Lunging/Longeing – Part One

As with anything that you do with a horse, when you start lunging, start slow, smooth and easy.

Think young horse, short attention span, still developing knees and short sessions. (5 to 7 minutes). This isn’t to say an older horse would not benefit from lunging, but generally speaking you are starting this with a younger equine.

First and foremost, the horse must know what is being asked of them and ultimately, both of you need to be on the same page while “communicating” with each other. So, we start with lunging to open the lines of communication, and create correct movement with your horse. While it may sound bizarre to say working your horse in a circle actually teaches them something besides the fact that they can run in circles – this actually does work. Why? Because it sets up the pecking order between handler and horse by controlling the horse’s space. It also acts to condition your horse no matter what their age.

Pecking order communication starts with your horse reading your body language and vice versa. Over time, and with lots of patience, the horse learns to wait for your signals rather than run like a basket case around in tight little circles. Once commands are learned on the ground, it makes them easier for the horse to understand while you are mounted.

And why the circle? Why not a square or some other pattern, like a figure eight? The circle naturally encourages your horse to use his legs correctly, pick up his feet and place them properly. And, once you get to the stage where you bit your horse, it teaches them to give to the bit. Of course you will have already done your prior ground-work with the horse, to teach them to give in the poll and drop their head to pressure. You will have schooled them give to the bit sideways (to the left and right) and down, with the least amount of pressure. Again with horses, the least amount of pressure to get a response is the best (and this definitely depends on the horse) and in small learning increments.


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