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Those days when your horse is too fresh...

3303 Views 21 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  ferricyanide
...and as you are contemplating a trail ride and you have a horse that is marching forward to beat the band, those ears pricked way forward and the head up...do you turn back home to lunge your horse? Or proceed bravely forward, like I did?

Are there times you wished you'd have returned to the barn and lunged? If not, lived to regret it?

So I thought we'd just stay on the property and dipsie-doodle around the gravel pathways. Even walk the field where he's been many times. Mistake. I could see almost immediately the defiant teenager spring into action, so I put him into rough terrain and got out of there. Did another circular route approaching the grass field but stayed on the path, where he pitched a hobby horsing spook (stayed on!) and I was able to quell it soon after it started. Booted him forward after that.

A little while later we came across two minis being hand walked on the farm and that had all his attention. The ride was less than stellar but we got through it ok. We finished by walking in another field that's closer to the barn without incident.

The weather has turned to quite cool, apparently most of the horses at the barn were up. I did lunge him after we got back, and predictably, he had some energy to burn.

Next time I think I will take the time to read him better!
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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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It was a gorgeous day today but a bit windy. Doesn't normally bother Elle, and the ride started out fine. She was relaxed where I thought she'd be anxious. Anxious where I thought she'd be relaxed. At one point she startled at a flappy leaf on a shrub -- never seen one of THOSE before, I guess -- and I also had to kind of gracelessly yank on her face a bunch coming back in the driveway as she was a bit of a froot loop about riding past a spot, and some horses, that we ALWAYS ride past. Meanwhile she went through every puddle and wet lawn and muddy ditch without a care in the world -- and this horse has had 24 years of HATING WATER.

They are all weirdos.
 

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On those days, I usually can tell when my horse is on extra alert and feeling pretty snotty by the time I have groomed and tacked up. Being a lot older and hopefully a lot smarter, I will lunge him first and let him get rid of that energy that I don't want to have to argue with him.
In my younger days I didn't even think about this just got on and rode but the ground is much harder now that it used to be.
Now if I think I need to I will go in the front paddock and do some trotting exercises and if I feel he is listening to me head out to the back of the pasture and work some more in the sand arena then out the back gate and around the farm or over to other properties.
I'm 80 now and I know my riding skills are just not what they once were and I don't feel like taking any chances and getting into a situation that I can't handle.
 

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An old cowboy we used to ride with said we shouldn't lunge our horses cause it just makes them stronger and able to fight with you longer. I always worry about if too many little circles can damage their legs and I hate using a lungeline. So no I don't wish I lunged my horse if he's fresh. I just keep the ride short and try to end it on a good note. :)
 

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Once or twice I wished I had and on one occasion did regret it.

It wasn't one of mine. It was a TB, four year old, racer, with cold back who was in the yard for re-schooling. Saddling had to be done gradually and he was walked and lunged before I put a foot in the stirrup. Except one day we thought we'd try getting on after walking him around. That was a huge mistake! I was given a leg up and the minute my rear touched the saddle he bucked and I went over his head face first into the mud.

Mine were lunged if I couldn't ride, if the weather was awful, as a form of schooling for verbal commands, or something different for them to think about, but not regularly and not as a way to tire them out before riding. I agree that doing it to burn off freshness is just going to make them fitter in the long run.
 

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I have a long steep climb nearby and we head for that if my mare needs a little de-starching. If she is really feeling perky there is nothing like a few miles of steady trotting on the flat to settle her down. At this point in the riding season she is fit enough that this is no particular struggle for her. I only lunge her for attention, not to tire her out. I doubt that would even be possible.
 

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I don’t find that lunging burns energy for my mare but I let her loose in the arena and make her RUN. I carry a lunging whip but when she is energetic I just stand there in the middle and smooch once or twice - she does the rest. Gets out all her bucks and kicks and we can then carry on at a more sane tempo. Obviously, I do this before tacking up but I know her really well and I can just look at her and know what’s up.
 

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I don't lunge, but I will handwalk as long as it seems necessary before I mount up. I also think @Avna is spot on; this is what works for me, either at the beginning of the ride or mid-ride if something happens to get us amped up.
I have a long steep climb nearby and we head for that if my mare needs a little de-starching. If she is really feeling perky there is nothing like a few miles of steady trotting on the flat to settle her down.
 

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No, I don't lunge for those reasons, but if my horse is a bit peppier than usual, changes of directions really seems to help! :)
Go to the left, then the right, left, right, etc. Release all pressure once she relaxes. Repeat. Talking to my horse also helps her calm down.

Handwalking is a good tool as well, I agree with @egrogan. I've gotten off a few times and handwalked my horse, then got back on. Gives us a little reset.
 

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I don’t lunge my horses for anything and never have. They know how and the chiropractor will occasionally put them on the lunge line to evaluate movement.

I have always liked a big motored horse. If one them were really feeling their oats, out the driveway we would go and I would let them have at it for 10-15 minutes. By then they either settled on their own or I would ask them to settle and they did.

Not all of my horses have been trustworthy in high wind - wind carries sounds from miles away and I have, no idea how it might be distorted by the time it gets to my horse’s ears. If I even wanted to risk my visor being blown into the next county, I knew which horse I could safely ride in a windstorm:)
 

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I never used to lunge horses, they knew how but I didn't find it necessary but now if I think the horse is fresh and going to act up, I will lunge him for a few minutes to get that energy out.
I don't think it takes any more energy on his part to work on the lunge than it would if I was on him and worked him hard for a few minutes in the paddock,
It can make them fit but riding the same amount of time as lunging will make him just as fit.
what I like to do is take the horse out and trot to the back of the farm and back to the barn, that usually is all it takes for them to settle down.
Today was really windy and my horse doesn't do as well on these days. I didn't lunge him but went out on the sand to school for a while than a good trot around the farm.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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Lunging can definitely be useful for letting them get some energy and distraction out. And to get focus. It's less about tiring them -- and it is true that doing it before EVERY ride will just make them fitter -- but it's definitely useful when a horse is feeling unusually "up" or when they're about to be ridden somewhere unfamiliar and need a chance to see and react without a rider up top, first.
 

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More of the "ride it out" type myself. Probably because I learned to ride on an Arabian mare named Mia, and hours of lunging wouldn't have done squat to improve her focus or burn off her energy. Bandit is an independent soul. If we're riding someplace strange, he WILL be on full alert. Period. He plans to live forever. If it gets bad, I can dismount and lead for a while, but he worries when he thinks there is reason to worry, and running him in circles a half hour before won't change that. If anything it would make it worse. Because from his perspective, there is nothing "reasonable" about my making him run around in circles and why, 30 minutes later, would he feel better about a potential danger if there is an unreasonable monkey on his back? We talk a lot about a horse trusting us, but we gain trust by being "trust-worthy", and what is trust-worthy about someone lunging a horse?

If he gets elevated, we just do elevated gaits as we go along. It happens or it won't. Nothing wrong with riding a prancing horse. If it gets too bad, we'll play, "You choose the pace. I'll choose the direction."

Seems to me lunging before a ride is about establishing dominance, not trust. If I need a horse to focus, I'll try to find something for him to focus on WHILE we're riding.
 

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Elle, 1997 Oldenburg mare
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I think whether you opt to ride it out or lunge -- or do groundwork -- first really depends on both the horse and rider. I opt to lunge mine first on the VERY rare occasions that she's too "up" because she doesn't have much of a warning system for when something is about to put her over threshold. She's normally nearlly bombproof, but in my 700ish rides on her I've fallen twice because something "got" her out of the blue, and made her go from "totally fine" to a sudden 180 spin. If she had been eyeing anything, being hesitant or snorty, etc, I could have worked with that. I think she's pretty shut down though from having to be a good little machine for one of her previous longterm owners, and never being allowed to express an opinion. She learned to bottle everything up until she just couldn't stand it. So if I get a "bad vibe" from her, I work with her before I get on, because the dismount might otherwise be a sudden one! And she's too tall for me to reasonably hop off and on again unless we're right by a mounting block. 😄
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've been lunging fairly regularly -- no more than 3x a week -- for a couple reasons. Because my guy isn't that balanced under saddle, I have been doing walk trot only. I have a trainer doing schooling rides once a week as well.

I've been working on verbal cues, and transitions in the round pen, walk to trot, trot to canter, and the sessions are typically only 10-12 minutes. My aim is for him to relax, which he is doing, and I hope that translates into better balance and relaxation under saddle.
 

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I've never lunged to get a horse less energetic, but sometimes I've put a horse on a lunge line to see what their mood was. If I had an inkling they were feeling unusually wild, I might see if when I put them on a lunge line, they hop around on their hind legs or start doing cart wheels, in which case I might decide to ride tomorrow.

Sometimes you're just making yourself feel insecure needlessly though. My friend one day put her TB on a lunge line, and he lowered himself and just flat out galloped as fast as he could. She was apprehensive, but we decided to go out for a ride anyway, and he was an angel the rest of the day.

It did crack me up, I rode sometimes with the lady on the palomino in this picture. She'd always lunge her horse to "get his energy down" before a ride. The horse was always on the verge of being in a coma. I thought sometimes he nearly fell asleep on a ride, he'd just plod along so slowly, and never even lift his head or blink at anything. I wouldn't lunge my TB, just ride. In this photo he's jiggy, and we're trying to wait for the slowpoke that "needed" lunging before the ride.
 

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In my discipline, perky excited horses are considered good, unless it’s a beginner lesson horse. If those guys are bring a bit stupid or looky, then one of the advanced kids (at least one of us is always around) will hop on and typically work on collection and force the horse to work and go past scary things. After that, we typically make them do circles and stuff. Same thing when warming up for in barn shows. Let ‘em look at the stuff and make ‘em think. Of course, we’re all eighteen or younger so no fear.
 
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