Originally Posted by MN Tigerstripes
I'm not generally a fan of lunging a horse to get the "crazy" out before riding... You're basically trying to get rid of excess energy to make her a little easier to handle in the short run.
When utilized properly, "lunging" is not to "get the crazy" out of a horse... at least, not directly,
It is an exercise that allows the handler to establish basic control with the animal and make sure they are on the same page before mounting. If you have a problem horse, establishing control and trust on the ground will translate into the saddle.
I'm always a bit confused when people are opposed to it (lunging), and would rather just hop on a horse that clearly has problems trusting his/her rider and challenges them (whether by spooking, etc)... by hopping on, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage when the horse decides to bolt/buck/jump/whatever its bad behavior is. Lunging is a tool you can use to build a better relationship with your horse, you aren't supposed to just put the horse on the end of a rope and run it ragged, lol. The point is to get the horse's attention (gently), and make sure it is tuned in to what you are asking it by requesting gait changes, etc. If you work enough with your horse, staying in a tight little circle is not necessary... my horse has learned to respect the lunge whip/my body language and pretty much goes where I point him - down the rail, or otherwise.
However, I suppose if all you've ever witnessed a person doing while "lunging" the horse is running it ragged and letting it "get the bucks out", or whatever else, I can see why you'd consider it getting "the crazy out", haha. There is definitely a difference!
My horse used to be very spooky. He still has a strong natural "flight" tendency, but through lunging exercises and riding exercises focused on getting/keeping his attention on me, the rider, his "spookiness" has decreased by approximately 85%, if not more.
Anyhow - I responded directly to the lunging statement because I was going to suggest lots of time doing groundwork, including lunging. I'd question the competence of an instructor who thinks it is okay to use a "spooky" horse routinely in lessons, unless all the students being taught with her are experienced and learning problem solving skills... which, if they were, the horse wouldn't be so spooky anymore? Hmmm... probably a good thing she's found a new home.