Thursday, August 18, 2016

Running in Circles

I don't particularly ascribe to any one mode of training. 

I do my own things.  This usually means I read, ruminate on things for a while, then do something completely different in my Semi Feral Equestrian kind of way.

One thing I have been pondering lately is lunging.  Or longing if you prefer that spelling.  I'm more of a lunging kind of girl.

If you have read or noticed any one aspect of my blog, it that is features predominantly Arabians.  I mostly handle and deal with Arabians.

I show on the Arabian breed circuit.

However, I don't keep my horses in a training barn.  I don't particularly appreciate a lot of the dark side of the breed shows and trainers.  I do appreciate the natural beauty and joy of the breed.

What does this have to do with lunging?

I was recently at a show volunteering.  I overheard one gal speaking to another about how her horse misbehaved in the class.  A comment about how he would be too exhausted to even pick up his head was made, as the gal had spent a good part of an hour lunging.

At what point is lunging meaningless?

I lunge horses at shows as I can't turn them out to stretch their legs.  My horses are used to being out 24/7 and I like them to be able to move as they would like for at least a few minutes.

I used to lunge a lot before riding.  Upon reflection, I think it was more habit and a desire to "take the edge off". 

But as I continue to ride, there are plenty of times that I can just ride the horse.  Aimlessly running in circles doesn't seem that beneficial to the horse.

I have tried to change how I lunge.  While lunging, I have incorporated more changes of direction, changes in gait, and obstacles.  What I have found is that lunging has become more meaningful while doing it.  The horses take less time to pay attention.

This is just my soapbox.  Not necessarily the right way.

But I challenge anyone that is just lunging their horse for an hour to "get the edge off" to try examining what else can be done with the horse.  Try varying the gaits, path of travel, or anything else to make the time spent on the circle meaningful. 

Stop using lunging as a punishment tool for a horse that is not equipped to handle a class.  I have had less than stellar classes, however, I have never felt compelled to lunge my horse for an hour to push my horse to the point of exhaustion.

So here I am on my soapbox and I'll step off now.

But why do we always spend so much of our time running in circles?


  1. I lunge Kika in a pessoa as an later native to riding as she enjoys it and it helps her condition & use herself correctly without my ineptitude in the saddle getting in her way.

    I'm also puzzled by people lunging to get the edge off - surely continuously running your horse in circles is making them fitter 😯

    1. For sure. I long line a bit in winter when it's super cold. I think working in a Pessoa or long lining, or some measurable objective is great.

      Randomly running to wear a horse down doesn't make so much sense to me.

  2. I pretty much only lunge (I'm also a lunging, not longing, girl)when a) I'm too lazy to ride, but my horse needs to move his body, or b) I'm jumping him over something new and different and want him to check it out before I do it from the saddle.

    I'm in agreement with you that lunging is more interesting and beneficial to the horse when you change up the direction/gaits/etc. more often.

    1. LOL, I also do fall into category one for sure, however, I think it should have a purpose behind it besides having the horse just careening around like a crazy freak.

      I suppose, my main objection to lunging is when people try to wear or tear a horse down in that method. Not sure it does much in that fashion besides creates anxiety if a horse is already anxious or excessive wear/tear on a horse's body.

  3. I love lunging as a tool to see how your horse moves or is feeling that day, its especially helpful when you don't have much time to spend with them. But yeah Lunging to Death is not my favorite in the least.

    1. LTD...that should be the new acronym.

      Arabian staple for sure. There are western pleasure horses with more miles than endurance horses, except their miles only go in small circles.

      I actually lunged the girls for the first time in a while the other day before riding. They were deciding they had never seen a saddle pad before, so I did decide to check things out and make sure that they still had four legs and at least 2 neurons before hopping on.

      It definitely has its purpose, but I am not sure why it has to be carried to the extreme.


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