Lunge Training Course – Field Report No 1 – Practical Lunging
Undoubtful movement is important for every horse – but if you move your horse in a wrong way this can be even worse than no movement at all. Without any obvious reasons the horse begins to founder or often is insubordinate and the rider soon can be helpless about the reasons.
In their book Babette Teschen and Tania Konnerth explain lunge training. This is based on organic-mechanical concepts and can help to let the horse learn the right way of walking. This is very important because the right way of riding is based on the fact that horses learn to walk in a circle. Due to their origins as a flight animal horses are not automatically able to walk like this so that they have to learn it. And if they do so this takes influence on the ride ability and on the health of the horse.
During the next few weeks we will test the lunge training. Step by step we want our horses to learn the base of good and right walking. We will execute the lunge training twice per week in opposite to an intensive daily training. Referring to the explanations of Teschen and Konnerth even this can quickly help to improve the movements of the horse.
We start our test and define our aims. We want that our horse
- to be able to walk as on a bar
- to have a stretched position automatically
- to bulge the back
- to step his hind legs energetically under his balance point.
If these aims become fulfilled the horse will have stretched and starched muscles what is important for carrying a rider. We do not have a temporal limit but hope that we will see progress until summer.
Granat, Hanoverian gelding, 180 cm hh, 19 years old:
The gelding is full of energy but does not always put this in healthy and gentle movements. This was a reason why he was sold in 2006. I was his last chance and bought him. The first lunge trainings were terrible because the horse did not stand but always laid in the bend. According to this I stood on the other end of the lunge and was helpless. The years passed and the horse became calm and today he can easily walk on a single or double lunge. Undoubtful this is a good base to do the lunge training.
His owner, Miriam, 35 years old, non professional rider, 1,64 m
I have been riding for many years but always only in my free time and as a non professional rider. Granat was a real teacher so that we learnt a lot together. Today Granat is able to walk properly on a double lunge and I am proud about this fact (only “Learning by doing”). At the beginning of the year I saw a horse that walked exactly as described in the lunge training. I just thought that I want to do the same with my horse. The lunge course cost 39 Euros and then the work just began.
In her lunge training Babette Teschen recommends a heavy type of cavesson. Until that day I have never worked with a cavesson and always found it terrible. Usually they lay on the nose of the horse on a heavy way – so I really ask myself about the good aspects of these things? But if one wants to exercise the lunge training as described one has to be consequently so that I started to look for a qualified cavesson.
The first ones I tried out (ebay, friends, riding store) all had one thing in common: the joint in the middle of nose guard was always like a nutcracker and Granats nose was exactly this nut.
I had the possibility to buy a cavesson which would have been manufactured individually for Granat but this would have meant to invest additional 200 Euros – so this idea was cancelled.
Finally I found a fitting cavesson three weeks ago. This is a Solibel Professional from Busse and has an unbroken nose guard.
This one fits onto the strait nose of Granat without hurting it. Additionally the cheek straps are long enough for his big head and due to the gaiters and the nose straps the cavesson does not lose its position.
Any further equipment is no problem because I already own lunge, rope, whip, lash for lunging and dual-gasses.
Guide your right positioned horse – first steps
Reading the lunge training many things appeared quite easy and simple. Today the work with my horse and the lunge works out quite well and guiding my horse is no problem at all. But nevertheless the first training unit was really difficult.
The first training unit introduces you to the right guiding at your horses neck. The rider stands right next to the horses head. Then he lightly plucks at the cavesson so that the horse bends his neck towards the rider. It is really important that the horse does this without leaving the way the rider wants him to go. This means that the horse may not push towards the rider nor turn out with his hind legs.
Obviously, this is not as easy as it seems. The first problem is that Granat does not really like the cavesson because it still is not totally comfortable. If he pulls up his head I am totally helpless. The second problem is that he pushes forward quite intensively. This is why the rider easily tries to pull him back by using the lunge but this would be the great fault. Additionally Granat often tries to push towards me making it hard to follow the way I want to destine.
Conclusion after two training units:
Next time I will lay some bars on the ground. Through this I construct an inner border for Granat so that he cannot push towards me. In addition to this I have a visual boundary making it easier to follow my way. Generally I was content because Granat already lowers his head quite fast and stays in this position. Instead of a lunge (too long) or a rope (too thick) I have decided to dig my reins into the cavesson. If I do so I have a good possibility to influence the horse without having a long and nasty rope which only disturbs the work.
Guide your right positioned horse – inner border may help
It is much easier to handle this if rider and horse have a visual boundary. For the first try I constructed a hexagon. In general this already works out but sometimes Granat or I stumble because of the unequal edges of the bars. Due to this again and again we lose our rhythm. Nevertheless the boundary is good help to follow your destined way because the horse does not have the possibility to push the rider into a certain destination.
The second time we worked with the boundary it even worked out better. This time I constructed a square out of the bars. And even if we had to pass a rotation of 90 degree angle it was much easier to guide him through the obstacles. Probably this time it was easier because we could go a quite linear circle round the bars so that we could both find our rhythm.
Conclusion after four training units:
We still have a lot of work to do. We will go on practicing to guide the horse in a bended position with the help of an inner boundary. I think we will keep the boundary until horse and rider have a certain routine in the movements. Then I will think about the next steps.
Guide your right positioned horse before riding
Lack of time- the main problem for every rider. Due to this one has to become creative. If you just want to ride and you do not want to waste too much time on making your horse warm you can practice to guide your horse before riding. The horse can already have the saddle on his back and you can easily change the cavesson with the snaffle. I worked without a boundary so that my ways often were not very accurately. Nevertheless I always tried to guide alongside the wall of the riding hall. Undoubtfully afterwards my horse really was warm and relaxed making riding more comfortable. That is why I would recommend to combine the lunge training with a riding unit.
Video of lunge training with visual boundary:
But your lunge training should not look like this…:
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