Lungeing a Horse: How, When & Why

How to lunge your horse from John Lyons Trainer Keith Hosman; lungeing your horse can offer great benefits, but you gotta use the time wisely.

By Keith Hosman
Lungeing your horse can offer great benefits, but you gotta use the time wisely. Here's how, when and why.

Lungeing a Horse: How, When & Why

The greatest training advice you'll receive from reading this material comes here in this first paragraph. Ready? It's this: Lungeing is for training, not for "tiring out" a horse. (I'll get to the "how to" in a paragraph or three but first the sermon.) Put briefly, lungeing is for folks who don't have access to a round pen. Word up: When you lunge a horse to "get the fresh out," do you know what's really happening? Your training is turning him into a bigger, stronger horse that can run even longer tomorrow. Remember how "Rocky" couldn't run up the stairs in the beginning without hacking up a lung - but just one montage later he's not only bolting to the top, but dancing around when he gets there? Like Sly, your horse will be more of a fighter after succeeding workouts, not less. He certainly won't be any "less scary" weeks from now when he can run for half an hour without breaking a sweat then turn to you, muscles rippling, with an "Is that all you got?" look on his face. Unless... unless you've used your time lungeing time to train his brain. Working your horse at the end of a lunge line can offer great benefits, but you gotta use the time wisely.

Truth be told, if I've got a horse, fresh from his box stall, a horse that's been cooped up for 22 hours, I may very well turn him out in a paddock to "get the bucks out" before - or even after - our ride. But I see that as his opportunity to exercise a little freedom, the obvious difference being that I'm not controlling (or pretending to control) his movement. I don't lead him out, hook him to a line and ask for mindless loping, then ride off "where I want to go," only to pitch him back into solitary before heading home for the night. Like any office worker, he's got his free time and he's got his "office hours." So if you want to let your horse "blow off steam," turn him out, don't ask for endless 40 foot circles hoping he'll be "too weak" to put up a good fight. The most tired horse you've...

 
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