horses I had both got lunged at shows.

                      The mare got free lunged at home before getting on the trailer, and went for another spin on the rope at the show. She was a little stiff in the back and needs to BUCK a few times to be cooperative.

                      My gelding got a low and slow lunge a few days at the show because he was big and the stalls were very small, and no paddocks or anything. Also just in a halter/lunge line/boots.


                      • #12
                        My horse usually doesn't need a twirl, but if he seems especially fresh/antsy while I'm tacking up, I will sometimes just toss him out on the lunge line to see if he needs it.

                        At shows, I usually assume he WILL need to be lunged, but if he seems quiet then I don't keep him going.

                        Lunging is not something that can be applied the same way for each horse, it really depends on the individuals involved.


                        • #13
                          At my barn we don't lunge unless it's necessary. We do A shows and all that, but our coach would rather have our horses fresh then to lunge them to death. I do lunge my horse when we go do an eq class. Only for about 10 minutes or so, but it really quites him down. We don't for jumpers though.


                          • #14
                            as others have said...

                            it just depends...on the horses...the riders etc...I lunge my horse just about every time I ride him...only for a few minutes (less than 10). He needs it to warm up his back and it gets him focused for work. He's not silly on the lunge -- doesn't buck or carry on -- he just loosens up and is generally happier. There I times when I will just hop on because of logistics (no place to lunge -- no time to wait) but I find that he is uncomfortable and less focused for the first 20 minutes or so of the ride.

                            I think it is a personal choice. As long as you are not abusing the practice, you shouldn't worry too much about "what everyone is doing"

                            good luck with your youngster!


                            • #15
                              Just depends. I very very very rarely lunge my pony. We used to lunge him if he was being seriously nasty, but that was years ago. My trainer put us on a lunge line the other day actually, we have a lot of trouble getting him to do any lateral movement on a circle, trainer just wanted to see if putting him on a line would make it easier for me to get him to move the way we want him to (so i dont have to keep thinking about staying on a perfect circle). i felt uneasy about it and warned that my pony might go nuts and assume he's being punished and it took more energy for me to calm him down and realize he's not being punished than it did to make him leg yield, but oh well so for my hunter pony, he never gets lunged really. that was his first time in years.

                              but another pony i ride? shes a green bean project and my god shes a fire cracker. lunging her isnt even enough. what i do is turn her out in the arena and she just takes off on her own, gallops around like a race pony and doesnt stop for several minutes. she's still got spark left in her after that, too. so you crack the whip once or so on the ground and she'll take off again, getting her last bucks and rears out. then she'll stop, walk over to you pleasantly, and you put her halter back on, and go ride. she's an angel.

                              a friend of mine, she doesnt lunge her horse at home, but has to lunge her horse everytime she goes to a show, before she rides.

                              at my barn, my trainer lunges one of our youngsters before riding most of the time, and has started working with a colt of ours (actually, idk if hes considered a colt anymore. he's ungelded, and he's....probably more than 2 yrs old, i think) and lunges him. we haven't backed him yet, and probably wont for some time.

                              some people in our barn who have nice horses but those horses occasionally get too much time off or something, or they cant get turned out due to weather, then those horses will be lunged on those occasions.

                              it really just depends, in my opinion.

                              Blitz <3 & Leap of Faith <3


                              • #16
                                I will occasinally lunge the babies.....but never my 8y/o.

                                The 3-4y/o's aren't really mean, just green.....they have sillies and if they get them out (bucking etc) while I'm on them then I have to punish them because they can't do that under tack...but if I throw them on the lunge tape for 5 minutes and let them do what they want they buck and do whatever and then they're okay. It saves me from A....getting hurt....B....having to correct them for "bad behavior" even though they're just playing....and C...causing a rutkus...especially at a show.


                                • #17
                                  i only lunge my horse if he has gone a few days without working and the weather is nice enough to give him some spring to his step. sometimes if he has not worked in a few days I will hop on him without lunging because he is very lazy and if I get all of it out, i's like pushing a brick wall, but even then he is usually very lazy!


                                  • #18
                                    I try not to lunge if at all possible. Sometimes it's a little scary watching a horse buck and go crazy and then think, gee I have to get on that thing?

                                    Seriously though, turnout is very important to me, and I ride just about every day. Lunging really does not have a place in my typical routine. Most of the shows I go to are just day shows - I do a lot of handwalking/grazing in the morning to let them have a look - and then I tack up and hack around.

                                    I've just put a deposit on a mature horse who's typical routine includes 'getting the bucks out' on the lunge first. I'm hoping that with more turnout & riding than he gets now, that we can get away from lunging. I hate doing it anyway, makes me a little dizzy.
                                    Originally posted by barka.lounger
                                    u get big old crop and bust that nags ass the next time it even slow down.

                                    we see u in gp ring in no time.


                                    • #19
                                      I work 12 hours shifts 3 days a week and can not get out to ride my "elder statesman" every day. And he is in a smallish paddock for turnout. Some days, I lunge for about 10 minutes before I get on just to shake his legs- no side reins and really just to stretch him out a bit rather than for friskiness. Then we walk under saddle for about 10 minutes doing leg yields etc. Then start to work.

                                      I have student's horses that I never lunge if I can help it. If they have had some time off, I may put them on for 10 minutes but no longer.
                                      RIP Triple Take (aka Indiana )


                                      • #20
                                        I don't always particularly agree with the lunging regimen that goes on from who I work with to who i have worked for.

                                        When I had my own horses and showed, we NEVER lunged them. EVER. One of them could be a little "hot" but I just rode through it and "dealt" with it. He was one of those, if he was turned out all night, he was a completely different horse (more quiet). At horses shows that usually isn't an option(turnout)

                                        One was .. like the other girl's previous employer. lung them 'til they can't canter anymore then chase them some more. I, as her, also didn't last long working for them.

                                        another farm ... never lunged them. on the days they weren't showing they went out for a very light hack and that was it. everyone was happy.

                                        unfortunately .. I think for most clients it becomes an expectation. They get on and show their horses and they are quiet. When they aren't completely quiet the following day or the following horse show, sometimes the question is "did he get lunged enough"

                                        That's not fair to the horse and I feel like well ... maybe his routine or your riding needs to change a little bit.

                                        i dunno ...