Published courtesy of Rowe Stables
It is hard
to find the words to describe the benefits to be received from
the work on the lunge. There isn't a horse alive that won't
be improved by it, from the young, fresh colt to the oldster
who meeds limbering up.
colt gets his first lessons in discipline here as his master
is in complete command at a very early age. He learns to give
an honest days work and is taught to go forward.
in particular, benefits, because when lunged properly, he is
made to extend his trot. Working in a circle teaches him balance,
makes him bend and become supple. When cantering in a small
circle he must collect himself and he can be made to bring his
hind legs well under him.
It is of
great value to the horse that has been ruined. If he has been
held back you will see a remarkable improvement within days
after you begin lunging. You'll see the trot he is capable of
and the one you must strive for under saddle. If he is badly
disunited he will find his rhythm and cadence here.
that is particularly lively will get all the nonsense out of
his system with a few bucks and the rider is saved a lot of
extra work and trouble. Any nonsense such as this should be
voided under saddle if possible and this is the best way to
let it come out without doing any harm.
a few instances, too, when you will have a word of praise for
yourself for putting forth the effort to teach your horse to
lunge. They may be while taking a long trip and exercise is
needed. Another time may be when your horse has been injured
or becomes ill and exercise is necessary. It is a lot easier
to pivot on your feet than to follow along side him.
the work on the lunge you must observe very carefully what your
horses attitude is going to be. An older horse may not want
to leave your side as he has always been led close on hand and
will almost knock you down to get to that position. Plenty of
patience and good horse sense is needed here and some ingenuity
on your part. Every horse reacts differently and you must discover
this and react accordingly. If you are a beginner at this sort
of thing, start slowly and with a horse that is clam and gentle.
It is hard to teach a young horse when you are not sure you
know what it is all about.
are more sensitive than others. They need very little encouragement
or driving with the whip whereas others need to be awakened.
You must be able to judge when your horse gets to excited and
stop before he gets riled up. An over excited horse becomes
confused and can not learn in this state of mind. It is necessary
to keep him calm with everything you do and particularly the
lunge. You must show him what you want him to do and reward
him immediately when he does it. Praise and reward are for more
important than punishment.
to lead your horse or colt on both sides as most horses are
very uneasy when you on the off side merely from the lack of
handling on that side. The colt can be taught from the start
and a lot of the difficulty is avoided later on. Some colts
lunge better to the left and some to the right. A lot has to
do with the handler's awkwardness and occasionally it is caused
by the horse's natural bend. You may see this trait follow through
to the difficulty of flexing him later on. Although, in extreme
cases of this nature a lot of his stiffness will be taken out
in lunging and you will a much straighter going horse by that
is best to start the horse going around to the left, you may
find that he goes better to the right and you should make things
easy for him and yourself by working longer on the difficult
side. A small enclosure is of great assistance in starting a
green horse. If you have a large training "rectangle" you can
work in a corner. It is necessary to lead your horse around
in a circle you want him to take many times so he understands
this is what you want him to do.
amateurs are equipped with a lunging cavesson; however, there
is no substitute for it. The lunge line, which is a necessity,
should be approximately 30 feet long and is snapped to the center
ring of the cavesson. It gives you control of the horse's head.
A word of caution in using the cavesson. It must fit tightly
and two jaw straps are preferred in order to keep it on and
so as not to cut the eye on the off side. Have someone observe
this on your first uses of it, especially on a horse that pulls.
almost knee deep sand here, and there is nothing that develops
a horse more than this. They have to pick up their feet. A freshly
plowed field is very good after your horse learns to go around
in a circle well, but be careful not to over-do it. Your horse
must build up muscle for this kind of work and must not be allowed
to get sore. Make sure he is walked cool and dry before putting
him in his stall and, of course, don't feed or water him right
down to business, after placing your cavesson on securely, gather
up your lunge line in a neat and orderly manner by looping it
over your left hand in approximately 18" loops. Snap it on to
your cavesson and always hold the lunge line in a manner that
will allow it to peel off with tangling. If you should find
it necessary to completely re-wind your lunge while working,
you must hold it at the horse's head in the left hand in order
to keep control of him while gathering it up. You will then
find it necessary to turn the whole handful of loops around
so that they will peel off properly. Be aware of tangles, dragging
loops and slack line as they can be dangerous. It is unwise
also to let your line out to the last loop or hand grip as there
is no more slack to give in case your horse does something rascally.
It will give a terrible jerk!
horse gets going around both ways well you can begin pushing
him out in the trot. Never over do it but gradually work up
to a good, clam but honest days work. Let him trot until he
breaks into a canter and then let him canter until he becomes
willing to trot. This is the point of importance because it
is here that you can begin to push him and extend his trot.
If his veins are protruding noticeably and he otherwise appears
to be over exerted, be sure to bring him down to a walk and
rest a bit. It is never to be a punishment and so severe that
you would break his wind.
It is very
important that your horse canter on the correct lead as he goes
around. If his head is flexed in too much you will find that
he will invariably take the wrong lead. Drop him out and push
him forward at the same time. this takes practice but eventually
you will get the feel of it. Stop him and start over again if
this doesn't work for you.
should travel around you in a nice arc. His head should neither
be over-flexed toward the center or carried to the outside.
His hindquarters should conform with the arc. He should work
quietly and calmly but energetically. Your hand holding the
lunge line is active and follows the horse's head. He is taught
to halt frequently on the circle by the slowing down of your
forward motion and by not continuing to lead him, by dropping
the whip to its lowest position and voice command. He is allowed
to come in to you only when you have asked him to. (You keep
him out by flicking the whip at this eye.) To teach him to come,
keep the line taut and back up a step or two with outstretched
arm so as not to pull. Call him and offer a reward. After a
time or two he will probably want to come in the minute you
put your hand in your pocket for a lump of sugar. Not letting
him come in until you command it will be an important lesson
accelerates by your increased forward motion and the hand leads
him to more forward position on the circle while at the same
time you raise your whip and further encourage him with voice
command. One of the grave dangers of lunging comes when you
stay too far behind your horse and drive him forward. this is
the way most beginners reason it, but this method causes your
horse to bend his head in to you and his hind quarters swing
out of the circle and get away. He does not balance himself
well and does not gain as much from lunging as he should.
danger point is when your horse pulls hard on the line. As a
rule, he will increase his speed and come towards you opposite
of where he entered the ring, and he will slow down and pull
out at the point of entry. The thing to do is release fast (about
three inches of line)and take up some and urge him forward without
frightening him. this common sense of it is it the horse is
driven and led forward he will keep his circle in a short time.
If you do not correct this fault it will fo on forever and it
takes a great deal of strength to keep on pulling a horse in
horse is well trained he should not come in or pull out on the
line but should maintain about the same amount of weight as
you would keep on the reins while riding.
It is of
utmost importance to be precise with all of your motions. A
sloppy, careless person will never have an obedient horse. They
are such creatures of habit that it works well for you - and
how it works against you!
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