Tuesday, January 13, 2009

It Does Serve a Purpose

So two of the things I make sure a horse knows is A. How to lunge and B. How to round pen. Why both? Well, sometimes you don't always have a round pen at your disposal. And why is this important? Well it teaches your horses a couple different things. Such as:

  • Balance in a circle

  • Vocal Commands

  • Your Body Language

  • How to Walk, Trot, Canter
And this is what it teaches YOU:


  • To use your vocal commands

  • To watch Your horse's body language

  • That you need to be herd leader
A lot of people I know think that lunging or round penning is just making them run in circles to rid themselves of excess energy. NO! That is such a common misunderstanding! These are some of the greatest tools we can work with. It helps with respect, learning, balance, training, and fitness. ALSO if you ever sell your horse and the prospective owner does a vet check, the vet will ask you to lunge your horse both ways at all gaits.


If you just let your horse run blindly in a circle, you are not doing him any good what so ever. Use this opportunity to school your horse and yourself. For example, lunge or round pen over ground poles to get them to pick up their legs and work their ab and back muscles. Get your horse to change gaits frequently to make sure he is really listening to you and understands you. Check for lameness issues. Find gaps in your training. Oh and way more!

Teaching to round pen or lunge is a fundamental foundation for training ANY horse! No matter what the age, before I start ANY horse in the saddle, I teach them to lunge or round pen.


What are some of the things you use lunging and round penning for?? I'm sure there is some things I've missed!!

19 comments:

Meghan/Blatant Animal-Related Idiocy said...

It's a great way to give the morons something to do with their yearlings other than ride them!

Sorry, couldn't help it.

I think it's very valuable to work a horse in a new or spooky environment and to exercise horses that are coming off a layup from lameness that can't be ridden yet but need to start getting back in shape.

2toads2luv said...

The round pen is my favorite training tool! I put any new horse in it so we can learn about each other, and the horse learns go and WHOA from me.

And it just doesn't work as well on the lunge line, but if that's all ya got, it's better than nothing.

Wish me luck!!

Trainer X said...

Wahoooo! Good Luck!!!

horsesandponies4ever said...

I agree with Meghan. There is so much to teach your yearling, other than teaching it to be ridden, and then break down at age 4. Please teach them to loung, properly, it makes my job as a stable hand a whole hell lot easier to deal with a calm lounging horse, than psyco who is completely ignoring me and thinks running circles is so much fun.....

clara said...

ok i have to admit it i use to think lunging was a waste of time, but then again i am at a huge boarding facility and finding a place to lunge is a huge challenge. the only arena that has good footing is the indoor and EVERYONE uses the indoor. then if you do decide to lunge you have to worry about horse traffic b/c some of the riders are little kids and have difficulty streering and i always worry about my horse blowing up and accidently getting away from me. but if i do have the chance to lunge him i think it is a great idea. it really gets your horse focusing on you and learning some ground manners.

Trainer X said...

Exactly Clara :):)

ezra_pandora said...

I was using lunging to build up my mare's weak side muscles. She did learn to lunge though for voice commands. And I'll admit I do lunge to get some excess energy off of her if she's been cooped up, but it also is making her focus on me and what gait I'm asking for. I also use it to look and see how she's moving and see if something's wrong. I would like to lunge her over the groundpoles as you suggested. My mare will go out of her way to jump around things in her way instead of over. She will walk and jog over then while I'm on her, steering her, but how would I get her to go over them while lunging her?

Trainer X said...

Oh, Set up the ground poles against the arena wall or fence, or round pen, and lunge er to the outside of that wall, so she has to go over them. If she feels or does come in towards you to avoid the poles then shorten up your lunge line so you have more control over her in the circle and use your lunge whip to keep her to the end of the line. So basically you're not giving her choice, she HAS to go over the poles, because she has the arena wall on one side, and a lunge whip and you acting as a barrier on the other.

CCH said...

TX you beat me to it, but I rarely lunge without ground poles. My horses are all old and already trained plain lunging to them is quite boring.
I really use it for collection and extension exercises. I also like to go lunge on a hill. I was surprised to see an article in Practical Horseman (I think) recently that outlined basically what I've been doing for years. Made me think I must be doing something right :)

I will say with the new NH idiocy craze that I have seen more and more people lunging improperly though. I'd rather see them get bucked off.

Justaplainsam said...

he he he I show Lunge Line. So its somthing I do on a regular basis. All the horses will work on voice/whip/or body language. And yes it gives the people who buy a young horse a way to get it into the show ring.

I also used to lunge the GP jumpers that I wasnt allowed to ride. Usualy did transistions, ground poles, little jumps, lengthing ect usualy kept them fit enough so they didnt lose anything if their rider couldnt ride for a few days.

PS love the blog

GoLightly said...

Meghan!
Oww!!
LOL..
Good luck, 2toads...

Trex, and y'all have it covered..

It sure does. Just not toooooo much!
Straight is harder:)

To not getting dizzy! Never lunge a horse with a umm, headache. In other words, never Have a headache.

SRPerformanceHorses said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SRPerformanceHorses said...

All of my horses, both, lunge and round pen. It is an invaulable tool for every horse and everyone working them.
I like to use side reins on my horses with either a surcingle or saddle. In the beginning, I encourage my horses to work in a long & low frame (NOT to be confused with "peanut-roller"/pleasure horse frame) to strengthen their topline and then as their training progresses, I shorten the inside
rein a little to encourage the horse to want to collect and be more on the bit. I will also free-school my horses over cavaletti with side reins of equal length, preferably a little longer in case they stumble on the rails. I am all for babies (those under 2 yr old)to be worked on the lunge and in a round pen. My 15 month old filly is working in a surcingle, hunt bridle with rubber full cheek, and side reins. She also gets worked over cavaletti. She is progressing beautifully!!! Moves better than most I have seen at her age. :D If more people worked their babies, I wouldn't have these 2 yr olds coming in for training that no one can catch, halter, and then lead around...
The more you can do with your baby (besides riding), the better...
ALSO...all my horses MUST know how to move FORWARD before I ask them to slow down for collected work or western pleasure training. I guess that is why I like my hunt seat horses. hahaha

MomofthePolka-DotPony said...

I agree with you, and in adition I feel that every horse owner she know how to ground drive/long line. It can be invalueble for starting youngeters, and tune ups if your horse is having a bad or spooky day. It's not just for basics either! a lot of dressage people can do Grand Prix movements longlining.

Trickery said...

Lunging has always been a huge part of any horse that I have worked with and find it such a wonderful tool. I quickly progress to long-reining/driving as it teach them the aides without the extra problems of being on their back and weight distribution. One little pony I was starting had already been taught amazing amounts on the drive, could do half pass, flying changes and all transitions so easily, when we eventually got on his back the only confusing part about it was the new weight. It was SOOOOO easy after he got used to it, made me wonder why people didn't do it more.
Totally agree with Horses and Ponies the ability to lunge installs ground manners, even of the most basic kind and makes being a stable hand a hell of a lot safer!

Long Island Five said...

I'm fairly new to longeing. I started a year ago, when it was apparent that my OTTB had NO RESPECT for me WHATSOEVER. My trainer helped me "restart" my horse, but, in essence, she was RETRAINING me.

Now, I prefer to longe any horse I'm working with, or at least do some groundwork, before I get on. It helps me establish two-way communication in a way that's more relaxing and less coercive.

When I get on, I definitely have a more relaxed horse that is already listening.

I have some friends that would rather me not "work their horse in a small circle," which brings up another hole in most horses' training on the longe. I find that view rather ignorant. I longe on a LARGE circle. If you can't get your runaway horse to calm down and travel on a large circle (we don't have a round pen), then you're ignorant of a gaping hole in your horse's training.

I've also been giving some thought about the difference of COERCION and COMMUNICATION when we riders apply our aids. I would say that most (including me) err on the former. You have a lot of leverage, especially with many common training gadgets (go-go gadget draw reins?).

I think that my epiphany was when I tried riding my old mare in a rope halter and found that:
1) one could transfer all the ground work cues to under saddle and
2) one had very little leverage, so you had to be clear.

Now OTTB can walk, trot and canter under saddle in a rope halter too. I'm starting him back to jumping on the longe first. It's very cool to watch him figure out the striding my himself. [He'll "get it" before I will.]

meghan.scheib said...

my horse spent a lot of time on a lunge line as a yearling. Not only was it to for a release of energy, but teach him voice commands and desensitize him to objects (I always had different items for him to lunge around, saddle pads, umbrellas, etc). I think the most important lesson he learned was patience though. He had to wait for me to tell him to jog before he was allowed to jog and when I said whoa he needed to stop. We also spent a lot of time just standing there, teaching him it was ok to simply stand and not expect the next thing. As a four year old he is as patient as can be.

SammieRockes said...

Well, the one time I SUCCESSFULLY worked my guy in the round pen, it was very usually, he learned jog and lope almost immediately. However, I have only worked him successfully in the round pen ONCE. Yes, he does know how to round pen BUT he also knows he is big and can easily smash things down.

So when I have had him in the round pen, once I ask for a directional change, he charges the round pen gate and rears against it till its opened enough for him to jump through.

I swear he must be clausterphobic. I mostly trail rid ehim and he HATES the Arena and the round pen, although the other day beforedrill team practice he had the nicest slow lope circle anyone could ask for.

SRPerformanceHorses said...

SammieRockes~
Have you ever done anything in the round pen with him other than just trying to round pen or work him?? I had a horse like that once and I started him on the lunge inside the round pen. I also use the RP for turn out and fed him his grain in there...that way he enjoyed being in there. The RP was in the indoor arena during the winter, so I had no worry of him getting completely loose if he did crash through it.
If I had your horse in training and he crashed through the round pen and escaped, I would put him back in the round pen (if it was still usable :P ) and continue working him...on the lunge line this time so I had more control over him. It is kind of like the idea of getting bucked off your horse and getting right back on. If your horse crashes through the gate, he got away with that bad behavior because you did not put him back in that situation and get him over it. (I hope that made sense...) :P Once he was comfortable with being in the round pen and listening on the lunge....only then would I let him work free in it.
This worked for my Houdini....