Monday, September 29, 2008

Longeing: It's not just to keep from dying anymore!

When I learned to ride, and particularly in my teens as I was learning to train and ride more difficult horses, I learned to longe as a means of survival. I boarded where they didn't turn out for you, so my horses maybe got a little turnout a few days a week, if I could manage to grab one of the whole four turnouts (at a barn with 60+ horses). So, throwing them out on the longe and letting them buck and fart around kept me from eating dirt, particularly with the really cold backed gelding!

By the time I was 19, I was boarding at an AQHA show barn and while I did plenty of longeing there for the same reason, I learned reason #2 for longeing: fitting up yearlings. So I worked off my board by letting previously unhandled yearlings drag me around the arena. My primary accomplishment from this time period is learning to yank the line sharply down and to the side and throw them on their side if they tried to bolt off and drag me.

(Yes, yes, sorry, I was young and dumb and did what the Big Name Trainer told me to do.)

And of course I did the usual longeing with tack on prior to riding greenies. Figured if they stopped trying to buck the saddle off their back, it was safe to get on! I once had a mare who bucked so hard on the longe she broke the cinch and the saddle flew off. (Surprisingly, that mare turned out to be easy to ride. She just played HARD on the longe.)

Mugwump has blogged rather extensively about longeing as an actual training tool. She doesn't allow hers to buck and fart around and she actually has a pretty interesting method for disciplining that kind of behavior out of them, which if I tried it, would probably wind up with my getting myself macrame'd tightly to a panicked horse's side. I am 41 years old and can't do shit with a rope and I know better than to start trying now. But it works for her, so go Mugs and the rest of you who can handle ropes! I still figure I am having a good day if I can longline without tripping myself.

I have, however, evolved to the point where I do see longeing as a training tool and not merely a substitute for turnout and am trying to resolve specific problems with my horses that way. Drama, the POA pony, was only broke to walk and trot under her previous owner. She started out having a lot of trouble holding her lead on the longe line so I have been using longeing to fit her up at the canter before I try it under saddle. If she gets disunited or switches leads, I break her to the trot and we re-start. She has been doing wonderfully and I can see her becoming more balanced and stronger. It makes so much more sense to start our canter work this way rather than with my weight for her to deal with!

Casper, the paint filly, has had some trouble connecting the idea of leg pressure + go forward. She was confused and resistant. Since she had started to longe well, we started longeing her with a rider and it's working great. She knows how to longe and feels confident that she's doing the right thing if she obeys the commands of the person on the ground. It's made so much more sense to use a little "ground support" than have a senseless fight with a confused greenie who simply wasn't getting it.

The VLC, as I've noted before, definitely prefers to go to the right, so with him, I've been working on the left lead on the longe. He doesn't mind taking the lead, but he doesn't bend/balance himself as well that direction so I'm letting him work on that without my weight. He's such a big galoot and I can see that it's hard for him to manage himself sometimes. He totally does NOT get how big he is. He reminds me of the big dog whose wagging tail knocks everything over, except with him, it's his nose!

I'm always concerned about centrifugal force and "torquing" the neck, so I always longe at the far end of the line, so the horse is taking a big circle of half of the arena. I know a lot of people who only round pen because they want to avoid the force on the horse's neck, and I kind of went through that phase myself, but ultimately it's two different things. You have more control with the line and I think even the horses feel more like they're working with the line - as opposed to feeling like they are turned out.

So what do you think? Are you okay with them "playing" on the longe or is it always work time? (I'm still a bit undecided. I still kind of feel like longeing gives them the chance to buck and have it be okay if you're in a situation where turnout is impossible, let's say at a show, and I like giving them a chance to "vent" acceptably.) Are you/have you used longeing as a training tool, and if so, how? What kinds of issues have you fixed on the longe? Or are you anti-longeing and think it's too hard on them? (Well, it definitely can be, the way I've seen some people do it with the horse going 95mph on a teeny circle in deep footing!). Thoughts?


Vee said...

I don't know if it's a culture/geography thing (I'm in the UK) but it always surprises me when people don't use lunging/longing as a training exercise. Especially with babies - it's one of the first things I do to get them used to actual work and responding to voice commands.

Perhaps because it's a lot rarer to see horses with no turnout here, but I don't tend to see a lot of people lunge before riding as standard, at least not in a 'blowing off steam' sense.

Personally, if they need a bit of a blast before work, I'd rather be able to turn them loose in a round pen or arena. When it comes to lunging, I give them a few minutes to blow off and have a little tizzy, then I expect them to start listening. With babies, I want them working calmly in walk and trot on the lunge, responding promptly to voice commands, with tack on and a light pressure (from a bungee or similar) on the bit before I'll climb on board. With older horses I like to lunge at least once a week, just so that I can keep an eye on the way they're moving from the ground, but often with a training aid like a pessoa.

To me lunging has always been one of the basics that I feel I want to fit in each week - at least one hack, one day off, one full on schooling session, one lunge session, and three pot luck.

gillian said...

Mugs lets them play around unless they have a saddle on. Or at least I think that was the rule.

A Bay Horse said...

I learned to use longeing as a training tool with Armani. When I first got him he hadn't been ridden in a year (and before that it was only 30-days under saddle). So we didn't feel like he had the strength or balance, or mind really. I go back to longeing regularly now, after I observed how well he did with it. He seems to enjoy it too. I've found he has an easier time learning to balance and carry himself by raising his back and engaging his hind quarters, without me in the saddle. I try not to stay on a circle on the longe. He's learned to let me shorten the line up and "drive" him around the ring with me positioned slightly to the inside (poor man's longline?). He's learned a number of verbal queues on the longe. I could probably do a whole blog post on this actually, now that you mentioned it.

watchingpuddles said...

If that was the rule Mugs had (no playing under saddle), that makes a lot of sense. I would never encourage or otherwise allow bucking under saddle. I wouldn't be able to expect a horse to understand that it is okay to "buck with the saddle on as long as they are on the lunge line and there is no rider in the saddle" and not okay to "buck with the saddle on off the lunge line with or without a rider in the saddle". See? It's kind of complicated.

Also, I have to go with vee on the playing issue - I used to live in Pennsylvania and the horses were not turned out for long stretches in the winter when there was snow/ice on the ground. So, we'd take them up to the indoor arena (usually one at a time, but the calm ones could go with their typical pasture-mate), close the doors, and just let them buck and play until they felt better. :) It looks like more fun for them, and they decide how much they feel like doing. It's a lot more free than lunging and looks like more fun. Plus, it helps them continue to seperate work and play.

smottical said...

With previous horses, I think I've used longeing for both training and for blowing off steam. In retrospect, it may have been much easier on the horse if I'd stuck to one or the other. Now, with my current yearling, we're just focusing on training - no bucking or spazzing allowed. Basically, anything I wouldn't tolerate on a lead rope, I won't tolerate on a longe line. However, she's on 24-7 turnout, so the need for blowing off steam hasn't come up. I think I'd prefer to get her trained in the basic walk/trot/whoa cues on the longe before expecting to use it for her as an opportunity for her to go wild. No matter what she does, I'd better have a whoa!

Aelfleah Farm said...

Because I mainly drive, I never let a horse "play" on a longe line. I need them to know that anytime they are working, even (or rather most importantly) when I am not able to physically correct them, they are supposed to behave. I do, however, let them "not work" for 10 or so minutes. By that I mean, no side reins, no trying to get any king of stretch or anything. Just letting them move forward at whatever pace they are happy with for 10 minutes.

Since i have mostly large ponies, and small horses, I find a 15 meter circle works best for me. Any smaller and it's too much joint stress, any larger and it's too hard to properly use a whip.

I also never longe without side reins (other than the aforementioned warm-up). Bridle, surcingle, and sidereins are all required equipment when I longe or long line. With splint boots and bell boots for the ones that tend to be stupid and/or gawky.

All of my driving horses obviously longe REALLY well. They have to have perfected gait changes on the longe line before going to long lining pulling a tire drag. And they have to perfect at least walk adn stop with the tire drag before going to a jog cart.

Ellie said...

I ride on "A" circuit and it is amazing when you show up in the morning and see how many grooms are lunging horses as you said, 90 mph in deep footing and how many trainers think that is OK. I know of one horse that broke his leg after being lunged on concrete at a show. In the right hands however, lunging can be really useful. We have a jumper that was diagnosed with Lymes disease, and we have been using the lunge line to help him work out of his muscle stiffness and build him back up. I think it should be about work most of time. However, I live in Minnesota, and when we get a really bad winter and cannot turn out for any long period of time, it is very necessary for their mental health to let them play.

Ellie and Werther Blog

Ponyice said...

I did not own my first horse till I was 19 rode many bad places as a kid. Our first horse was an Arab that in retrospect would have been an excellent endurance horse. I had to lunge him to get him to collect and pay attention when we rode, I would lunge him for almost 20-30 minutes sometimes till he stopped farting LOL. Then we would do arena work forever and ride outside to cool down, but he could go go go all day, hes 28 and still has the same spark little old cutie. When I recentley got back into horses I purchased a 3 year old QH with 30 days on him (because I am an idiot and I thought he was pretty after looking at many dead broke nice horses)met up with a trainer who didn't lunge, she would spend half the time just trying to calm him. We are no longer with that trainer, have been out of training due to family emergency for almost a year now (the trainer left town too or I would have kept it up), just getting back to riding and I could not get Kel to walk, it was this nervous jog at the start, so we worked on the lunge line inforcing verbal commands for walk. I have been doing all the work alone so I am now sending him to a professional trainer to get him going better as I am rusty and not the best rider so I am going too for lessons of western riding, I used to ride english years ago and I feel like I am too in his mouth. If I had someone to ride him while I lunged that would be awesome though.

laurie said...

when i started learning to ride for real about 6 years ago, my trainer didn't believe in lunging. we basically did ground work to see what kind of mood the horse was in, and then worked from there.

i never really lunge oz (my fjord) either, since i am very lucky and he usually doesn't need calming down, and we walk for a while until we warm up.

i have on occasion lunged him when i couldn't ride for a while, just so he could get some exercise. he's pretty simple, and almost lunges himself. i let him run free in the middle of the arena, and tell him what to do and he pretty much does it....walk, trot, canter. he will work on a line, but i think he enjoys the freedom. he will now and then throw in a buck, just because he's feeling good.....

Promise said...

I have definitely used lunging as a training tool, and as a survival tool. My mare (even at 14) is very cold-backed.

A long time ago, I started lunging her before I tack her up to warm up her back. Once she's gone around a few times at w-t-c and done a few transitions in each direction, I tack her up and put her back out on the circle for a few minutes before I hop on.

Sometimes I will turn her out in a paddock to let her warm up before tacking her up and then put her on a lunge line once the saddle is on to get her focus back and make sure she's not going to do anything stupid.

I tried a few times to get her off of lunging, thinking it was becoming a safety blanket for both of us (I mean really, she's 14, lol). But ultimately, I decided who cares if I put her on the lunge line for 10-15 minutes before I ride?

If she's working a few days a week consistently, I can skip lunging altogether, but have learned that if she gives me little signs that she needs it, I need to listen, or I'm eating dirt for lunch.

As for goofing off...I would rather have her buck on the lunge line than with me in the saddle. If she's not tacked up, she can buck, and I encourage her to. If she is tacked up...she can buck provided it is excess energy and not crow hopping...but I prefer she doesn't.

naggingdilemma said...

Unless I'm dealing with a horse that is having some serious problems with bucking, rearing, bolting, or spooking, I try to avoid lounging. Basically I teach them to lounge when I'm first starting them, then once I can mount without an anchor person, I free school them.

A large part of this is because I'm usually dealing with growing warmbloods and think that lounging stresses their still developing joints, I know that constantly pivoting in one spot while I lounge doesn't do much for my knees.

I absolutely hate round pens for training, (the barn I'm at uses theirs to turn out the stallion which as far as I'm concerned is the only thing its good for). I've had to ride to many horses that while they were wonderful in the round pen, they had no idea how to handle a straight line, or manage a corner.

I also think that anyone that has a horse should arrange to take several lounging lessons from a good instructor, before they try lounging their horse on their own.

Karen V said...

I think that as long as they are soft in the poll, it’s ok to play at the end of the line for a brief period of time. Just enough to “buck the stink off”, then it’s time to pay attention and get to work. I think it is a very good “skill” for them to have – as you stated, there may be a need at a show. I have noticed though, the free, open space is usually sucked up by others with the same though.

I don’t longe. I’ve got a relatively small arena/huge round pen that is the perfect size for blowing off steam. On more than one occasion I’ve stepped off, removed the bridle, and let the horse take care of business, rather than make the whole time under saddle a fight. This goes back to adequate warm up. A fresh horse is going to need more than I have time or patience to give (I know…selfish me), and they seem to enjoy it.

HOWEVER…if I had a regular size arena, I would NOT turn out this way. I would longe them. I’d HAVE to…

ezra_pandora said...

I (really we, my traier and I) used to lunge my mare when she was first being trained as she had so much nervous energy but also as training for voice commands. However, we found the more we actually rode her, the more she would refuse to lunge and it was a constant fight and everyone would get frusterated. It used to be "don't try to ride without lunging first", now it's don't bother trying to lunge because she will be more worked up afterwards. On our older mare though, if she hasn't been rode in awhile, we will lunge her depending on what her attitude is on the ground. Right now she's a little heavier than she should be (and she's 23ish, so live proof of no reason for skinny old horse excuses) since my husband had surgery and can't ride, and I can't ride two horses as often as I'd like, but we're working on it with lungeing her. It is some form of exercise. Even with being turned out all summer, she still gets to jumping around and farting. We don't push her too hard and switch directions often with us also walking around so that she has a large circle so her joints don't get too sore. I think if done properly, it can be used both for taking the edge off and training. In winter, we have an outdoor arena since there is no winter turnout, but the arena is not closed off from the stalls, so there is no free lungeing or free play area.

Drillrider said...

I make it a rule that when a horse is "connected" to me in any fashion (leading, lunging or riding), they need to mind their manners. They have 24/7, 365 days a year, of their own free time to be a "horse"!

There was an incident of a woman at the place I boarded that continually let her horse act up on a lunge line. One day the horse reared up, flipped over and broke it's back and had to was so sad and since that incident, I reprimand any nonsense on a lunge line. And it is not that they don't do some antics, but I always discourage it as much as possible.

QUESTION: What are the characteristics of a horse being "cold backed"??

Char said...

I have always used the longe for training: i.e., teaching bend with loose side reins, using smaller circles to aid in teaching collection, to allow them to warm up before my ride, etc.

I do not, under any circumstances, allow my horses to buck, kick out, snake thier neck, pin thier ears, or charge around anytime I am anywhere in the general vicinity. Period.

If they've been in and are wanting to "let off steam", I allow them to trot and canter it off. Pollitely, and exercizing restraint and self-control.

Usually, I always start them at the trot in both directions to allow thier muscles to warm up and stretch, especially if they haven't been able to be turned out much.

They are allowed to jog, working trot, extended trot, piaffe, I don't really care what variation they chose, as long as they trot unitl I tell them to do something else.

Also, I teach my horses that they are not allowed to pull on me...ever. If they feel tension in the line, they need to move closer and tighten thier circle. This alleviates the "torquing on the neck" problem, as when I have them make tighter circles, they have to bend, collect and carry themselves in a a manner that allows them to travel a smaller circle. They are supposed to be working, not leaning on me.

Sorry for the ramble. Those are some of my thoughts on the subject.


Rachel said...

Hello! I have enjoyed this blog for a long time now, and alternately enjoyed/had my thoughts provoked by/been infuriated by your other blog-- but I always read it, so you've obviously got my number. ;-)

I'm a level three Parelli student, and would like to share my thoughts on lunging, from that perspective. I use lunging as a tool (but only one of many) on the ground to teach new concepts, such as the change of direction to the inside of the circle with a flying lead change that I'm currently working on with my "Levels" horse.

In Parelli, during the so-called "circling game", the horse has a responsibility to maintain gait and direction without micromanagement, and to work on longer and longer ropes (45 foot rope in level three), and eventually at liberty. Also, the horse must use its brain to negotiate any obstacles placed on the circle (cavaletti, small jumps, tarp on the ground) without just ducking in or out to avoid them.

The human's responsibility is to judge how much circling game is beneficial for this particular horse. Broadly speaking, there are horses who find simple patterns relaxing and reassuring-- those horses tend to make good longe line horses, and you can longe them a lot without detriment (as long as the circle is big enough, of course). Then, there are horses who find simple patterns boring and repetitive-- those are the horses who tend to be naughty on the longe line until they've "blown off steam" and worn themselves out. Sending them in repetitive circles at the trot for half an hour, six days a week is detrimental, because it bores them to tears and makes them shut down, mentally. This describes my Levels horse, as it happens. You can extend the amount of time that a horse like this will remain mentally engaged on a circle by adding obstacles, increasing speed, and working in a large pasture where you can walk from place to place while the horse circles around you-- but still, it's easy to overdo it with these horses.

Anyway, that's the Parelli perspective on lunging. I've found it very helpful in altering my view of why we do ground work before riding. And, as a bonus, it's been almost 2 years since I've had my shoulder nearly jerked out of its socket by a horse on the end of a long rope. Win, win!

Drillrider said...

So I "googled" cold backed and think that my 7-1/2 year old gelding is exhibiting signs of being cold backed.

He HATES, I mean HATES, to be mounted bareback and gets all "wild eyed". He bucked me off the other day as soon as I mounted.

The wierd thing is that some days he's PERFECT and others he's "humpy" and wants to buck.

So......what can be done about cold backed geldings??? Any suggestions??

sidetracked said...

The horses at our farm are taught to lunge as part of their training and not as a means of pure exercise. The youngsters and even the oldies who need some fine tuning learn to lunge by voice commands. We work on transitions, bending and strengthening their "bad" sides. Horses usually have a good and bad side. Lunging helps to develop muscle and working on doing things like getting the correct canter leads. If the horse is focused and listening rarely do we have explosions like running and bucking. Lunging a horse with tack and going by voice commands is the step also right before we get on a horse. They take the transition really well and it's just another small step in theie training. However, we also have turnout for ALL of our horses, especially youngsters. yearlings and two year olds actually live outside 24/7 with a run in to stimulate circulation, strengthen joints and develop proper muscle. They are physically fit when it comes time for training and breaking and the process is quite easy.

My hors eis particular has a very hard time staying balanced in the left lead canter without a rider, which shows how much work Ihave to do to keep this horse on track. Once in a while I use the longe with loose side reins to work on balance and self carriage. His favorite things to do is tip his hip and rib cage to the inside and disunite form behind to compensate. this lunging has helped a lot although I know a lot of people who are agains side reins, but they have a time and purpose and are the steadest pair of "hands" than any rider can have. With that being said, I'm glad that I have learned to use the lunge as a training technique and have seen the progresd it has had on all kinds and ages of horses.

Kaisa said...

I know and have been taught very different ways of longeing. The ways vary A LOT depending on discipline, country (!) and the age/training level of the horse.

When I worked for a Big Name (western) Trainer in Germany, I longed more horses than ever in my live before, like 8-10 green horses a day. It was mostly in round pen, and the idea was to get them used to the saddle and KEEP MOVING, so no bucking allowed. Sure, they could blow off steam and do some small bucks, but not slow down or stop to make a rodeo show :)

I also longed them on longe-line in the arena, so that they would get used to the arena and listen to me better. It was a lot harder than the round pen-stuff, and I once got dragged out of the arena, but that's another story...

With my own mare, who is old and really hot-tempered, I use longeing before riding to see that she is not lame and to make her safer to ride :)

Kaisa said...

Argh. Sorry for the crappy english in my last post.

Promise said...

Drillrider -

For my mare, it seems to be any weight/pressure of any kind on her back before it is warmed up makes her want to buck/crow hop and just be a general idiot, until she (I guess) realizes it won't do any good.

She can be a bit girthy, but that isn't typically the trigger for her (considerably rarer nowadays) bronc routine as I have always been very slow to tighten the girth. I keep it as loose as I can without chancing a saddle slip if she *does* buck, until she's walked the circle enough to relax her head, neck, and back. Once she's relaxed, I will bring her in, tighten it a hole or two, send her back out - walk more, then ask for a trot if she has stayed relaxed. I tighten it the final time when I switch directions.

To this day, she gets a little tense when I mount, even if I stick with my routine and have lunged her before the saddle and before I get on. But, I managed to get through to her at some point in our ten years together that not bucking when I mount means she works less, and gets more mints, lol. And a scratch on the withers, keeping my weight in my stirrups rather than my butt (even though my butt is in the saddle) as she walks off, and telling her she's ok seems to do the trick.

I am not sure, in her case, if it is a legitimate physical thing or a mental thing, stemming from obvious abuse as a yearling and early 2 year old before I got her. I have talked vets about it on numerous occasions, had chiropractors out to adjust her, etc. Her saddle fits, she's not out of alignment, etc. So, none of them have found anything wrong other than evidence that she possibly broke her withers as a baby, most likely from flipping over.

I've started to write about her story here:

OutRiding01 said...

I've longed maybe 3 times in my 15 years of riding. I usually get greenies with 30-60 days or more and haven't encountered any so thoroughly confused about what's being asked of them that they needed more than good, solid riding time so it hasn't been an issue. I've got a good enough seat to sit almost any buck or playing (I've fallen off plenty but I've never been bucked off)and I'd much rather be in the saddle than on the ground. I just don't enjoy longeing and I can't imagine the horse does either so I don't bother with it. If I ran into a horse that I thought would benefit greatly from some longeing, then I would do that. I'm not opposed to it, I just don't mess with it unless necessary.

Kim said...

You probably can imagine the mess I was, when I first started longeing with the long line, and in the round pen. He wouldn't listen to me in the round pen and sometimes I'd put I line on him while in the round pen to help, but I was always tripping over 30 ft of LONG line! lmao. But now, I attach him to the long line, and I use a foot long stick with 2 bags on it, and I can be holding the very end of the line, getting him to listen how fast or slow I want him to go. He even listens in the round pen. It doesn't matter which way I go with it, as long as he is listening to me good :)

Kim said...

He use to seriously test me back then! testing my skills and ability! lol. But now he knows to be a good boy, and if he's naughty while longeing, he has to go faster.

wino said...

Pleased to hear I am not the only person with a large horse that doesn't realise how big it is. I have the feral filly here, rising 3, 16.3hh and bum high still. She is sure she is foal sized still - evidenced by her frequent attempts to fit into spaces she can't possibly fit into. Still wondering how to teach her to get and stay out of my space when she doesn't understand she is in it...

bigpainthorse said...

Someone who worked with my horse before I got her apparently taught her that the longe line means she is at work and has to pay attention--she will just NOT cut loose with the line on her. If she's just being round-penned, however, that's a different story; she still pays attention to me or my trainer, but if she's got steam to blow off, she'll do it there. So we're generally using the longe line for training and the round-pen for conditioning.

She doesn't goof around under saddle, no matter where she is. She'll wan to go extra-big with her trot if she feels like she has the chance sometimes, but no bucking, bolting, rearing or other similar silly business. (Lucky me.)

Stelladorro said...

I don't let my horses buck or kick on the line, I've found it leads to them getting antsy when they know it's time to longe.

There's one trainer at the barn I keep my mare at that I HIGHLY respect, just love the way she works. About two weeks ago, we were all pitching in to help her because she was having family trouble. I was longing a string of about 6 horses for her, all of which she allows and encourages to buck on the line, her philosophy being that she'd rather them get it out there then while she's on them. I was trying to stay by the book to what she does with them, as these were client horses and I really didn't want to mess anything up. Nearly every single horse kicked up AT ME when I sent them out on the circle, pulled at my hands every time they bucked, and were generally assish until they got it out of their system. All the horses I was longing were paints, who are generally level headed, fairly easy going rides. In comparison, my mare and those that I work with (which tend to be arabs or babies and are more hot headed) are not allowed to buck on the line, they know they have to walk out to the circle, and that they can trot all day if their little heart desires, but they are not allowed to change gait without being asked, buck, crowhop, etc, while on the line. My rule is pretty straight forward, once they're inhand or under saddle, there will be no bucking. EVER. So far it's worked, however, I'm still young, and although I feel I have a lot of experience, I know others have more then me. This is what works for me however, and I never seem to have a problem with any of them going rank under saddle or on the line, no matter how long they've been locked in a stall.

mugwump said...

OK fugs, you have to understand. I am a total dork with a rope. I have learned the hard way to take off my spurs when longing. One day I was drug across the arena when I hooked my spur in the extra coils of line laying at my feet. I backed up, got caught in the rope, fell on my ass, spooked the horse, and went flying across the pen on my back. Ahem.Why were there coils of rope at my feet? Because I get tangled in the extra line, so I just drop them.
I let my horses squirrel around as much as they want as long as I haven't saddled them yet. Once I tack up I expect them to be good. I also have to admit that my personal horses get away with lots more than ones in training. They mess around quite a bit. What can I say?

barrelracingmom said...

I lunge without tack and let them blow off steam and fart. Under tack they are not allowed to buck, etc. I teach them the walk-trot-canter voice commands and have found it helpful when riding a greenie as he associates the specific commands with going forward. I start all my horses with with lunging. Age appropriate of course.

barrelracingmom said...

I lunge without tack and let them blow off steam and fart. Under tack they are not allowed to buck, etc. I teach them the walk-trot-canter voice commands and have found it helpful when riding a greenie as he associates the specific commands with going forward. I start all my horses with with lunging. Age appropriate of course.

manymisadventures said...

I definitely use longeing.

I don't mind a few "I feel good" bucks or short gallops, but it's easy for things to get out of hand, so I tend to discourage further rowdiness.

I longe on the biggest circle I can manage, except when I make them spiral in and out (it helps stop them from leaning on the line, which I HATE. Contact is good, leaning is bad).

I've used it to help McKinna solidify her canter when trying to balance herself with a rider was a bit too much.

Longeing Pandora gave me a chance to do several things -- first, to work her without riding since I was still broken-ankled. Second, it helped each of us figure each other out. I learned how to teach her what she didn't know; she learned how to read what I wanted. It's helped me evaluate her strengths and weaknesses gait-wise. Definitely helped with the bonding.

LaylaKate said...

I use longing as a training tool, although if I have to (ie getting on a horse I know hasn't been turned out) I'll use it to blow off steam too. I'm another who won't allow bucking, kicking, etc. I want them to go forward, and they can blow all the steam they need that way.

Like Char, I always longe with sidereins or a sliding rein (save warming up), and I have the same view on the "torque" issue. If there's tension on the line, the horse needs to spiral in on a smaller circle. I do a lot of spiral in/out, changes w/in the gait, and transitions to help the young ones figure out balance and self-carriage. Also, my horses longe off body language alone-very seldom do I have to use a voice command.

I'll also start youngsters over small cavaletti and fences if I don't have a jump chute available. I like them to figure out how to approach a jump and get over it w/out my weight as an issue to start with.

Anonymous said...

Yep, lunging time is work time. No goofing around when I am attached to the horse in any way.

Anonymous said...

I was raising thinking that controlled lunging was a training tool. You know, part of a progression through ground training, lunge, cart-breaking, and then saddle.

It wasn't until 10 years ago that I first encountered the concept of lunging to blow off steam--for me all along, it's been something to do with a training purpose. My horses have all learned to walk, trot and canter to command on the lunge; I started my nieces and nephews as well as my son on a lunge line, and I see it as a training and conditioning tool.

My horse actually relaxes more on a lunge line (AQHA, Doc O'Lena bred up the hilt so a reining/cutting girl). She'll drop her head and do a dang good peanut roller imitation with nothing but a halter and lunge--so no side reins or such stuff to force a headset, just her own desire to work long and low. She won't do that in a round pen.

smith5213 said...

just...cause i'm a chemical engineer and it makes me twitch not to's centripetal force. centrifugal force is a fictional force, it kind of means what you think it means but in the world of physics it means nothing. you want centripetal force :).

lol sorry. i can't help myself.

Huntseatrider said...

It's 9 pm here and this 17 yo's brain is fried... but I'll put my 2 cents in for the time being.

With my filly, she can run, buck, fart, and snort ALL she wants on the lunge... as long as there is on a saddle on her back! If she has a saddle on, dammit, she better act like a lady. Bucking under tack? NOT ACCEPTABLE!

I am currently using it to remind here where her feet and her face go at the canter.

I also use it on those days when my equitation needs a serious overhaul, if that counts.

Hope that made sense! I'm off to bed.

RoanRider420 said...

On the longe with no saddle = playing OK, as long as it does not get out of hand and result in her acting like an asshat. One the longe with saddle = no playing. Saddle = work and that is all there is to it.

may said...

I use it first as a training tool, but with older horses that have been well trained on the longeline, I let them goof off a bit sometimes. I figure as long as I make it clear when screwing around time begins and ends, they're not getting away with anything.

SOSHorses said...

The ONLY time I allow my horses to play on the end of a lunge is when they have not been allowed turn out AND I do not have access to a round pen. Other than that I do not allow play. I expect them to work/have manners on the end of a line Always. The reason, if this is clear then there are no gray areas for misbehavior when leading or anything else when on line.

Of Course this is easy for me because I keep my horses at home 99% of the time.

Princess Jess said...

I use longeing for training. I use free-longeing for fitting.

With free-longeing, I don't care if they buck and fart and run around all psychotic-like. And because you're dealing with a much bigger area (the entire arena), there isn't going to be as much stress on them.

However, as soon as the longe line goes on, it's work time. I will always get after a horse for bucking/bolting/rearing/etc on the longe line because to me, the longe line is tack, and I do not want my horses misbehaving with tack on, period.

I find the free-longeing is pretty simple and does wonders for the horses, and if you arena is small enough (mine is) then you still have a pretty decent amount of control.

I also like-free longeing some horses with a buddy, because they always seem to work harder/play harder if a buddy is running along next to them. And I get the added benefit of working two horses at once. ;)

I use longeing as an introduction to pretty much everything. When I start off longeing a horse, I usually keep them in a pretty small circle until they're really well trained in longeing. I keep the circles small because if there is any misbehavior, I have way more control. "Never put yourself at the disadvantage when working with horses" is something that BOTH of my dressage trainers told me repeatedly about longeing. As the horse prove to me they can behave themselves, they may move out on a bigger circle, but as soon as they try something bad, I pull them back in to me and we address the issue in a small circle again.

(and when I say small circle, I don't mean a teeny little volte around me... I'm talking around 15m or so... close enough that I can run them into the wall if I have to, or still reach them with the end of my whip)

The small cirlce work is a reason why I very rarely longe a horse for longer than 5 minutes or so. I also very rarely longe without a general goal in mind. I believe that I can teach them what I want them to know without drilling it for hours. I'll repeat something just enough so I'm sure they've made the connection between the cue and the appropriate action, then I leave them alone.

Mads said...
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Sagebrusheq said...

I know you are technically correct but it doesn't help your cause any that physicists named their centripetal device a centrifuge! I'm tempted to say, in the words of Lynn Truss, 'Cherish your inner stickler'; but you may have to bow to the inevitable on this one.
I feel your pain though: I still entertain wistful hopes for the resurrection of the subjunctive mood ... but gave up on garnished/garnisheed years ago.


brat_and_a_half said...

I'll let a horse vent on the lunge line for say the first 5-10 minutes, which is the warm up time. I do the same sort of thing when I ride, the horse doesnt have to be 100% with me during the warm up, it's for the horse to warm up physically and start getting his mind in gear. But the first few minutes on the lunge I don't worry about espeically if the horse is stalled. Where I'm from, 99.9% of working horses are paddock/pasture kept almost all year. There's just lots of space. The only horses I lunge before I ride are young, nerovus, and hot ones, and if Ive ridden the day before, I usually don't worry about it. Even with the 3 yo WB filly I started, we're well past the point where I have a need to lunge incase of pep. But i still like to because it get her mind in gear and we can have a quicker ride. We're cantering now, so I practice a lot of canter transitions, and the more I do it on the line, the faster she is at picking it up. She also does changes almost automatically on the linbe when she gets the wrong lead. One thing I really like is long lining with 2 lines and the lunging with the 2 lines. It really helps the horse get used to things moving all over it and it's like ground driving on a circle so you can have them cantering and do a lot of the same things you can ground driving.
I use side reins a lot, epecially with younger horses. As soon as the side reins are clipped on, they must behave. Thats the equivilant to going to work while riding. If the horse even hop skips in play, at this point I'll scoled it. When the horse is just warming up on the lunge, i think its ok, but once we're working hard, its time to work.

Samantha said...

I, too, grew up being taught that lunging had two (now IMO incorrect) uses: 1st as a substitute for turnout, and 2nd, as a way to get the buck out of the nasty ones.

Luckily, I learned better by the time I was about 17, and I now use lunging as one of my primary training tools. I use it on my youngsters, and on my older, broke horses. With the mature ones, it keeps them fresh, reminds them how they need to respond to me, and occasionally as a replacement for ridden work when I'm low on time.

I NEVER let a horse play up on the lunge line. A horse who bucks on the lunge is driven aggressively forward for a few seconds, then asked to return to work. I like to keep my arms attached to my body. :)

badges blues N jazz said...

I love LUNGING and driving a horse to teach them transitions, whoa etc. As far as the "playing" on a lunge line - I DO think if a horse is really fresh and hasnt had any turn out, that its okay for the first few min to blow off some steam, but when I start asking for them to listen, then they better listen.
My 3 year old gets lunged everytime if I am not riding her everyday. I dont allow her to buck, but do lots of trot to canter, back to trot to take the "fresh" out of her before getting on. She isnt "ready" to pay attention for at least the first 10-15 min of my ride, so I figure the lunging cant hurt, if I didnt lunge, shes liable to take 30 min before ready to get down to work, or worse, buck me off. lol
That being said though, IF I am riding everyday, then I do not need to lunge, but she is a "hot" horse, and if shes been in her corral, she needs to be.

a beautiful disaster said...

I love longeing as a training tool, though i'm pretty miserable at training them to actually longe them :)
When I was first getting the SLM back into work last spring I always longed her on the mandatory "day off" (the first few weeks I actually jogged her in hand- that stopped once we got past the 6 laps around the ring stage). We started out just doing a little of trot, and built up to doing more right along with building our undersaddle work (every day we did 2 more laps of trot until i couldn't keep count any more, and then we built canter the same way). The best part of it was for jumping since that's where her anxieties had been and because i wasn't allowed to jump her undersaddle by myself. I found that letting her figure her body out on the longe first made actual jumping much less stressful, and the comfort zone of the circle gave us a good place to go back to.

The last couple weeks of summer i was longeing Buddy for 5-10 minutes before every ride to warm his back up before i got on. It seemed to help, but once school started i abandoned it in favor of just doing a warmup on long rein without really sitting too hard, which takes much less time

Lyzz said...

I don't lunge that much anymore unless my horse is looking off (put him on the lunge in his halter and have him trot both ways for about 5 minutes each) or I can't ride or don't feel like it. I used to lunge before every ride at my old barn, but we don't do that anymore because he's much happier and my old trainer had me doing it wrong. When I do lunge him, he's much happier than he had been because the way we do it is easier on him AND me.

And yes, at my first barn I did let him get away with bucking and farting around at first until he got dangerous (but I don't blame him, since he was, at the time, a 5 year old green-broke horse who was stuck inside for about 3 months straight because his mud fever was that bad, and putting him out into the paddocks/pastures where he'd be knee-deep in mud there would make it flair up again within a day)...After that no bucking or playing under saddle. He was allowed to if I free lunged him, though, because that was usually just to get him to blow off some steam. =]

Stacie said...

I lunge. But, I rarely see it done well and if its not going to be done right, I say don't lunge.

No bucking or playing around. No rip/snorting. No yanking on lines. No disorganized lines. ;-) Its important to establish your technique so you are consistent, fair, and safe!

Lunging is meant to begin developing the horse through the training scale- teach rhythm, suppleness, connection, and develop impulsion.

Even my upper level horses go on the lunge a couple of times a month for variety and for low key exercise.

I also lunge over cavaletti.

I do NOT like roundpens. 1: they are often too small (20m circle minimum) 2: that size is too big and you can lose control 3: the horse doesn't have a feel on a line to develop the concept of establishing a connection as he begins to let go and move over his back- a concept he can begin to learn even in a halter because he will take up the slack on the lunge and stretch his nose into the halter.

Once you have that contact, you can affect his alignment. A roundpen horse is just leaning and crooked (no matter how much you think you are getting him to "lift ribs" or look in) So, ultimately this horse is getting fitter in the wrong ways.

Having said that, once my horses lunge and know their vocal aids, they lunge at liberty with good control. But, I take it as what it is- exercise mostly and a little bit of obedience. Not much gymnastic development going on that will help my eventual riding.

The Iron Squirrel said...

Hi Fugly,

I am from WAYYYY upstate NY where it is very, very cold in the winter- which I am sure you can relate to. Growing up, my trainer always used longing as a warm up exercise. Getting on a cold backed horse can be pretty uncomfortable. She always taught me that longing is not just about making a horse race around in a circle to "get the bucks out" so to speak, but a training exercise. Mostly it was just walk to trot transitions and back to walk and to canter and so forth- all of it very controlled and deliberate. Occasionally after warming the horse up she would place relatively loose side reins on- first on the outside and then on the inside and then doing the same- transitions up and down to encourage the horse to relax it's back and gain flexion. I found its a great exercise- with or without side reins. I have seen a lot of people misuse side reins but if used properly they can be so beneficial.

BuckdOff said...

After being away from riding for a long time, I decided to take lessons with a friend of mine. Being women "of a certain age" middle aged and cowardly, we wanted to start slowly and signed up for lessons at a local stable. My instructor lunged every horse that I rode, I thought that was what they were supposed to do. I now know where this stable got their horses and that some were seriously screwed up. So, I'm here to say, lunging at that particular stable probably DID save my life. And you should have seen them, they were going like hell on the line, bucking and snorting. These same poor horses did not cross tie and were usually handed to me fully tacked, like a horsey valet service. Until I got to my current stable, I did not know that was not the norm, I'm serious. LOL!

jeniferb said...

I hate to longe my mare but i do it for survival in the winter when the turnouts are too wet. My mare needs at least one turnout a week to buck, run and play. I let her buck and run on the longe line because as far I am concerned that is the only purpose of longing. Since she is a QH she will run hard for all of 5 min on the longe line and than she is done. After that she must listen to me. i use voice commands and ask her to walk trot and canter. I think i hate it because i get dizzy :)

I much prefer ground driving as a training method. It is far better then longing. You can do much more with it then the mindless going around in a circle.

Tasida said...

Any person that knows their horse, knows it's personality enough to know when their horse is excited, ready to work, distracted, etc. I make a little evaluation of my horses attitude each time I bring him out for a ride. If he's interested in whats going on and isnt distracted, overly excitable or anything like that, I dont usually put him on a line before a ride. If he's not paying attention to me, then I find it extremely helpful to put him on a line and have him do a few laps around the arena until I have a steady ear on me, a few head nods and some licks. I always lunge under saddle and I dont accept and naughty behavior. He needs to know that when the sadde is on ( or any tack for that matter, even just his halter and leadrope), it's time to work! If he thinks it's ok to buck and carry on while he has a saddle and a longe line on, whats to stop him from doing that when someone is on his back or he's tied tacked up? Safety for your horse and his humans should be a priority and when your horse is tacked there's usually a human nearby and you want that horse to know you wont tolerate any funny business.
I personally have never kept a horse where daily turnout was not available, and quite frankly, I never would. I think running a horse in a circle inside an arena may give them excercise they need, but is a poor substitute for letting a horse be a horse and have a pasture to run, roll and play in.

paintarab said...
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paintarab said...

Does any one free lunge? My horse was trained in the round pen without a line and now I can "lounge" her in the arena without a line. If her halter is on she knows she has to listen to me, if its not she knows she can play. If she tries to go faster than I ask (or play) while the halter is on then she knows she won't be allowed to stop until I ask her to. I find free lounging very useful because she can be on larger circles then could ever be done with a line. I get three trot speeds, a walk, as well as nice turns while free lounging. It may not be for all horses, but it works well for her and all of her offspring.

Indigo Moose said...

I lunge for exercise - if I don't have my saddle with me or if I really can't be bothered/don't have the time to ride

My horses are completely different on the lunge to how they are normally

My 13YO CB/WC mare who is a saint out riding (though is generally a bit of a powerhouse) goes mad on a lungeline, bucking, squealing and farting like she's on a bean and cabbage diet

My 7YO QH/TB/Cob mare who is average out riding (but a nutter when out hunting - her main job) is a total slug on a lungeline - I don't think she really gets what it's all about

I don't lunge with a saddle so I have no idea how they'd behave. They're lunged with a roller, a bungee and, of course, boots all around

deanna may said...

Do you ever let them just run around in the indoor arena by themselves? If it's been a couple of weeks since I've ridden and I'd like a sane horse, I'll let him canter around and get any shenanigans out just loose in the indoor (of course this is only when it's empty of other riders!) arena.

Lunging isn't a time for fooling around -- that actually annoys me. It's a good place to work on balance and flexion (esp. when using side-reins or something similar to the Pessoa system -- but not the actual Pessoa system, because it sucks!).

For horses who need someone with REALLY consistent hands to get them to supple and bend, here's a trick I learned from my old coach that you can use while either free-lunging them around the arena or on the lunge line:

Get a set of draw reins. Attach the ends together at the buckle, as you would to ride. Run one end through the ring of the bit, up over their poll and through the ring of the bit on the other side. Keep pulling so the two ends are even. Now take the ends and put them through the front legs at the chest. Bring each end up their girth area and clip the two ends together over their back just below the withers. The draw reins will probably seem really tight, but the horse will soon realize that as he trots out, it's not tight at all if he just gives to the bit. Then it's actually quite slack. The pressure on the mouth is (obviously) really steady -- steadier than my hands can be, sometimes. And as he trots, the fact that the draw reins are in contact with the front legs at the elbow and move when he moves, supples the bit in his mouth.

My horse, however, has learned just to overbend the instant I put this on him, so it won't work forever. But if the horse is confused about this kind of work, it's a nice tool to let them figure it out without a rider on their back offering potentially confusing cues.

VPIReiner said...

I worked with a horse, POA/Impressive cross kept as a stud until he was too tall to be a breeding POA...stupid people....anyway...he was aggressive and strong, and he knew he was. He had been taught by the previous moron to buck on the lungeline. He'd yank and pull and kick up his heels running in circles around you like an idiot. Then he'd stop, as if to say, "ok, time to do this the other direction!" And he'd continue the other direction. It didn't matter what direction you started, how short or long the line was. Once he bucked he thought he was finished on the line. He was rather dangerous on the line.

He and I went round and round about who was boss - he even ripped the line out of the hands of his owner (jerked the guy to the ground) to charge me (on 2 occasions) when I was trying to teach his owner to lunge and what to do. That horse really needed to be put in his place and kept there.

He found out quickly that "playing" on the line was not acceptable...I like my arm in it's socket, and I really do not care to eat ring dirt, thank you. I wanted to use the lunging as a tool to teach him flexibility and balance. I have used it to "get the kinks out", but always controlled. I do not allow bucking/rearing/etc when we are working. And, I might add, we are "working" as soon as I'm there in the presence of the horse. I expect manners to be minded 100% of the time. Now, that doesn't mean that they have to be sweating, etc. all the time that I am there, but they MUST respect me, my space and my requests.

If I want a horse to get the bucks out, I'll turn them loose in the arena or field and chase them off. If they want to run, they will.

With my mare (AFTER we had bonded, had mutual respect, and trust), I could turn her loose without halter etc. in the arena and run around with her. We would play a game of "tag" where I would chase her or cut her, and she'd run around snorting. She'd let me know when she wanted to play and when she was done. She didn't kick out at me or do anything to endanger me. But, if we were in the round pen or on the line, she was working and she knew it. She was never an aggressive horse, and always respectful of people even if she didn't know you.

Just my $0.02

dusk9k said...

I work the longe line in two ways. If you are tacked up, you behave yourself and know you are being worked. If you are saddle-less, you can play all you want, as long as you don't drag me or kick AT me. All my babies get bitted up on the longe line, once they know what they are doing out there, and learn to give to the bit before I get on. I'd much rather they fight with themselves than with me. We start slow and move to shorter. I prefer the longe line to the round pen, as I have more control, so I can round pen for the free longeing with no tack and put a line on for the 'work'.

Beth at RRAA said...

The things I teach on lunge are key to sucess in saddle. I lunge a little in round pen at first untill I get them stopping and reversing from my whip signal. If I put whip in opposite hand it means go in opposite direction. You can also teach whip position signals for different gaits, whip low following on ground level is to walk ,pararrel is trot and up at about 3 oclock position is canter. When rider is up and giving leg signals to change gait it really helps to have them used to looking at whip for direction. A way I teach this is 'following their lead' if he trots and breaks to canter I raise whip as he goes around a couple of times and breaks back to trot I lower whip in short time they understand and follow my signals.
As i get them going i mainly lunge in open or larger area the goal is to teach them to find a light feel. I dont want them putting slack in line and chase them out if any developes. Just as bad or worse iI dont want pulling or leaning on line so if they start that it results in me giving them tugs back . Once they develope a light feel if I feed out more line they move out or if I real in line they get smaller circle. I can walk down arens or across pasture and have them circling where the line is in light contact and they are moving their circle as I move. If a jump is there they will jump it or skip it according to how much line I give them. This can be a great feeling and can translate to light feel of rein when your riding.
When lunging I work on diferent speeds at each gait. first working gait , then extended and last on colected. I can get a very wide range of speeds at each gait but mainly want horse to stay steady . not speeding up or slowing down unless ask . This is self maintained a goal of riding in lightnerss. In this theory you ask for a gait and they maintain it untill you change to diferent speed or gait. This also is goal on halfpass etc that a horse just keeps on the course with same bend/speed etc you ask for untill you ask for change not pushed every step of way thru movements.
I watch my horses natural head set , and find as you start they may pick up head or hollow back but as you work they bring up a posture envyed by any trainer trying to get it by artificial means . That said I bridle my horse and fix reins where they cant put head down past knees they will try to put head down and find they cant, I then put loose tie down on horse and let them see theres limits to throwing head up. I go to checking rein in direction of travel not bring head around to sholder just tipping nose slightly to inside. I have had horses try to straighten nose out and flip theirselfs. on all these things I do it loose and if horse keeps head anywhere near normal position they are fine and definatly on loose rein but by showing them these limits I have had great luck in future training.
I lunge over cavelliti spacing it where horse in normal working gaits can go thru confortably. as they get confident i widen it out or bring it closer so they learn to rate thru . I love to train on lunge and find it great to condition, evaluate gaits and soundness too.

Jst4Fun said...

I seem to be a mix of what most people have been saying. I use lunging for 2 purposes 1-So I don't die and 2-For training purposes. My "rules" for the horse on the lungeline aresimple but not the same as everyone else, mine is-if they have a halter on, they can play, regardless of if they have a saddle on or not. If they have a bridle on, then they also have either side reins, or a pessoa bitting rig and it's time to go to work. I find it very useful for both strengthening like you said Fugs and also for teaching them to relax and soften their neck/jaw and back before you get on them. I also then ground drive the green/young ones so they sort of know how to steer before I get on them;)