Chevy - here's what you're never going to hear the end of "It Depends"
Lunging in any sort of side reins is for finishing a horse - not for starting a horse IMO. They're for helping perfect the way they carry/use their body, it's done better with a rider IMO than in side reins - just easier and a fancy gadget with side reins.
The order I start my horses in is:
a)hind end- this helps disengage their hind quarters, this is useful more times than you could imagine
b)back up- this is a vital skill for horses, my horses need to back up before everything! Before they get food, to go through gates - I use it when they get disrespectful or if they invade my space.
c)front end- moving their front end over, this is a tougher one to get solid but it's a great way of reminding them who's the leader
d)side step- like a side pass on the ground, this comes in solid handy when you start mounted work
e)putting their head down- this is VITAL, this helps a horse shift out of 'flight mode' and comes in handy for bridling too ;)
f)turning head- turning left and right with pressure from the halter, like reins - this will obviously transfer over to steering, but is also great for stretching!
The next thing I teach is basic leading skills (typically they get the gist, but aren't solid- either pulling in front, dragging behind, wiggly or invasive.
I focus on getting them to lead at a solid pace walk and trot in hand, always at a respectful distance and never pulling or dragging. Pulling is usually met with a sharp turn (away from me if I catch it in time or sharply toward me then back up strongly). Dragging behind I'll try to up my personal beat - working on keeping my energy up and fluid to get the horse a little more forward, if that doesn't work I'll swing the rope near where your foot would fall if you were in the saddle. If that's too tough to maneuver you could use a dressage whip the same way.
Once they're leading and yielding well I'll work on basic lunging, just walk/trot.
Once they're solid in lunging both directions with quality voice commands I'll add a second line to the halter - I usually use a surcingle, but it really makes little difference. I find though using the reins down lower on their sides is more helpful for them to feel their 'walls' with steering and helping them learn straight lines. So stirrups rolled up on a saddle is a good place to run them through.
I'll start by lunging them with both lines on, then gradually using the outside rein, ask for short straight lines. Gradually increasing this until you can make figures in the ring like riding.
At this point your relationship with your horse should be solid - the horses respect for you should be quality, and he should have a good understanding of all the basic cues, verbal and physical.
That's when I'd back a horse.
That all sounds SOOO easy but there will always
be complications. There is so much to learn about yourself when training a horse. Particularly your body language - how clear (or unclear) it actually is. A horse that doesn't know anything will certainly find a way to show you ALL your short comings :P
This is a thrilling journey, please have all the help you can get around you. Try to avoid gimmicks and gadgets - many of the gadgets or gimmicks are really just there to cover up training mistakes, band-aids to hide gaps in training. A well trained horse shouldn't need
any special tool to behave.
Have fun! Keep us posted - pics are seriously appreciated on here too
there's a conformation critique page too if you want the potential horses your looking at checked out to see if there's anything potentially dangerous there :)