Have you seen the videos of horses who nicker when their owners walk in the barn? Or the horses who never need to be caught because they walk right up to you? Maybe you’re looking for a new way to communicate with your horse to strengthen your bond.
This is where lunging training comes in – as a beneficial cross-training exercise to riding. Lunging encourages better communication, more patience, more variety, and a better team overall. When you’re ready to add these to you and your horse’s toolbox, you can start with lunging.
Lunging to Better Your Communication
One of the first exercises you should learn when you’re learning to lunge is to start to use your body language to communicate with your horse. Through opening and closing your shoulders, changing the height of your arms, and observing your horse’s movement, you’re building better non-verbal communication with your horse. Being able to watch your horse on the ground offers you a new view of their communication that you wouldn’t be able to feel under saddle. As you observe your horse, what do you notice on the ground that you hadn’t noticed under saddle? You can learn how to look for these cues, allowing you to be more responsive to your horse’s needs.
Lunging to Better Your Patience
As you work with your horse on the lunge line, you’ll notice (if you haven’t already) that you’ll need to find a new kind of patience while working with your horse on the ground. His cues are a little different. He might be slower to respond to your body language. Or he might be looking to be really in tune with you, so even a move of your shoulder sends him off. As you watch for these and other signals, you can learn how your horse tells you how he’s feeling. You can see how he acts throughout his body when he’s struggling, for example. If you’ve been having issues with his flying changes under saddle, you might notice that he has trouble lifting his inside shoulder on the lunge.
You can then add hills or trot poles into your lunging training plan with a new goal of starting to see changes under saddle.
Seeing his reactions from the ground allows you a new perspective as to how your horse communicates with you and how you need to lead the lunging session to work with him most effectively.
Lunging to Strengthen Your Bond
Lunging is a beneficial cross-exercise to riding because of the way it allows for your horse to have a totally different type of workout. Just like how we might add in a Pilates class to our weekly schedule, we want to add variety for our horses too. As you watch your horse move through this new type of exercise, you can learn possibly new ways that your horse tells you he’s happy. You can then work to add these exercises into your training regimen to help strengthen your working relationship with your horse.