Your boots crunch against the vibrant ground you walk on to get to the pasture. The air is crisp on your nose and your hands are warm in your pockets.
As you walk, halter and lead rope slung over your shoulder, you think back to your summer sessions with your horse. The way the summer air somehow calms him down, just a little bit. How much calmer he’s been during your recent lunging sessions.
A breeze blows your hair into your face and you think about how this lunging session will go. Will he take off on you again? Spook at the invisible cat? Or will he remember what he’s learned over the summer and lunge calmly?
Whatever mood your horse ends up in on a day like this, here’s how you can work through it.
Go Back to Basics
When you feel that fall chill in the air, be prepared to change up your plan for Lunging Training. You might not get those three perfect rounds of canter today, and that’s okay! If your horse feels jumpy as you walk out to the ring, start your lunging session by going back to the basics of your Lungeing Training.
How to best lunge a horse on colder days?
Begin with asking your horse to match your body language. Walk closely beside him on the circle with a short lunge line. Stop walking and plant your feet. When he stops beside you, praise him. Once you feel he’s in tune with your body language, send him out at the walk.
Re-Engage and Re-Direct
As your horse is walking out on the circle, he might be “looky” with his outside eye. If that’s the case, change up your pattern! Use your body language by closing your shoulders and guiding him onto a smaller circle to get his focus back. Then open your shoulders, raise your arms, and send him out onto a bigger circle than before. You can also give a slight half-halt on the lunge line while sending him forward with your driving aids (your whip and your arm) to encourage him to pay attention.
If you get to a point in your workout session where you feel as if your horse just isn’t going to pay attention that day, you can take him for a walk around the arena. Sometimes getting out of the lunging corner and into a larger space helps your horse to relax. Then you can go back and start from the beginning of your lunging plan and get as far as you and your horse are comfortable with.
Praise, Praise, Praise
When your horse responds well to these tactics, be sure to praise him! Even though your horse might be experienced on the lunge line, he will still benefit from hearing he’s doing a good job. How you can best lunge your horse, is by paying close attention to where or what he might spook at, and if you see him look and not react, tell him how great he was! Horses are pack animals and want to know they are safe. In stressful situations, you can build your horse’s confidence and alleviate his fear through praise. As you praise him for reacting better, he will build the confidence to know he can work through whatever is scaring him. This will lead to better lunging and riding as he deepens his trust for you.
End on a Good Note
When your horse is calm, listening to you, and has done the best they could for that day, we recommend you end your lunging session. It’s important to end every training session on a good note. The energy your horse leaves the ring with is the energy he’s going to start to associate training with. We also recommend adding in something fun to your training session, like learning to take a Spanish step!
It’s easy to become frustrated on a hard day when your horse is feeling frisky. Yelling, throwing the lunge line, or chasing him around the circle isn’t going to do either of you any good! It might let your frustration out at the time, but it’s only encouraging your horse’s naughty behavior or scaring him into feeling unsafe in an already stressful situation.
Remember that your horse isn’t spooking, bucking, or being naughty on purpose. They are animals going through a change of season just like us!
Happy Lunging and Happy Fall!
Looking for Lunging Equipment?
We’re super excited to announce a partnership for equipment with Riding Warehouse for lunging equipment. All participants of our Basic Course and Masterclass ‘The Art of Lunging’ will receive 15% OFF.
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