Lunging can be a great form of training and exercise for your horse. However, when done incorrectly, it can have the opposite effect. Lunging can create bad behaviors or even be dangerous for you or your horse. Make sure you are getting the most out of your training sessions by doing things correctly. Here’s five common mistakes to watch out for.
1) Not practicing safety: Don’t be one of many riders who commonly loop the lunge line around their hands. This is extremely dangerous and can result in being drug around the arena if your horse panics. Furthermore, lunging your horse in an unsafe area, such as near loose horses, is not a good idea. Find a quiet area where you both can focus. And make sure to have the right equipment. This includes a proper lunge line, gloves, and a helmet.
2) Using gadgets incorrectly: Many horse folks use side reins and draw reins as a training aid; however, in a novice’s hands they can cause a lot of damage. They often force a horse in a false frame that can create tension. When used correctly they help establish balance, but it’s important to not rely on them.
3) Leaving your circle: As you lunge your horse, you usually move in a small circle in the center. This can encourage active and forward movement. Sometimes, handlers will be pushed or pulled out of their circle. They might not even realize their horse is doing it. You must stay in control of the circle size to help develop balance.
4) Skipping the warm up: Every horse needs a warm before moving onto quicker gaits. A walk and slow trot is necessary for your horse to warm and loosen his muscles. Unfortunately, many riders allow their horse to canter and gallop on a lunge line nearly immediately. This is just asking for an injury. Your horse should be controllable or lunging might not be the answer.
5) Not getting anything out of it: Your sessions need to be effective. Allowing your horse to do whatever he wants on the lunge line will serve no benefit to either of you. During each session, he should be actively moving forward, focused on you, and maintaining a steady contact on the lunge line. Practice voice commands, transitions, and work on both sides. Sessions shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes if you plan on riding afterwards.
Lunging is a great tool when used effectively. Those just starting out should enlist the help of an experienced equestrian or trainer.