The Assessment is the first thing you should do for every horse you want to lunge. Completing the assessment allows you to check your horse for lameness or injuries, check its form and mental state, and make sure it is in the right space to work with the lunging training plan you created. That’s why in this blog, we want to teach you how to evaluate your horse’s condition before starting to lunge.
Start out by making sure you have a safe arena with solid footing. You can either lunge your horse with a cavesson and a lunge line, or you can free lunge your horse in a round pen.
Next, decide how you’re going to set up your filming area. You can either place your phone or camera on the ledge of the ring, on a nearby bench, on a tripod, etc. If you choose to hold your phone and lunge your horse, be sure to hold your phone in your right hand if you’re lunging on the left lead.
Observe how your horse balances itself and ask the following questions:
- What is the confirmation of your horse’s neck like?
- How does your horse balance itself in walk, trot, and canter?
- Is each gait rhythmical?
- Does it hollow its back?
- Is your horse stiff?
- Is it strong?
- Spooky or unflappable?
- Is it accepting the bit?
- How has it developed in its hindquarters, back, belly, loins, and neck?
Here are good signs that you should look for:
- A relaxed, swinging tail
- Snorting or blowing
- Your horse step under himself in each direction
- A relaxed, swinging hind end
- A good rhythm
The Evaluation Phase
Take your horse’s conformation into account. What are its neck and back shaped like? Is he more prone to reaching or falling on the forehand because of his breed? It’s important during the assessment to understand your horse’s bigger picture, instead of focusing on wrong or right. If your horse is slow or short stepping, go two steps back in The Pyramid of Training and encourage your horse forward. You’ll want to ask for stronger trot and shorter trot transitions.
You can also use Lauffer reins to encourage your horse to lengthen his stride. Focus on making your lunging circle smaller & wider, while focusing your whip on your horse’s inside haunches.
Check out our Assessment video of Moe who is being lunged for the first time after a couple of months of winter break.
Accumulating this knowledge about a particular horse enables you to make sensible decisions about lunging it to its best advantage.
The General Lunging Session
When lunging, as with riding, it’s important to remember that the horse should be asked to go forward into all transitions, both upward and downward. In addition to a horse’s normal work, you can lunge him 2-3 times a week. Avoid putting stress on your horse’s legs by keeping your lunging sessions between 30 and 40 minutes.
Every horse starts with a warm-up period. From there, you should lunge your horse forward while they become loose and supple. You can then begin lunging basics, taught in a later lesson, and from there take it to balanced lunging.
WANT TO BOOST YOUR LUNGING SKILLS? ENROLL NOW IN OUR E-COURSE THE ART OF LUNGING AND LEARN AT YOUR OWN PACE EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO BECOME THE BEST LUNGING TRAINER.