Why is Monty Roberts against lunging?
Appreciate info from knowledgeable users of MR or similar on why MR thinks lunging is so bad for horses.
What are the differences between chasing a horse in Join-Up (MR) or lunging it on a line? And what is the difference between the long reining MR does and ordinary lunging with two lines?
Any insights would be great. Thanks
What he means by lunging is by making the horse run in circles to tire himself out.
Join up is to get the horse want to be with you, etc.
Lunging it tiring them out so they'll be calmer.
I don't know why Monty Roberts doesn't like lunging but I know why I don't. While I think it's a useful life skill for a horse to have, it's not something I belabour. I think as a training method, it has limited use. It's not healthy for their joints or their minds to go round in endless circles, and, because the handler is always putting pressure on the one side, I don't believe it is an effective way to teach balance on a circle. It might have quite the opposite effect. I've seen a lot of horses go bananas on a lunge line because the owner uses it to tire them out; horse falls out of balance, freak out, runs faster, freaks out more, etc. When you pull in a horse's head on the lunge line, especially if the horse is already bracing against you because the lunge line is where you let it act like a hooligan, you put it in a position that would cause every dressage instructor in the world to shout at you if you did it under saddle: nose in, shoulders and haunches out of alignment, on forehand, unbalanced. Conversely, when riding or long-reining, the handler has control over both sides of the horse and can more effectively set the horse up for a balanced curved line.
I only lunge as a quick way to assess a horse's gait on a circle if I suspect it might be lame, or if I put a total novice on my horse. It might a rubbish way of training horses, but it's a fantastic way of training riders: they can think about their bodies and position without worrying about controlling the horse. For that reason, I would train a horse to lunge and to have perfect manners on the lunge line.
I am not a big fan of lunging either. I teach the horses I start how to do it because as you've mentioned its useful for lameness evaluation and have used it with low grade colic to get the GI tract moving.
I also teach a lot of kids and again as you've noted its great for riders. When teaching it to the horses I don't let them express unwanted responses and delete fast, unbalanced ways of going. Mine all end up going around pretty quietly because they've never had the chance to hoon. They can do that in the paddock when I am not around.
I can't see the point of using lunging to tire out of the horse because of the danger of damage, esp to joints. There are better ways of getting stimulus control of nervous horses without making them move their feet at speed- whether on the end of a rope or not :-).
From a practical point I can't see a huge amount of difference between lunging and Join-up, though if MR is against using it to tire them out then he is onto something. I've head him say its the worst thing you can do with a horse and given he gets his horses running around in a circle- some at a very fast, sometimes panicky canter its hard to see the difference, but I am genuinely interested to learn what underpins his concerns with it.
With free lunging/join-up, at least the horse has the opportunity to find its own balance as the handler isn't pulling on its head. Many do, of course, hoon around in an unbalanced way, but if done quietly and sensibly, it can teach the horse to balance itself on a circle. I taught all my horses to free lunge/join-up, but I maintain control of the gait with verbal commands. I want them in a nice, balanced walk, trot, and canter in the round pen, not galloping around like a maniac.
I'm wondering if MR is against lunging because done correctly it is an art in itself and how many people are skillful at this?
I probably won't remember it very correctly, its been a while, but I did watch the video where he explains why... a long time ago.
His point it basically that its bad to lunge if you have a single lunge rein tied to the one side of the horse's head only, because its then pulls the horse's head towards the centre of the circle unnaturally, and that causes the horse to brace against the bend and its body to bend to the opposite side to the circle. He argued that it caused, for instance, the horse to tend towards catering disunited. But I think, he means it just affects all the horse's joint and muscles in the opposite way to how the horse is supposed to move around a circle, which is bent uniformly around the apex of it.
I think also, he says that the way to remedy this is to 'lunge' the horse with two lines, similar to long-lining/ground-driving, so that the pressures on the horse's head to both sides are pretty equal. And then its fine to lunge! So it was not that lunging is bad, but that lunging with one line is bad.
But then after Join-Up MR advocates long lining with the lines attached to the bit. The vids I've got of him demonstrating this as part of the process of starting babies has the horse trotting and cantering with their heads in the air and then getting a pretty big chuck on the bit to get them to change direction. As a way of teaching a horse to respond to bit cues its seems to have a potential for letting the horse run into the bit at speed during these first crucial experiences.
Lunging is a useful skill for both horse and handler, and can help form a respectful relationship between horse and handler. It teaches the horse to move from pressure, listen to the handlers voice and body. The handler can see the horses natural movement unhindered by saddle or rider, they can evaluate how the horse is feeling, introduce movement whilst wearing new tack without adding complications of riders etc.
Join up can put stress on a horses legs even more than lunging- you are making them canter round at a rate of notts when you drive them!
Longreining and lunging go hand in hand too. If you are longreining a horse on a circle it is lunging with two lines- longreining if I am not miskaten!
I understand MR saying sending a horse round in circles to tire them out is bad, but lunging can be an extreamly useful skill. Why only ban lunging when many people will drive a horse roundand round in circles when ineffectively trying to join up? Condone pointless driving, not a useful skill.
As said, I train my horses to lunge because it's a skill they need to have as equine citizens of the world, and then I never use it in place of other riding or training. I only use it when I need to do something and lunging is the best way, versus the laziest way, to accomplish it, i.e. teach a beginner rider or figure out whether a horse looks lame or not. And yes, another use I forgot was getting a youngster accustomed to moving with things like stirrups flapping around.
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