Lunging a horse is a great way to build a respective, but happy bond that you will cherish for many years.
Horses have incredible memories and will remember the positive (and negative) moments you share together on the lunge.
My first memories of lunging my horse are fun and happy ones.
Do you have any happy memories lunging your horse?
Horses are lunged during training. It is a very basic idea, but they do find it difficult while finding their balance.
They soon adjust and move onto the the next stage.
Lunging helps horses get loose or warmed up before you ride, or even calm them down if they have extra energy.
Lunging should only be done if you have lots of experience and know what you are doing because it can be dangerous.
Lunging a horse is great fun, you must just remember it is hard work for horses, so keep it under 40 mins, ideally 25 or so.
There is always a first time for everything, right? Everyone needs to start somewhere. If you think you're ready, then go and ask someone experienced to show you how to lunge a horse and let them watch you till they think you are ready to do it on your own.
You will see how much stronger your connection will be with your horse.
Your horse's lunging equipment:
You will need to wear a riding helmet, non-slip boots and gloves for safety while lunging a horse.
When lunging a horse, find an area that is nice and flat. If it isn't, you will be falling over or tripping, which is dangerous and will give the horse negative memories about lunging. Which is not what we are aiming for.
How to lunge a horse
You need to stand in the middle of a circle that is roughly 15-25m in diameter. Hold the lunge rein in one hand and "loop" it neatly so it is easier to handle when you gather or release it.
Don't let it drag on the floor, that is extremely dangerous. Should your leg get tangled and the horse bolts you could get dragged or even worse…
Your whip should be in the other hand, it is not there to scare the horse, but to encourage him to move forward or move away when he falls in.
Hold it towards his hindquarters, not his face! The whip, together with the horse and lunge line should make a triangle shape.
Always have your bellybutton in line with your horse's shoulder. This is so that you don't get in front or behind the horse and make him think you are chasing or stopping him.
If you are using side reins, leave them off until the horse has warmed up a bit. Let the horse relax and allow him to stretch his neck and head down in a free circle at walk, trot and then canter.
When you are ready, ask for a halt and attach the side reins making sure they are even. Remember to pat your horse as a reward. Before you are finished, take them off and allow him to stretch down again.
It is very important to train your horse with transitions on the ground so he is ready for when you are riding. You can use your voice to do this too.
Walk to trot, trot to walk, trot to canter, canter to trot. Don't be afraid to mix it up a little!
Using your voice is a very useful aid, commands must be consistent.
Upward transitions should be high and downward should be deep. You can also break syllables, like this: waa-alk on.
You must have fun as this is a very stressful time for the horse. Circles aren't easy to do continuously. You can go large if you want.
You will learn your own way to do it, like running up in the middle while your horse is going down the long side.
You are aiming for balance and impulsion, you can make your circles bigger and smaller looking for the "leg yielding" crossing over of his legs in order to move inwards or outwards.
Once you become a pro at lunging a horse, you will probably start looking to make it more interesting (for you and your horse). Pole work is a great way of doing that.
When you are nearly done, allow your horse to cool down by walking in a big circle both sides and stretch his neck.