Learning To Lunge

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Learning To Lunge

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  • Learning to Lunge A Horse
  • "best way to lunge a horse"

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    03-13-2013, 03:28 PM
Learning To Lunge

Just looking for some advice! Im new to horses and have never lunged a horse before I got mine back in December. We have been doing pretty good with each other except for some transitions. She is really good about starting in a walk and transitioning to a trot and then to a canter. She is even good about coming back down to a trot, but I always seem to have trouble getting her to go back down to a walk.

I am working with a trainer and she suggests giving a short yank on the line, but it really doesnt help at all and I don't want to sit there yanking on the line all the time. I was just wondering if anybody maybe had any ideas and if you know of a good video to watch that would maybe help me understand what to do more.

We have been getting better at it everytime and its only been a few times that we have lunged. And like I said she is good about moving back down into a trot and going into a canter. I have gotten her to get back down into a walk, but I don't want to be yanking on the lungeline all the time. It will probably continue to get better everytime as we are just starting to figure each other out, both on the ground and under saddle, but any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!!!
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    03-13-2013, 04:53 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
You're correct, yanking on her line is definitely not the way to go about slowing her down. Shame on your trainer for saying so. Especially if you have a bit in the mare's mouth.

What I do to slow my horse down on the lunge, is I try to think 'slow' and make my body language reflect what I want the horse to do. Instead of keying my horse up by using sharper, rougher movement like I do when I'm encouraging a transition upwards, I relax my body, drop my shoulders a bit, and angle my outside shoulder in a little as if to make a 'barrier.' Often I will look at the area right in front of my horse and use a drawn out, calm voice to ask for the transition. "troooooooooot......" "waaaaaaaaaaalk." I also have cues that I have taught my animals to speed up or slow down their specific gait but still stay in that gait.

If that doesn't work, I lightly apply pressure to the line so that the circle becomes just a bit smaller and my horse has to work harder to go fast (be warned, don't pull in too fast or too far. An unbalanced horse will just try to go faster if it panicks about being pulled in). I then look for the horse to start slowing down even if they don't go from a canter to a trot or trot to walk. If theit gait slows down from a speedy trot to a slower, more relaxed trot, stop applying pressure and say 'Good.' Let the animal continue at that speed for a round, then ask for slower, and slower until it breaks gait. Then praise, release, and let it continue at that pace. Eventually just hearing your voice take on a slower, calmer tone and the word will signify 'slow down' to your horse, and you'll be rocking it!
loosie likes this.
    03-13-2013, 04:56 PM
Thanks for the tips! Ill give it a try. Oh and we don't lunge with a bit/bridle. Only with the halter on and a lunge line.
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    03-13-2013, 04:57 PM
Teen Forum Moderator
Thats just fine. Do you use a nylon halter or rope? Sometimes using a stiff but thick corded rope halter can help translate your signals to your horse better than a nylon halter can.
    03-13-2013, 05:02 PM
Ok. Didnt know that, I've just used a nylon halter. Ill definitely have to pick up a rope one. I suppose Ill just have to try a few things and see what works for her. Her previous owners I think mostly free lunged her, so its new for her being on the line.
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    03-13-2013, 05:50 PM
The best way to lunge a horse is to teach them how to lunge. I've seen so many people who lunge their horse by standing at the horse's head and then swinging the whip so that the horse gets nervous and starts dancing in circles around the handler, then finally bolts away and hits the end of the lead line and pulling himself into a circle. (I've also done this too).

Lunging takes a series of steps. You want the horse to face away from you so that he can start the lunge. You want the horse to move when you ask. And you want the horse to stop when you ask. This means the horse needs to know how to shoulder-yield, hindquarter yield, and move in the direction you point. All of it needs to be done with cues that don't require you to have to touch the horse, because you want to be able to move the horse's body at a distance.

You would stand on one side of the horse's head facing the horse, and step back. If the horse steps with you, use the shoulder-yield to push the horse back out. Then with the rope in your hand, point in the direction the horse is facing so you take the slack out of the rope and slightly pull the horse in that direction. Cluck or kiss, and if the horse takes even a few steps in the direction, relax and let the horse come to a stop. Do that a few times until you only have to point in the direction you want the horse to go and the horse will go that way. Then begin practicing stopping the horse by giving the hindquarter yield. This will swing the horse's hind end out and bring them to a stop. If you give the hindquarter yield and the horse doesn't swing their hind end out, pull slightly on the lunge line while giving the hindquarter yield and the horse will eventually slow down and turn into you.

This cures so many lunging problems I can't even name them all. It will cure a horse rushing into the lunge, crowding into you as they lunge, leaning on the rope, refusing to stop, and tilting their butt towards you as they lunge just to name a few.
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