How much lunging is too much? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Seminole, OK
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Question How much lunging is too much?

Most of you are familiar with Dancer's recent history. She lost a LOT of weight while we were on vacation when the person engaged to feed our horses did not do so. On top of that, a couple of weeks after we came back from vacation, she foaled (06/28/10).

Getting the weight back on her has been a challange. Her filly, Rain, is such a PIG, and is growing like a weed - even the farrier was amazed the other day at how fast she's growing - and what a chunk! No wonder Dancer isn't gaining weight very quickly.

At any rate - she looks nearly normal now except for her topline. Her backbone is barely visible as are her ribs, but she really needs some exercise. She's big barreled and even at her fattest you could see her ribs now and again.

Daughter has been lunging her for about 10-15 minutes every day for the last 4 - 5 days. Dancer really seems to enjoy it - her head is up, one ear cocked toward the daughter, etc. We were pretty surprised that we could lunge her without a round pen - but she seemed to know exactly what to do. She was a bit rusty when it came to changing direction, but after a couple of days, she has it down pat.

Dancer insists that her lunging be done at the trot. The moment the lunge line is attached to her halter, she starts off at the trot. She won't walk, and she won't canter. I guess the trot will have to do for now. In two or three months, when Rain is old enough to wean, Dancer will go to the trainer for a tune up for 30 - 45 days. Hopefully, Rain will have lost interest in nursing after that. Although she's not nursing very much now as it is. (Dancer doesn't stop her, Rain would just rather eat Dancer's dinner!)

Should we stop the lunging or cut back? I don't want to do any damage to my girl. We have discovered that she extends too much while trotting - I'm going to have to get some sort of boots to keep her from kicking herself - any recommendations?

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 10:55 AM
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I would say the boots would be helpful and really, 10-15 min. of trot lunge work I think is not too much at all. Probably just the right amount really.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 11:00 AM Thread Starter
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That's good. She's not breathing hard at the end of the session, but daughter is!

To be honest, the area we are lunging her in isn't very level - it's not rough or anything like that, but there is a rise there. We were kind of hoping that she would build more muscle on that slight hill.

We need to get her built up because I'm a very large person and I don't want to get on her while she's so out of shape and do any major damage. Trainer is going to have a chiro look at her to see if there is some reason why she doesn't want to go faster than a trot - not that I care to go faster than that!

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 01:45 PM
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Lunging in any capacity is hard on the horse's joints. Ideally we should not lunge at all and should really strive towards that to decrease the stress on their joints, especially when bringing them back from time off, we want to limit the amount of turning and increase the amount of straight lines. Also when bringing them back, we want to mainly walk, with some trot and no canter. This allows the joints to "normalize" to the work and build up fluid. The faster they go, the more joint damage they are doing and if they aren't conditioned to it, that is when we get the lamenesses associated with joints and joint soreness.
I far prefer hand walking or riding and walking, but if that isn't a possibility then lunging on the largest circle possible is the best. In your situation I would be hand walking the horse for 10 minutes and lunging in a very large circle for a maximum of 5. Slowly increase the amount of handwalking or riding and walking to an hour a day. And never lunge for over 10 minutes at a time, even when she is very fit.
Good luck!
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 03:13 PM
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Agree^^ i never really thought about this until a couple years ago when my friends convinced me to try parelli. All they do is circle game circle game circle game, and my horse is big, and i told them he didn't need to be "Circled" cause i don't have problems with him. Later both my farrier and my vet told me NO to lunging him, he is older and too big. If i had to warm him up to try and limit the amount of time and make the circle as big as possible. Haven't lunged him a day since then and Knock on wood, we have very little leg issues now since we stopped.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-17-2010, 03:19 PM Thread Starter
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She does work in a large circle. She moves out to as far as the lunge line will go. It's kind of funny - if you drop the line, she still trots in the same line. Someone must have lunged the poo out of her at some point.

Hand walking really isn't possible at this time - and she's not that far out of shape that she has to start out that slow. I just really wanted to build a bit of her topline back and limber her up a bit. We'll cut back on the lunging sessions. Like I said, I don't want to do any damage...

Plain Old Dee, horses Dancer and Rain

I believe in dragons, unicorns, good men and other mythical creatures!
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