cantering on the lunge - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 06:52 PM Thread Starter
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cantering on the lunge

I was reading a thread recently and someone mentioned that cantering on the lunge line is bad. I can see the theory and argument for it being hard on legs due to the constant circle, particularly tight circles. Is there another issue or is it just leg concern? I have one gelding who was taught to canter by being a small (think 10 ft lead rope) and chased in a circle with a lunge whip. Not a method I approve of as its actually resulted in a whole host of problems ranging from being difficult to control on the lunge, to being terrified of the lunge whip. I have a young horse that I am doing the finishing work on. His primary saddle breaking was done by the same trainer as the previous gelding. The trainer told me he was taught to canter but it was not until a few weeks ago that he became muscled enough to offer the canter. I don't know how he was introduced.

I want to encourage the canter on him. I have been working with him on a lunge line. I have been working at a trot and walk, he has sometimes offered a canter and I have very rarely asked for a canter. When I ask him for a canter under saddle he leans in toward the center of the circle. Is this the result of the lunge line? Is it better to ask him to canter under saddle on a circle? At this time, I would not be planning on working on a serious canter until the fall at the absolute earliest. He is still wrapping his head around the trot and I want that 100% before we move up in pace. I don't want his future person to find the training holes that I found with him or the other gelding. This gelding is 4 and the other is 13 years of age. Both of them are harness track flunkies. I just wonder when I do start to work on it is it best to work on it under-saddle on a circle or on a straight away (trail situation for me)?
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 07:36 PM
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I can see three problems with cantering on the lunge, over trotting (won't go into the benefits and drawbacks of lungeing here - will derail this thread lol). Firstly, it's faster, so the turn has the 'feel' of being tighter for the horse, and an unbalanced horse (in particular) will lean to the inside, placing more stress on the inside leg joints. Secondly, the nature of the canter as a gait means that for much of the stride, only one leg is supporting the weight of the horse. This puts a lot of strain on both the joints and the tendons in that leg.

I think if you're going to lunge a horse, do it for submission purposes - keep it short (5-10 mins) with focus on transitions and direction changes. That's my thought anyway.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 07:46 PM
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I will agree that cantering endless circles on a lunge line may cause injury to a horse. But, don't think a few circles in each direction will harm.

I have had situations where I used two lunge lines, tied end to end, and cantered a horse on that. I have used that technique when working with a rider who was incredibly afraid of cantering. The lunge line gave her a chance to adjust to the canter and she didn't need many sessions on it.

I also used it with a horse that had a pretty bad cut on its right front leg, biceps brachii, and it was useful to lunge at varying gaits including canter in his recovery.
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 08:33 PM
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boots, I agree - I do canter horses on a lunge, but only when they've reached full maturity, have good balance and I never do more than one or two circles at a time - and always on 20m+. After all, I'd happily ride 20m canter circles on that horse. I think the problem happens when people pop a horse on the lunge and because the person isn't moving, they don't think about the amount of work and strain the horse is being put through in the 15-20 mins they end up doing. It's almost like, brain switches off - and I don't think that type of lungeing has any training benefits.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 09:37 PM
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I've done it with mine on a 15-20 foot rope. I didn't do it for hours. And I don't lunge a horse as part of my normal activities. It is for training, not for living. I'd let them canter, and I would make a point of tipping their nose into the circle to help them learn correct balance.

And the two horses I've lunged have been known to up the ante on their own into a full gallop on a 20' rope. If they were sore afterward, they hid it well.

I've met folks who used a round pen or lunge line to exercise a horse. I could see how a horse cantering regularly under those conditions might have too much wear & tear. For me, I don't see the attraction to watching my horse move around me. Bores me and bores the horse and doesn't do squat all for either of us. Just us. I'm not a trainer or a teacher or a competitor or a top anything rider...just a guy with 3 horses who would rather ride them than lunge them.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-26-2012, 11:54 PM
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I'm probably the one you saw say it, I just mentioned it in another post. :P

Really I was meaning at an extensive point. Round pens are typically a much larger circle than a lunge line and aren't too bad. I teach riding lessons on lunge lines occasionally and generally when I'm teaching someone new to cantering I do it on the lunge. But the horse only does 1 or 2 laps in each direction. And ONLY with a fully mature, well trained, well balanced horse.

The idea of cantering a horse on a lunge to let them calm down before riding them is just ridiculous to me - it really just pumps them up and gets them going more than tiring them out.

So I guess what I'm saying in my little novel here is - cantering on the lunge isn't good, but it's not so bad that there aren't times you'll probably need to do it.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-27-2012, 12:05 AM
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You can widen the circle on the lunge by walking out in a larger circle yourself rather than standing rigid in the middle.
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-27-2012, 12:31 AM
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There are horses that do a lot of cantering on a lunge line, such as the horses that train riders for the Spanish riding school. Those new riders must spend two years taking lungeline lessons. Horse is in side reins and uses a bareback surcingle, no saddle.

BUT the big difference is that those horses are in self carriage for the most part. the do not ever pull the lunge line tight enough t affect their excellent balance. That's one of the main differences between a horse cantering in a round pen on a 15 meter circle, and a horse on a lungleline at the same gait/speed/circle size; if the horse is not able to balance himslefd without leaning on the lungeline, then he is not ready for a canter with a line attached to his nose.

Thus, I would return to working on having him learn to trot on the lunge without leaning on the lungeline, but rather keeping as soft a connection as possible.
Lunging well is really an art. I have seen it done by a master, which made me realize I know NOTHING and really probably shouldnt' try to do much of it.
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-27-2012, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you for these views. I agree with a lot of the views. I have been having him work on the lunge. He goes each direction at a trot and a walk on voice commands. Then I get on him. I have been doing this particularly when he has had a day off. He tends to give one big buck and I just want him to get that out of his system before I climb aboard. He is improving at the trot and offers a canter from time to time. I just want him to focus on the trot.
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