Lunging for safety
Published 02-16-2010 10:37 AM
Some people are known to lunge their horses more than others. Why should you or shouldn't you lunge your horse?
I like to lunge my horse especially after she's been resting for a while because it's the time she can play, kick out, act like a horse and be a little western with herself. I also like to lunge because it's a great time to check for lameness. You can also use lunging as a training aid for your horse, as you can very effectively teach him voice cues and how to whoa when you say so. Other voice cues include clucking, smooching, saying "trot, walk, canter, back, come", etc.
You can also use lunging to exercise your horse when you can't spend much time in the saddle.
When lunging, it's important you use good equipment. I like to use a rope halter with various lengths of lunging lines. Those knots on the rope halter touch the horse in strategic spots to cue him to whatever you want him to do.
If you have never lunged your horse, ask a horse person or trainer to teach you how to do so safely. Some horses, as they are learning how to lunge and stay out of your space, may crowd you and kick out and it can be unsafe for you if you don't know what you're doing.
It is not OK to lunge a horse just to make him tired so he can obey you easier. You need to have control over your horse whether he is tired or not. If your horse disrespects you and you use lunging to make him tired, what will happen is that this horse will get fitter and fitter as time goes by and he will be a worse problem for you. You will find yourself lunging your horse for 20 minutes, then 30, and before you know it you will be lunging your horse for 3 hours before he gets tired enough to respect you.
Like I said, I like to lunge to take the rodeo out of the horse, but I do other exercises to teach respect on the ground and under saddle. I find unacceptable for horses to crowd me, step in my personal space and disrespect me. Set your boundaries with your horse and teach him that you are the leader.