Join Date: May 2009
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The lunge/round pen debate is a tricky one - I'm not a huge fan of lunging, but we use round pens which I vastly prefer especially for youngsters. In a round pen, they can find their own balance and make their own judgment calls. You don't want to run them in circles, but it's good for learning respect and commands. I typically begin round penning at between a year and 2 years, but they're very short sessions.
At this age I'm usually getting them used to everything I can - they can't be ridden, but they can certainly be getting accustomed to a lightweight English saddle and a bridle. A lot of in hand work is invaluable - I like to "mock" train for showmanship, just reaching them to pivot away and give to pressure, to square up and remain still, and all sorts of other goodies you may never use in a showring but will keep your horse focused and learning.
If I can't ride 'em, I bombard 'em - loading, clipping, handling, farrier work, getting used to equipment, bathing, tarp work, desensitization, voice commands, etc. Anything I can think of to work on, we do because I find it really help produce a well mannered horse. Nothing is saying these things have to be done, but if you can't ride then why not right?
I hope God tells her to smash her computer with a sledgehammer.