Is your horse feeling a little fresh from all the spring grass?
Or are they coming back after a long spell over winter?
As the saying goes, when in doubt, lunge first!
Lunging involves a horse being asked to work at the end of a line and respond to commands from the handler. Here are some popular reasons as to why people incorporate this method into their horses’ exercise and training routine.
- To work off excess energy or freshness:
One of the primary reasons people choose to lunge their horse is to work the freshness out of the horse. Some people may have horses who are naturally hot, and others may only ride their horse one to three times a week. With some horses if they have a couple of days off, they may be fresh and not thinking about anything other than getting out and moving. Whilst it is important for a horse to feel good, there’s a certain level of freshness that can be counterproductive to both horse and rider. As a method of working this excess energy off and out of them, working a horse on a lunge line or in a round pen will usually allow the horse sufficient opportunity. By allowing an avenue for the horse to have some release regarding their level of energy, often a horse is more manageable and cohesive for the rider to work after being lunged.
- Relaxation of the body:
A horse that is full tension, is often a horse that a rider can having issues of controlling and working productively with. Horses that are tense can sometimes be difficult to get moving forward and have concentrate on their job. Getting a horse moving forward on the lunge can be used as a method of relaxing the horse. With this method the handler is looking for the horse to become relaxed in its gait. The horse is usually worked morse so in a trot, where it can stretch forward, relax through the back, and drop its poll and neck. The relaxation of the back and lengthening of stride is an important indication of a horse that is being allowed to relax through its body. A tense horse that has been relaxed on the lunge is often freer in its gaits, softer and more responsive once it is then ridden.
- Relaxation of the mind:
Lunging can also be used as an exercise that is beneficial to the horse’s mental state and attention. When a horse is moving forward and working in a relaxed manner, its mind is often able to relax, allowing its attention to be kept on the handler. Lunge exercises are often used to get the horses attention on the handler, by creating an environment where the horse learns to relax and listen. Whether it is by asking the horse to concentrate on transitions, working specific parts of its body or its speed within gaits on the lunge. The objective is to have a horse that is relaxed within its mind, that is keen to listen and then willing to respond to requests made.