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Lunging as Exercise vs Lunging as Work

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  • Lunging as Exercise vs Lunging as Work

    I want to make the transition from my four year old associating lunging with "working" instead of just exercising. I sometimes lunged him in the summer/fall in the heat and he was very well behaved, but in the winter I always lunge just because he can be pretty fresh in the cold. I'm not happy with how the first half or 3/4 of lunging is just him running around on the forehand. He listens moderately well to cues (like slow down, or go down a transition) but until he gets to a certain point where he's tired himself out and is LISTENING to be told to slow down, he isn't giving 100% to me. I'm no ponyclubber, but I know HOW lunging is supposed to go with a more seasoned horse, but I don't really have a clue about how to train this to a horse that already has his own idea of what's supposed to happen. He's been at the trainers for a month while I've been home for break and I know that they've been working on this with him, but does anyone else have any advice?

    Or at least, any advice that's not ripping him in the mouth when he does something that I don't want? My guy is very easy to train, but I try to avoid drastic corrections because he goes into defensive mode.

  • #2
    That is what sidereins and a surcingle or saddle are for .

    Also, you must thread the lunge line through the inside snaffle ring and go up over the poll and down to attach it to the outside bit ring. This will keep the bit hanging in the mouth correctly rather than getting pulled through the mouth if attached to the inside bit ring only.

    Length of sidereins is important also. They should not be too short.

    And there is a bit of an art to it ... you should be using your aids on the ground as if you would be using them in the saddle.


    • #3
      I have found that once young horses learn that the longe is a place to fool around, they really get stuck on that idea. I may be in the minority here, but I use longing very sparingly when starting young horses, and save it for after they have some training under their belt. I agree that side reins could help. But, side reins don't teach self carriage, and they can teach some unbalanced young horses to lean on the bit.

      If you really want a horse to pick themselves up and carry themselves on the longe, add some poles, crossrails or little gymnastic exercises. Even a baby can longe over a few poles or a teeny cavaletti. This encourages them to balance and concentrate a little and will get them paying attention to a JOB instead of just tooling around in a circle.


      • #4
        You could try a modified driving exercise where you longe with two reins, the outside one goes over the saddle, so you may ask the horse for more correct work.
        Working is more tiresome to a horse than just practically free exercise as hopping around on the end of a line playing will provide.

        Just exercising a fit horse full of energy on the longe line and letting him play around at times ends up in an injury from the torque forces of the contained circle.
        I think generally it is better to turn a horse out for exercise, where it can move it's body freely and use longe line/s to teach, not for play.


        • #5
          I let them free longe and get the play out and after 10 min. or so they are ready to settle down and work. Trying to get much work out of them before that is kind of like trying to teach a pig to sing...
          Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

          Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


          • #6
            Originally posted by summerhorse View Post
            I let them free longe and get the play out and after 10 min. or so they are ready to settle down and work. Trying to get much work out of them before that is kind of like trying to teach a pig to sing...

            ^^^^Love this! Summarized soooo perfectly!
            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


            • #7
              I have always taught my horses that no saddle=no work. If they are in the lunge pen (and mine isn't fenced so free lunging is not an option) with no tack on they can play. I boot them up and try to keep the craziness to a minimum. With young horses that need to play and can't-even in their paddocks/pastures-because of the mud, the lunge pen at least has good footing where they can play safely. If I want work, then after a bit of playing, we go saddle up and ad the lunge caveson. Some horses don't do well with sidereins and either start to lean or curl so for those types I don't bother with the side reins, just speed and directional control while tacked up gets them thinking.
              Do not toy with the dragon, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup!


              • #8
                Originally posted by Pennywell Bay View Post
                ^^^^Love this! Summarized soooo perfectly!
                Yup, totally and 100% agree. Let the horse get the sillies out for 10 minutes, off the line. THEN start real work.
                Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                • Original Poster

                  I use side reins sometimes very loosely just because my guy thinks its funny to turn his entire head toward me and LOOK straight at me while we're lunging.

                  I use poles and such sometimes. It usually helps with his concentration, but he doesn't really take them seriously at first and will trip over them/not look at them in the first half of the lunging. So I introduce them at about 10 minutes into working, and just kind of back off until he settles.

                  So what I described wouldn't bother most people in their own young horses?


                  • #10
                    my horse is lil fresh in the cold as well,so i do a few minutes of a free lunge to get the kinks out..but still keeping in mind of safety and getting horse to listen to voice commands even in time of playfulness.then when he has slowed down i switch to the lunge line and get him working.doing transitions,turning in different directions,over poles etc)to getthe idea that now its work time.period.

                    sometimes i don't even go to lunge line as i have trained my horse to know when work is work time vs play.i know there are some times when there is other ppl in arena and you can't free lunge..at that time i would start on the lunge,but doing the same thing ,if i didn't have it on...anyways what im trying to say is PLAY is just letting him forward without expecting much and then work is full attention on you and doing training exercises that keeps mind and focus active and is working towards something.


                    • #11
                      I like the idea of "equipment on = work"/"equipment off = you're free to play or just exercise". My guy goes twice weekly in the Pessoa system, but even then, I let him warm up at the walk and trot without it on and let his muscles get loose and prepared for work. I think you should always give them a little interim period of just loosening up before asking for work. It would be like a personal trainer immediately starting your session with a bunch of crazy weight reps - not nice!

                      I think adding a saddle, a saddle and side reins, ground driving, anything like that will be a good indicator to your guy that work has started and playtime is over. My gelding seems to know that when he has nothing on he can be fresh and get loose without putting forth "work", but as soon as the saddle/Pessoa system is on, it's work time! Best of luck!