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This is a discussion on ~*~Lunging~*~ within the Horse Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Is it ok to ride a horse without lunging him first
  • Young horses when to ride without lunging

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    07-03-2010, 11:58 AM

I was curious on your guys's thoughts on people who have to lunge a horse for like 20 min. Before they can ride their horse. I ask them and they say: "If I don't lunge him for at least 20 min. He will buck me off. A guy I know thinks that that's crazy and that you should just be able to hop on the horse once saddled and ride to your hearts content. I don't know where I am with this. I think he's right, but some other people at the shows say they think their horse is the best, even though they must lunge before riding. Any thoughts on this?
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    07-03-2010, 12:07 PM
With my horse, if he is acting like he will do something bad under saddle, I lunge him for 10-15 mins before riding just to be safe. I'd rather spend more time lunging then spending the time getting hurt ;)
    07-03-2010, 12:08 PM
Oh, and the lunging gets the extra energy out, so they won't have the extra energy to disobey. It all depends on the horses training
    07-03-2010, 03:07 PM
Here's how I feel:
If my horse is acting like an energetic spazz, I get off and lunge. End of story. It's not worth the hassel and possible injury if he's acting uncontrollable. Sometimes, I'll only get to ride for 15 minutes, and then I'll have to lunge for the rest of my ride. I end up being a little disappointed, but at least I know he's got most of his energy out. Other times, he just needs to be turned out to have time to "be a horse" so to speak, and gallop and buck and have his fun.

It really depends on the horses training. My old horse was trained to have groundwork and lunging done EVERY DAY before a ride. Did I keep up with it? Sort of... hehe... in the summer, it is 115 outside in Az. I don't think he needs to be lunged. I also never rode until it was like 9:00 at night. In the winter, I did lunge him because he needed it. Some horses need to be lunged just to "take the edge off" so you know that they will have no excuse and have to listen. Without excess engery, they will also be more focused.
    07-03-2010, 03:29 PM
I think it is ok if done occasionally. I personally only lunge to 'get the buck out' if my horse has been stalled for longer than usual due to bad weather.
However, I also think it is a poor idea to use this technique as a crutch every time you ride. There may come a time when you don't have the opportunity to lunge first, and then you have a horse who thinks it is his due to be able to buck and kick for 10 minutes before settling down and paying attention. I think it is best to mix it up a bit, don't have the same routine every time you work with your horse. If my horse has fidgity feet, I like to let him trot it out under saddle, and will only let him canter once I know he is more relaxed.
However, do what works best for you. If are not fairly sure of your ability to be safe in the saddle, then by all means lunge him first.
    07-03-2010, 03:47 PM
My trainer has a couple of cold-backed horses down at her main barn. One mare in particular, Chloe, needs to be lunged until she is "warm" enough to get on. It's just better for her, because she can get used to the saddle and girth without the weight of the ride. It's also better for the rider, since they don't get their butt dumped in the sand.

A lot of the time, I find that hot or explosive horses (that aren't cold-backed) just need to be let go when you get on. Much of the time I see nervous riders lunging their horses for twenty minutes before they get on, then they struggle to get the horse to stand for mounting, and once on, they proceed to pull and yank on the reins when the horse tries to walk forward. The whole ride just ends up being a fight between WHEEEEE horsey and WOAH HANNIBAL rider.
Really, I had days with Freddy where he'd be feeling either fresh or spooky, and I'd simply let him go for a loose trot or canter, or even just a speedy walk. Afterwards he'd be ready to work, and I wouldn't spend the ride fighting with him about being calm and listening. I do the same thing with a couple of other horses, including my trainer's warmblood "ex-stallion", Booboo (I know, I know).

As for displays of exuberance (not pain!), you just have to be able to stick with it. Lunging isn't going to really fix anything, nor is fighting it and holding them back. I see riders in the warm-up rings at Spruce when they first get on, and sometimes the horses just take off bucking and kicking out of sheer excitement. Most riders just contently sit through it as if it's just another day.
    07-03-2010, 04:25 PM
Green Broke
I think it all depends on the horse and what your current goals are. I have had horses that I would just throw a saddle or bareback pad on and off I went and I've had a couple of horses I didn't DARE get on without lunging their bucks out because if I didn't my ride would just be an insane fight the whole time.

I've also lunged for training reasons as well as for fitness...you wouldn't believe how nice a fat or obese horse looks when you lunge them at a trot at least half an hour every day!!

My current horse is green and his previous owner only worked him on one side leaving him very off balance. On top of that he has several holes in his training. I haven't ridden in over a decade AND I've gained a bit of weight. I currently lunge him for at least a half an hour before every ride, incorporating side reins. Then I ride for 20 min to half an hour which is plenty since we are still at walk/trot stages and doing a lot of transitions and backing for balance.
    07-03-2010, 04:51 PM
At our barn lunging is often used to establish a little authority before getting on the horse's back. The beginning horses are not lunged unless they have been stalled for an extra long time (weather) and it's only the intermediate horses and advanced horses that students lunge before a lesson.

My husband is more into training hunting dogs, and the same principal applies to even the most well trained field trial lab...if they've been cooped up or are extra excited, the handler takes them to an open field to run the crazies out before expecting them to perform. Dogs are a lot smaller, so the philosophy is even more important with horses--a horse that is too wired to ride (for whatever reason) is dangerous and needs a way to get some of their energy out in a constructive way!
    07-03-2010, 05:26 PM
If mine have been stalled for longer than usual (48 hours without exercise of some kind is my very general rule of thumb) I'll do some groundwork before I step in the stirrup. Either NH style lunging or simple yield shoulders/haunches, back up, etc. in hand. As it's going now, Scout's actually getting better about just getting on and cruising even past my 48 hour mark. A brief walk before the final tightening of the girth is all I'm doing right now, riding 4-7 days a week.

I'm ok with using groundwork of some form as a pre-flight check for a young, green, or fresh horse, but mine are not allowed to do anything on the line that he wouldn't be allowed to do under saddle.

I'll be the first to admit I'm no bronc rider. I can stick ok, but if I know that I may have a problem, I'm much better able to deal with it on the ground than from the saddle. I don't enjoy bruises.
    07-03-2010, 05:40 PM
It depends on the horse and the situation really. My friend has a young TB and normally he is fine to just hop on and ride but when he has been left unridden for a week or so, she'll lunge him just incase.

I used to lunge my OTTB before every ride but that was only because he was at a barn with no pasture turnout - just paddocks. When he was at a different barn and in a field all day, he didn't have excess energy so I didn't have to lunge him.

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