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Thoughts on free lunging?

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  • Thoughts on free lunging?

    I would like to get some opinions on free lunging and the benefits of it.

    I am training a three year old Paso Fino gelding and he really is coming along well. I took over the training from my trainer friend who started him in the round pen then we moved to her arena (the horse lives down the street from her place). He has done very good, we even have gone to his first horse show in May and he did get reserve champion (out of three, but hey!)

    I have started to go back to lunging him prior to rides as his energy level is increasing due to more riding. He is a pig to lunge. It was his first time in the big arena and he just stood there. Just did not want to move. So I decided to go back to the round pen and free lunge hime, to get those legs moving. I have to say that the first time I did the free lunging and then rode him in the arena, he was awesome. I could tell that he tought about pulling his stunts, but he did not.

    I do not intend to keep free lunging him for ever, but my thinking is to get him moving around me in the round pen and then work up to lunging in the arena.

    What are everyones thoughts on this? Thanks for reading, it did get a bit long.

  • #2
    I don't actually longe my mare all that often.. and accordingly, she's not that good at it.

    However, she's a star when it comes to roundpenning or free longing in a large arena. Although my free longing is different than some folks.. she doesn't stay in a circle around me, she goes out to the rail of the arena and stays there. I actually prefer it that way, easier on her body to not be on a circle the whole time.

    If the horse is a stubborn 'pig' on the lunge, then I think I'd work on that. My mare isn't very good at lunging, but we can get the very basic w-t-c on there without incident. The hardest part for me is keeping her from circling in too close! For whatever reason she doesn't have that problem while roundpenning.
    Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

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    • #3
      I love free-longeing. Mostly because it's easy for me and a good workout for the horse.

      BUT... I also insist on warming them up and cooling them down properly, and they must be controlled and obedient. I HATE to see people free-longe by just throwing horses in the arena and immediately making them gallop around wildly. Just asking for an injury and is, at the very least, counter-productive, IMO.

      If one of mine to too fresh and not listening, then I'll put them on the line. I've also been known to hand-walk until I am satisfied that they are cooled down sufficiently.

      Comment


      • #4
        Free longeing/round penning with lots of transitions, changes of direction, etc. can produce a horse that is more in-tune with your body language, more obedient and listens better to your voice commands-- a great way to install a WHOA before you need it under saddle
        Vancouver Equine
        www.vaneq.com

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        • #5
          Originally posted by VanEq View Post
          Free longeing/round penning with lots of transitions, changes of direction, etc. can produce a horse that is more in-tune with your body language, more obedient and listens better to your voice commands-- a great way to install a WHOA before you need it under saddle
          I agree, and I agree with the other poster that "free lunging" in the sense of turning the horse loose in the arena to run around like a mad thing with no warmup and no control is not useful. I'm not convinced it's really about "having so much energy" as it is about the horse learning that that is the expectation. If they really had that much energy they'd spend all day galloping madly in the pasture too (and there may be some that are like that).

          Case in point - my older mare spent some years at barns when she was young where once in a while they'd free-lunge in the "run around like mad" style. However, they also lunged on the line in a very methodical way - voice commands, transitions etc. So she knew all her commands, and she knew that when she was on the lunge line her job was to follow the instructions. And she knew when she was turned loose her "job" was to run around like a mad thing. It was taught, perhaps without intending.

          I may be wrong, but I think you can teach most horses that when they are working with you, their job is to follow your instructions, and when they are out in the pasture they can do what they want.

          I spent a week at a Portuguese riding school and they warmed up the stallions by free-lunging in the arena. The trainer would call out the gaits and changes of direction, and the horse would obediently do exactly those. No craziness.

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          • #6
            van eq brings up a good point. I like round penning and keeping my horse under some semblance of control in a pen.

            I am not a fan of lunging--I see people lunge their horses to death, and all it seems to do is make them fitter than ever. Having side reins and making them behave and not just run around like a chicken on a line is different, and that's ok. It comes down to having a horse paying attention, being obedient and learning.

            I like the round penning, having them change direction and pace the best--my horse was not a great lunger, but I liked the round pen much better than the "free lunge."

            Seriously, I had no idea that's what it was called until about 10 years ago--we always called it "letting your horse loose in the arena" which usually meant they went aspesh!t crazy blasting around (which causes injury--like when the are ripping thru a corner so fast they go down.)

            I am no NH fan, but I do recommend the Lyon's round penning stuff--my horse had SO much more respect for me after we did it consistently. And he was funny-when he was a dork and totally disobeyed, he knew he had been bad and sent himself around at a canter a few laps as penance.

            good luck
            Ellipses users clique ...
            TGFPT,HYOOTGP

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            • #7
              I like it and use it. It's a controlled thing, I control the gait and direction.
              My gelding is sometimes NQR and it really helps me to watch him before I get on to see how he is feeling that day.
              We're spending our money on horses and bourbon. The rest we're just wasting.
              www.dleestudio.com

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              • #8
                Not to be a PITA, but I like the idea of teaching real free lunging. The horse works around you on a circle without the lunge line, without the round pen. I think once you can manage this, riding will be a snap! Also, its a great deal of fun:

                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbv-lex-Evo
                http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmBWewGY_zw

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                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thank you for the replies! I agree with what was said here, that it is a good tool if it is controlled. Like I said, after our free lunge session, the horse was great. My trainer friend does not agree with me and told me that I am doing more harm. I did not want to argue so I just dropped it. I know that I have to teach him to lunge because we cannot free lunge at shows, but I feel this is the step in that direction. He is young and learning.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I think it's suitable in your situation, if, after you "free lunge" you then put your horse on lunge line and work with him.
                    Slowly cut down the "free" time and increase your "on the line" time until you can bring your horse out, put him on the lunge for a few minutes and get on.

                    It sounds more like an attitude issue than a lunging issue. He's planting his 3 year old feet and saying "NO", so you go to the round pen and let him loose.

                    "Going forward" is the most important thing we can teach our youngsters, whether under saddle, on the lunge or hand walking.
                    If we can't get them to go forward we can't teach them to stop, turn, load etc.
                    You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I always free longe in a round pen before training a horse to longe, and I continue to free longe on a fairly regular basis. My horses first learn body language, then voice commands before introducing anything that we can both get tangled up in. Plus, it doesn't hurt for them to have a moment to kick up their heals and express themselves either.
                      ::Sometimes you have to burn a few bridges to keep the crazies from following you::

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