Monday, March 2, 2015

Lesson #161: Lunging

A change of page for lessons since Ariel was with the girls who were showing at a local schooling show on Sunday. I was assigned to ride the gentle giant Trakenher named Art. He happens to be biggest horse on the property at I believe it is 17.2 hh? I did do bareback on this giant and I'm telling you, it felt more like riding an elephant! He has sizeable withers but because he's so wide, it was like sitting on a comfy couch. LOL.

Instead of a regular riding lesson, I asked if we could switch things up and try a lunging class since I missed the clinic held in November. All we needed was their bridle, a lunge line and a lunge whip; there is more complicated supplies, I'm told, but we didn't get that complicated. I've never ridden while being lunged nor have I lunged a horse before so I was interested to learn. What I have understood about it is that it is used for training the horse, establishing and creating respect of the rider from the horse as well as getting the "hot" out of a horse that hasn't been ridden in a few days.

Art is such a big horse that when I stand next to his neck, I tuck under his throat latch neatly. Despite his size, he's a sweet gentle giant who doesn't have much in ways of an opposing opinion (like Ariel) and is obedient to asks... as long as they're not asks of going faster than a lumbering walk. After a grooming session, we put the bridle on and head into the arena. I'm sure there are other methods and equipment that is available to do this but based on what we had and what was being taught us, a rather straight forward method was taught us...

Start by putting the reins over their heads and unlatching the throat latch. Then, take the reins under their neck and twist together and loop the throat latch through, to keep it in place. Next, pick a direction... and get on that side of the horse's face. Thread the line through the ring of the bit, up and over the crown piece and along the opposite cheek piece and clip to the other ring of the bit. We're using the loose ring bit for ease but are told other types are possible but aren't as easy to use. The line is loosely looped in circles and placed into the palm of the same side (left direction, left palm), the whip in the other. Keep in mind, this isn't a green horse and he's been lunged before so understands what is expected of him... the only newb here is me.

We're told to keep the horse ahead of the whip and outwards. With our body as the apex of this pie shaped wedge, our arms become the long sides of this slice.

Having a slice!
The primary commands used include:
Out: asking the horse to move outwards of the circle
Walk: walk...
Trot: trot...
Canter: canter...
Whoa: or whichever typical verbal commands are used to get them to stop or slow.

Looking at the horse is something that I didn't think much about at the start but we're reminded that their energy should be coming from their hind ends so that's where our attention should be focused on to drive them forward. I felt that a lot of "horsey body language" is learned doing this and you get a better idea for what it takes for them to understand what is being asked of them. It's an interesting go at things... but the overall concept isn't complicated nor difficult to pick up but, the nuances and finer movements are certainly things that would improve with more time and additional sessions. I did manage to get Art into the canter as well but definitely could work on the transitioning down with stronger half halts etc.

Finishing the lesson I climbed on top of this giant horse and we walked around the arena to cool out. I am looking forward to having the opportunity to do this again in the warmer months with Ariel!


  1. sounds like a good lesson! i never had a formal lesson on how to lunge and kinda had to figure it out by trial and error (lots of both, really lol...) glad Art was a good one to learn on!

    1. it was definitely interesting for me! i live in the city so any opportunity would need to happen during a lesson. it was really helpful and i'm sure i made a bunch of mistakes but getting the idea for what it takes was good enough as a starting point for me!

  2. How cool that you got to try lungeing! I've been learning so much about body language from lungeing.

    1. i bet! it's actually really interesting to see that about the horses b/c i don't have as much exposure... i understand the way cats 'talk' but horses are still kind of out of reach for me.