Lungeing seems to be all the talk now, but I can remember when trainers said not to do it. They said it would make the horse off balance and all that, but I learned one important thing when a horse is on the lunge line. Communication. While your horse works in a circle, you are able to ask him to do various things on the line. Easy, walk, jog, move out, turn, whoa and he is able to understand what you are asking him to do. Without a basis in communication, all training become for naught and he doesn't understand what we are asking. It's always ask first, tell second, show third. We ask him to move out, he stands, we tell him to move out, his ears move, we show him with a push on the line and he moves. To begin, you need a good corral or round pen, a sturdy line, a pair of gloves and a willingness to learn for both of you. Often, they get on the line and they want to blow up: run and fart and kick up their heels and be silly.
Often you have to allow it, because if he hasn't been out of his box all week, he has a lot of energy to let loose of. The line should never get wrapped around any part of you or him, so make sure to keep the extra loosely coiled in your right hand. First you teach to move out and if he walks off, says Good job, Good boy, so he knows he did something right. When working in the lunge, about ten or fifteen minutes is a good start and end on a good point. If he does the whoa exactly when you ask, go up, praise him and end it. You can return in a couple hours, but always end on a high point. Ending on a bad note tells him not to like what he is doing and that you don't know what you are doing. It is always best to have a spotter handy, someone who can stand outside the fence and let you know if they see something wrong or help if you get into trouble.
But make sure they talk to you and not him. When the horse masters all of your verbal commands on the lunge, try working into without the lunge line. If he doesn't listen, he needs more time on the line than off. Pettings, a sugar cube or other favorite treats always helps in training, but only at the end of the lesson. Remember, he is learning as much as you and if you push yourself, you'll both get soured by it.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.
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