Lunging is a popular way to exercise a horse and teach him proper form. When lunging a horse, you can see the horse from the side, allowing you to judge whether his form is correct or still needs work. The method of lunging is also used to develop the skills of new riders, because the rider can focus on their own skills while the leader controls the horse's movements. Here's how to lunge a horse for exercise:
- Make sure the horse is ready. Lunge a horse that is already familiar with a few voice commands. Avoid lunging horses under 3 years old, because this activity can be hard on a horse's developing joints. Never lunge a horse if you don't have enough experience with horses to be able to lead one safely.
- Learn the basics and gather supplies. You'll need a 20 foot lunge line, a halter or bridle, and a whip. Lunging should be done on a large, flat area without any holes, large rocks, or roots. During lunging, your horse shouldn't be worrying about tripping or stepping on something painful. Lunging is an exercise involving cantering, trotting, or walking the horse in a ring, by directing from the shoulder line.
- Begin lunging. First, clip the lunge lead to the horse's collar. Then lead him to the lunging area. Let out some of the lunge line. Stand in the center of the ring, near the horse's shoulder. Hold your whip in the hand that is closest to the horse's rear end.
- Walk in a circle. Start the horse walking around the circle; it helps if your horse understands the command 'walk.' For some horses, you may need to snap the whip. However, never actually hit the horse with it. As your horse starts to walk, you should walk in a small circle in the center of the ring. If you stay still, you will not stay even with your horse's shoulder line. You may also get dizzy from spinning in a circle.
- Reverse directions. Switch things up by reversing directions. Move in front of the shoulder line, and switch the whip to your other hand. Point the whip far ahead of the horse's current position and give the 'reverse' command. Put a little pressure on the lunging line so that the horse knows to turn towards you, not away from you, when reversing directions.
- Keep warming up the horse. Lunging is great exercise for your horse. Keep the lunging session to 30 minutes or less; fifteen to twenty minutes is plenty to warm up your horse for other maneuvers. At the end, give the 'whoa' or 'slow' command, eventually bringing the horse to a stop.
The process of lunging a horse is one of the basic exercise moves that you should know as a horse owner. This exercise is great for warming up the horse for more complicated maneuvers or for getting to know a horse.