Purpose of lunging? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 37 Old 12-07-2015, 10:58 PM Thread Starter
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Purpose of lunging?

So I've been working on lunging Harley, our Arab gelding. My daughter's coach gave me a lesson (I had lunged before, but since that was over 20 years ago, I figured I might need a refresher!!!). At the time, she suggested it would be good to lunge him with side reins to encourage proper head placement.

We've since moved the horse and have a different coach, but I thought I'd work on some lunging if my daughter's not riding him. Now, because I want to get the hang of it before adding equiment like side reins, I'm just using a halter and lunge line with whip. The first time he lunged well on one side, but when I tried lunging from the other side, he kept turning into me with his shoulder. I did it again on his 'good' side and ended with that. I went home and did some reading, watched a few videos, etc. and a couple of days later, tried it again. The second time, he did much better. I learned to 'speak' to him with my body and did not let him get away with anything. I did a walk and trot both ways. Another session tonight - walk and trot in both directions, but still with some resistance. Either he really doesn't care for lunging, or working in the evening, when he thinks he should be in the barn with his buddies munching hay, just isn't his thing. Oh, and I tried to get a canter tonight, but was not successful. How do you get a horse to canter on a lunge line if he is not responding to verbal cues and body langage? I did get some really nice, vigorous trots though.

I guess at this point I'm wondering whether I should keep working on the lunging or just get on him and ride him myself when my daughter doesn't want to ride. It occurred to me that I would enjoy it a lot more too and frankly, he seems to prefer being ridden to being lunged. When he's ridden, he's never sluggish or reluctant and always seems to give 150%, but on a lunge line, he's a different horse. It almost seems as though he doesn't see the point of it. Not sure I do either. FYI, he does not need to be lunged before riding to blow off some steam like some horses. He is a very level-headed, reliable horse. What are your thoughts?

I may also try to get him out on a short trail ride later this week which we haven't had the chance to do yet for various reasons (my work schedule and the fact that it is dark by 4:30 being one). My gut feeling is that he likes variety and will love the trails.
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Last edited by Acadianartist; 12-07-2015 at 10:59 PM. Reason: FYI, he does not need to be lunged before riding to blow off some steam like some horses.
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post #2 of 37 Old 12-07-2015, 11:19 PM
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Personally, about the only time I lunge my horses is when I want them to get a little exercise but don't feel like riding.
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post #3 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 12:05 AM
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I don't lunge mine but they also have large pastures so they can blow off steam as needed.

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post #4 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 12:55 AM
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Ride him.
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post #5 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 02:46 AM
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i like your horse. he sounds like a nice, smart but sensible guy. count your lucky stars.

perhaps one of the reasons he is not so responsive in lunging is that he "sees no purpose in it". a smart horse has to see some sort of purpose in what you are doing in order for him to give his all. since you are unsure about lunging and what you expect or want to get from it, he, too is unsure. that's something he does not like.


your choices are either do something wher you CAN provide a clear sense of direction and purpose for him, OR, learn how to lunge WITH purpose. that might mean taking some lessons purely in lunging, and learning how to GET what you ask for.

your choice.
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post #6 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 07:57 AM
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Just because he seems sound when being ridden, doesn't mean he is. Horses are prey animals, therefore very stoic.

He could be hiding an issues that isn't flat out pain but is discomfort for him, and it shows when you ask him to lunge in a certain direction.

I have seen it with my own horses, when the chiropractor sometimes lunges them to see if what she did worked.

Which, BTW, is why I made sure all my horses knew how to lunge at a young age. Except for learning some disicipline early in life, and having it come in handy when one of their professional health care people need to watch them, I think it is a waste of time.

When I used to go on organized trail rides, I could always picks the rider who was likely to go off in the creek ------- the one who spent fifteen minutes lunging her poor horse at the trailer.

If one has to do that before riding, one needs to take a step back and look at what THEY are doing wrong.

Instead, play some liberty games with your horse. For starters he is an Arab, so already has a leg up in the brain department. They are fantastic at liberty work.

Start simple. Something REALLY worthwhile is ground tying. All my horses knew/know how to ground tie, some better than others.

I have to bath my horses outside. I haven't tied a horse to bath in 20 years. At the least, I just throw the rope over the fence.

I used to tell TWH Duke, my avatar, to "let's get a bath, go find your spot". He would walk to his spot and never move u til I said "you're done", when he would turn and go back into the barn to his stall. I once made the mistake of saying "you're almost done". He heard "done" and was headed to his stall before I got the shampoo rinsed off. I never made that mistake again, lol

Meaning, it was a simple liberty trick that he learned and understood

I have taken one Doberman and two Rotterweilers thru Puppy obedience. You wouldn't believe how much if that (including hand commands), I have been able to transfer to horses over the years.

Horses all have different brainpower, like dogs, like people but they are willing learners when given the chance.

There are so many little "freedom" things you can do that are much more important than lunging. They will better stimulate the horse's mind, he will have a lot more respect for you, and you never know how those little things might come in handy in an emergency.

As the Food Lion lion says: "Just my two cents".
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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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post #7 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 08:32 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
i like your horse. he sounds like a nice, smart but sensible guy. count your lucky stars.

perhaps one of the reasons he is not so responsive in lunging is that he "sees no purpose in it". a smart horse has to see some sort of purpose in what you are doing in order for him to give his all. since you are unsure about lunging and what you expect or want to get from it, he, too is unsure. that's something he does not like.


your choices are either do something wher you CAN provide a clear sense of direction and purpose for him, OR, learn how to lunge WITH purpose. that might mean taking some lessons purely in lunging, and learning how to GET what you ask for.

your choice.
You're bang on tinyliny! I guess I wanted to practice lunging and make sure that I could do it if I need to. I can (though not very elegantly yet!), but not sure I see a purpose in it other than establishing respect, which I guess is something. He is still testing boundaries with us so I felt I needed to assert myself and make him do this even if he doesn't feel like it. But beyond that, I don't see why I would go on. And YES, if I do, I will need someone to work with me and show me how to improve. Which I may do anyway, just to add that to my skill set.

And yes, he is a special horse! So far, no one can see any real faults in him. We are so, so lucky!
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post #8 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 08:42 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by walkinthewalk View Post
Just because he seems sound when being ridden, doesn't mean he is. Horses are prey animals, therefore very stoic.

He could be hiding an issues that isn't flat out pain but is discomfort for him, and it shows when you ask him to lunge in a certain direction.

I have seen it with my own horses, when the chiropractor sometimes lunges them to see if what she did worked.

Which, BTW, is why I made sure all my horses knew how to lunge at a young age. Except for learning some disicipline early in life, and having it come in handy when one of their professional health care people need to watch them, I think it is a waste of time.

When I used to go on organized trail rides, I could always picks the rider who was likely to go off in the creek ------- the one who spent fifteen minutes lunging her poor horse at the trailer.

If one has to do that before riding, one needs to take a step back and look at what THEY are doing wrong.

Instead, play some liberty games with your horse. For starters he is an Arab, so already has a leg up in the brain department. They are fantastic at liberty work.

Start simple. Something REALLY worthwhile is ground tying. All my horses knew/know how to ground tie, some better than others.

I have to bath my horses outside. I haven't tied a horse to bath in 20 years. At the least, I just throw the rope over the fence.

I used to tell TWH Duke, my avatar, to "let's get a bath, go find your spot". He would walk to his spot and never move u til I said "you're done", when he would turn and go back into the barn to his stall. I once made the mistake of saying "you're almost done". He heard "done" and was headed to his stall before I got the shampoo rinsed off. I never made that mistake again, lol

Meaning, it was a simple liberty trick that he learned and understood

I have taken one Doberman and two Rotterweilers thru Puppy obedience. You wouldn't believe how much if that (including hand commands), I have been able to transfer to horses over the years.

Horses all have different brainpower, like dogs, like people but they are willing learners when given the chance.

There are so many little "freedom" things you can do that are much more important than lunging. They will better stimulate the horse's mind, he will have a lot more respect for you, and you never know how those little things might come in handy in an emergency.

As the Food Lion lion says: "Just my two cents".
YES! THIS! I really enjoy groundwork and it seems like something much more mentally stimulating. I've also taken a lot of dogs through basic obedience and beyond (I used to help train hunting dogs). So I totally get the analogy. Essentially, both animals learn by repetition and breaking things down into small steps. We have access to an indoor arena which his perfect for it - I can just shut all the doors and he follows me around like a puppy even without a lead. I've already done some work on ground tying but can start moving further and further away and leaving him longer. I'll research other exercises as well.

But I will also start riding him on days my daughter doesn't want to/can't. I really enjoy it and could work those muscles a little more often.

As for soundness issues, he's going barefoot now (his shoes came off about 3 weeks ago) and the farrier was in trimming last weekend. There are no serious issues according to her, but he may be a little more sensitive. The vet is coming later today to look at his teeth and give him a vaccine so he should be able to give me an idea of his overall condition. But you're right - he's the kind of horse that is stoic and does what he's asked even if he's hurting a bit. I am trying to be very attentive to how he moves, but am not seeing him favor a leg or move differently than when he had shoes on. He just has more energy when he has a rider on than he does on the lunge line.

Thanks for all your suggestions all!
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post #9 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 09:16 AM
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Horses are "handed", just like people, so they have a favored side. It is good to address this "side changing", even if you don't actually lunge the horse.
We used to lunge for warm up, before a lesson, so that there was more teaching time in a lesson. That's about it. I was never good at standing in the middle watching a "roundy-round"!!
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post #10 of 37 Old 12-08-2015, 09:18 AM
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Quote:
He just has more energy when he has a rider on than he does on the lunge line.
I'll bet he is bored out if his mind and needs something to stimulate him

If you read this before the vet comes, have the vet check his shoulders, rump/hips, and sacrum.

There might possibly be issues up in those areas that don't bother him while trail riding or in big arena circles, yet "pinch" when he gets in a tight lunging circle, in one direction or the other.

If he gets a clean bill of health, for sure the Fella is bored to death with dumb old lunging, lollol

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I CAN'T ride 'em n slide 'em. I HAVE to lead 'em n feed 'em Thnx cowchick77.
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