I got Sally O'Connor's "Common Sense Dressage" (here on amazon) maybe two weeks ago and one of the points she settles on is lunging. I've only ever lunged a horse to get their kicks and giggles out - and only until they've settled enough to get on. After the bronc session we had last week I decided I wanted to use lunging as a tool - as a educational tool, means for learning.

Ms. O'Connor opened my eyes to using the entire arena (and not in a "My horse is going crazy and dragging me all over the place" way) and walking beside the horse to let them move straight. I need a lunging cavesson a surcingle but am making do with my rope halter and saddle. The great thing about lunging for Dassah-Mare is that she has to balance a bit more on a smaller circle. I'm using a 35' line so we can get in a 20m circle. I'm also using a lunge whip - I used to be so proud that all it took was my body language to get her to go through transitions or stretch out but I like have the whip to keep her shoulder away from me, she loves to drop the inside shoulder and bulge in towards me. All I have to do is point the whip at her shoulder to keep her on a circle, instead of an oval.

Anyway, we started off with a simple 20m circle and w/t/c. Then I pulled her in a bit, just a tidge, and we did this pattern both ways: Circle in corner using walls to support. Straight across the short side, circle in corner, straight down long side halfway, circle, straight into corner and circle. We did both sides multiple times and had lots of walk. I didn't do the straight sections at the canter until the end when she was more focused. She gave me some great stretches and softness. The first day we did this she bucked for eons, the second day she didn't at all. I love how lunging lets me watch her and it gives me time to think. It allows me to see her soft and supple and then strung out and hollow. I like that it allows me to play a little and get an idea of what it is I get under saddle when she's soft and rounding.

Will we always lunge? We might- we will only use lunging as a means of education. She should get enough turn out to make "blowing off steam" obsolete. I am really loving it for the sole purpose of identifying on the ground solutions and then implementing those solutions before I get in the saddle so she has a little bit of awareness as to what I'm asking for. Plus, she's out of shape and we can build of some fitness before she has to haul my butt around. I like that it allows her to develop her own balance at the canter before carrying me. Plus (again), we can work on those pesky hollow/weak sides and I can watch her work. I just love watching her move - it's nice to be able to admire your horse from the ground.


  1. Lunging can be awesome in the right capacity and setting :) Sounds like your had some great work!!


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