View Full Version : Lunging young horses - to play or not to play?

08-04-01, 01:11 AM
Do you find it is better for a young horse to work his freshness out - have a play and buck on the lunge/round yard before ridden work? OR not allow any adrenalised response and stop him from any play? - (I don't mean hooning around without any control) - but teaching the horse to lunge and stop on command - but allowing a bit of freshness to work off.

I have tried both methods:
My young warmblood horse was started by the method of not allowing any adrenalised response - and stopping any freshness immediately.

When I brought the horse home I continued with all the groundwork, back up, head down, move over etc which it did very obediantly but the horse needed to release it's tension through MOVING!
What I found was the horse was like a time bomb to ride and although controllable (turn, stop, backup) was uptight and ready to explode.

Then I changed to lunging to release tension, controlled but allowing play and a buck and gradually everything settled down and it released all the tension.
Now I have a horse that is a pleasure to ride with no tension and a relaxed back and a much safer ride - with no play under saddle.
Before every ride I do this and have no problem.

I know there is a popular theory that keeps the horse subdued all the time, but from my experience a young horse needs to work off the freshness!
I would be interested to hear from people working with young horses.

08-04-01, 01:49 AM
I know there is a strong school of thought that says lungeing is work-time and they must be obedient and under control. A recent instructor of mine was very much of that opinion.
My horse had to do only what she was asked and stay quiet and obedient with no digressions. She slowly went nuts. She had energy to burn, and wasn't able to release it, and was tense and explosive to ride and could not concentrate.
Went to a new instructor and was lungeing slowly and carefully round and she said...do you really want all that nervous energy in that horse when you sit on her?
She said "riding is about fun, and first you need to feel safe....let her rip!" The mare went WAHOO! and did a whole heap of contortionist leaps and bucks and I thought she was going to throw the saddle off, she loosened up and stretched and had a ball, was lovely to ride after, and over the next week continued to improve until she no longer needed to let off any more steam and is much more settled.
I have always let the babies have a let loose on the lunge, I realise they could sustain an injury but feel that I want to be shown what mood/temper/physical state they are in and if they're under complete control they won't tell me.
I honestly tried the "quiet and controlled" approach with the instructor that believed in it, I tried it for 6 loong weeks and by the end of it my mare had 6 weeks of tension to release. It may work for some, it's maybe something to aim for as training progresses, but no, I don't want that energy in an unpredictable youngster when I get on it! So I've gone back to letting the horse have a hoon. Works for me!

08-04-01, 02:28 AM
If the horse is in the paddock I think mostly (apart from the odd individual) they can play bucking and rearing out there. However a stabled horse has to have some sort of outlet and if you don't let them on the lunge then you have to ride through it. It depends what you want out of the horse and what ability you have to ride it through its playfullness. You see young kids laughing their heads off as their horse pigroots and jumps around. :D Do what makes you feel safest and the horse happiest.

08-04-01, 06:25 AM
Yup hunter i am with you!! just boot up baby horses well even put on overreach boots if they are the sort to have a session! It is allways better to kn ow what you are getting onto.. if they have a real pig rooting session then they are more likely to be tired sensible to hop on... so play the game! let them have a mad 10 mins.. some that look like they might have a go wont untill you almost suggest it! so go ahead and tell em it is ok to have a spin..you should find there sessions get shorter and shorter of there own accord..

08-04-01, 01:24 PM
Dear Oscar,

Totally agree with the others.
The unbroken horse is just the same. I have just had one back like hell 10 days straight in the round yard but never ever bucked with me. The more steam they let off the better, plus you can have a sneak preview of their style and any dirty little tricks they might have up their sleeve for when you get on. Don't make any issue of it, ignore it totally. There is one thing that I won't allow though and that is changing direction. This is not on and does become an evasion so from day one, if I send them left, that is where they stay until I say stop.


09-04-01, 01:52 AM
I think sometimes it is important to consider how you react to the bucking and plunging antics at the end of the lunge, as much as the actual antics. I have seen a number of horses trained by the same women actual taught to be incredibly naughty on the lunge becaues of the way she reacted to the antics. Using the lunge whip to nag and nag and nag at the horse, not rewarding appropriate behaviour, by praise, or stopping the nagging, and when the horse finally has a little hissy fit, a little buck and lunge, out of fear or what ever, this woman would stop all nagging, assume a very non active, submissive body language, and speak very calmingly to the horse. It is incredible how quickly each of the horses learnt "wow, in order to stop that nagging, chasing stuff, she wants me to buck and plunge, OK I guess I can do that"
So, Im not sure whether I believe its OK or not to let off a little steam on the end of the lunge, but I am sure of how not to react to it.

09-04-01, 04:59 AM
If you watch a top professional breaker working a young horse in a round yard you will see that they send the horse out so he's really going forward (no nagging here!)

They are constantly stopped and changed direction and if they play and buck they are worked in this way until the horse signals by locking the inside ear onto the trainer and licking the lips. If they are ready they will come in to the centre and by reading the body language of the horse - it will then accept further training.

A young horse that is kept subdued all the time is an explosion waiting to happen and many people (that have ridden horses for years) and then ride a young one don't realise how much inner tension is in a young horse ( even a quiet one ). They might only need 10 minutes of release and then they are ready to listen and going out for a bush ride is the best thing for them - they learn to relax.

You hear of so many people having bad accidents with young horses that possibly could have been avoided.

10-04-01, 06:35 AM
I have a horse that was allowed to buck and play on the lunge when he was in race training. I let him get away with it for a while, thinking it was best for him to burn off some steam, but it got to the stage where he only wanted to hoon an the lunge and would not relax and work. Now what we do is have a couple of minutes of play time at the start before the side reins go on. Then he stops, has the side reins attached and has to be calm and work properly. It works really well, he gets to have his buck and loosen up, but can then relax and do the propper stuff insted of getting progressively more worked up and refusing to relax. It was awful having an uncontrolled horse hooning around flat out. I was always scared he would slip over and hurt himself.

Linda Balfour (Guest)
10-04-01, 06:35 AM
This is one of those subjects where the answer is "it all depends".
If the horse is frightened and running around out of control, I would stop it and ensure that it was calmer before trying that movement again. If, however, the horse was full of the joy of life, I would let it carry on until the nervous energy had been used up. I have also found a few horses that really needed to canter before they felt properly relaxed. Whereas, with others, asking for canter before they had relaxed was asking for trouble. The important thing is to know and understand your horse so you can ensure that you are helping and not hindering its performance.

md (Guest)
10-04-01, 09:44 AM
i have to agree that it all depends, I am all for letting the horse let off steam and making things safer for when you do get on, especially a horse that is full of feed and has not been worked for a couple of weeks and ofcourse young newly broken in horses, however I have seen some horses that get worse with lunging, they seem to stress and panic, mind you as Linda Balfour said it is just knowing your horse, and original writer has put, for his newly broken horse having it let of steam has really worked.

Craig (Guest)
10-04-01, 11:57 AM
Lunge leads, what brilliant inventions, I'm sure that I would be dead at least 100 times if it wasnt for them.
I'm all for letting horses hoon and have play to get rid of excess energy. The one exception I have though is for cold backed horses that want to put their head down and buck the saddle off. It gets to be a habit too quickly and instead of improving and desensitising to the pressure of the girth they get worse and the habit becomes entrenched. This is the one instance were their head needs to stay up and drive them forward until thier tails unjam. If they buck, unfortunately you need to make it unpleasant for them.