What this episode is all about & how it can help you:-
- The problem with assuming your horse knows how to lunge
- Understand why not using your lunging whip can stall your progress
- Realise that you might just be blocking or stopping your horse
- See that consistency is essential to successful lunging
Have you been struggling to make lunging ‘work’ for you and your horse? You’re not alone! What if I was to tell you that, maybe, if you just changed a couple of key things you’re potentially doing wrong, it might all change for you and your horse where lunging is concerned.
In this episode of the Daily Strides Podcast I give you the run down of the top 4 mistakes I see riders (or ‘lungers’) make all the time when in the lunge arena with their horse. They might seem like little things, however, they have to potential to derail the best of intentions where lunging is concerned.
My hope is that if you are struggling to make lunging an active part of your training schedule, this episode will help you straighten out a few important kinks.
1. Assuming Your Horse Knows How to Lunge
Years ago, I was guilty of this assumption myself. When I first came to South Africa I just automatically assumed that if the horse was backed, he had been lunged. How very wrong I was! Luckily, horses have a great way of pointing out the obvious and I now approach all horses with the complete opposite assumption; they don’t know how to lunge!
If you don’t know your horses history, or if he seems a little confused or unsure as to what to do, rather start at the beginning where explaining how to work on the lunge is concerned.
Standing ‘chest to chest’, facing your horse and cracking a whip in the hope that he gets the idea is not the best course of action to take! Rather find a confident, reliable helper and have them lead the horse out on the circle while you remain in ‘lunging’ position.
It is also worth remembering that your horse might have been thought some bad practices by past riders. Again, a reliable helper can assist you both in getting off on the right foot with your lunging. I have a post on Getting Started with Lunging that goes into more details to help you.
2. Not Using Your Lunging Whip (Or Using it Incorrectly)
Ohhh, it’s a touchy subject for many riders. Using a whip where their horses training is concerned. However, before you click the ‘x’, let me explain… The whip is not a negative thing. There is a mindset surrounding whips that we, as riders, need to change.
Whether the whip is positive or negative depends solely on how you use it. I’m going to assume here that we are all committed to it being a positive training aid ;)
Your whip takes the place of your leg aids while you are lunging. And your leg aids can be positive or negative depending on how you are using them while riding. Cracking the whip above your head as though you’re the ring master in your own little circus is not correct!
The whip should remain below hock height and be used in a ‘snakelike’ movement on the ground behind your horse to encourage him forward. That is all.
Just like riding, you are balancing your whip aids with your other aids in order to have a full conversation. The balance of aids is just as real when lunging as it is when riding.
3. Blocking or Stopping Your Horse Going Forwards
This happens a lot when horses are unsure and hesitant about going forward while being lunged. They are literally looking for an excuse to ‘stop’ and very often the rider (or lunger) hands them one on a silver platter by blocking or stopping them with their body.
When you are not confidently encouraging your horse forwards, the result is often that your horse will spin around on the lunge – which leads to a whole host of problems for both horse and rider (lunger).
Your job is to become really aware of where you are, at any given time, while lunging your horse. If you are experiencing this issue, firstly be glad. This is something that is easily remedied. I have written a blog post all about Why Your Position While Lunging is So Important that you can have a read and listen of.
Lunging, like riding, is an ongoing conversation between you and your horse. Become really aware of what you are expressing physically to your horse when lunging him. It will make things a lot easier where communication is concerned.
4. A Lack of Consistency
Lunging, like riding, requires good practice in order to improve at it. You will only become better at lunging if you are consistently practicing it while lunging your horse!
In riding we all want to develop ‘feel’. Feel is just as important when lunging and requires just as much dedication and consistency on your part to achieve.
Lunging is a really worthwhile use of your time where schooling your horse is concerned. It allows your horse to figure things out for himself without the rider hindering or influencing the outcome.
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