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HorseMom1025 09-19-2012 11:51 AM

Lunging - Who should be doing the lunging?
I've been doing a lot of reading on the forum and almost everyone recommends more "ground" work with horses. I know there is more to it than running in circles, but that is what I would like to focus on.

My daughter is about to be 10. For the year we have leased, then owned her horse, I usually do the lunging if/when our trainer recommends it. Just to reassure everyone, I took a few lessons from the trainer to ensure I understood the basics. Acey listens to cues well and isn't a brat when we work.

My question is this: If part of the point of lunging is to establish myself as "the boss" and get our mare to yeild to me...wouldn't it make sense for my daughter, her rider, to also establish her leadership?

Is it safe for a smallish 10 year old (60 lbs) to lunge a horse? I usually use a lunge line, but we have access to a smaller arena that could be used to free lunge.

For safety, can I also stand with my daughter or does that defeat the purpose of having her do it?

The older girls (teens) are required to lunge their own horses, but the trainer has never indicated that I should stop and let Kitten take over.

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Wallaby 09-19-2012 12:03 PM

I don't have a child but I do teach lessons to kids.
I have one rather "horse-smart" ten year old that I allow to lunge Lacey. I never leave her alone while she's lunging and so far we've just kept it walk/trot on the line. I feel like, even though my mare isn't likely to kick out or buck at the canter, things are easier to keep under control when cantering is not there.

I stand close by but not inside the circle while she lunges - that way I can easily step in if I'm needed. I do find that my mare is mildly distracted by my presence but whenever she gets distracted I have my lesson kid do a lot of changes of direction, stops, etc, which underlines that Lacey should be listening to the kid, not me.

I'd say that if your horse knows what lunging is, lunges well (no excessive pulling, no bucking/kicking out, no bolting, etc), and YOU feel comfortable, go for it! However, if you feel uncomfortable, there are a bunch of other things she can do that are probably better groundwork than lunging is (leading over/through scary objects, etc).
And there's always the walking option. She doesn't have to trot or canter the horse on the line, especially at first.

Sahara 09-19-2012 12:13 PM

It is my opinion that a 60# ten year old child shouldn't be around a horse that doesn't already know that humans are above it on the command chain. For example, I have two riding horses that my 11 and 5 year old can lead anywhere. They don't need to be longed to know their place in "our" herd. Having said that, I do longe these riding horses for various reasons. However, I would never let my kids do it. Longeing isn't just throwing a horse in a round pen and making it run in endless circles. One needs to be able to read a horse's body language while controlling and using one's own body language to communicate effectively with a horse. Very few 10 year old children are able to do this effectively.

Believe it or not, one can establish leadership without longeing a horse in a round pen.

HorseMom1025 09-19-2012 12:36 PM

Our horse actually has wonderful ground manners and adores my daughter. This horse has a forever home with us because she has proven time and time again that she will take very good care of my child. She will do anything Kitten asks. Kitten shows her in both halter and showmanship classes and they do very, very well.

Acey ground ties, allowing Kitten to walk far away without a step. She never pulls or refuses to move forward. Kitten can walk and trot her in hand and back her up with just her words. We're still working on "spinning" on one hoof, but that is rider error, Kitten needs to work on her position. We're also working on "setting up" properly for inspection.

My question was specifically on lunging as part of the tools for ground work. Is it something that can or should be done by a child my daughter's age.
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HorseMom1025 09-19-2012 12:39 PM

Thank you Wallaby. I will talk to my daughter's trainer and see if we can set up a few lessons for her. I just wanted to be sure this is something that can be done by kids her age...with appropriate supervision and if they are mature enough.
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Sahara 09-19-2012 12:45 PM


Originally Posted by HorseMom1025 (Post 1689389)

My question was specifically on lunging as part of the tools for ground work. Is it something that can or should be done by a child my daughter's age.
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My answer is, it totally depends upon your daughter's skill level. If your daughter has a good sense of timing, feeling, control of her body language, ability to read horse's body language and a purpose for longeing, by all means...longe away. If you are using it to establish, leadership, well, it sounds like Ace already views Kitten as a leader, so it seems unnecessary.

She sounds like a lovely horse!

HorseMom1025 09-19-2012 01:10 PM

She is awesome. Kitten came off once because she took a barrel too tight and wasn't gripping tight enough with her legs. Acey's hoof brushed Kitten's hip and she immediately picked that hoof back up and hopped on three legs to avoid stepping on her. It was crazy to watch. We just know she has a really strong bond with Kitten.

With me she will sometimes test my limits and act a bit mare-ish...but with Kitten, she's an angel. :)

I just know that our trainer does occasionally ask that we lunge the horse. For the past year, I've always done it when asked. It just really occurred to me that if lunging is used to get a horse to focus on the handler and their commands, that it would make more sense for the rider to be the one doing it...rather than the "groom". (me). ;)

My daughter is determined to be a great horsewoman and is always wanting to learn everything about horses. She picks hooves, brushes, bathes and bridles (with me double checking her work). She still needs help with the saddle, but prefers to mostly do everything herself. Thus, the main reason for my question. :)
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jaydee 09-19-2012 01:23 PM

I would never tell anyone to do anything with a horse - especially a child of that age - because I have no idea of how good they are or how well trained the pony is
So saying - I 'worked' with my uncle who broke horses and ponies from when I was 9 years old and was allowed to lunge the sensible ones as part of my own learning experience that was extremely valuable to me in as the years went on.
I never got hurt but that doesn't mean that someone else wouldn't.
I taught my children how to work their sensible ponies on the lunge and they also survived - probably way safer than some of the things they did off the back of a horse!!!
It has to be your decision. Your daughter already must know the risks of things like wrapping the lunge line around her hands (s) or allowing it to get tangled up around her legs or the horses legs and if the pony is trained to know how to stay calmly on the end of that line and not pull stupid stunts like racing in over the top of her then you've elimated some of the obvious risks.

PunksTank 09-20-2012 05:51 PM

You could also consider teaching you daughter to line-drive the horse, this is done at lower speeds and is slightly safer. She stands far enough behind and slightly to one side of the horse - if anything horrible happens she just has to let go and the horse will be going away from her. It's also more though-inducing for the horse and handler, they're learning more in depth skills and more clear communication, maneuvering the same obstacles you would while riding. It's very, very fun!
This should also, obviously, be closely supervised.

Saddlebag 09-20-2012 06:11 PM

When you lunge a horse, you are not only dominating it by getting it to move it's feet, but you are also getting a sense of the horse's mood that day. Some horses will, when frost is impending, get rather frisky.

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